By: April Carson
The first known astronomical observatory in the Americas was erected by a little-known culture before the Incas rose to power in Peru and began to worship their sun god.
This has left archaeologists scratching their heads, as the Incas were known for their sophisticated understanding of astronomy. No one knows who built the observatory or what their motivation was. Theories abound, but so far no one has been able to conclusively prove anything.
Though not quite as ancient as structures such as Stonehenge, Chankillo is considered a "masterpiece of human creative skill" because it features characteristics that exist nowhere else on Earth.
The archaeological site, situated in Peru's coastal dessert, is notable for its row of 13 stone towers that run parallel to the horizon of a hill from north to south, forming what looks like a toothless grin.
The ruins of the observatory also include a triple-walled hilltop complex known as the Fortified Temple and two building complexes called the Observatory and the Administrative Center, in addition to this amazing architecture known as the Thirteen Towers.
The site was completed over 2,300 years ago and abandoned during the first century CE, yet it has remained a mystery to visitors for millennia.
It was only when official excavations began at the turn of the century that archaeologists recognized what they were dealing with.
The hilltop stone structures, which stretch about 300 meters (980 feet), don't appear to be much against a desolate desert backdrop and in broad daylight. It's another story at sunrise and sunset, however.
As the sun rises in the east, a bright orb is visible along the ridge of towers. The rising of the sun gradually shifts to the west, as though flossing away the toothy horizon.
On the summer solstice, for example, the sun rises to the right of the rightmost tower. The sunrise appears to the left of the leftmost tower on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
The Towers of Chankillo were positioned with such precision that, when viewed from a specific viewpoint below the ridge, they may predict the season to within two or three days based on sunrise or sunset. The Observatory – which faces west toward the ridge – utilizes the sunset as an observation point. All that remains of the east observation post are the half-built stone outlines of a chamber, which were in symmetrical locations and would have taken advantage of the sunrise.
For example, the September equinox is determined by the moment the Sun sets between the sixth and seventh towers, as seen in the image below.
The ancient civilization that constructed the solar observatory is largely unknown, but it would have been one of the first in North America. In fact, by more than 1,000 years, this culture predates the Inca culture, which was also excellent at astronomy.
Because the Chankillo ruins, which are attributed to this society, are located in Peru's Casma Desert between the Sechin and Peruvian coastlines, they have been dubbed the Casma-Sechin culture since then.
The Inca people regarded the Sun as a god, much like this culture would have done. The site's stairwells imply that it was formerly utilized for ceremonies.
The Chankillo ruins were first discovered in 1913 by Czech archaeologist Max Uhle, who had been excavating Inca ruins at the time. He didn't publish anything about them until 1970, though, after archaeologists had revisited and studied the site in more detail.
The second-oldest astronomical observatory in the world is believed to have been built around 500 BCE, according to archaeological excavations. Then, for some unknown reason, the site was abandoned, and the towers deteriorated. The structures would have been plastered yellow, ochre or white, with graffiti or fingerprints painted on them during their prime.
Even when stripped of ornamentation and crumbling, however, these stone walls continue to faithfully commemorate the days of the year. Efforts are now underway to maintain the original calendar's accuracy.
The Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2021 for its remarkable carpentry and understanding of ancient civilizations' worldview.
The UNESCO website states, "Unlike architectural alignments that were built around a single astronomical target discovered at numerous ancient sites throughout the world, the line of towers spans the whole yearly solar rising and setting arcs as seen from two distinct observation points, one of which is still plainly visible above ground."
"The solar observatory at Chankillo is a testament to the Casma Valley's long historical development of astronomical techniques."
The Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy has more information about this observatory.
Mysteries of the Past, Anunnaki Builders, and Atlantean Mysteries – Billy Carson and Matthew LaCroix
About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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