Ancient Egyptian temples followed astronomy to set their calendars

September 9th, 2009 - 4:49 pm ICT by ANI  

London, September 9 (ANI): A new study has indicated that ancient Egyptian temples were aligned so precisely with astronomical events that people could set their political, economic and religious calendars by them.

According to a report in New Scientist, the study was of 650 temples, some dating back to 3000 BC.

For example, New Year coincided with the moment that the winter-solstice sun hit the central sanctuary of the Karnak temple in present-day Luxor, according to archaeological astronomer Juan Belmonte of the Canaries Astrophysical Institute in Tenerife, Spain.

Hieroglyphs on temple walls have hinted at the use of astronomy in temple architecture, including depictions of the “stretching of the cord” ceremony in which the pharaoh marked out the alignment for the temple with string.

But there had been little evidence to support the drawings.

Belmonte and Mosalam Shaltout of the Helwan Observatory in Cairo found that the temples are all aligned according to an astronomically significant event, such as a solstice or equinox, or the rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

“Somebody would have had to go to the prospective site during a solar, stellar or lunar event - as we did - to mark out the position that the temple axis should take,” Belmonte said.

“For the most important temples, this may well have been the pharaoh, as the temple drawings show,” he added. (ANI)

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