An ancient astronomical alignment in southern
Peru has been discovered by researchers between a pyramid, two stone
lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. During the
solstice, hundreds of years ago, the three would have lined up to frame
the pyramid in light.
The two stone lines, calledgeoglyphs,
are located about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) east-southeast from the
pyramid. They run for about 1,640 feet (500 meters), and researchers say
the lines were "positioned in such a way as to frame the pyramid as one
descended down the valley from the highlands."
Using astronomical software and 3D modeling, the researchers
determined that a remarkable event would have occurred during the time
of the winter solstice. [See Images of the Pyramid and Solstice Alignment]
"When viewed in 3D models, these lines appear to converge at a point
beyond the horizon and frame not only the site of Cerro del Gentil
[where the pyramid is], but also the setting sun during the time of the
winter solstice," the research team wrote in a poster presentation given
recently at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in
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flat-topped pyramid at Cerro del Gentil stands 16 feet (5 meters) tall
and is made out of adobe. Pyramid artifacts found nearby the pyramid
include textiles, shells and ceramics. A settlement nearby contained
around 1,000 people.
CREDIT: Photo by Laura Griffin
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"Thus someone viewing the sunset from these lines during the winter solstice would
have seen the sun setting directly behind, or sinking into, the adobe
pyramid," they write. "Thus the pyramid and the linear geoglyph
constitute part of a single architectural complex, with potential
cosmological significance, that ritualized the entire pampa landscape."
(The word "pampa" stands for plain.)
The flattop pyramid is 16 feet (5 m) high and was built sometime
between 600 B.C. and 50 B.C., being reoccupied somewhere between A.D.
200 and 400. Finds near the pyramid include textiles, shells and
ceramics. The stone lines were constructed at some point between 500
B.C. and A.D. 400.
Lines, settlements and pyramids
But this discovery is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Researchers have found about 50 of these stone lines so far in a flat,
dry area near the pyramid. The longest of the lines runs for nearly a
mile (about 1,500 m). These lines are straight and made out of rock,
unlike the Nazca Lines in southern Peru which were etched into the earth by removing the topsoil and include depictions of animals and plants. [Image Gallery: The Nazca Lines of Russia]
Interspersed with these lines, researchers have also found more than
200 cairns (rock piles). The biggest of these cairns is about 50 feet
(15 m) in diameter. Cairns can be found throughout the world and
sometimes contain human burials, the examples found here, however, do not.
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have found about 50 of these stone lines, the longest of which runs
close to nearly 1 mile (1,500 meters). Many of these lines point to
nearby settlements and their pyramids. The lines date to somewhere
between 500 B.C. and A.D. 400.
CREDIT: Photo by Charles Stanish
View full size image
The stone lines and cairns appear to be connected with nearby
settlements and their pyramids. There are four ancient settlements close
to them, two of which have large pyramids and one that has a mound. The
settlements would have supported populations in the high hundreds or
just over 1,000.
"Many of the lines do lead to the pyramids;
most lead to within the area of the pyramid," said Charles Stanish, a
professor at UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, in an interview
with LiveScience. "We did a statistical analysis, and it is
statistically significant— it couldn't have been by random chance that
they do cluster on these settlements," he said, noting that there are a
few lines that don't lead to settlements.
Stanish said that the discovery of ancient lines leading to pyramids
in Peru is important. "We have lines that run to pyramid complexes, and
that's significant, because in the big Nazca pampa and in the Palpa
pampa, we don't find that pattern as obvious." These two areas, Nazca
and Palpa, contain lines, etched in earth, that depict various motifs,
including animals and plants.
The team has only completed one field season at the site and will be
heading back this summer to continue their work. They plan to excavate
at the Cerro del Gentil pyramid and search for more stone lines.
"We're also going to do a systematic survey of a fairly large area to
find all the other lines and all the other settlements and features,"
Stanish said. They also plan to dig test pits in structures associated
with the lines to try to determine precisely when they were built.
One problem the team faces is that time is against them. "A lot of
them [the stone lines] are being destroyed by construction," said
Stanish, explaining that modern-day power and gas lines are being built
in the area, jeopardizing the ancient stone lines that have stood for
well over a millennia.
Thanks to tatooke at: http://extraterrestrials.ning.com