List of archaeoastronomical sites by country

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This is a list of sites where claims for the use of archaeoastronomy have been made, sorted by country.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) jointly published a thematic study on heritage sites of astronomy and archaeoastronomy to be used as a guide to UNESCO in its evaluation of the cultural importance of archaeoastronomical sites around the world,[1] which discussed sample sites and provided categories for the classification of archaeoastronomical sites. The editors, Clive Ruggles and Michel Cotte, proposed that archaeoastronomical sites be considered in four categories: 1) Generally accepted; 2) Debated among specialists; 3) Unproven; and 4) Completely refuted.[2][3]


  • Zorats Karer (aka Carahunge), archeological site claimed to have astronomical significance although this is disputed. it is often referred to in international tourist lore as the "Armenian Stonehenge".



  • Parque Arqueológico do Solstício (called "Amazon Stonehenge"): An archaeological park located in Amapá state, Brazil, near the city of Calçoene. Archaeologists believe that this site was built by indigenous peoples for astronomical, ceremonial, or burial purposes, and likely a combination.


  • Magura Cave, Bronze Age "paintings of staggered black and white squares could have been used to count the days in a calendar month", possibly indicating the number of days in the solar tropical year.[7]


  • Angkor Wat
  • Phnom Bakheng, According to Jean Filliozat of the École Française, the center tower represents the axis of the world and the 108 smaller ones represent the 4 lunar phases each with 27 days.[8]



  • El Infiernito, (Spanish for "Little hell"), is a pre-Columbian Muisca site located in the outskirts of Villa de Leyva, Boyacá Department, Colombia. It is composed of several earthworks surrounding a setting of menhirs (upright standing stones); several burial mounds are also present. The site was a center of religious ceremonies and spiritual purification rites, and also served as a rudimentary astronomical observatory.



  • Abu Simbel, The axis of the temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that twice a year, on October 20 and February 20, the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculpture on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the god connected with the Underworld, who always remained in the dark.[10][11]
  • Nabta Playa is an archaeological site in southern Egypt, containing what may be among the world's earliest known archeoastronomical devices from the 5th millennium BC. These include alignments of stones that may have indicated the rising of certain stars and a "calendar circle" that indicates the approximate direction of summer solstice sunrise.
  • Precinct of Amun-Re


  • The so-called Giants' Churches (Finn. jätinkirkko), which are large, from c. 20 metres (66 ft) to over 70 metres (230 ft) long rectangular or oval stone enclosures built in the Neolithic (c. 3000–1800 BC), have axis and doorway orientations towards the sunrises and sunsets of the solstices and other calendrically significant days. For example, the Kastelli of Raahe, which is one of the largest Giants' Churches, had its five "gates", i.e. wall openings, oriented towards the midsummer sunset, the winter solstice sunrise, winter solstice sunset, the sunrises of the mid-quarter days of early May (Walpurgis, Beltaine) and August (Lammas), as well as the sunrise 11 days before the vernal equinox in 2500 BC.[12][13]







For a full list see the chapter on India in the ICOMOS book edited by Clive Ruggles and Michel Cotte.[15][16] These sites include:

J.M. Malville and Rana P.B. Singh have done much work on the archaeoastronomy of sacred sites in India.[17][18]



  • Newgrange, once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the chamber for about 17 minutes and illuminates the chamber floor.[19] (Generally accepted).[2][3] It was built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
  • Knowth is a Neolithic passage grave and ancient monument estimated to date from c. 3200 BC.
  • Dowth in Boyne Valley, County Meath is a Neolithic passage tomb date with Astronomical alignments from between approximately 3200 and 2900 BC.
  • Loughcrew near Oldcastle, County Meath is a group of megalithic tombs dating back to the 4th millennium BC, designed to receive the beams of the rising sun on the spring and autumnal equinox - the light shining down the passage and illuminating the art on the backstone.
  • Carrowkeel
  • Mound of the Hostages
  • Drombeg stone circle, at the winter solstice, the sun sets into a v formed by two distant overlapping hills and makes an alignment with the altar stone and the two main uprights. Due to the nature of the site and the western hills, local sunset is c. 15:50.
  • Beltany stone circle
  • Beaghmore Stone Circles, a complex of early Bronze Age megalithic features, stone circles and cairns. Some archaeologists believe that the circles have been constructed in relation to the rising of the sun at the solstice, or to record the movements of the sun and moon acting as observatories for particular lunar, solar or stellar events. Three of the stone rows point to the sunrise at the time of the solstice and another is aligned towards moonrise at the same period.
  • Boheh Stone, believed to have been aligned to the sun's path along the mountain of Croagh Patrick







North Macedonia[edit]

  • Kokino Situated 1030 m above sea level on the Tatićev Kamen Summit near Kumanovo.(disputed)[23]


Tell es-Sultan also known as Tel Jericho, is the site of ancient and biblical Jericho and today a UNESCO-nominated archaeological site in the West Bank.






Saudi Arabia[edit]

  • Kaaba, has its corners and walls aligned or oriented towards risings and settings of celestial objescts.



  • Rujm el-Hiri is an ancient megalithic monument consisting of concentric circles of stone with a tumulus at center, in the Golan Heights, territory occupied by Israel. It is believed that the site was used as an ancient calendar. At the times of the two equinoxes, the sun's rays would pass between two rocks, at the eastern edge of the compound. The entrance to the center opens on sunrise of the summer solstice. Other notches in the walls indicate the spring and fall equinoxes. It is also believed the site was used for astronomical observations of the constellations, probably for religious calculations. Researchers found the site was built with dimensions and scales common for other period structures, and partly based on the stars' positions.




United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ruggles, Clive; Cotte, Michel, eds. (2011), Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the Context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Paris: ICOMOS / IAU, ISBN 978-2-918086-07-9
  2. ^ a b c d e Ruggles, Clive; Cotte, Michel (2011), "Conclusion. Astronomical Heritage in the Context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention: Developing a Professional and Rational Approach", in Ruggles, Clive; Cotte, Michel (eds.), Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the Context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Paris: ICOMOS / IAU, pp. 261–273, ISBN 978-2-918086-07-9
  3. ^ a b c d e Ruggles, Clive (2015), "Establishing the credibility of archaeoastronomical sites", Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, 11 (A29A): 97–99, doi:10.1017/S1743921316002477
  4. ^ Australian Aboriginal Astronomy Archived 2013-10-28 at the Wayback Machine at the CSIRO site. Accessed on 2009-08-02.
  5. ^ Norris, R.P.; Norris, P.M.; Hamacher, D.W.; Abrahams, R. (2013). "Wurdi Youang: an Australian Aboriginal stone arrangement with possible solar indications". Rock Art Research. 30 (1): 55–65.
  6. ^ Abc News
  7. ^ Stoev, Alexey; Maglova, Penka (2014), "Astronomy in the Bulgarian Neolithic", in Ruggles, Clive L. N. (ed.), The Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, New York: Springer, pp. 1377–1384, ISBN 978-1-4614-6140-1
  8. ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Southeast Asia: A Past Regained (1995) p.93-4
  9. ^ Zhentao Xu; David William Pankenier; Yaoting Jing (2000). East Asian Archaeoastronomy: Historical Records of Astronomical Observations of China, Japan and Korea. CRC Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-90-5699-302-3.
  10. ^ Alberto Siliotti, Egypt: temples, people, gods,1994
  11. ^ Ania Skliar, Grosse kulturen der welt-Ägypten, 2005
  12. ^ Okkonen, J. & Ridderstad, M. 2009: Jätinkirkkojen aurinkosuuntauksia; in Ei kiveäkään kääntämättä, Juhlakirja Pentti Koivuselle, pp. 129–136.
  13. ^ Tähdet ja Avaruus, Ursa astronomical assosiacion's magazine 4 / 2009 p.15
  14. ^ Rohde, Claudia: Kalender in der Urgeschichte. Fakten und Fiktion, Rahden 2012
  15. ^ Clive Ruggles and Michel Cotte (ed.), Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy. ICOMOS and IAU, Paris, 2010.
  16. ^ Subhash Kak, Archaeoastronomy in India. arXiv:1002.4513v2
  17. ^ J.M. Malville and L.M. Gujral, Ancient Cities, Sacred Skies. New Delhi, 2000.
  18. ^ Rana P.B. Singh, Cosmic Order and Cultural Astronomy. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.
  19. ^ "The Winter Solstice illumination of Newgrange". Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
  20. ^ Anthony Aveni, Stairway to the Stars: Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997) 135–138 ISBN 0-471-15942-5
  21. ^ "Video -- Maya "Underworld" Observatory Revealed -- National Geographic". Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  22. ^ Langbroek M., Huilen naar de maan. Een verkennend onderzoek naar de orientaties van Nederlandse hunebedden. P.I.T. 1:2 (1999), 8–13
  23. ^ Belmonte, Juan Antonio (2015), "Ancient 'Observatories' – A Relevant Concept?", in Ruggles, Clive L. N. (ed.), Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, vol. 1, New York: Springer, pp. 133–145, doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-6141-8, ISBN 978-1-4614-6140-1, [T]he proposed use and precision have never been appropriately proven or tested. In addition, the site lacks any historical or ethnographical context.
  24. ^ Carolyn Kennett, (2018), Celestial Stone Circles of West Cornwall: Reflections of the sky in an ancient landscape
  25. ^ "Sensational new discoveries at Bryn Celli Ddu". British Archaeology. August 2006. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  26. ^ A History of Britain, Richard Dargie (2007), p. 12.
  27. ^ "Solar Astronomy in the Prehistoric Southwest". Archived from the original on 2016-11-20. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  28. ^ "Solar Astronomy in the Prehistoric Southwest". Archived from the original on 2016-10-22. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  29. ^ Newark Earthworks
  30. ^ Page II, Joseph (2013). New Mexico Space Trail. Arcadia Publishing Library. p. 87. ISBN 978-1531667368.