The Exceptional Kokino Observatory – Ancient Megalithic Site, Holy Mountain
At the dawn of the 21 st century, at a place called Tatic's Stone, near the village of Kokino, in the Republic of Macedonia, archaeologists discovered an exceptional prehistoric megalithic site which dates back to the Bronze Age. It was built on a mountain top at 1013 meters (3323 feet) above sea level, right upon a neo-volcanic plate made of craggy andesite rocks.
According to the movable archaeological material unearthed at the site, archaeologists believe that certain cult activities took place there. Researchers found an abundance of fractured ceramic vessels, molds for bronze axes, and jewelry. Within cracks in the rocks of the towering archaeological site, the remains of vessels filled with offerings were found, leading to the site being dubbed a “holy mountain”.
Display of artifacts found at Kokino Observatory. (Public Domain)
Nevertheless, the most interesting part of the site are the four impressive stone thrones dominating over the terrain and facing towards the east horizon.
- Adam’s Calendar: Oldest Megalithic Site in the World?
- Ancient monuments of the Nabataeans were built according to celestial events
- Astronomical alignment of geoglyph in Republic of Macedonia may point to Royal connection
These thrones attracted local physicists who measured and analyzed the archaeoastronomical characteristics of the site, proving that Tatic's Stone is both a sacred site and a Megalithic Observatory.
The Megalithic Thrones
Beside the four stone thrones, in the easily carved andesite rocks there are seven more markers shaped from the vertical standing rocks nearby. These markers indicate the rising positions of the sun on the summer and winter solstices, and on the spring and autumn equinoxes. Next to the markers for the solstice of the sun there are markers which were used for measuring the movement and phases of the moon. All of this was built in a special way so that on an exact day the rays from the sun would pass through the marker and light up one of the thrones.
This spectacle must have been a remarkable sight for the person standing in the central position of the site and observing the movement of the celestial bodies.
It is speculated that on the most important event days, a great fire was probably lit behind the thrones on the mountain top. From there, a fire could easily be seen by all inhabitants more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) away.
After measuring the horizontal coordinates of the markers made for the sun, and using the formula for transit from the equator coordination system (sinδ = cosAcosφcosh +sinφsinh; where δ is the declination of the celestial object, A is the azimuth, h is the height over the horizon, and φ is latitude of the site) a conclusion for the nature of the celestial object rising in the east was made.
With the help of a professional geodesist (experts who measure the Earth's size and shape, tides and gravity fields) and a Total Station optical surveying instrument, archaeoastronomers got very precise measurements, and without a doubt they calculated the declination of the sun. The value was δ = 23,90, which is the exact declination value of the sun on the day of the summer solstice in 1800 BC. This means that the markers were made around 1800 BC. This enabled the astronomers and physicists, as well as the archaeologists, to date this observatory to the same period.
Prehistoric Kings and Rites
Archaeoastronomers believe the main role of the thrones was to perform a bonding ritual connecting the Sun God with his earth-bound representative. One of the thrones has a separate marker cut into its top, and is placed at the highest point at the site. This is where it’s thought the ruler sat. This throne marker was cut with great precision to ensure that on ritual days the sun’s rays would pass exactly where the most powerful member of the community was seated. It is highly likely such ceremonies coincided with the ending of harvest, ensuring peace and prosperity for the year to come. Twenty hand grinders found at the base of the ritual mark support this theory.
Similar observatories to this one, like Stonehenge and the Cambodian Temples, are considered lunar calendars, which show the phases of the moon, and even the 19-years eclipse cycle. Although this was very advanced knowledge for the period, it seems to have existed all over the world. We may only guess who the people were who built these kind of observatories, and from where did they get this knowledge—an even bigger mystery.
- Rare gold sun disc from Stonehenge era publicly revealed for the first time to mark solstice
- Major Discovery: 4,500-year-old megalithic super-henge found buried one mile from Stonehenge
- Nabta Playa and the Ancient Astronomers of the Nubian Desert
Stonehenge, prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. (Qalinx/CC BY 2.0)
Today NASA has recognized Kokino as one of the most important observatories of its kind in the world. UNESCO has also determined that the Kokino Observatory represents a unique testimony to human creative genius in using the natural landscape to satisfy the vital needs, beliefs, and the most important rites in the life of the people from that time.
Yet archaeologists still struggle to discover other sites of great importance from the same period in the surrounding area. Because of this we cannot simply put this observatory in a wider context of some unknown, but highly developed civilization. It is up to the scientists of the future to give us precise and detailed knowledge how these kind of sites came to being, who made them, and what was their main goal.
The exceptional Kokino Observatory at sunset. (markoskavensa/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Featured image: The beautiful and astounding archaeo-astronomical site, Kokino Observatory, or Tatic’s Stone. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Images, unless otherwise noted, via the author, © Vladimir S. Derliev
Stankovski J.,2002, “Tatic’s Rock-Megalithic observatory and sanctuarie” Museum Herald of National Museum Kumanovo vol. 7-9, p.29-39
Cenev Gj. 2002 “Megalithic Observatory in Kokino” Museum Herald of National Museum Kumanovo vol. 7-9, 2002 p.49 – 68.
Đoređević N. 2003, “Geological Reconnaissance of the Terrain on the Archaeological Localitiesound Kumanovo during Year 2002”,Pyraichmes vol.II, National Museum Kumanovo
Hawkins S.Gerald, 1963 “Stonehenge decoded”, Nature vol. 200, p.306 – 307
Gjorgjevic Nedeljko, 2003, Geological Reconnaissance of the Terrain on the Archaeological Localities around Kumanovo during Year 2002, Pyraichmes vol.II, p.275, National Museum Kumanovo
Cenev Gjore, 2006, Megalithic observatory Kokino, Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade, vol 80, p. 313-317
UNESCO, 2015. Archaeo-astronomical Site Kokino. World Heritage List [Online] Available here.