Bird's-eye view of Mauritius Square

Mauritius Square, Ukraine: What is this Giant Crab-like Earthworks?

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There is a huge, mysterious structure near the village of Mezhirichi in Ukraine. It has an unusual shape (some suggest it looks like a giant crab or spider) which is visible in images actually taken from a hang glider. This gigantic mysterious earthwork structure is known as Mauritius Square.

Mauritius Square’s Construction

The dimensions of this construction are striking: at the middle of the immense structure there is a huge circle with a deep basin at the center. Three openings cut into the walls of the circle – one to the north-east, one on the west, and a final one at the southern side. Four extensive earthen ramps lead from the circle in curvy lines, however one of the ramps was destroyed by farming. The basin contains two smaller sections which were probably used for rituals. The huge size of Mauritius Square gives it a commanding presence in the landscape – the largest ramp has a length of 65 meters (213 ft) – diminutive in comparison to the gigantic circular structure.

All other data on the measurements of the Mauritius Square are from archaeologists’ approximations. These include:

- the length of the of the square - about 250 meters (820 ft);

- the width of the square – about 120 meters (394 ft);

- the diameter of the basin at the top - 40 meters (131 ft);

- the depth of the basin - 6 - 10 meters (20-33 ft);

 - the angle of inclination - from 37 to 45 degrees.

The size of the creation is indeed impressive. So what do we know about Mauritius Square’s creators?

View of mounds in Mauritius Square.

View of mounds in Mauritius Square. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

Research, Origin, and Purpose of the Structure

The first studies of this site were carried out in 1987 by archaeologist L.M. Churnilova, who also dated part of the monument. In 2001, a group of researchers flew over the square on hang-gliders and captured an aerial view of the structure.  In 2004, archaeological excavations were conducted around the square. Five burial grounds were excavated (dating to the end of the fourth millennium BC, the beginning of the third millennium BC, and the second millennium BC). The skeletons found in the burials belonged to the Indo-European community, which led the researchers to suggest Mauritius Square was built by Indo-Europeans as a temple in which they prayed and sacrificed to the gods, as well as an astronomical observatory.

To this day, the sun sets right in the center of one of the valleys of Mauritius Square on the day of the vernal equinox. Perhaps an astronomical aspect was also tracked by the ramps or shafts which move away from the center. There are signs that hills (or small burial mounds) and holes, which possibly held pillars, once existed between the ramps. These features may have acted as landmarks related to when and where the sun rose or set.

An observation was carried out at the center of Mauritius Square, whose azimuth is 270 degrees at sunset on the spring and autumn equinoxes and 51 degrees on the summer solstice, which is equivalent to the angle of the inclination of Cheops pyramid (Khufu, Giza). An observation of the moon showed it moving among the stars from west to east. The researchers also looked for Sirius: after a seventy-two-hour break before sunset, the brightest star - Sirius - appeared on the horizon and announced the summer solstice.

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

There is also a suggestion that Mauritius Square was built by Cossacks as a defensive structure. The Cossacks could have used the square for protection as they were threatened by raids of Turks and Tatars to the south and Lithuanian and Polish feudal lords from the north. However, they probably did not build the structure themselves.

More Mysteries

One of the wonders of the square is that it acts as a magnificent amplifier of sound. If a person standing in the basin of the center speaks in a whisper then his/her words can be heard clearly at the top of the structure – all without a microphone or other technology! Perhaps this basin, which resembles a deep bowl, was used by ancient people to transmit sounds in such a way.

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