Wednesday, July 3, 2013


By Matthew Zuk

stonehenge, night sky, archeoastronomy, archeology, astronomy
Stonehenge and the heavens

There are many aspects of ancient man that display their incredible intellect and advancement. One of the most outstanding examples is their knowledge of the heavens and astronomy. The study of ancient astronomical achievements is known as “archaeoastronomy”.[1]

There are many examples of archaeoastronomy and while the following list is nowhere near exhaustive it does include some of the most prominent and impressive examples of archaeoastronomy discovered so far.
Stonehenge, archeoastronomy, astronomy
  • Stonehenge, England – Perhaps the greatest example of archaeoastronomy ever discovered, Stonehenge is one of the most famous structures and yet it is still a mystery as to who built it and why. The ancient peoples used the megalithic structure like a giant calendar to predict the solstices (the summer solstice is the longest day and the winter solstice is the shortest day), equinoxes (occur both in the spring and fall, they are the days in which night and day are the same length), half-quarter days (there are four in total taking place between the solstices and equinoxes), and various lunar movements. It is possible that there are more astronomical alignments built into Stonehenge that we have yet to discover as we are still far from knowing everything about this iconic structure.[2]
Pyramids, egypt, archeoastronomy, archeology, astronomy, aligned, ancient man
The Great Pyramids of Egypt
  • The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt – The three Pyramids of Giza are among the most famous structures in history. They are said to be aligned with the constellation Orion and have internal shafts that point to various celestial bodies. This has led some to believe that they may have been astronomical observatories, however this is not confirmed and their purpose yet remains a mystery.[3]
Alexandria, city, ancient city, ruins, archeoastronomy, ancient man
City of Alexandria, Canopic road, taken early19th century
C. Pallini
  • City of Alexandria, Egypt – While not quite as “ancient” as some of the other examples in this list the city of Alexandria is still an incredible feat of archaeoastronomy. The layout of the entire city was designed to be in alignment with the sun on the birthday of Alexander the Great. This type of archaeoastronomy on such a grand scale is truly amazing.[4]
woodhenge, cahokia, ancient man, archeoastronomy
Woodhenge at Cahokia
Photo by Analea Styles
  • Cahokia, United States – Located twenty minutes outside of St. Louis in the state of Illinois, Cahokia boasts the United States greatest archaeological discovery to date. “Woodhenge” is a structure located near Monk’s mound (the largest man made mound in North America). Like Stonehenge, Cahokia’s Woodhenge predicted various astronomical events such as the spring and fall equinox. Multiple woodhenges have been found at Cahokia, however the largest, with 48 posts, has been reconstructed and can be seen today at Cahokia State Park.[5]
chichen itza, equinox, archeoastronomy, aligned, ancient man, mexico, pyramids
Chichen Itza equinox serpent
  • Chichen Itza, Mexico – Located in Southeast Mexico, it is one of the largest Mayan cities ever discovered and it has many examples of archaeoastronomy. Astronomy was a vital area of Mayan society and is commonly found in their architecture. At Chichen Itza there are two structures that clearly display the Mayans fascination with the heavens. El Castillo, “the castle”, is the central structure located at the center of the city. It looms at an impressive 79 feet, however it is famous for an event that occurs twice a year at the spring and fall equinoxes. At these times each year the setting sun creates a snaky shadow along the stairs. This shadow appears to have been a deliberate design as it makes its way down the pyramid connecting to the snakehead at the bottom. The engineering required to produce such an effect is astounding. Not only does this structure predict the equinoxes and the solstices, but the engineers also designed it so the sun would create a snake shadow during the equinox, that is an incredible architectural feat![6] The other building that displays archaeoastronomy is “El Caracol” also known as “the observatory”. This structure tracks the movements of the planet Venus, which is actually a difficult planet to track due to its appearance in the morning, then it disappears and reappears in the evening. These movements were so deceptive that even the Greeks believed they were two different celestial bodies. The Mayans were not deceived by the movements and designed El Caracol to track its movements.[7] Both of these buildings display the Mayans incredible astronomical abilities, and are some of the most impressive examples of archaeoastronomy.
snake mound, archeoastronomy, ancient man, effigy mound, mound, USA
Serpent Mound
  • Serpent Mound, United States – Located in Peebles, Ohio, the Serpent mound is no more than three feet high but it stretches for a total length of 1370 feet. The head of the snake is aligned with the summer solstice and it is believed that the winter solstice and the equinoxes are aligned with the bends of the snake’s body. This is significant because it is a single structure that points to multiple astronomical events.[8]
monuments, astronomically aligned, standing stones
  • Carnac, France – Carnac is one of the largest megalithic sites in mainland Europe; the purpose of this vast arrangement of stones continues to remain a mystery. However, there are two mounds at the site which have entrances oriented with the winter solstice, there is also a section which could accurately calculate the complete 18.6 year lunar cycle. So it could have been some sort of a calendar, though this is only speculation.[9]
antikythera, ancient man, ancient intelligence, astronomy
Antikythera Mechanism
  • Antikythera Mechanism, Greece – Roughly the size of a shoebox, it is believed to be Greek or Roman in origin and was found in A.D. 1900 from a Second Century B.C. Roman shipwreck found off the island of Antikythera. The exact date of its construction is unknown but it is possibly the most astounding piece of ancient technology ever discovered. The Antikythera mechanism has baffled historians with its incredible intricacy and design. It was believed to have contained thirty-seven gears at one point (thirty still remain), this many gears were not used in a device until the 17th century. The mechanism is very complex, able to predict the movements of the sun, moon, the 12 Zodiac signs, and maybe even the five planets the Greeks knew of. It tracked the Saros cycle (periods of solar and lunar eclipses), Metonic cycle (basis for the Greek calendar, it was a nineteen year cycle corresponding to the 235 lunar months), and Callippic cycle (a lunar cycle which included four Metonic cycles), and perhaps even tracked the four-year cycle of the Olympic games![10]

Tracking the Counterfeit

All of these examples of ancient man’s astronomical achievements display their genius. However they also show that the heavens were very important to people in ancient times. They were the focal point of essentially every religion. As we explain in The Genius of Ancient Man all false religions have their origin at the Tower of Babel. So the importance of astronomy in ancient times leads to the question what was the importance of astronomy to the people at the Tower of Babel? The entire purpose of the Tower of Babel was to make a name, which they did by attempting to build a tower to reach the heavens. Why was that?

While this question cannot be answered with certainty, one thing we know is that the worship of anything apart from the worship of God is a perversion by Satan. So his attempt to turn the celestial bodies into an object of worship is a perversion of the heavens true purpose; to declare the glory of God. When we as Christians look to the heavens we should be in awe of their amazing design, and more importantly of their designer. Instead of looking to the stars in awe and worshipping them as ancient cultures did, we should look at the stars and be in awe of our amazing Creator. The heavens are there for a purpose, to declare the glory of God: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Our God is incredible and deserves our praise and worship, how can we be in awe of the creation without being in absolute awe of the Creator?

The Greatest Message in History

And the most mind-boggling thing is, creation is not God’s greatest act, Christ’s sacrifice is! To think about how amazing creation is and realize that it pales in comparison to Christ’s death and resurrection is a truly incredible thought! Christ died for us, becoming sin for us, even though we were and are depraved. Even though we deserve death and an eternity in hell separated from God for sinning against Him. Christ still died, taking on our sin and our punishment and saving us; we cannot attain salvation on our own, it is only by His grace! All we have to do is repent and have faith in Jesus Christ!


So while archaeoastronomy is an incredible example of the intelligence of ancient man, it is also a lesson for us to always worship the Creator instead of creation (Romans 1:25), and to be in awe of our awesome God and what He did on the cross.

[1] "Archaeoastronomy - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[2] Landis, Don. The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution's Nightmare. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012. Pg 69.
[3] Zuk, Matthew. "The Genius of Ancient Man: The Great Pyramid: Enigma of the Ancient World." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[4] Pappas, Stephanie. "Ancient Egypt City Aligned With Sun on King's Birthday | LiveScience." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[5] Styles, Analea. "The Genius of Ancient Man: In their footsteps: Cahokia." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[6] "Ancient Observatories: Chichen Itza." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[7] "Ancient Observatories: Chichen Itza." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[8] "Serpent Mound." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[9] Whitaker, Alex. "The Carnac complex, France." (accessed July 2, 2013).
[10] Landis, Don. The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution's Nightmare. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012. Pg 49.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your research, but more so for your God-centered, glorifying perspectives in all you pursue. How interesting to receive your well-documented, current, and carefully scripted blogs!