Stunning Astronomical Alignment Found at Peru Pyramid
2013-05-07 0:00

By Owen Jarus | LiveScience

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, called geoglyphs, 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.

"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 Honolulu.

Archaeologists have discovered a pyramid in southern Peru, built between 600 B.C. and 50 B.C. ago, would have aligned with two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. Here, a 3D model shows the event that happened at the Cerro del Gentil pyramid during the winter solstice. The two stone lines frame the pyramid with the sun setting directly behind it. This alignment may have had cosmological significance for the people who lived there.

"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.

Researchers 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.

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.

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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