Sunday, November 4, 2018

Buena Vista and Chankillo: Oldest Peruvian Observatories – Part I

Today, archaeologists are evaluating whether an ancient temple in Buena Vista, Peru, which functioned as a calendar, or the unusually elaborate astronomical solar observatory complex just north, in Chankillo, is considered the oldest in the Americas.
    In fact, for some time, archaeologists concentrated on the belief that the Inca practiced solar observation, based on the early Spanish chroniclers who described “sun pillars” used by the Incas to mark specific solar events. However, the physical remains of these pillars—likely destroyed during 16th-century anti-idolatry campaigns—have never been found, though some suggest that the base of two pillars on an island in Lake Titicaca might have been such.
    However, some indication of so-called Inca stones representing a solar observatory or calendar have been located, according to those who study and write about the questionable accomplishments of the Inca.
The so-called Inca Intihuatana of Machu Picchu was carved at the top of a natural pyramid's summit and characterized by odd shapes which defy interpretation

At Machu Picchu, the Intihuatana (Inti Wayana) stone, which inclines slightly at the top and tilts 13º northward on a granite block looking like a shelf and bench with a rectangular base, is considered a “ritual” stone associated with astronomic clock or calendar (Edwin C. Krupp, Echoes of the Ancient Skies: The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations, Courier Dover Publications, Mineola New York, 2003, pp48).
    Claimed to have been built by the Inca, it is doubtful the Inca were involved in such intricate work that has no evidence of its use or purpose since most everything the Inca built they were glad to tell both their neighbors and the Spanish, which lent to their status. However, there are no descriptions found among the chroniclers of this stone at Machu Picchu and its purpose. Today, archaeologists such as Albert Amao, consider it possibly a sundial; or, according to Dilwyn Jenkins, a means of determining the winter solstice; and David Wilcock that it was a symbol for the Earth’s rotation axis.  Some have ventured the opinion that the Inca believed the stone held the sun in its place along its annual path in the sky (Dr. Albert Amao, “The Dawning of the Golden Age of Aquarius: Redefining the Concepts of God, Man, and the Universe,” Author House, Bloomington, IN, 2012; Dilwyn Jenkins, The Rough Guide to Peru, Rough Guides, New York, 2003, p175; David Wilcock, The Source Field Investigations, Dutton Penguin Group, New York, 2002).
    Like so many things, he early Spanish clergy, under Viceroy Francisco de Toledo destroyed all the Intihuatana they could find, believing that the Incas’ religion was a blasphemy and, no doubt more importantly, that the religious significance of the ritual stones could be a political liability.
Map of (red circle) Chankillo with Lima being Pachacamac or Zarahemla; and Cuzco being the city of Nephi

On the other hand, the observatories in Chankillo (Chanquillo), “a cultural resource in San Rafael, Casma District, Ancash Region, Peru, are obvious solar observatories that were in use long before the origination of the Inca. In fact, the observatory discovered at Chankillo—a site of ongoing archaeological research since 2001—appear far more sophisticated than any of these believed Incan structures” (Iván Ghezzi, Religious warfare at Chankillo, Andean Archaeology, vol.III, ed. W. Isbell and H. Siverlman, Springer, Berlin, 2006, p.67-84).
The thirteen towers of Chankillo, referred to as the solar observatory, as seen from the hilltop fortress, show that when the sun appeared between different towers, progressing from left to right, then back again, indicating the month of the calendar as well as specific periods and events

The movement of the sun across the thirteen pillars of Chankillo provided direct observations of the movement with the purpose of regulating seasonal events such as festivals and the keeping of the seasonal calendar.
    The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo run north to south along a low ridge within a fourth-century BC ceremonial complex in north coastal Peru. From evident observing points within the adjacent buildings to the west and east, they formed an artificial toothed horizon that spanned—almost exactly—the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun. The Chankillo towers thus provide evidence of early solar horizon observations and of the existence of sophisticated Sun cults, preceding the Sun pillars of Incaic Cusco by almost two millennia.
Such an observatory would provide dates and times for planting

Obviously, such observation was essential to the Hebrews and later Nephites in the Land of Promise, for both agricultural needs and for religious festivals. Unlike other so-called “observatory” sites around the world, which mark unequivocally only one or two dates, solar observations at Chankillo covered the span of its annual cycle. 
    Viewing the sun through sunrise and sunset observations of solar alignments over an artificial horizon, the ancient Peruvians were able to identify with great precision the dates of solstices and equinoxes, as well as any other date throughout the seasonal cycle of the sun. In fact, they could determine the date with an accuracy of two to three days by watching the sunrise or sunset from the correct observation platform. Using the site as an observatory would have allowed the ancient Peruvians to regulate the occurrence of seasonal events, including planting and harvest times, as well as religious festivals. In this sense, the Chankillo astronomical observatory is unique and exceptional, not only in Peru or in the Americas, but worldwide.
According to Ghezzi, of the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History—the oldest museum in Peru, and co-author Clive Ruggles, of the University of Leicester, the towers run north to south along a low ridge within a fourth-century BC ceremonial complex in north coastal Peru. Though speculated on by Thor Heyerdahl in his book Kon-Tiki in 1948, his work was never taken seriously, now, however, scientists are beginning to realize the truth behind Heyerdahl’s much earlier understanding. Today, it is evident that observing points within the adjacent buildings to the west and east at Chankillo formed an artificial toothed horizon that spanned—almost exactly—the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun almost two millennia before the Inca (Ghezzi and Ruggles, Science Journal, vol.315, Is.5816, 2 arch 2007, pp1239-1243). 
    However, according to archaeologist Richard Lewis Burger, Chairman of Archaeological Studies at Yale, and carried out excavations since 1975 publishing several books and many articles on Chavin culture, an extinct, prehistoric civilization that developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from 900 BC to 200 BC, he states: “dozens of radiocarbon dates, ranging from 2350-2150 calibrated years-before-the-present, place the construction, occupation, and abandonment of Chankillo within the late Early Horizon period (500–200 BC) of the central Peruvian chronology (John Roach, John Roach, “Mercury Pollution’s Oldest Traces Found in Peru,” National Geographic News; Richard L. Burger, Chavin and the Origins of Andean civilization, Thames and Hudson, London, 1992).
(See the next post, “Buena Vista and Chankillo: Oldest Peruvian Observatories – Part II,” for additional information regarding Chankillo, as well as the outline of the ancient Buena Vista observatory)

No comments:

Post a Comment