Ancient Astronomical Alignments: Reading and Mapping the Stars at Early Advanced Civilization Sites
Many of the cuneiform tablets of Mesopotamia and hieroglyphs of Egypt make reference to the sun, stars, or planetary positions. Also, a number of ancient structures in many parts of the world are aligned with, or directly oriented toward, the cardinal points (East, North, South, and West) or celestial objects. A recent study by astronomy historian Michael Horkin involved cataloging 2000 Neolithic tombs and researching over 1000 others in France, Portugal, Spain, and North Africa. His paper, presented to the Royal Astronomical Society in England, points out that thousands of Neolithic structures erected prior to 1000 BC were apparently built to face the sun or key constellations.
Commenting on the study, E.C. Krupp, an archaeoastronomer with the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, states, “It implies a certain social organization in the commitment to build the construction of these monuments, as well as a system of celestial observation.” Yet, Horkin says about one part of the study, “We do not know much about the constellations as viewed by the [ancient peoples], since they were not literate.” Illiteracy is the common assumption about ancient and unknown cultures – but what are we to make of the vast number of megalithic structures, dolmans, cairns, and henges (like Stonehenge) that we find built and precisely aligned with astronomical coordinates?
A Belief that ‘Prior’ Meant ‘Primitive’
If myth tells us there was a time when man was regularly reading the stars, communing with the Earth and the heavens, and generally studying from the book of Nature rather than symbols on paper, can we really say he was illiterate?
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Most early and literate explorers did not recognize the astronomical alignments and mathematical characteristics inherent in the pyramids, Egyptian temple ruins, and other ancient megaliths. Since it was assumed that the people who built them must have been more primitive than the later people of Greece, and especially Rome, no one was looking for architectural features that required celestial calculations.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century, when the prominent British Astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer first seriously began to look at ancient temples around the world, that many astronomical alignments were noted. And even then, most archaeologists downplayed such observations as coincidence or merely structural aspects of primitive religious beliefs.
British Astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer. (Public Domain)
Astronomical Alignment and Mathematical Feats at the Great Pyramid
Astonishingly, we had to wait until the 1960’s before any serious study of celestial alignment was undertaken at Stonehenge (which we now know can be used to predict eclipses), one of the most famous megalithic sites in the world. Because of this lack of interest in connecting the dots, so to speak, important clues that resided in temple alignments with solstices, equinoxes, and other celestial phenomena were completely missed and went undiscovered for centuries. Still today, many archaeologists dismiss much of this astronomical information as unimportant because it does not fit well with accepted interpretations of archaic civilizations.
Over the past few decades, though, the tide has slowly begun to turn, as irrefutable evidence reveals that sophisticated astronomy, mathematics, and other higher sciences were indeed incorporated into many ancient structures. The most obvious candidate for study is the Great Pyramid at Giza, which is larger than anything the Romans or Greeks ever built, and still the largest stone building on Earth.
The Great Pyramid of Egypt. Credit: BigStockPhoto
With its original white (or possibly gold) capstone and limestone siding, it must have been an amazing sight, visible for miles (some ancient people referred to it as “The Light”). It is aligned to within 1/20th of a degree of the direction of the Earth’s rotation – not an easy feat. The massive base of the pyramid today appears to be level to within one centimeter, yet this accomplishment is said to have been performed with stone hammers, an assumption impossible to believe.
J. H. Cole, using modern surveying techniques, has accurately measured the pyramid, finding the ratio of the perimeter to the height a perfect imitation of a sphere (2 times Pi, the radius to circumference ratio of a sphere). Peter Tompkins, in his Secrets of the Great Pyramid, points out several other mathematical representations as well. Dividing the surface area of the Great Pyramid by the area of its base results in a number very near the golden mean (1.618), “a famous ratio in art and architecture.” In addition, he shows that the three great pyramids as they are laid out fit exactly into a rectangle aligned to the cardinal directions, measuring 1414 cubits by 1732 cubits, “a thousand times the square roots of 2 and 3 respectively.”
Still more interesting, in 1993 Robert Bauval (co-author of several books on the pyramids) noticed that the three main pyramids on the Giza Plateau were a mirror reflection of the three belt stars in the constellation Orion, a constellation important to the Egyptians. Bauval and others have also pointed out that the shafts in the Great Pyramid extending from the King’s and Queen’s Chambers also represent stellar alignments. Cutting such stones to the precise angles, placing them in a position so that their sides form a diagonal shaft that aligns with key astronomical coordinates (which must be calculated when most of the stars are not visible in that position, due to precession), embedding them in a massive structure comprised of millions of stones – some up to 70 tons – and doing it all without harder-than-stone tools or instruments or math, or even wheels, is pretty amazing stuff for a “primitive” culture. Or maybe that simplistic assumption is wrong.
Giza pyramids superimposed over the three stars of Orion's Belt. (Davkal/CC BY SA 3.0)
The Mark of Early Advanced Civilizations?
One of the great enigmas presented by the ruins of many of these ancient cultures, most notably Egypt, is that they seemed to have arisen very quickly out of nothing. The Great Pyramid is supposed to have been built near the presumed beginning of this mysterious civilization. As author and rebel Egyptologist John Anthony West states, “The evidence for these advanced civilizations is almost universal in the sense that they all seem to be at their height near the beginning...practically all of them have deluge myths, practically all of them talk about earlier times, Golden Ages when people lived longer and were much more enlightened and advanced.”
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When Mesopotamia was being unearthed and some of the Biblical royal and city names could for the first time be confirmed as actual historical sites, there began to be good reason to take the stories of the Old Testament more literally, as well as some of the other myths and legends from prehistory.
There really might have been a flood of Biblical proportions, and a type of Noah’s Ark and the near loss of all that came before. It may not have happened exactly like the story, but there could have been massive flooding in some parts of the world that wiped away much evidence of prior civilizations. How else could civilization seem to develop out of nothing in Mesopotamia or Egypt 5000 years ago? The plant may have been chopped to the ground, but the roots would still be there.
‘The Deluge’ by Francis Danby, 1840. ( Public Domain )
Top Image: Egyptian pyramids under a night sky. Several researchers believe astronomical alignments at this site point to signs of an ancient advanced civilization. Source: CC0
Extract from Chapter 1: Astronomical Alignments in ‘Lost Star of Myth and Time’ by Walter Cruttenden.