photo of Chankillo Solar Observatory, a fortress with 13 solar observatory towers

Saving Chankillo

Oldest Solar Observatory endangered by a new mega-prison in Peru

February 28, 2014 - translated by Rein Petersen from an original article by Juan Carlos Estrada published at sophimania.pe

Few know that Peru hosts the oldest and best preserved solar observatory in the Americas. It is a unique circular construction which was raised more than 2000 years ago on the Peruvian coast and is now threatened by the construction of a high-security prison to be built nearby.

The monumental complex, named Chankillo, is a fortress which has a 13 solar observatory towers. It is located between km 363 and 365 of the Panamerican highway in the province of Casma, Ancash department, only 400 miles north of Lima, the capital of Peru.

image of how Chankillo's solar observatory towers function

Since 2001, the Peruvian archaeologist Ivan Ghezzi began his research in the deserts of Casma, specifically in the area where the enigmatic towers of Chankillo rise, a circular fortress with stone walls, built on a small hill that has already drawn scholarly attention from the likes of Julio C. Tello, Rosa Fung (and her husband John) and Theresa Topic.

The experts agreed to identify the 'Temple of the Thirteen Towers' as a solar observatory. The findings convinced one of the most respected figures in world archaeoastronomy, Clive Ruggles of England, famous for his research on Stonehenge, who organized a trip to Peru for the observatory.

photo of Ivan Ghezzi preparing the installation of a compass-inclinometer

In 2005, peruvian archaeologist Ivan Ghezzi and archaeoastronomist Clive Ruggles were interned in the desert near Casma with a GPS and the latest equipment to install a sophisticated compass-inclinometer in the vicinity of Chankillo and after study confirmed the news to the world: indeed it was a solar observatory built over 2,300 years ago by the civilization that occupied the middle valley of Casma. That made ​Chankillo the oldest solar observatory in the Americas.

In March 2007, the prestigious journal Science, Yale University and one of the major news networks, BBC, published stories that went around the world on finding.

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