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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 31, 2005 11:02:11 GMT -6
Chinese Archaeologists Find One Of World's Oldest Observatories
Beijing (AFP) Oct 30, 2005 Chinese archaeologists claim to have found one of the world's oldest observatories, dating back 4,100 years ago, state media reported Sunday.
The observatory was uncovered at the Taosi relics site in Shanxi province, He Nu, a research follow with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
The observatory "was not only used for observing astronomical phenomena but also for sacrificial rites", said He.
The remains, in the shape of a semi-circle 40 meters (132 feet) in diameter in the main observation platform and 60 meters (198 feet) in diameter in the outer circle, were made of rammed earth, the report said.
Archaeologists said 13 stone pillars, at least four meters (13 feet) tall, stood on the foundation of the first circle originally, forming 12 gaps between them.
"The ancient people observed the direction of sunrise through the gaps and distinguished the different seasons of the year," said He. In order to test the theory, archaeologists spent 18 months simulating observations at the site, Xinhua said.