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Tuesday, November 01, 2005


World's earliest observatory discovered 


TAIYUAN, Oct. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese archaeologists said they have found the world earliest observatory, dated back to some 4,100 years ago, in north China's Shanxi Province.

The ancient observatory in the Taosi relics site in Shanxi Province is at least 2,000 years older than the 1,000-year-old observatory built by the Maya in central America, said He Nu, a research follow with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He told Xinhua on Sunday that the observatory, built at the endof the primitive society, "was not only used for observing astronomical phenomena but also for sacrificial rites."

The remains of the observatory, in the shape of a semicircle 40meters in diameter in the main observation platform and 60 meters in diameter in the outer circle, were made by rammed earth in three circles.

Archaeologists inferred that 13 stone pillars, at least four meters 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 conjecture, archaeologists spent a year and a half simulating the observations of the ancients at the site.

To their surprise, the seasons marked by observation at the site were only one or two days different from the seasonal division of the traditional Chinese calendar, which is still widely used in rural China.

www.chinaview.cn 2005-10-30 10:38:03



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