Oldest Known Astronomical Observatory In The Americas Lies In Peru And Even Pre-Dates The Incas

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Oldest Known Astronomical Observatory In The Americas Lies In Peru And Even Pre-Dates The Incas

Photo: The Fortified Temple at Chankillo. (Janine Costa/AFP via Getty Images)


The oldest known astronomical observatory in the Americas was built by a civilisation in Peru that even pre-dated the Inca Empire.


The Chankillo, a civilisation about which little is known, built the masterpiece around 2,300 years ago, and used it to chart activities in the heavens above, much in the same way Europeans did at the ancient site of Stonehenge.


The huge structure was comprised of 13 stone towers and two building complexes where astronomers would be stationed. Using the alignment of the 13 towers spanning 300 metres, the changes in the night-sky could be recorded and the changing of the seasons could be predicted.


This likely helped greatly with keeping the date, preparing for religious festivals, and activities involved in agriculture such as planting and harvesting. It is said that the structure is so accurate that precise days of the year can be observed just through the use of the astronomical towers.


Amazingly, it wasn't until the last 20 years that archaeologists realised that the towers were used for astronomical purposes.


Anthropologists believe that just like the Incas that followed them, the Chankillo people likely worshipped the Sun as a god, and it appears as though the staircases leading up to the observatory was used for religious rituals of sorts.


Why the site was eventually abandoned is unclear, but while it has indeed stood the test of time, the entire complex at the time of its construction would have been elaborately painted and decorated.


Since the discovery of the true purpose of the site preservation bodies have made moves to better preserve the ancient structure.


In 2021, the Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex officially joined the UNESCO World Heritage List for its outstanding craftsmanship. UNESCO says of the observatory:


"Unlike architectural alignments upon a single astronomical target found at many ancient sites around the world, the line of towers spans the entire annual solar rising and setting arcs as viewed, respectively, from two distinct observation points, one of which is still clearly visible above ground. The solar observatory at Chankillo is thus a testimony of the culmination of a long historical evolution of astronomical practices in the Casma Valley."


[Based on reporting by: science alert]


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Thinking Humanity: Oldest Known Astronomical Observatory In The Americas Lies In Peru And Even Pre-Dates The Incas
Oldest Known Astronomical Observatory In The Americas Lies In Peru And Even Pre-Dates The Incas
The oldest known astronomical observatory in the Americas was built by a civilisation in Peru that even pre-dated the Inca Empire. The Chankillo, a ci
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