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Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy
News Archive 2012

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The Antikythera Mechanism
a 2,000-year-old astronomical computer

 

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With satellite imagery increasingly being used for archaeological investigations
The Morien Institute has decided to report discoveries in our
Astro-Archaeology news archive

Likewise, many ancient legends that have previously been dismissed as
purely "mythological" are now proving to be based on fact, and so
The Morien Institute has decided to also report these new
discoveries in our Astro-Archaeology news archive

Alongside these will be material about archaic astrological beliefs which were inextricably inter-linked with ancient astronomical science




New Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy Discoveries made in 2012 will appear below as we become aware of them

 

"Salafists destroy ancient Morocco carvings: NGO"

October 18 2012, AFP, France

"Stone carvings in Morocco's High Atlas mountains dating back more than 8,000 years and depicting the sun as a pagan divinity have been destroyed by Salafists, a local rights group said on Wednesday.

"These stone carvings of the sun are more than 8,000 years old. They were destroyed several days ago," Aboubakr Anghir, a member of the Amazigh (Berber) League for Human Rights, told AFP.

'One of the carvings, called "the plaque of the sun", predates the arrival of the Phoenicians in Morocco', Anghir said."
[Full Story]




"Ancient Egypt City Aligned With Sun on King's Birthday"

October 15 2012, Live Science, USA

"The Egyptian city of Alexandria, home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, may have been built to align with the rising sun on the day of Alexander the Great's birth, a new study finds.

Ancient Alexandria was planned around a main east-west thoroughfare called Canopic Road, said Giulio Magli, an archaeoastronomer at the Politecnico of Milan.

A study of the ancient route reveals it is not laid out according to topography; for example, it doesn't run quite parallel to the coastline.

But on the birthday of Alexander the Great, the rising sun of the fourth century rose 'in almost perfect alignment with the road', Magli said."
[Full Story]




"Archaeologists say that Mayas built watchtower-style structures atop ball court to observe sky"

October 06 2012, Art Daily, USA

"After almost two years' restoration and integral conservation work, the Great Ball Game of Chichen Itza, the biggest in Mesoamerica, gradually recovered its original form with the reestablishment of a small staircase in the rear part of the ball court and the five passages the Mayan had built over the principal structures, these were also used to observe the path of the sun during the equinoxes and the solstices.

The restoration of these five structures, which archaeologists have defined as passages because they were used to observe the path of the celestial bodies, has enabled archaeologists to reassert the hypothesis stating that the Great Ball Game of that archaeological site in Yucatan had an astronomic function.

The passages are over the principal structures of the Great Ball Game; three are above the west structure (two in each extreme and one in the center) and two in the east (one in the center and another in the northern extreme).

The principal structures of the ball court are two large horizontal platforms, each have a type of sidewalk where the game's rules are embossed.

Archaeologist Jose Huchim commented that 25 years ago, when he was in the process of studying his career in Archaeology, he made observations with his Professor Victor Segovia, pioneer in the study of pre Hispanic astronomy.

Both were certain that the passages were oriented to the equinoxes and solstices:

"We saw that middle passage did have an orientation that allowed the observation of equinoxes, which is why we thought it important to restore all five of them in order to prove they were built according to the sun's patterns."
[Full Story]




"Murals offer glimpse of Mayan astronomy"

May 10 2012, Nature, UK

"Under an earthen mound deep in the Guatemalan rainforest, archaeologists have discovered what they say is the earliest evidence to date of the sophisticated astronomy and time-keeping rituals of the ancient Maya.

The find — dates, tables and depictions of lunar deities painted and carved onto the walls of a small chamber — was uncovered last year during excavations of the Mayan city of Xultun.

The city was a thriving metropolis some 1,200 years ago, which corresponds to several of the dates in the mural.

The tables resemble those found in the Dresden Codex, a booklet made from tree bark that dates back to the Late Postclassic period of the Maya civilization, beginning around 1300.

The Xultun paintings are the only sources to have been found that depict astronomical information from the Classic Maya period (around 250–900)."
[Full Story]




"Maya astronomical tables found daubed on wall"

May 10 2012, New Scientist, UK

"Archaeologists have discovered a 9th-century Mayan house with astronomical tables inscribed on the walls.

The tables suggest that the Mesoamerican civilisation had advanced astronomy for over 1000 years, and that the information was widely available in Mayan society.

Until now our main evidence of Mayan astronomical knowledge came from books produced centuries after their society declined. The most famous is the
Dresden Codex, which dates from the 11th or 12th century.

'No Classic astronomical texts survive, because Mayan books were made of plaster and bark paper that have rotted away', says William Saturno of Boston University in Massachusetts.

In 2010 Saturno and colleagues were excavating Mayan ruins at
Xultún, also in Guatemala. One house had been partially looted, exposing a mural on one wall.

The walls were covered with pictures of Mayan people. In the gaps between the drawings, and sometimes drawn over the top of them, were glyphs: Mayan writing.

Two sets looked like Dresden Codex glyphs, and contained astronomical information.

The first is a table describing lunar cycles: the 29.5 days it takes for the moon to go through all of its phases."
[Full Story]




"Maya art and calendar at Xultun stun archaeologists"

May 10 2012, BBC News, UK

"Archaeologists working at the Xultun ruins of the Maya civilisation have reported striking finds, including the oldest-known Mayan astronomical tables.

The site, in Guatemala, includes the first known instance of Maya art painted on the walls of a dwelling.

A report in Science says it dates from the early 9th Century, pre-dating other Maya calendars by centuries.

Perhaps most intriguing among the finds were several finds related to astronomical tables, including four long numbers on the east wall that represent a cycle lasting up to 2.5 million days.

The east wall is mostly covered by tabulations of black symbols or 'glyphs' that map out various astronomical cycles: that of Mars and Venus and the lunar eclipses.

The wall also features red marks that appear to be notes and corrections to the calculations; Dr Saturno said that the scribes 'seem to be using it like a blackboard'.

The Xultun find is the first place that all of the cycles have been found tied mathematically together in one place, representing a calendar that stretches more than 7,000 years into the future."
[Full Story]




"Oldest Astronomical Instrument Discovered in China"

May 03 2012, Sci-News, UK

"Chinese scientists have proposed that an object collected 35 years ago from a tomb of the Western Han Dynasty in Fuyang city and called 'lacquerware of unknown names' could be a gnomon with template.

In 1977, archaeologists unearthed a great number of precious relics, including the unknown object, in the tomb of Xiahou Zao (the 2nd century BCE), the 2nd Marquis of Ruyin of the Western Han dynasty.

However, no one has been able to identify the object as well as to explain the possible function of a pair of overlapping lacquered disks found in the same tomb.

A team of Yunli Shi, a professor at the Department of the History of Science and Scientific Archaeology, University of Science and Technology of China, has now proposed that the object is a special gnomon with template, while a pair of lacquered disks is an equatorial device for the positional observation of celestial bodies.

Both are the oldest astronomical measuring instruments with definite information of date that can still be seen in the world.

The scientists noted that the gnomon with template is a typical instrument used by ancient Chinese astronomers in determining the advent of different seasons with the gnomon shadows cast on the template by the midday Sun.

As being fully set up in the south-north direction, the midday Sun will cast the shadow of a vertical tablet in the northern half onto three fixed positions on the template respectively on the days of the Summer Solstice, the Vernal/Autumnal Equinoxes, and the Winter Solstice."
[Full Story]




"Learn about Sun and Moon through heritage around us"

May 01 2012, Deccan Herald, India

"Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, the Saffron coloured Jantar Mantar rests in the heart of the Capital since 18th century but only a handful of people know of it as an astronomical observatory.

To commemorate 100 years of Delhi as the Capital and 150 years of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), a walk was organised to inform people about the science behind Jantar Mantar which comprises four yantras or instruments and was built to know the position of the Sun, the Moon and the planets.

C B Devgun, President, Space acquainted those present with scientific and practical aspects of the observatories and how they worked when it came to telling local time; time in other countries; and Sun's position in India and other countries.

'Samrat Yantra, the largest and the most imposing one among the four was used to measure the accurate time of the day and motion of the Sun in the sky. The yantra was used as a Sundial to determine the time using position of the Sun and its shadow on the yantra', informed Devgun.

Another structure called the Ram Yantra consists of two open circular structures with a central pillar. These two are used to determine the altitude and azimuth - meaning angular measurement of the Sun.

More than the technical details of these instruments, what amazed the participants was how ancient astronomers studied motions of the sun, moon and planets without the help of any high tech satellites or telescopes, and told time without clocks."
[Full Story]




"Swedish Stonehenge Stone Structure Spurs Debate"

April 19 2012, Discovery News, USA

"Ancient Scandinavians dragged 59 boulders to a seaside cliff near what is now the Swedish fishing village of Kåseberga.

Archaeologists generally agree this megalithic structure, known as Ales Stenar ("Ale's Stones"), was assembled about 1,000 years ago, near the end of the Iron Age, as a burial monument. But a team of researchers now argues it's really 2,500 years old, dating from the Scandinavian Bronze Age, and was built as an astronomical calendar with the same underlying geometry as England's Stonehenge.

'We can now say Stonehenge has a younger sister, but she's so much more beautiful', said Nils-Axel Mörner, a retired geologist from Stockholm University who co-authored the paper on the interpretation, published in March in the
International Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics. [Open Access to Full Text PDF 477KB - Ed.]

Mörner says his team observed that the sun rises and sets at specific points around Ales Stenar at the summer and winter solstices, hinting that an ancient culture could have built it as an astronomical calendar to time things like annual religious ceremonies or planting and harvesting crops."
[Full Story]




"Mysterious Animal-Shaped Structures In Peru
Are Oldest Known"

March 29 2012, LiveScience, USA

"Manmade mounds shaped like orcas, condors and even a duck may be the oldest evidence of animal mounds outside of North America, according to former University of Missouri anthropologist.

Writing in the magazine Antiquity, Robert Benfer, a professor emeritus, describes a series of mounds, some more than 1,300 feet (400 meters) across, in coastal valleys in Peru. Archaeological evidence at the sites pegs some at more than 4,000 years old.

Global positional system (GPS) information and an archaeological investigation of the site convinced Benfer that he was, in fact, looking at a condor-shaped mound, with the eye likely being a site where offerings were burned.

The condor is oriented according to astronomical rules: It lines up with the most extreme orientation of the Milky Way as seen from the Chillón Valley where the mound is found.

Next to the condor is a second mound, this one oriented toward the spot where the sun rises on the day of the June solstice, the start of summer.

In another Peruvian coastal area, the Casma Valley, Benfer discovered two additional birdlike figures, both "looking" toward the June solstice sunrise. Most likely, he said, these mounds were built under the direction of astronomer-priests."
[Full Story]




"4,000-year-old Monolith Likely an Astronomical Marker"

March 27 2012, KSEE 24 News, USA

"An ancient stone monolith in England was likely an astronomical marker, according to new archaeological evidence.

The 4,000-year-old stone is triangular in shape and angles up toward geographic south.

Its orientation and slant angle are aligned with the altitude of the sun at midsummer, researchers said.

This ancient monolith's triangular shape and flat, north-facing side are just some of the reasons scientists think it was positioned on purpose to mark the changing seasons."

[Full Story]




"Archaeologists found Queen of Sheba's wealth source
in Ethiopia, Tigrai State"

February 12 2012, Tigrai Online, Ethiopia

"A British excavation has struck archaeological gold with a discovery that may solve the mystery of where the Queen of Sheba of biblical legend derived her fabled treasures.

Almost 3,000 years ago, the ruler of Sheba, which spanned modern-day Ethiopia and Yemen, arrived in Jerusalem with vast quantities of gold to give to King Solomon.

Now an enormous ancient goldmine, together with the ruins of a temple and the site of a battlefield, have been discovered in her former territory.

Louise Schofield, an archaeologist and former British Museum curator, who headed the excavation on the high Gheralta plateau in northern Ethiopia, said: 'One of the things I've always loved about archaeology is the way it can tie up with legends and myths. The fact that we might have the Queen of Sheba's mines is extraordinary.'

An initial clue lay in a 20ft stone stele (or slab) carved with a sun and crescent moon, the 'calling card of the land of Sheba', Schofield said.

On a mound nearby she found parts of columns and finely carved stone channels from a buried temple that appears to be dedicated to the moon god, the main deity of Sheba, an 8th century BC civilisation that lasted 1,000 years."
[Full Story]




"Large Meteorite Likely Found in Druid Burial Site"

February 09 2012, Discovery News, USA

"With a weight that rivals a baby elephant, a meteorite that fell from space some 30,000 years ago is likely Britain's largest space rock.

And after much sleuthing, researchers think they know where it came from and how it survived so long without weathering away.

The giant rock, spanning about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) across and weighing 205 pounds (93 kg), was likely discovered by an archaeologist about 200 years ago at a burial site created by the Druids (an ancient Celtic priesthood) near Stonehenge, according to said Colin Pillinger, a professor of planetary sciences at the Open University.

Pillinger curated the exhibition
"Objects in Space", which opened Feb. 9 and is the first time the public will get a chance to see the meteorite. The exhibition will explore not only the mystery that surrounds the origins of the giant meteorite, but also the history and our fascination with space rocks.

As for how the meteorite survived its long stint on Earth, researchers point to the ice age. 'Britain was under an ice age for 20,000 years', Pillinger told LiveScience, explaining the climate would have protected the rock from weathering."
[Full Story]


New exhibition displays the largest
British meteorite for the first time

Objects in Space
At The Royal Society, London
From February 09 to March 30 2012

Entry to the exhibition is
by appointment only


If in the UK please call
0207 451 2606
to arrange your visit

If outside the UK please call
+44 207 451 2606
to arrange your visit




"Good Heavens! Oldest-Known Astrologer's Board Discovered"

January 16 2012, LiveScience, USA

"A research team has discovered what may be the oldest astrologer's board, engraved with zodiac signs and used to determine a person's horoscope.

Dating back more than 2,000 years, the board was discovered in Croatia, in a cave overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

The surviving portion of the board consists of 30 ivory fragments engraved with signs of the zodiac. Researchers spent years digging them up and putting them back together.

Inscribed in a Greco-Roman style, they include images of Cancer, Gemini and Pisces.

The board fragments were discovered next to a phallic-shaped stalagmite amid thousands of pieces of ancient Hellenistic (Greek style) drinking vessels."
[Full Story]




Some Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy
Discoveries We Became Aware Of In 2011

 

"Earthworks created for more than farming"

December 18 2011, The Columbus Dispatch, USA
"Many of Ohio's ancient earthworks are aligned to astronomical events, such as the apparent rising and setting of the sun or the moon on key dates in their cycles.

The main axis of the Octagon Earthworks at Newark, for example, lines up to where the moon rises at its northernmost point on the eastern horizon.

Clearly, ancient Americans were paying close attention to the sky, but why?

This question is considered in a paper by Canadian archaeologists Brian Hayden and Suzanne Villeneuve published in the current issue of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.

One of the most commonly proposed answers is that farmers need to know when to plant and harvest their crops, and the solar calendar determines the growing season.

But ancient farmers, more attuned to nature's rhythms than most modern folk, didn't need gigantic astronomical observatories for that.

Moreover, the 18.6-year-long cycle of the moon, encoded in Newark's monumental earthworks, wouldn't be of any help at all in determining the best times to sow and reap." [Full Story]




"Secret history of Stonehenge revealed"

November 26 2011, The Independent, UK
"Extraordinary new discoveries are shedding new light on why Britain's most famous ancient site, Stonehenge, was built - and when.

Current research is now suggesting that Stonehenge may already have been an important sacred site at least 500 years before the first Stone circle was erected - and that the sanctity of its location may have determined the layout of key aspects of the surrounding sacred landscape.

The crucial new archaeological evidence was discovered during on-going survey work around Stonehenge in which archaeologists have been 'x-raying' the ground, using ground-penetrating radar and other geophysical investigative techniques.

As the archaeological team from Birmingham and Vienna were using these high-tech systems to map the interior of a major prehistoric enclosure (the so-called 'Cursus') near Stonehenge, they discovered two great pits, one towards the enclosure's eastern end, the other nearer its western end.

When they modelled the relationship between these newly-discovered Cursus pits and Stonehenge on their computer system, they realised that, viewed from the so-called 'Heel Stone' at Stonehenge, the pits were aligned with sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year - the summer solstice (midsummer's day).

The chances of those two alignments being purely coincidental are extremely low."
[Full Story]




"Search on for a second passage in Newgrange"

October 18 2011, Irish Independent, Ireland
"Archaeologists are examining whether one of the country's most popular tourist attractions may have more to it than meets the eye.

Newgrange in Co Meath may have a second passage, and it too could be aligned with a solstice event.

Teams from Ireland and Slovakia are exploring the possibility -- using technology that has proven successful at the pyramids in Egypt." [Full Story]




"An early Celtic 'Stonehenge' discovered in the Black Forest"

October 11 2011, Heritage Portal, Germany
"A huge early Celtic calendar construction has been discovered in the royal tomb of Magdalenenberg, nearby Villingen-Schwenningen in the Black Forest.

his discovery was made by researchers at the Römisch-GermanischesPress Zentralmuseum at Mainz in Germany when they evaluated old excavation plans.

The order of the burials around the central royal tomb fits exactly with the sky constellations of the Northern hemisphere.

Whereas Stonehenge was orientated towards the sun, the more then 100 meter width burial mound of Magdalenenberg was focused towards the moon." [Full Story]




"‘Stone me! Ilkley's ancient rocks are star maps’"

October 01 2011, Ilkley Gazette, England
"An amateur scientist believes he has finally found proof that ancient rock carvings on Rombalds Moor are 'Stone Age star maps'.

Gordon Holmes believes he has uncovered five of the finest examples of primitive maps of the night sky – all carved into stones on the moor.

Mr Holmes, of Shipley, has been fascinated by the carved cup and ring stones on Rombalds Moor for decades, and is confident that he may have discovered the meaning of mysterious symbols dating back thousands of years.

Mr Holmes, who sparked archaeological investigations in 2005 after coming across a possibly unrecognised ancient stone circle, previously documented stone carvings appearing to show the Pole Star, Cassiopeia, Hyades and Pleiades." [Full Story]




"Standing Stone in Derbyshire may be a seasonal sundial"

September 24 2011, Stone Pages Archaeo News, Italy
"A standing stone at the popular tourist site Gardom's Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District (England) may in fact be a 4,000 year old seasonal sundial, experts suggest.

Academics in astronomy and landscape history from Nottingham Trent University will soon present the findings from a study of the site at the European Society for Astronomy in Culture conference in Portugal.

The project involved surveying and analysing the orientation of the single standing stone, which is linked to a nearby stone age monument, including its deterioration through erosion.

The experts have been able to make their prediction based on the stone's orientation, the dip of its slope and the altitude of the sun at midsummer." [Full Story]




"Rome's Pantheon may have been built as
a massive sundial researchers reveal"

August 01 2011, The Daily Telegraph, UK
"It is one of the best preserved buildings from the Roman world, a 2,000-year-old testament to the immense power and wealth of the empire.

But mystery has always surrounded what lies behind the unusual design of the Pantheon, a giant temple in the heart of Rome that was built by the Emperor Hadrian.

Now experts have come up with an intriguing theory – that the temple acted as a colossal sun dial, with a beam of light illuminating its enormous entrance at the precise moment that the emperor entered the building.

Constructed on Hadrian's orders and completed in AD128, the Pantheon's hemispherical dome is punctured by a 30ft-wide circular hole known as the 'oculus'.

Giulio Magli, a historian of ancient architecture from Milan Polytechnic, Italy, and Robert Hannah, a classics scholar from the University of Otago in New Zealand, have discovered that at precisely midday during the March equinox, a circular shaft of light shines through the oculus and illuminates the Pantheon's imposing entrance."
[Full Story]




"Hadrian's buildings catch the Sun"

June 16 2011, Nature News, UK
"Hadrian's villa 30 kilometres east of Rome was a place where the Roman Emperor could relax in marble baths and forget about the burdens of power.

But he could never completely lose track of time, says Marina De Franceschini, an Italian archaeologist who believes that some of the villa's buildings are aligned so as to produce sunlight effects for the seasons.

For centuries, scholars have thought that the more than 30 buildings at Hadrian's palatial country estate were oriented more or less randomly. But De Franceschini says that during the summer solstice, blades of light pierce two of the villa's buildings.

In one, the Roccabruna, light from the summer solstice enters through a wedge-shaped slot above the door and illuminates a niche on the opposite side of the interior.

And in a temple of the Accademia building, De Franceschini has found that sunlight passes through a series of doors during both the winter and summer solstices."
[Full Story]




"Study shows Aborigines understood eclipses"

June 15 2011, ABC Science News, Australia
"Australian Aboriginal accounts of lunar and solar eclipses indicate many traditional communities understood the movement of the Sun, Earth and Moon.

The research by Duane Hamacher from Sydney's Macquarie University and accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Astronomical History & Heritage and appearing on the website arXiv.org, indicates Aboriginal communities in different parts of Australia often have similar traditional stories to explain these events.

According to Hamacher, Aboriginal Australians were careful observers of the night sky, possessing a complex understanding of the motions of astronomical bodies and their correlation with terrestrial events.

This included the passage of time, the movement of tides, changing seasons, and the emergence of particular food sources." [Full Story]




"Astronomical Evidence for the Timing of the Panathenaia"

April 2011 Edition, American Journal of Archaeology, USA
"For the first time, the role of the night sky in the performance of nocturnal festivals in ancient Greece is considered.

This study presents a reconstruction of the Athenian night sky as it would have been visible from the Acropolis during the celebration of the Panathenaia.

A link is suggested between the timing of the festival, held on the Acropolis, and the movement of the constellation of Draco, which would have been visible in the night sky during this time." [Full Story]




"Ancient Greek Computer Had Surprising Sun Tracker"

April 01, 2011, Wired Science, USA
"The world's oldest astronomical calculator is famous for having intricate gear systems centuries ahead of their time. But new work shows the Antikythera mechanism used pure geometry, as well as flashy gears to track celestial bodies' motion through the heavens.

The device, a 2,000-year-old assemblage of gears and wheels that matched 19th century clocks in precision and complexity, was salvaged from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901.

The original bits and pieces of the Antikythera Mechanism
salvaged from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901

an image of the original bits and pieces of the Antikythera Mechanism that were salvaged from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, which is also a clickable link directly to the Wired Science story
Copyright © 2011, Wired Science, USA

Called the Antikythera mechanism, the machine gracefully kept track of the day of the year, the positions of the sun and the moon, and perhaps the other planets. It also predicted eclipses and kept track of upcoming Olympic games.

Most of the mechanism's calculations were driven by a series of 37 interlocking dials, which may have been manipulated by a hand crank.

The front of the mechanism had a clock-like face that denoted the calendar date in two concentric circles, one showing the signs of the Greek zodiac, and one carrying the Egyptian months of the year." [Full Story]

[For more information about the Antikythera Mechanism see the Nature video and other links we have compiled and listed at the very bottom of this page - JM ]




"Were Australian Aborigines the first astronomers?"

February 05, 2011, ABC Radio Science Show, Australia
"A stone arrangement known as Wurdi Youang in Victoria between Melbourne and Geelong raises questions about what Aborigines observed and knew about the night sky. The arrangement of stones with respect to the sun's position at the solstices suggests to some researchers that Aborigines has an advanced and very early knowledge of the movement of objects in the sky.

It's a question that fascinates astronomers and historians alike. When did we humans start to track the movements of the planets and the stars in the night sky?

It is now being realised that Australia's Aboriginal people had a great knowledge of astronomy, which was virtually overlooked when white settlers took over 200 yrs ago.

There are lots of stone arrangements but this is special, it's a large standing stone arrangement, very similar to the ones you would see in Scotland, Ireland and England. It's egg-shaped, it's about 50 metres in diameter with three large standing stones at one apex that mirror three mountains in the background.

And at the apex of the other end, if you stand there and look down, the centre of it, which is exactly east-west, you can see the equinox sitting over these three stones. And if you look down the other side you see two rows that align to the solstices."
[Full Transcript & Audio Story]




"Wurdi Youang rocks could prove Aborigines were first astronomers"

February 05, 2011, News.com / The Daily Telegraph, Australia
"Is this just a pile of rocks placed in a semicircle, or proof that Aborigines were the world's first astronomers?

Early astronomers? ... an aerial view of the Wurdi Youang stone arrangement
also known as the Mount Rothwell site

an aerial view of the Wurdi Youang stone arrangement in Australia thought to be older than Stonehenge in England, which is also a clickable link directly to the News.com story
Copyright © 2011, News.com / The Daily Telegraph, Australia

After years of meticulous examination, a group of Australia's most distinguished astro-physicists is starting to believe it's the latter - a discovery that could turn history upside down and render England's famous Stonehenge an also-ran.

Dubbed Wurdi Youang, the strange stone arrangement was found on property near Mt Rothwell, 80km west of Melbourne - its two points set in perfect alignment with the setting sun on a midsummer's day." [Full Story]




"Orion the Hunter - Greek myth born in Syrian Mountain"

February 01, 2011, Global Arab Network, Syria
"During the sixties of the 20th century, a statue of a bull dedicated to the Greek god Orion was discovered in Younan Mountain near the town of Bloudan in Damascus Countryside.

The statue bore Greek inscriptions stating that the statue is an offering to Orion from an ancient warrior named Tamanaius.

The statue of a bull dedicated to the Greek god Orion discovered in Younan Mountain near the town of Bloudan in the Damascus Countryside
an image of a statue of a bull dedicated to the Greek god Orion that was discovered in Younan Mountain near the town of Bloudan in the Damascus Countryside, which is also a clickable link directly to the Global Arab Network story
Copyright © 2011, Global Arab Network, Syria

Orion is a mythical figure whose origin various according to the several stories. One story tells that the gods Zeus, Hermes and Poseidon come to visit a man named Hyrieus who roasts a whole bull for them, and when they offer him a favor, he asks for the birth of sons, and thus Orion is born.

Other stories say that he is the son of the sea god Poseidon, and that he had incredible strength and beauty and excelled at hunting wild beasts, hence his title of "Hunter."" [Full Story]




"Did Vikings navigate by polarized light?"

January 31, 2011, Nature, UK
"A Viking legend tells of a glowing 'sunstone' that, when held up to the sky, revealed the position of the Sun even on a cloudy day.

It sounds like magic, but scientists measuring the properties of light in the sky say that polarizing crystals — which function in the same way as the mythical sunstone — could have helped ancient sailors to cross the northern Atlantic.

The Vikings, seafarers from Scandinavia who travelled widely and settled in swathes of Northern Europe, the British Isles and the northern Atlantic from around 750 to 1050 AD, were skilled navigators, able to cross thousands of kilometres of open sea between Norway, Iceland and Greenland.

Perpetual daylight during the summer sailing season in the far north would have prevented them from using the stars as a guide to their positions, and the magnetic compass had yet to be introduced in Europe — in any case, it would have been of limited use so close to the North Pole.

But Viking legends, including an Icelandic saga centring on the hero Sigurd, hint that these sailors had another navigational aid at their disposal: a sólarsteinn, or sunstone."
[Full Story]




"Srirangapatna’s timeless gems"

January 04, 2011, Deccan Herald, India
"It was Tipu who got the sundials installed at the two spots. They have been placed on a black stone raised by two pillars, five feet high.

A sundial at Srirangapatna in India
an image of a sundial at Srirangapatna, which is also a clickable link directly to the Deccan Herald story
Copyright © 2011, Deccan Herald, India

While the sundial on the Jamia Masjid’s terrace is in a circular shape, the one near the Gumbaz (Hyder Ali’s tomb) is in the shape of a square.

There are eight straight lines on every clock. There are engravings in the Persian language, too.

The sundial also has 19 circles, apart from a hollow space at the centre, which has a needle-like protrusion made of an alloy which can expand and contract according to the temperature." [Full Story]




"The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project"
Cardiff/Athens Universites (Cymru/Greece)
[In October 1900, Captain Dimitrious Kondos was leading a team of sponge divers near the the island of Antikythera off the coast of Greece. They noticed a shipwreck about 180 feet below the surface and began to investigate. Amongst the artifacts that they brought up was a coral-encrusted piece of metal that later archaeologists found was some sort of gear wheel.

The rest of the artifacts, along with the shape of the boat, suggested a date around 2000 years ago, which made the find one of the most anomalous that had ever been recovered from the Greek seas. It became known as The Antikythera Mechanism.

In 2006 the journal "Nature" published a
letter, and another paper about the mechanism was published in 2008, detailing the findings of Prof. Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University. Using high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the fragments of the anomalous Antikythera Mechanism, they found that it was in fact a bronze mechanical analog computer that could be used to calculate the astronomical positions and various cycles of the Moon - as seen from the Earth: - Ed]


More news stories and websites about The Antikythera mechanism

"Watch a video explaining the Antikythera mechanism"
Nature (UK)
"New Origins for Ancient Computer"
Wired Science (USA)
"Antikythera Mechanism - World's earliest existing analogue computer"
HotnHit News (India)
"Decoding an Ancient Computer: Greek Technology Tracked the Heavens"
Scientific American (USA)
"World’s First Computer Rebuilt, Rebooted After 2,000 Years"
Wired Gadget Lab (USA)
"Antikythera: A 2,000-year-old Greek computer comes back to life"
The Guardian Science Blog (UK)

Google image search results for The Antikythera mechanism
Google (USA)

 

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"Stonehenge today is a battlefield, not only for police and festivalgoers at midsummer but also for rival camps of archaeologists, astronomers, and other researchers into the mysteries of prehistoric religion and science. Controversy flared up in 1963, when Gerald Hawkins made early use of the computer to identify Stonehenge as an observatory for the sun and moon and an instrument for predicting eclipses. Further studies of megalithic sites by Alexander Thom proved that many of them were also related to the seasonal positions of the heavenly bodies.

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