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Stone towers make up oldest observatory in Peru

Breaking Earth News: Peru, S.A.
Earth Discovery
March 02, 2007
A line of 13 stone towers that top a coastal hillside in Peru are in fact the Western Hemisphere's oldest solar observatory, researchers said on Thursday. The 2,300-year-old site points to a sophisticated culture that used the dramatic alignment of the sun and the structures for political and ceremonial effects, the researchers said. The site, called the Thirteen Towers of Chankillo, precisely spans the annual rising and setting arcs of the sun when viewed from two specially constructed observation points. "Thousands of people could have gathered to watch impressive solar events. These events could have been manipulated for a political agenda," said Ivan Ghezzi, who made the discovery while a graduate student at Yale University and who is now archeological director of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (National Institute for Culture) in Peru. For instance, at the time of the summer solstice in June, the longest day of the year, the sun rises just to the left of the northernmost tower, Ghezzi said in a telephone interview. Chankillo is a large ceremonial center laid out over several square miles (kilometers). It has a heavily fortified hilltop structure, thick walls and parapets. But no one quite understood a 300-yard-long (meter-long) line of towers that sits on a nearby hill like spines on a dragon's back.Reuters

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