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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 7746
Age Group: Adult
Posted: November 29th. 2003
Winter Solstice: Ancient Sites
by Christina Aubin
Yule/Winter Solstice (between December 21st and 23rd) also known as: Nollaig; Yuletide, Alban Arthan; Juul; Jul; Jiuleis; Joulupukki; Children's Day; Dies Natalis Invicti Solis; Saturnalia; Mid-Winter; Brumalia; Sacaea; Festival of Kronos (Cronos); Dazh Boh; Chaomos; Inti Raymi; Dong Zhi; Soyal; Sada; Touji; Zagmuk; Sacaea
Winter Solstice Ancient Sites
There are worldwide ancient sites built attuned to the annual journey of the sun across the sky.
- Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland, the first of the great passage graves at Brug na Boinne, the royal cemetery was constructed approximately 5,000 years ago to celebrate the Winter Solstice sunrise. The sunshines through the passageway to illuminate the Triple Spiral draw on the wall. It is theorized that the triple spiral was drawn to celebrate the arrival of the sun on Winter Solstice morning.
- Dowth, also know as Dubad, which means 'Darkness' in Gaelic is the one of the third great passage graves at Bru na Boinne said to have been built by King Bressail Bodibal ('Bressal the Cow Destroyer'). Dowth is also located in County Meath Ireland. It is estimated to have been built around 5000 years ago, it is sometimes referred to as the Fairy Mound of Darkness, has historical as well as astronomical significance. Anne-Marie Moroney in her book, Dowth (Dubao)- Winter Sunsets shares her two-year study of Dowth. She has shown that Dowth has two passages one of which is aligned to the Winter Solstice sunset.
- Maeshowe on the Orkney Islands is believed to have constructed around 2,700 BC is hallmarked by its mid-winter alignment; its alignment however is to mid-winter's setting sun. It is noted that the as fading sun light slides below the horizon its last rays noted by those who have witnessed it as blood red, shines directly through Maeshowe 's entry passage and reaches the rear wall of the central chamber.
- Goseck circle, known as the German "Stonehenge" is near Goseck, Germany. The Goseck circle dates back 7,000 years to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, it is believed to have been built in 4900 BCE. At winter solstice, the center of the circles sees the winter's sun rise and set through the southern gates.
- Sun Dagger, a celestial calendar was built by the Anasazi Indians, is located in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon on the top of Fajada Butte. The Sun Dagger passes on either side of the large spiral at winter solstice.
- Cahokia Mounds are believed to have been built around 3000 years ago, is located in southern Illinois has postholes that are an astronomical indicator of the winter solstice sunrise, as well as the summer solstice sunrise and equinox sunrise by the discovery of a circle of postholes.
- Mancos Canyon currently belongs to the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and was the former home to the ancient Native Americans know as the Basketmakers and Puebloans is located in the southwestern corner of Colorado. It is home to hundreds of ancient petroglyphs and solstice sites as well as seven sun calendar sites that have been documented.
- Caracol Tower, located at Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan in Mexico, believed to have been built around 1000 AD. The northeast-southwest orientation platform offers a direct alignment with both the winter solstice sunset and summer solstice sunrise. The structure in whole seems to offer not only the winter solstice and summer solstice alignments but hints at possible equinox and star alignments as well. It is difficult to say with any certainty the use of the tower due to the ruined state it is in and attempts to reconstruct it, but there is written records that hint at its use as well as its elevated position that would have brought above the jungle treetops to allow astrological work.
- Uaxactun (Uaxactn) is also the oldest Mayan city that is located in north-central Guatemala. The construction of Uaxactun is believed to have begun sometime in the first or second millennium BCE. The right temple at Uaxactun offers the appearance of the winter solstice sunrise at its outer corner. The left temple is aligned with the summer solstice and the center temple is aligned with the equinox sunrise.
- Palenque is located in the foothills of the Sierra Oriental de Chiapas in southern Mexico. The Mayan Palenque is not only a temple but also a tomb for Pacal (died abt 680 BCE) the last ruler of Palenque. Palenque is aligned with the sun and its movements - as the sun travels through the day the rays seem to descend the staircase leading to the tomb. At winter solstice, the Sun sets in early afternoon behind a large ridge directly aligned with the temple roof's center. The final rays of light land at the foot of a wall relief of the God of the Underworld, God L. Giving a real perception of a link between Pacal's death and that of the sun at winter solstice.
- Machu Picchu located in Peru 's Torreon has a window that when the sun rises through it and cast a shadow on the central altar of carved rock. When this occurred the Inca knew that winter solstice in the southern hemisphere had occurred and the dry season had begun. Machu Picchu's Intihuatana Stone (translation: the hitching post of the Sun) was used to attach a line to the sun to prevent it from disappearing completely. Although the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere is the opposite of the northern hemisphere - Machu Picchu illustrates the importance of the Winter Solstice regardless of global position.
- Temple at Karnak on the eastern bank of Nile in Thebes Egypt is known as important solstice solar temple. Much of Karnak's features where built along an east-west axis that followed the sun's movement, Karnak has many special alignments that corresponds to both the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice sunrise rising in the east appears in the archway of the Axis Of Karnak. The sun's daily returns to the eastern sky each morning served as a reminder to the Ancient Egyptians of life's renewal through death.
- Paint Rock, in central Texas, is located on private property. Paint Rock, quite by accident, was recently found to have probable linkage to both Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice. The sun makes daggers onto a shield with the turtle depicted during the Winter Solstice. Although this is still a very young discovery it may prove to very exciting.
- Hammonasset Line, which goes through Connecticut and crosses over into New York State, is comprised of pre-colonial stone structures that are theorized to be many thousands of years old. Cairns can be found as well as formed Cairns, unusual walls, marking boulders and travel ways are found along the line through many townships. It marks both the Winter Solstice sunrise and Summer Solstice sunset.
- More and more of these places and their striking almost overwhelming correlation to the celestial events such as both Winter and Summer Solstice, the equinoxes, the moon and the star constellations and movements are being discovered or rather rediscovered. Perhaps it is because we never really were seeing what we were looking at.
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