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Mysterious 'Siberian Stonehenge' may be the birthplace of astronomy

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sunduki, commonly known as the "Siberian Stonehenge," is a series of eight sandstone outcrops on a remote flood plain on the bank of the Bely Iyus River in the Republic of Khakassia. Russian scientist Professor Vitaly Larichev thinks that this remote Siberian rock formation may be the first place that mankind began to follow the movements of the heavens, forging the branch of study known as astronomy.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Larichev, of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that the 16,000-year-old site was of great religious - and astronomical significance.

Each of the eight peaks has stones like giant boxes or chests perched on top. The word "Sunduk" in Russian means "chest" or "trunk" which explains how the place got its modern name.

"For many years I tried to unravel these mystery 'chests,'" Larichev says. Becoming an "astro-archeologist" in his bid to unravel the site's mysteries, Larichev adds "We don't dig in the ground - we study what ancient people knew about astronomy.

"What I discovered was a surprise even to myself. Comparing maps accumulated over many years of astronomical observations, I came to understand that here in Sunduki, and we can see the oldest astronomical observatory, certainly in Asia.

"Its age is about 16,000 years old. The ancient inhabitants of this valley daily observed the sunset, the sunrise and the moon."

In contrast, the first known sundials came into existence 3,500 years in ancient Egypt.

Larichev thinks that these ancient Siberian astronomers, without any instruments, used giant rocks and chinks in the stone architecture in the landscape for their calculations and observations.

He claims to have found "numerous ancient solar and lunar observatories around Sunduki."

"This square pattern of stones on the ground shows you the place," Larichev told reporters. "I knew there would be an orientation point, but we had to search through the grass for a long time to find it.

"Now look up to the top of that ridge. You see a place where there is a crack between the rocks? If you were here on the summer solstice, you would see the sun rise right there. Or you would if you were here 2,000 years so. Now the timing is slightly different,"

A rock engraving depicting dragon heads pointing in one direction, and snake heads the other are something ancient people would have used to tell the time by using the sun.

"In the morning the shadow moves along the snake's body from his head to his tail, and in the afternoon it comes from the other direction along the dragon. From the same observation point you can determine true north and south by sighting along the mountains."

There is also rock art at the site and a mysterious white horse symbol found not far from the first "chest" may have appeared 16,000 years ago, during the Ice Age.

The site has not revealed all of its mysteries. There are also burial mounds and other man-made constructions - including irrigation channels - which have yet to be fully explored by archaeologists.

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