Chanquillo: the oldest solar observatory in America

Chanquillo: the oldest solar observatory in America
Chanquillo: the oldest solar observatory in America

In the coastal desert of Peru, in the Kasma Sechin oasis, lies the incredible monumental Chanquillo complex. The archaeological site consists of a hilltop fortress, thirteen solar observatory towers, and living quarters and meeting places. It was built about 2,300 years ago for both practical and ceremonial purposes.

Located between two observation decks, the thirteen Chanquillo astronomical towers span the entire annual arc of sunrise and sunset, which gradually shifts north and south along the horizon throughout the year. The importance of Chanquillo, also known as Chanquillo, lies in the fact that, according to archaeologists, this site is the earliest known solar observatory on the American continent. The Incas, also famous astronomers, observed the sun and stars, but did so many centuries later.

UNESCO has just recognized the importance of this ancient site by designating it as a World Heritage Site and calling Chanquillo "a masterpiece of human creative genius."

Chanquillo program manager, Ivan Gezzi? "It is the only observatory in the ancient world we know of that is a complete annual solar calendar. The 13 towers are positioned to match exactly the movement of the sun throughout the entire seasonal year from two very well-defined observation points. This is unparalleled in America. not in the world."

Research has shown that the astronomical alignments observed at Chanquillo were and remain incredibly accurate. The towers have been known for a long time, but their astronomical value was not widely realized until Gezzi and Clive Ruggles conducted detailed on-site research in 2007.

Archaeologists speculate that the inhabitants of Chanquillo could determine the date with an accuracy of +/- two to three days by observing the sunrise / sunset from the correct observation platform. On the winter solstice, the sun rose behind the farthest tower on the left, and then as time passed, it rose behind each of the towers located between them until it reached the farthest tower on the right about six months later on the summer solstice, marking the passage of time.

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