How Sigiriya’s Ancient Connections Question Dogmatic World History
Sigiriya - literally translating to ‘Lion Rock’, pales in comparison to its famed Egyptian counterpart - not through a lack of sheer, grandiose scale, it is by no means unimpressive in either size or spirit, but in terms of academic research and investigation. Our knowledge on the Great Sphinx, as little as we know, utterly surpasses that known of the Sri Lankan site. Even so, if the leonine symbolism present at both sites is anything to go by, an objective connection appears, speculatively linking the two sites, which sit close to 6,000 kilometers (3,728 mi) apart.
Like the Egyptian Khafre, who for so long has been mis-credited for the creation of the Sphinx, is it possible that the king supposedly behind the creation of Sigiriya complex, Kashyapa I, who reigned against his disposed sibling from 473 to 495 AD, simply “re-inherited” Sigiriya for his own purposes, and was not in fact the original architect of the enigmatic settlement? Part of my argument for this is featured in this month’s Ancient Origins subscriber magazine, so please refer to that for further details.
A frontal view of the Great Sphinx of Giza. Notice the extreme weathering on the body that initially led researchers to question its assumed age and thus, Khafre’s true involvement in its construction has been thoroughly questioned since. (Diego Delso / CC BY-SA 3.0).
However, with this assumption as a starting point, other connections begin to materialize, ones we can follow as a sort of ancient map. The first clue comes in the way of the ancient practice of sky-ground connection. It’s this that we will follow next.
A frontal view of Sigiriya’s ‘lion’ staircase. Evidently all that remains of the supposed staircase are the two frontal paws, along with the assumption that a great feline head was also once in place, slotted grandly above them. Where, or what happened, to this giant head is still an unsolved mystery... (
/ Adobe stock)
Following Robert Buaval’s discovery that the three pyramids themselves align with the three stars of Orion’s Belt (Zeta, Epsilon and Delta), the 1996 work, The Message of the Sphinx, saw researchers Hancock and Buaval discuss the various alignments of the monuments situated at the Giza plateau, namely the three pyramids and the Great Sphinx, with certain celestial bodies, namely the constellations of Orion and Leo.
An article from the year 2000, surfacing in Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times, discussed the work of the late M. S. Fernando, an author who, in 1997, posed the interesting idea that the three main stupas found nearby to the ancient capital of Anuradhapura (namely the Mirisavati, Ruwanweli and Jetavana stupas) are aligned to reflect the three stars from the Orion constellation (Rigel, Mintaka and Bellatrix) (Gunawaradane, 2000).
A diagram showing Fernando’s suspected correlation between the Mirisavati (a) Ruwanweli (b) and Jetavana (c) stupas (to the right), and the Rigel, Mintaka and Bellatrix stars that form part of the Orion constellation (listed in respective order - to the left). (Created by the author)
Whilst stupas are developed from ancient burial mounds that actually pre-date the Buddhist tradition (Das, 2019), Fernando came about this theory after his family were involved in the reconstruction of the Ruwanweli stupa in the mid-twentieth century and, a few decades later, his interest was piqued, and a radical theory was born. Radical though it is, it certainly rings true of the research coming out of Giza and an alignment like this, present in Sri Lanka, is not too far out of the realms of possibilities.
In 2013 the work of an Italian researcher named Amelia Sparavigna detailed how the Sigiriya complex has been deliberately calibrated to a certain azimuth (angle of rotation from a fixed point on Earth, to a certain celestial body, measured laterally from north) relating to the zenithal Sun (when it reaches its highest position in the sky).
A diagram I hope visually details the concept of “azimuths” and of the “zenithal” Sun, much more efficiently than my words can. (TWCarlson / CC BY-SA 3.0)
I used this information to pose the possibility that Sigiriya was being used as an ancient observatory, proposing its purpose of recording and mapping meteorite and comet trajectories during the Lyrids, Eta Aquariids and Perseids meteor showers, between April 9th and September 1st - an idea covered in greater detail in my other article.
A diagram showing the slight inclination of 9° along the complex’s east-west axis. Modern research suggests this was a deliberate alignment, purposely marking a specific azimuth at a certain time of the year. (Created by the author)
And Peru Too…
The deliberate alignment of Sigiriya’s complex not only draws parallels to that of the more acclaimed Egyptian monuments, but further a 2017 article written for Ancient Origins suggests this style of alignment, using azimuths to theoretically project certain points in the night sky, was present at a far lesser-known site, one which the locals dub Ñaupa Iglesia. Locals of where exactly?
Locals living deep in the Peruvian Andes to be exact. Independent researcher David Walton discusses the observations of Salazar Garcés, the Scientific Director of Planetarium Cusco, who keenly noted the “axes of the Ñaupa Waka stone altar, projected at certain times of the year, point to positions of stars and constellations…” (Walton, 2017). With this in mind, there are a few key points to note:
a) The ancient builders of Egypt, Sri Lanka and Peru had expert archaeoastronomy proficiency - this is long since proven.
b) A comparable, if not same, unknown technique was utilized to create these alignments on a grand scale, one that is still hard to replicate to this day - we simply have no logical explanation for how these constructions were created.
c) All three countries contain unexplained megalithic works sporadically dotted around, with no firmly agreed-upon purpose and no clearly identified builders - this is arguable, but a point worth exploring nonetheless.
The strange, almost out of place, stone altar at Ñaupa Iglesia, in Peru’s Sacred Valley, whose three precision-cut “chambers” each align to certain azimuths, and thus specific celestial bodies during the year, in a similar vein to the Sigiriya complex and to the monuments of Egypt. (Misterios Con Xana/ CC BY NC SA 3.0)
An Ice Age That Ended Catastrophically
I can hear most of you asking, “ What about Gobekli Tepe?!” Yes, this Anatolian site on the troubled Turkish-Syrian border also features very similar astronomical alignments, only this time, it’s been accurately dated to at least 11,000 years old.
In Professor Martin Sweatman’s recent rigorously-documented work Prehistory Decoded, he notes how the Pot-Bellied Hill along with other prehistoric artwork, all point back to the epoch enveloping the Younger Dryas Maximum (our last ice age - around 12,500 years ago).
There exists mountains of work surrounding the “Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis”, which claims Earth’s last ice age ended, to put it nicely, extremely catastrophically, from the fragmented impacts of a large comet or asteroid from a yet-identified meteor shower. Please refer to the meticulous research of Randal Carlson over at GeoCosmic REX for more information on the topic.
Could the original masterminds behind the monuments erected in Sri Lanka, Egypt and even throughout the America’s have all been attempting to point their giant megalithic fingers at the same time in history, trying desperately to bookmark it in their own unique way, enabling future generations, our generation, to explore the crucial episode in greater detail?
Author (far left) approaching Sigiriya. Working your way through the complex of masterfully crafted gardens and selfie-sticks that surround the giant citadel is just part of the fun. (F. Burnand / Photo courtesy of the author)
Set in Stone
The alignment to celestial bodies is but one more reason why we should be looking at a connection between the Sigiriya Complex (as well as sites across Sri Lanka in general) to other ancient, misunderstood sites across the world.
Strange markings at a site just outside of the old Incan capital of Cusco may pose yet another clue in this perpetual mystery. Named Qenqo Chico, literally ‘a boys labyrinth’, due to the narrow, snaking passageways carved directly out of the bedrock, many researchers have commented on (and scratched their heads over) a series of marks in the rock face, most coming to no conclusion at all - a point in itself indicating the possible use of some yet unknown tool, which was used to superficially ‘scrape’ away the rock face, leaving precise indents or, as I refer to them, smooth ‘grooved notches’.
The picture to the right was taken mid-2019 at a site just outside of Cusco, named “Qenqo Chico”. This type of smooth stone “groove” is found all over South American ruins - it is unexplained by modern academia. The picture to the left was taken in early 2019, during my time spent on the summit of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. Notice the similarity in cut marks, with the rock face almost appearing to have been extracted by ‘scraping’ in precise, lateral strokes - something extremely hard to replicate with metal tools. (Photos courtesy of the author)
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Oddly enough, I personally noticed extremely similar ‘grooved notch’ on the face of another rock, almost identical to those I personally documented in Peru, all the way across deep blue water in Sri Lanka...
An example of similar grooved notches at Sigiriya, appearing to be “pressed” directly into the rock's hard surface with apparent ease. Their purpose - unknown. Comparable notches are seen worldwide throughout other ancient and unexplained sites. (Michael Gunther / CC BY-SA 4.0).
The most common explanation for the Sri Lankan grooved notches is that they were originally steps allowing the monks who inhabited the area access to the citadel. Having been up on the site myself, I can tell you that there is no way anyone could safely use those smooth grooves as steps, monk or not.
The steep climb up to the summit, close to where I accidentally (and shakily) filmed the smooth ‘grooved notches’ in the bedrock, whilst I was trying to get a good shot of the near vertical flight of creaky metal stairs. (Randikachat / CC BY-SA 4.0).
Whilst research suggests “early Sri Lankans had mastered the use of different metals” (Karunathilaka, 1991, P. 107), this does not go far enough to explain how the ancient people carved these notches out of Sigiriya’s granite bedrock - granite being one of the hardest stones - 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale - to carve even with today’s modern equipment (Rich, 1988, P. 226).
Bear in mind, this was supposedly done whilst hanging off the side of a sheer 180-meter cliff face. What these Sri Lankan grooved notches were originally designed for and how they were created is just as much a mystery as the similar notches found all over South America.
Whilst in no way is this a definitive connection, mere coincidence begins to fade into a causal relationship when multiple factors merge together, and it just so happens, the Egyptians were expert at not only quarrying but intricately carving granite also. Another subjective link nonetheless, could the summit of Sigiriya hold yet another piece of evidence for this strange global connection?
Pyramids are Forever
Nobody is certain about what was really built on top of the Sigiriya Citadel. The astonishingly complex and unique grid system of the complex below certainly “reflects the high level of scientific skill, knowledge and skill with regard to measuring and setting out of monumental complexes,” according to Professor Nilan Cooray (2012, P. 228). The remnants of what’s left on the citadel itself is another matter altogether.
Independent researcher Vladimir Kovalsky (who provides a fantastic and deeply insightful account of his own time spent in Sri Lanka) noticed that there is a “stepped-pyramid” style of architecture present on top of the citadel. Having been up there myself, I can confirm this.
Another angle clearly shows the stepped pyramid construction method on top of the Sigiriya Citadel. Notice the precision-cut stairways, cut straight from the bedrock, leading directly into what has been labelled the ‘swimming pool’. (Michael Gunther / CC BY-SA 4.0)
At first glance, it is suspiciously similar to those stepped pyramids dotted throughout Mesoamerica, at classic sites like Copan, Palenque, El Mirador and Tazumal. On second glance, even sites in South American like Machu Picchu, or in Indonesia’s Ceto or Sukuh Temples come to mind. On third glance sites in China... or in the Mediterranean or… well, in reality, on almost every continent in the world there draws similarities.
The better preserved Tazumal main pyramid (as viewed from the west) located in the jungles of Chalchuapa, El Salvador (Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) / CC BY-SA 3.0)
It could well be, just as researchers Buaval and Gilbert state, that this shared idea was meant to represent “the mountain or ladder from which the celestial world could be reached” and that’s why we witness it all over the world. (Bauval & Gilbert, 1993, P. 46).
What this does not explain is how all major cultures around the world came to pick up this idea. A shared genetic memory? Our species’ innate ability to pick up on ideas floating around in space? Even some yet unknown but so largely speculated upon ancient, globally-reaching civilization spreading these ideals to our ancient ancestors? We are all entitled to our own opinions, whatever they may be.
As mentioned in my two previous articles, I am certainly open to the idea of an ocean-bound and deeply ancient connection between cultures who flourished long before the supposed “cradle” of civilization was slowly rocking along the Mesopotamian fertile crescent around 5,000 years ago. This should not be too hard to fathom, despite what the mainstream dogma persists is true.
Could it even be that the beautiful, tropical island paradise of Sri Lanka, even its surroundings shores, was part of the same vein of ancient knowledge and culture seen throughout megalithic sites worldwide?
Another shot of the step-pyramid style construction, present on Sigiriya Citadel. (Photo courtesy of the author)
It just so happens that the now-submerged site of Dwarka in the north-western coastal region of Gujarat, India was once believed to be a mythical fantasy until researcher G. Hancock showed up, well, more like showed under, and uncovered its mysteries in a lengthy period of breathtaking dives.
I agree with the maverick researcher when he states that “we should expect to find underwater ruins not only in South Indian waters, but also in the waters of the island of Sri Lanka” (Hanckock, 2003, P. 248). Maybe these land-lying remnants we are now beginning to scratch the surface on are an early sign as to what may lie beneath the waves. Maybe we must first understand what lies in front of us to understand what lies beneath us.
Shot from distance of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. (Christian / Adobe stock)
Having dived in the vibrant Indian Ocean around Sri Lanka, I can say with certainty there is more left down there than mere fish and plastic bags. I personally cannot wait to return to this magical place to test this theory for myself.
What implications could these perpetual connections have on the understanding of human prehistory? Only time, and further exploration, will tell.
Top image: Bird flying over Sigiriya / Lion Rock in Sri Lanka. Source: Givaga / Adobe stock
By Freddie Levy
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