Orientation of Stone Age graves in Denmark could have astronomical explanation

December 19th, 2008 - 5:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 19 (ANI): A new research, from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, has indicated that the orientation of Stone Age graves at the Danish passage could have an astronomical explanation.

According to the research, the Danish passage graves are most likely oriented according to the path of the full moon, perhaps even according to the full moon immediately before a lunar eclipse.

There are many Stone Age graves in Denmark, where archaeologists estimate that around 40.000 large stone graves were built from around 3500 to 3000 BC.

Only about 500 of the large passage graves, called giant tombs are preserved today, but one of the great mysteries is their orientation in the landscape.

With the help of GPS, a compass and a surveying instrument, Claus Clausen, who graduated as astronomer from the Niels Bohr Institute, measured the orientation of entrance tunnels of approximately 100 passage graves.

It turned out that there was a remarkable concentration of certain orientations.

Rasmussen, astronomer and supervisor of the special project, suggested that Clausen look at the connection between the sun and the moon and especially lunar eclipses, because there were two orientations that occurred frequently and that could suggest something with specific full moons.

Astronomer Ole Einicke, who for many years has calculated data for the Danish Almanac, had made a computer program that could calculate the position of the planets for the next year.

The program was now used to calculate back in time.

It was found that there is a significant concentration of orientations towards east/southeast as seen from within the passage grave. It can be interpreted that the passage graves are oriented according to the winter sunrise.

But, researchers think it more likely that they are positioned according to the rise of the full moon, for example, the first full moon after the spring equinox.

The calculations show, that in the period from 3.300 to 3.100 BC, there was an over frequency of 50 percent in the number of lunar eclipses that could be seen in Denmark.

The exciting thing was that the pattern indicated that it could fit with the rise of the full moon immediately before a lunar eclipse.

The passage graves had been used for burials and the orientation of the entrance is concentrated towards the full moon points to a ritual practice that involved the moon. (ANI)

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