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13 November 2016

Library of References (PDF files) on The Age of Astronomy and Echoes of Archaeoastronomy Article Series.



ASTRONOMY CLUB TOUTATIS, KUSTAVI, FINLAND 
LIBRARY

Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland with the aid of Links Through Space has always been about finding Links on Astronomy and share them on our blog.
Now we go further with sharing PDF files. Just call us, PDF Through Space.



1_Black Genesis, Robert Bauval, Thomas Brophy.
2_The Egyptian Pyramids, An analysis of A Great Mystery, Everett W. Fish M.D., 1880.
3_Ancient astronomical observatories, Srikumar M. Menon, Manipal University, Manipal.
4_Resource Guide for Canadian Aboriginal Astronomy (May 2010)
Prune Harris, Institute for Integrative Science & Health, Cape Breton University.
5_Unravelling Patterns in Oukaïmeden Rock Art, Jorge De Torres, Marisa Ruiz-Galvez, 2014.
6_STEREO SCIENCE WRITERS GUIDE. Aguide for reporters to understand the Stereo mission.
7_Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown 2006.
8_Maps of the Sky, Joe Zuntz Computational Cosmology Institute, Oxford Martin School.
9_Forests of Stones, Rings of Giants, G. Magli, Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy, DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-76566-2_2, 2009.
10_Archaic Astronomical Instruments, D.L. Couprie, Heaven and Earth in Ancient Greek Cosmology, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-8116-5_2, 2011.
11_A “Curious and Sometimes a Trifle Macabre Artistry”, Ian Hodder and Lynn Meskell 2011.
12_About_ScanPyramids-en, ministry of Antiquity, Egypt, 2016.
13_CULTURAL CONTEXT FROM THE ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL DATA AND THE ECHOES OF COSMIC CATASTROPHIC EVENTS, Mare Kõiva, Harry Mürk, Izold Pustõlnik, 2002.
14_New Possible Astronomic Alignments at the Megalithic Site of Göbekli Tepe, Turkey, Alessandro De Lorenzis, Vincenzo Orofino, 2015.
15_Archaeoastronomical Study of the Main Pyramids of Giza, Egypt:Possible Correlations with the Stars? Vincenzo Orofino, Paolo Bernardini,2015.
16_African Cultural Astronomy Current Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy research in Africa, Jarita C. Holbrook, R. Thebe Medupe, Johnson O. Urama, 2008.
17_Alignnment of pyramids in Egypt_Belmonte_Shaltout.
18_Constellation Legends by Norm McCarter Naturalist and Astronomy Intern SCICON.
19_Found: An Ancient Chinese Ideograph Integrated Into Native American Rock Writing By John A. Ruskamp, Jr., Ed.D. © 2009.
20_Ancient Colorado Rock Art Site Employs Light Animation to Mark Equinoxes Astronomical Alignments Predate Anasazi Civilization. Carl Lehrburger, 2005.
21_Ancient Egyptian Astronomy Anonymus.





10 November 2016

Echoes of Archaeoastronomy: 4/4 Deeper and Deeper Into the Astronomical Rabbit Hole. A Year of Research on Archaeoastronomy and the Connection of Astronomy to Ancient Civilizations.




This article is about my experiences on my 1 year research on the anthropology of astronomy.
Part of my Echoes of Archaeoastronomy Series, a series of 4 articles on aspects of Archaeoastronomy, this article tells about the emotions you go through when exploring the past, especially when looking to the sky. I started to wonder if all the civilizations before us had the knowledge of astronomy. I wanted to know when was the first time that humans comprehended astronomy. It all started with a visit to a village in the Moroccan Sahara desert, named Ait Ouazik.


So look...
My hobby in astronomy started officially in 2010 with the purchase of a telescope. I started to observe the night sky every chance I got. This hobby of mine turned rapidly into an obsession to understand the motion of the night sky. I was hooked.

Later...
I incorporated my hobby of astronomy in my travels and did series of articles dedicated to astronomy and the places I was travelling to. It ranged from visits to astronomy observatories, meeting local astronomy clubs and photographing the night sky in the part of the world i was visiting.

in 2014 and 2016...
I travelled to Morocco and visited an exceptional astronomy orientated hotel in the middle of the Moroccan Sahara, Hotel Sahara Sky. During the night we were busy observing the night sky at the hotel, but in the daytime we were without any plans. So the owner of the hotel suggested us to take a trip to a prehistoric rock art site not to far from the hotel. So we did. twice. This place made me realize that ancient people too had the knowledge of astronomy. But since when and how was the knowledge kept? This was the moment I began to realize how much I was intrigued by the notion that everything was connected to astronomy. I really began a journey far far into the past and into the unknown.

Back home...
I opened my computer and on the Internet researched all I could on the subject of Archaeoastronomy. I read about astronomy in ancient civilizations, in mythology, in ancient architecture, in rituals and customs practised by ancient ancestors. Prehistoric relics and places on the planet indicating what so ever a connection to astronomy. In writings in books or listening to radio shows on the subject.

At some point...
I was so confused, that I had to take a step back to process it all. The amount of articles, books and videos to look at was overwhelming. At one point nothing made sense anymore, it was all gibberish. I tried to get it out of my system by explaining my research to my friends, but the expressions on their faces of "Clueless and dumbfounded " just made me feel worse.

During the year...
I really got frustrated and could not deal with it anymore. I wanted nothing to do with "ancient" stuff, everything seemed so distant, my research seemed to go nowhere. I was thinking: "Who cares about this stuff anyway?". For a while I let it cool off and on a sunny day I was back on track. In fact, a little time off was the best medicine. I was refreshed and found new books, articles and papers on the subject and could finally finish my research on the anthropology of astronomy.

By the way...
The understanding of gaining the knowledge of astronomy is hidden in the pages of all kinds of books and articles on the Internet. Piece by piece One has to collect the writings and make sense of it all. The understanding of astronomy does not come easily. It takes many years to see the full cycles of certain astronomical events and even more years to understand them. Time is the key to all the understanding we have accumulated up to today.

In fact...
My research brought me all over the world in literature and in physical places. I am convinced that all or at least the majority of ancient civilizations on Earth were aware of these astronomical cycles and had a great knowledge of them. When was the beginning? No one knows. One thing is for sure, astronomy has played a major role in our past and the echoes felt by it, still resonate today.

Sadly...
I did not find when exactly astronomy began, but i am happy to tell you, that this was all worth it. Astronomy is important to me and I start to realize that it was important to ancient people as well. Astronomy is the basis of everything and the ancient civilizations thought so too.
This research opened my eyes to the fact that astronomy is all around us, daily. Easy to recognize in a familiar surrounding, the cycles starts to be noticed on a daily basis and be part of normal life.

Stefan Lamoureux, President of Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.
These articles and pictures are all part of the public outreach in Astronomy from
Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.

So in conclusion...
The History of the world, the Archaeoastronomy behind it, the knowledge of astronomy and the connection to prehistoric civilizations are all steps in the formation of Astronomy as we know it today. The knowledge of Astronomy has been in the past, it is now in the present and it will be in the future to come. My research on Astronomy through ancient Civilizations has surely told me that, but it was really well hidden and it was no small feat to unravel all this. 

05 November 2016

Echoes of Archaeoastronomy: 3/4 My Backyard is the Center of the Universe. Ancient observation techniques at my own Astronomical Observatory in Kustavi, Finland.




In my last article on Echoes of Archaeoastronomy, I wrote about my 1 year research on the interconnection between Astronomy and the ancient rock art site i visited in Morocco, called Ait Ouazik. Between Dec. 2014 and Jan. 2016 I visited twice the site of Ait Ouazik to prove a connection with the rock art found at the site and astronomy. This gave me the idea to start my own "ancient observatory" in my own backyard here in Finland. I figured that if they did it in a remote past in Ait Ouazik, I surely could do it today in my own backyard. So i Did. Here is a short version of my experiences with my own ancient observatory in my own backyard.

Mimicking ancient observatory in my own backyard. Yellow lines define my observatory limits
3 observation points (Central, Western and Eastern). On this chart you find 4 alignments 1) Meridian (South) 2) Winter Solstice rising Sun 3) Winter Solstice setting Sun 4) Venus (evening star) corridor.
This observatory is located in Kustavi, Finland.

On my property on a small island in Western Finland I run an Astronomy club since 2010. This Astro-Club is basically based in my backyard. I have the shed, I have the steady pillar, which sits the mount, which sits the telescopes. I have the eye pieces and the gadgets to help me glimpse celestial objects in the night sky, but what I really was missing was an naked eye Observatory. A naked eye observatory, like the prehistoric people would have had.

My backyard's dimensions are approximately 100x100 square meters. The observatory engulf it all. The grounds surrounding our place is full with markers to remind us of something astronomical. It has a central viewing point, which is my front balcony. It has seasonal alignments, cardinal alignments, astronomical alignments with buildings, Pole alignments, stone alignments and remote alignments in the form of distant locations align with our central observation point to create a larger area of observation, as would our ancient ancestors would have done. This created a sort of play ground to try out how ancient people could have seen the night sky around them.

Kustavi's observatory map.
Equinoxes (top picture), Summer Solstice (middle picture), Winter Solstice (bottom picture).
Using Suncalc (http://suncalc.net/).  


I trained my self to recognize the night sky patterns in my surroundings. Many hours of thinking outside the box trying to imitate ancient astronomers. Aligning my property buildings with events in the heavens. Try first hand methods ancient people might have used to study the heavens. I even replicated the boulder featuring Petroglyph no.2 in my backyard to test astronomical techniques i am associating it to. (Read Echoesof Archaeoastronomy: 2/4 Village of Ait Ouazik, Southern Morocco andvillage of Oukaimeden, Atlas Mountains, Morocco.) This boulder is the center of my research on a connection to astronomy, so clearly i had to test it in a familiar environment, hence my backyard.

Replica of the Bowl carving and the spoke wheel no.2 petroglyph inside of it.

On this boulder you find a bowl shape carving with a petroglyph at the bottom of this bowl. By doing a replica of this boulder in my backyard, it gave me time to study it more carefully within my observation place in my backyard.

Many challenges were ahead. The motion and movement of the Moon monthly. The positioning of the Sun on the solstices and equinoxes in comparision to the horizon I have in my backyard. The heliacal risings of specific stars. Keeping track of planets and establishing the ecliptic they follow. Predicting the position of Venus. Following the planet Venus through it's synodic cycle of 583 Earth days or even the pentagram of Venus, a interaction between the Sun, Venus and Earth of 8 years, yet to be completed for us anyway. The use of the Horizon to observe stars and planets popping up the horizon line. I have to admit, where we live, forest invade our view of the horizon, but we make the point still to investigate this technique, that the ancient people surely have used.

Watergazing through a soup bowl on my balcony.
The right side picture is a bowl with  the reflection of the Moon (with Flash).
The left side picture is without Flash. You can see the reflection of the Moon very well.
Click on picture to enlarge.


Watergazing (Observing celestial bodies as the moon, the planets and the stars in a puddle of water) I tried to look at the night sky not directly up, but rather down on the ground,through shallow puddles of water. The reflexion of the Moon, the planet Jupiter and Venus and certain stars were reflected clearly. The shallower the puddle, the better the reflection was.

Venus in the Western sky. I small window where I  see it setting (alignment no.4 in my observatory chart).

To be at home, a place i spend everyday gave me easy access to observe the everyday motion of the night sky in a familiar surrounding. I challenged myself to get acquainted with the Constellations, the planets, the Moon and the stars for a long periods of time. To mimic the ancient people looking at the night sky i committed to long periods of time for observations as they would have done, writing down my observations. Even though i have all the information necessary on astronomy at my finger tip with books and the Internet, i tried to really start from the beginning. Wondered how the cycles were slowly understood. How to gain the knowledge of astronomy in my backyard with familiar, every day, easy surroundings.

1 years of intense observing and mind setting on an ”ancient observatory” i finally got the hang of it. I really enjoyed my experience, I even got better in recognizing the whole night sky in relation with my surroundings in a glimpse. My whole backyard had in a sense became important to me. I made a connection with the night sky and my surroundings.

”The Stable observing of one reinforced his understanding of familiar sights of the celestial motions. By observing always at the same place, one can establish a permanent position in relation to the apparent rotation of the night sky. A foundation on which to rely on.
The creation of an observatory is essential to the study of Astronomy. The beginning of understanding the clockwork motion of the night sky around one, can only be achieved when one stop moving.” - My own thoughts really!

Me and the Sunset at horizon with clouds above. producing these dramatic Sun rays on the picture.   

My experience with my naked eye observatory back at home, really connected me with the rock art site of Ait Ouazik I was studying. It reinforced my confidence that it could have been really like that. That ancient people would have been connected to astronomy every day and benefit from it.

I write in the past tense, but I have to say that i have used my observatory, i use it now and I don't see why I wouldn't not use it in the future. To be able to incorporate my surroundings and the sky above is simply magical. I am glad that I took the time to invest in this project. It has brought me further knowledge of the night sky and a shared feeling with ancient civilizations through archaeoastronomy. Even more so in my own backyard!


02 November 2016

Echoes of Archaeoastronomy: 2/4 Village of Ait Ouazik, Southern Morocco and village of Oukaimeden, Atlas mountains, Morocco.




 In December 2014 me and a college visited the ancient petroglyph site of Ait Ouazik in Southern Morocco. Our visit was a casual day activity part of our stargazing trip to Morocco.
But as I explain in my previous article on the subject (http://linksthroughspace.blogspot.fi/2015/03/archeoastronomy-5000-years-old.html), this ancient site became much more then a touristic visit. It became the center of a research on the origins of astronomy. The research lasted from Dec. 2014 to Jan. 2016.
This article relates my research linking astronomy to the ancient petroglyph sites i visited, which are Ait Ouazik, Southern Morocco and Oukaimeden, Atlas mountains, Morocco.

Geographical location of the rock art sites in Morocco.
Ait Ouazik, Sahara desert, Morocco and Oukaimeden, Atlas mountains, Morocco.

This year (January 2016) I returned to the village of Ait Ouazik to further my research linking astronomy to the rock art of that region. I also visited an another prehistoric rock art site situated roughly 250 kilometers from the studied site of Ait Ouazik and added to my research the possibility that this site too would have been also connected to astronomy. This site is called Oukaimeden and is located in the Atlas mountains in the region of Oukaimeden, Morocco a present day ski resort and home to an modern astronomical observatory. I went to investigate if on both sites the rock art found there had a connection to astronomy.

From right to left: Ali, Mohamed, Iikka, Omar, Ali again and me (Stefan).

Those present in the expedition were The Guide (Mohamed), Astronomy club Marrakesh 3AM Pres. (Ali), The blacksmith (Iikka) and me from Astronomy Club Kustavi, Finland (Stefan).
I want to thank the local guides at both sites: Ait Ouazik and Oukaimeden. Also a big thank you to Sahara sky owner (Fritz) and it's crew for the hospitality and the moral support.

First of all, Rock art is also called petroglyph. The word petroglyph is made of two words: Petro wich means rock and Glyph wich means inscription. So petroglyph means ”Rock inscription”.

Prehistoric rock art site: Ait Ouazik
This 5000 - 8000 years old (3000 - 6000BC) prehistoric rock art site in Southern Morocco called Ait Ouazik is full of rocks with carved inscriptions on them. These rock carvings are the remains of an ancient people living in this region at that time. Rock carvings showing us a totally different environment than the arid dry Sahara of present day. On these rocks you will find animals of the Savanna such as Gazelles, Ostriches, rhinos and elephants. Also you will find intricate interlace lines and circular patterns, which are out of place and unknown.
In my research i observed the petroglyphs and speculate on a possible connection to astronomy. Even though the site of Ait Ouazik and Oukaimeden has been fairly studied, the studies do not seem to be concentrated on connecting the sites with astronomy.

My research was to see if the rock carvings could have a connection to astronomy.
The results are some what stunning and surprising. I might just have found evidence that these sites where connected to astronomy.

Ait Ouazik and the cyclical path of the seasons
The village of Ait Ouazik these days is a quiet, recluse village on the slopes of beautiful surrounding mountains. But in the days of our ancient ancestors, i believe it to be a ”pit stop” on the way the nomad hunters travelled to follow prey animals.
The conventional thinking says, that the people living in these regions and in that time (6000-3000BC) were nomad hunter-gatherers that lived out of hunting animals and gathering on the way supplement food for survival. I don't dispute this argument. In fact, i add to it that these people were part nomad hunter-gatherer part sedentary people having a cyclical way of life.

Cyclical way of life for ancient nomad-hunter-gatherer-sedentary people.
Ait Ouazik was probably a "pit stop" on the way. 

There were young men who went to hunt and followed the animals on their pasturage year round. There were also a sedentary community of elders, women and children who stood still, waiting for the men to return with supplies (meat). These places
such as Ait Ouazik, where on the path of the cyclical trail the nomad hunters borrowed making them part of the cycle.

The animals were travelling enormous circles in the region searching for greener grass to graze. The seasons provided these animals with the ”food” they needed in some parts of the cyclical journey they travelled, only to return on their original grazing grounds near Ait Ouazik. As the young hunters left to follow and chase the animals, the hunters would also returned to Ait Ouazik from where they started from, completing the circle.

The Elders
Who are these elders and why are they sedentary?
First of, the elders were probably hunters in their young age, who followed the animals to get food to feed the community they where part of. But these men became old and were unable to continue to chase the animals in these seasonal long hunts. So they stood still in one location along the paths the young hunters took and waited for their return. These elders were in a sense the sages of the community. With many years of experience in hunting, they probably understood the importance of transmitting the knowledge of hunting to next generations. This knowledge was probably transmitted orally, but somehow changed to be inscribe on rocks. As the seasons past at the sedentary location (we will call it village from now on), the elders assisted by the women and children of the village started to dedicate their time to fashion inscriptions on rock. The elder(s) would have chosen what to carve and the apprentices women and children would have been his manual laborers, which would have done the rock carvings. In evidence on the rocks found at Ait Ouazik rock art site, the elders would have emphasized on animal pictogram to educate the children on what to hunt. Ways to hunt them are also found at the site such as petroglyph of traps and nets (Searight 2001. p.72). In a sense these rock carvings were part of a school for later generations to study and learn from. Provided by the elders, the rock art would have been books to study and learn to assure their survival.

Practise boulder at rock art site Ait Ouazik.
The women and children would have practise carving, pecking and more.

What use is it to stay at one location?
To stay at one location gives one the sense of being at the center of the Universe. Astronomically speaking, to observe the night sky or the Sun at one given place guaranties us always the same result. We can trust that whatever events happens in the sky will be repeated in the forgoing observations. In essence this is the goal of the observers in our time and in theirs, to collect observations from a steady place throughout the years and find a recurrent cycle to understand and lean on.

I believe that the elders by staying at one location, started to look at the Sun, Moon, planets and stars and recognize motion patterns night after night, season after season and year after year. To stay put at one location gave them the opportunity to study the heavens in detail. It seems to me incredible that all these rock carvings would have only been for the benefit of hunters in a pre-dawn agricultural settlement. It seems to me that the cyclical passage of seasons and the cyclical route that the animals took followed by the hunters, would have arose the curiosity of cyclical motions of the night sky as well. Hence the elders to comprehend the cyclical path of the hunt brought them the knowledge of a cyclical "path" motion of the heavens. To engrave it in stone to be thought to future generations seemed to be crucial and of the most importance for these ancient people.

Color coded landscape of the prehistoric school with Standing stone, Tumulus and boulders around it.

Astronomical evidences on site
Do we find evidence of rock carvings at the site that could indicate a connection to astronomy?
Yes we do.

The rock art boulder direction. The motion of the night sky is concentrated to the South, The meridian.

Petroglyphs pointing to significant orientations of significant periods of the year, such as Solstices and Equinoxes.

We find many spiral-like glyphs that are out of place in the context of the site representing perhaps infinity (Von Hoek 2015). The concept of infinity is not far from the concept of cyclical cycles .

A Standing stone align with the background landscape to record important dates. The horizon align with the Standing stone offers tantalizing evidence of astronomy.

We find also two round ”spoke wheel” shape rock carvings indicating perhaps an astronomical calendar. These two "spoke wheel" petroglyphs are at the center of my research to link the ancient people of Ait Ouazik with the knowledge of astronomy. I argue that these "spoke wheel" rock carvings could have been some sort of astronomical calendars keeping important times of the year and/or probably longer calendrical counts important to these ancient people.

These are just a few evidences mentioned in a nutshell. You will find below a description in details of some of these evidences and more. Keep on reading.

The crossing of the meridian
Every rock/boulder containing carvings on the site are all on the Southern side of the slopes they stand in. This is confirmed by the local guides i met on the site of Ait Ouazik in southern Morocco and and as well of Oukaimeden in the Atlas mountains. This gives a clue to astronomical implications, because the motion of the heavens is concentrated on the Southern direction of the sky. The motion of the night sky starts from the East, passes at the meridian (South) and finishes in the West only to return the next night. In the case of the Sun, the next morning. The fact that the rocks/boulders are "pointing" south could tell us of a direction to look at the petroglyph on the rock/boulder. No rock/boulders with engravings has been found on the north side of the slope.

Sun crossing the meridian (South) at Ait Ouazik, Morocco.

Dagger petroglyphs orientated to Solstices and Equinoxes
Another clue to an astronomical connection is that on the site of Oukaimeden in the Atlas mountains in the North, we find petroglyphs of daggers that possibly matches the direction of the Spring/Fall Equinoxes of that time. I took the initiative to mark the "dagger" petroglyphs with a compass to indicate the orientation of the petroglyph. I had a lead from researcher Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez who had studied the astronomical implications and orientations of prehistoric paintings and rock carvings of the caves in France including the Lascaux cave.
For ancient people living in these rugged terrains, the daggers aligning with the rising or setting Sun meant changes for the community. Important markers that defined the year or even more longer periods of time important to know.

Daggers found at Oukaimeden orientating to equinoxes and solctices.
The compass gives a good idea of the orientation these daggers points to.

Standing stone
We find at Ait Ouazik a Standing stone on top of a tumulus surrounded by broken off boulders engraved with petroglyphs. This standing stone resembles the small erected uneven stones we find at the local cemetery of the present day Ait Ouazik. This Menhir ( Standing stone) is a headstone of some sort, perhaps even one of the elder. of the prehistoric Ait Ouazik. The standing stone on top of the tumulus found at Ait Ouazik is located in the midst of the boulders engraved with petroglyphs, sending a message that the funeral mound was of the teacher resting beside his teachings. The orientation of the stone can reveal alignments with the surrounding landscape for important markers to identify crucial dates during the year.

Standing stone (Southward face) at Ait Ouazik, Sahara desert, Morocco.

L
andscape astronomy and the local Standing stone
My research on the field brought me to think that there could be some connection with the surrounding landscape and the astronomical events occurring. The pointy mountain tops and the depressions at a far in the surrounding mountains could have had a connection with the orientation of the standing stone at the site. An inscription carved on the standing stone points to a Southern direction, implying a connection to the meridian (The direction that the Sun takes to cross the sky), hence a connection to astronomy.
Photography's I took of the East side face and the West side face of the standing stone with the mountains in the background revealed to me an equinoctial orientation and a solstice orientation. This standing stone would have been erected to be used after the death of the elder as an astronomical marker. Maybe indicating with the rising or setting of the Sun on the Spring equinox or the Summer solstice, the exact date this stone was erected.

On each occasion in the direction of East and West I have found correlations with the orientation of the side of the standing stone and the rising of the Sun between a specific bowl shaped ridge in the background mountains. A Summer solstice alignment with the setting Sun in the west within the lowest point between two mountains in the background give a precise location of Summer Solstice setting Sun of that time. Easily recognizable year after year within the community living there. Precise spots in the background mountains viewed from "behind" the eastern or western side of the Standing stone indicated important position of the Sun to record cyclical beginnings or endings.

I argue that if you find astronomically connected rock art such as the spoke wheel petroglyps and an astronomical orientated man erected stone ( Standing stone) within these sites, It is fairly indicative of a connection to astronomy. Hence the elder was maybe an ancient hunter, but he surely became one of the first astronomers to live in these part of the world. This erected stone is his testament for future generation. To continue teaching his knowledge of astronomy, which was probably the new way to survive.

Standing stone (Menhir) with background hill at Ait Ouazik, SAhara desert, Morocco.

Dating the site using astronomical observations
Archaeological sites around the world like Ait Ouazik and Oukaimeiden are dated using carbon 14 dating methods. Looking for organic material at the site such as human bones, fire pits (ancient wood) or even pottery can determine the age of the site. Archaeoastronomy uses a different method. It uses the position of the Sun in relation with features in the landscape. As I mentioned earlier, the standing stone and the surrounding landscape act as the alignment to date astronomically the site.

As you can see in the photo below, the Standing stone and the landscape in the background coincide with rising/settings of the Sun. By using a sky map software on my computer, I work the time backwards to fit a time where the bearings of the standing stone and the background landscape (in this case the depression in form of a bowl in the mountain) would align. I noticed that the Sunrise at Spring Equinox rises straight out of the depression in the mountain c.4500 BC. Another alignment in the west, indicates a setting Sun at Summer Solstice straight between the two hills in the back ground c.4030 BC. Hence dating the site astronomically would give us a more precise age of 4500-4030BC and not the conventional 3000-6000BC proposed by researchers studying the sites.

Looking Eastward. Rising Sun. Alignment with Standing stone and Background mountain
(in this case a bowl shape depression in the mountain) on Spring Equinox 4500BC. 

Looking Westward. Setting Sun. Alignment with Standing stone and background hills
(in this case where two hills meet) on the Summer solstice 4030BC

The Standing stone Inscription and Eclipses
The Standing Stone found at the site of Ait Ouazik has an inscription on the South side face. The inscription carved on the south face of the standing stone consists of 3 circles within each other. 3 circles within each other going from a large circle to a medium circle to a small circle. These 3 circles within each other implies a reunion of the 3 celestial bodies we know that forms the Sun, the Moon and the Earth. It could represent a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse or even represent the knowledge of the interaction of these celestial bodies getting together. A suggestion that the elder buried here had the knowledge of eclipses is not far fetch assuming the evidences found on site linking to astronomy is to be true. The people who buried him associated him with this knowledge of eclipses and astronomy. In nature nothing is perfectly round, but yet we find evidence of circles in form of carvings on the stone. The only circle men would have known would have been the regular everyday shape of the Sun, the shape of the Full Moon and surely round points of light known as planets/ or stars.

3x Standing stone to see the circles as an epitaph.
These 3 circles are representative of Eclipses, as the elder buried here had knowledge of astronomy.

Standing stone with circle (3) markings found
at Ait Ouazik, Sahara desert, Morocco.

Infinity and cyclical motion of the sky
The researcher Marteen Von Hoek, who has visited and studied many petroglyph sites around the world, including the rock art site of Ait Ouazik, writes about a knowledge the people of Ait Ouazik would have had. The knowledge of infinity (Von Hoek 2015. http://www.rupestre.net/tracce/?p=9038).
If these ancient people had a concept of infinity, that knowledge of an eternal cycle could be closely related to the cyclical motion of the night sky or the motion of the Sun. Would the knowledge of infinity bring the ancient people closer to an understanding of the cyclical motion of the night sky? Or would the knowledge of cyclical motion of the night sky (astronomical knowing) bring them closer to an understanding of Infinity? In ether cases, they bring together the knowledge of cyclical events that could have lead to astronomical knowledge.

With all the evidence gathered so far with the horizon alignments, the crossing of the meridian and the astronomical orientations, we still find more compelling astronomical evidence in inscriptions such as the circle inscriptions on the Standing stone and the notion of infinity to back up a solid astronomical connection.

A spiral carving found on a boulder close to the Standing stone
at Ait Ouazik. Maybe representing the concept of infinity.

In the making: Cupules and Indigenous Henna
It seems crucial to the ancient people of Ait Ouazik that they used cupules to aid in their petroglyph making. A cupule in archaeology terms means: a circular man-made hollow cup on the surface of a rock or a rock slab. You will find on the same boulders, petroglyphs and cupules paired together. In these cupules is where they would have poured a mix of water and henna to draw the intended petroglyph to be before carving it. Henna is grown to this day in Morocco even in the arid Sahara. It was probably so from the last Ice age (Catherine Cartwright-Jones 2006. P.5). Henna could have been grown in the prehistory as well. They would have first sketched the motif on the rock with henna and then carved the petroglyph. This would have given them steadiness and precision we see off the motifs carved on the rocks. In doing so, they could ensure an accurate description of what was intended to be explained and keep it accurate for a very long time through the generation. The information in a way didn't degrade with years or even millenias.


Cupule paired with it's petroglyph on boulder.
Used as a liquid holder to sketch the carvings on the rock.
Ait Ouazik, Morocco.

Astronomical
uses for the Cupules
Cupules could have been used in an astronomical context. Cupules filled with water could have caught a glimpse of a reflexion of an astronomical body, such as the Moon, planets or stars and turn the cupule paired with it's respective petroglyph into a calendarical rock used to define certain periods of time.

Spoke wheel no.1. Round shape carving depicting an astronomical calendar (with cupule at top).
Petroglyph found at Ait Ouazik, Morocco. 


This leads to the hypothesis of reflecting "water-gazing" for observational and calendrical purposes. These cupules could have been filled with water (after the petroglyph had been made) and used as celestial body markers. The reflexion of an astronomical object in the shallow cupule would have gave a starting point for the petroglyph associated with the cupule (usually the petroglyph and the cupule would have been on the same rock).
For example, the planet Venus could have been reflected in water that was poured in the shallow cupule next to the petroglyph. In this case, the spoke wheel petroglyph (Spoke wheel no.1) near the Standing stone area. This spoke wheel etched into rock would have been the clock of Venus in this case. A way to follow the motion of this celestial body and make a record of it.

Also in the case of Spoke wheel bowl petroglyph (Spoke wheel no.2) found a couple of kilometers away from the central Standing stone area would have been also an observing rock. The details of the carving of Spoke wheel no.1 and Spoke wheel no.2 varies from one and other, but are very similar at the same time. They are both used to record celestial events even though they are a bit different in appearance.

Drawings of both Spoke wheel carvings found at Ait Ouazik, Morocco.
Different, but at the same time very similar.

The big difference with these two target petroglyphs is that Spoke wheel no.2 is etched inside a bowl like shape
carving (Dimensions: 10 cm deep, 30 cm circumference). What is even more compelling is that this spoke wheel no.2 petroglyph found at the bottom of this bowl is begging to be connected with water reflexion observations.

Spoke Wheel no.2. Fisheye view of the boulder and petroglyph.
Background: Iikka, Hamzed and Ali.

Spoke wheel no.2 carving inside a bowl shape carving
carved into a boulder. This was used for observation of the night sky
and record important celestial events using the bowl, water and the petroglyph at the bottom of the bowl.

C
upules transformed into astronomical bowls
Cupules are generally shallow depressions found next to the petroglyphs at Ait Ouazik. These cupules are small in size and do not incorporate inscriptions within the cupules. Only one petroglyph is found to be inside a deeper cupule, in fact more like a bowl. The petroglyph in question is "spoke wheel no.2". Inside a deep cupule, a bowl, you find this round concentrical "spoke wheel" shape carving. This is very peculiar for a petroglyph to be found at the "bottom" of a man made spherical bowl shape "Cupule".

To me this indicates that the ancient observers had created an astronomical tool. An astronomical tool incorporating the spoke wheel no.2 petroglyph at the bottom of the bowl, the bowl-like cupule permitting water to be poured in and the orientation of the rock in relation to the meridian.

To use this tool, water would have been poured into the bowl to permit reflection of the celestial object and therefore use the spoke wheel petroglyph at the bottom of that pool of water as a clock to follow the planet's motion. Indicating a specific starting or finishing time of an astronomical cycle.

Further more, the boulder with the petroglyph spoke wheel no.2 is found 2 kilometers from the central Standing stone area of Ait Ouazik. Defining it as a dark spot observation point, to conduct fine observations without the "light" pollution of fires and smoke near the habitable zone of ancient Ait Ouazik.
Me and the Spoke wheel no.2 petroglyph.  2 km. off the site of Ait Ouazik Standing stone.
Isolated boulder indicating a observation point far from camp fire
and smoke of the habited site of Ait Ouazik Standing stone site.

In conclusion, the prehistoric sites in both locations were fascinating. Even more when you see them through archaeoastronomy eyes. My purpose was to link the sites to astronomy and with the large amount of evidences I found there. I am confident that these ancient ancestors at these sites had a connection to the heavens. They really had the knowledge of astronomy and practised it in every day life. My research is done for now, but it seems far from being over as more sites around the world are uncovered. Ancient sites, revealing ancient astronomy that helped ancient people to survive up to this day. A connection between our ancestors and astronomy, leading the knowledge of astronomy to today.

Please take time to read more on the subject.
Links:

31 October 2016

Carnival of Space # 481 Here @ Links Through Space


Welcome to the Carnival of Space # 481.




Here at Links Through Space we introduce a series of 4 articles on archaeoastronomy. This series is titled Echoes of Archaeoastronomy and is part of The Ancient Astronomy Series. You may have read the first part: The Age of Astronomy, this is the second part.

Echoes of Archaeoastronomy has inspirations from a few trips I took the the Moroccan Sahara desert in 2014 and 2016.
A visit to a rock art site in the middle of the desert in Morocco and a site in a little village in the high mountains of the Atlas Mountain range. From these travels came out a 1 year research on a connection of astronomy to the ancient civilizations before us. When was the first time that ancient people used the knowledge of astronomy? When did the science of astronomy started?

Please read the first article of this series. Echoes of Archaeoastronomy: A brief introduction to Archaeoastronomy.

Feel free to comment and share these articles if you like them. This is part of the public outreach in astronomy by Astronomy club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.

And now.... (drum rolling)

THE CARNIVAL OF SPACE # 481. 

Archives of Chandra x-ray observstory. Credit: NASA/CSC/SAO Instrument: ACIS

We start at Chandra x-ray observatory with Discovering the Treasures in Chandra's Archives.
Discovering the Treasures in Chandra's Archives 
- Chandra blog / Megan Watzke


At Women in Astronomy blog they are running series of blogs where inspiring women and men are sharing their personal stories. Anyone can get involved and we encourage you to read and share your thoughts using the hashtag #WiSTEMspotlight.












At The Evolving Planet site you can read an article on Jupiter Gives Off Spooky Sounds in Time for Halloween. UUUUUUUUUUUhhhh!
Jupiter Gives OffSpooky Sounds in Time for Halloween 
- The Evolving Planet / Lornajane Altura










Astronaut Films his Re-Entry into Earths Atmosphere - The Footage is Mesmerizing
Astronaut Mike Hopkins was on his way back from the International Space Station when he decided to record the spectacular light show that occurs when re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
Astronaut Films his Re-entry into Earths Atmosphere - The footage is Mesmerizing
- The Evolving Planet / Brad Rogers






Afraid of the dark? For years physicists thought that the universe was dominated by a repulsive "dark" energy. A new study says that dark energy doesn't exist.
"Dark energy" still doesn't exist
- Riofriospacetime blog ( GM=tc^3) / L. Riofrio



The Hubble images of water plumes from Europa, and the hint that Saturn's moon Dione may also harbor a liquid ocean deep beneath its crust.
Water Worlds in the Solar System
-Andrew Fraknoi: Exploring the Universe / Andrew Fraknoi















Track the daily changes in the sunrise/sunset location.









Here is some news about the Juno mission to Jupiter. Juno spacecraft exits safe mode, prepares for next close flyby of Jupiter in December.
- Planetaria / Paul Scott Anderson 










So here you have it!
All the thrills and excitements of the Astronomy/Space community this week.
The Carnival of Space #481

If you run a space/astronomy related blog and would like to get more awareness, participate in the Carnival of Space. Every week a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space. It's a great way to get to know the community and to help your writing reach a wider audience. If you'd like to be a host for the Carnival or be part of the Carnival, please send an email to carnivalofspace@gmail.com.

Carnival of Space logo photo credits: Jason Major.