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Prof Brian Cox visits Chankillo solar calendar in Peru

Professor Brian Cox has visited a giant desert solar calendar in Peru in his quest to understand the nature of time in creating and ending the universe.
The 2,500-year-old solar calendar in Chankillo was built by a civilization of which very little is known.
Wonders of the Universe is broadcast on BBC Two at 2100 GMT on Sundays from 6 March

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The Thirteen Towers solar observatory
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The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo course north to south along a ridge of a low hill and are regularly spaced, forming a "toothed" horizon with narrow gaps at regular intervals. To the east and west investigators found two observation points. From these vantages, the 300m long spread of the towers along the horizon corresponds very closely to the rising and setting positions of the Sun over the year. This infers that some activities of the ancient civilization may have been regulated by a solar calendar.
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Chankillo
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Peru's oldest solar observatory may be endangered

Local residents claim that a construction company is stealing stone blocks and bricks from Chankillo, the most ancient solar observatory found in Peru and in America according to Science magazine.
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Archaeologist Ivan Ghezzi passed along a handful of photographs of the newly identified astronomical observatory at the site at Chankillo, Peru, built between 2000 and 2350 years ago.
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Eleven ancient wonders observed from space and seen from Google Earth. With audio commentary.



Chankillo Observatory, Peru. Caral, Peru. Pueblo Bonita, New Mexico. Cahokia, Illinois. Old Sarum, England. Pyramids of Guimar, Tenerife. Adam's Bridge, Indian ocean. Persepolis, Iran. Great Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq. Great Mosque of Samarra. The Arch at Ctesiphon, Iraq.

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Chankillo
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GeoEyes IKONOS sensor captured this image of Chankillo on January 13, 2002

chankillo_iko
Expand (253kb, 1024 x 768)
Credit GeoEye/SIME.

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Solar observatory
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Archaeologists from Yale and the University of Leicester have identified an ancient solar observatory at Chankillo, Peru as the oldest in the Americas with alignments covering the entire solar year, according to an article in the March 2 issue of Science.
Recorded accounts from the 16th century A.D. detail practices of state-regulated sun worship during Inca times, and related social and cosmological beliefs. These speak of towers being used to mark the rising or setting position of the sun at certain times in the year, but no trace of the towers has ever been found. This paper reports the earliest structures that support those writings.

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The 2,300-year-old site points to a sophisticated culture that used the dramatic alignment of the sun and the structures for political and ceremonial effects, the researchers said.
A line of 13 stone towers that top a coastal hillside in Peru are in fact the Western Hemisphere's oldest solar observatory, researchers said on Thursday.

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A 2,300 year old solar observatory in Peru has been identified by new research published today (March 2), in the journal Science, by archaeologists from the University of Leicester and Yale University.

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Archaeologists from Yale and the University of Leicester have identified an ancient solar observatory at Chankillo, Peru as the oldest in the Americas with alignments covering the entire solar year, according to an article in the March 2 issue of Science.
Recorded accounts from the 16th century A.D. detail practices of state-regulated sun worship during Inca times, and related social and cosmological beliefs. These speak of towers being used to mark the rising or setting position of the sun at certain times in the year, but no trace of the towers has ever been found. This paper reports the earliest structures that support those writings.

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The first solar observatory in the Americas may have been uncovered in coastal Peru. The ceremonial site provides evidence of sophisticated 'cults of the Sun' operating in South America as early as 2300 years ago.

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Archaeologists have solved the mystery of the Thirteen Towers, a line of low stone structures that have spanned an arid Peruvian slope like a massive set of prehistoric teeth for 2,400 years. The towers lined up outside the citadel at Chankillo are a massive solar observatory that marks not only the summer and winter solstices, but also the days and weeks of the year. The evidence that they are an observatory is unequivocal.

"It seems extraordinary that an ancient astronomical device as clear as this could have remained undiscovered for so long" - Clive Ruggles, a professor of archaeo-astronomy at the University of Leicester and one of the authors of the paper in today's issue of the journal Science..

The site is not the oldest solar observatory in the New World. That honour goes to a 4,200-year-old site just north of Lima, Peru's capital, that marks the solstices. Other ancient structures have been found that clearly have astronomical alignments.

"Unlike all the other sites, however, (Chankillo) contains alignments that cover the entire solar year" - coauthor Ivan Ghezzi, who was a graduate student at Yale University when he did the work but is now archaeological director of the National Culture Institute in Lima.

In effect, it is the oldest 'full-service observatory' in the Western Hemisphere. The finding is important because of the insight it provides on the culture of the indigenous peoples, who were ancestors of the Inca.

Source Los Angeles Times


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