People living over seven thousand years ago may have possessed technical knowledge in astronomy and physics more advanced than our current understanding of the same subjects. — Robert M. Schoch, geologist, 2002
By even the more conservative estimate, these are by far the most certain ancient megalithic astronomical alignments known in the world. — Thomas G. Brophy, archaeoastronomer, 2002
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Nabta Playa, Egypt
Nabta Playa was once a large basin in the Nubian Desert, located approximately 800 kilometers south of modern day Cairo. Although at present the western Egyptian desert is totally dry, this was not the case in the past. There is good evidence that there were several humid periods in the past (when up to 500 mm of rain would fall per year) the most recent one during the last interglacial and early last glaciation periods which stretched between 130 000 and 70 000 years ago. During this time, the area was a savanna and supported numerous animals such as extinct buffalo and large giraffes, varieties of antelope and gazelle. Beginning around the 10th millennium BC, this region of the Nubian Desert began to receive more rainfall, filling a lake. Early people may have been attracted to the region due to the source of water.
Archaeological findings indicate human occupation in the region dating to somewhere between the 10th and 8th millennia BC. They reveal that these prehistoric peoples led livelihoods seemingly at a higher level of organization than their contemporaries who lived closer to the Nile Valley: above-ground & below-ground stone construction, villages designed in pre-planned arrangements, and deep wells that held water year-round.
By the 5th millennium BC these peoples had fashioned one of the world’s earliest known archaeoastronomical device (roughly contemporary to the Goseck circle in Germany), about 1000 years older than but comparable to Stonehenge. Research suggests that it may have been a prehistoric calendar which accurately marks the summer solstice.
Discovery of the Stone Circle Monument at Nabta Playa
In 1973, a team of archaeologists led by Fred Wendorf discovered pottery fragments in the remote region and began excavation of what they learned was a site of incredible antiquity. In 1990, they discovered a stone circle monument, publishing an article about this site for the first time in 1998. Thus, the site is still somewhat recently revealed to the wider public, and discussion and analysis of its implications are ongoing.
The ancient monument at Nabta Playa, in the desolate Sahara desert of southwestern Egypt, has been called one of the earliest aligned structures of mankind’s ancient past. Consensus opinion currently indicates that usage of the site may have begun around 4500 BC (based on carbon dating analysis described in this 2007 article), although some analysts have provided arguments which suggest that the site may have been designed even earlier than that.
Nabta Playa Archaeoastronomy
The Nabta Playa complex is the earliest known Archeological site in Egypt (c.11,000 years old) and only recently has our knowledge of Astrophysics become complex enough to understand that it is a map of the heavens over a 26,000 year long period, the length of the procession of the equinoxes to complete the cycle, incidentally the same length as the Mayan calendar, that is about to start over again in December 2012.
This understanding points to a people of the stars, and is in keeping with the stories on the walls of the Sumerian temples, our oldest stone tablet libraries that tell us over and over again…
The research done by the astrophysicist Thomas G. Brophy suggests that these monoliths might tell much more.
The calendar circle itself is made up of one doorway that runs north-south, a second that runs northeast-southwest marking the summer solstice, and six center stones.
Brophy’s theory proposes first that three of the center stones match the belt of Orion at its minimum tilt and the other three match the shoulder and head stars of Orion at their maximum tilt. This cycle repeats approximately every 25,000 years, following the precession of the equinoxes. The last minimum of Orion’s belt occurred between 6400 BC and 4900 BC, matching the radio-carbon dating of campfires around the circle.
The stone circle at Nabta Playa is built precisely on what was then the Tropic of Cancer, the sun’s furthest North point of travel that is, today, about 23 degrees 40 minutes N. Such a site would interest the wise men of the megalithic era and some would travel many days to erect such a site and then study there.
Another stone megalithic structure exists which consists of a central radial stone and several other stones in the distance. In interpreting this Brophy found that the lines made to these stones from the radial stone match the spots in the sky where the various stars marked by the center stones in the calendar circle at the time they rose as the vernal equinox heliacal rising. In analyzing the varying distances, mulling through assumptions such as that they represented the brightness of the stars, he inadvertently found that they matched the distance of the stars from Earth on a scale of 1 meter = .799 light years within the margin of error for astronomical distances calculated today.
Nabta Playa interpretation by astrophysicist Thomas G. Brophy
Some of the most intriguing analysis of the site has come from physicist and archaeoastronomer Dr. Thomas G. Brophy, who in 2002 published The Origin Map: Discovery of a Prehistoric, Megalithic, Astrophysical Map and Sculpture of the Universe. In the video segment above, he discusses his analysis of the site, analysis which if correct has stunning implications which completely upend the conventional timeline of mankind’s ancient past.
Dr. Brophy begins by noting that the structure consists of an outer ring which contains clear “gate” features forming two pathways or alignments through the circle, one along a line running northeast to southwest and indicating the summer solstice sunrise, and one running north-south through the circle (the “meridian sightline”). Inside the circle are six stones, which Dr. Brophy believes should be seen as two sets of three. On pages 9 and 10 of his 2002 book, Dr. Brophy explains his insight into the northern set of three of these inner stones in the Nabta Playa Calendar Circle:
A user of the calendar circle diagram, standing at the north end of the meridian sightline window, would look down on the stone diagram and see a representation of the stars of Orion’s Belt just as they appear on the meridian in the sky when the user looked up.
More than just matching the appearance of the stars of Orion’s Belt at that time, the ground stones indicate the sky stars at the special time of summer solstice as identified by the solstice sightline window in the calendar circle.
As Dr. Brophy explains in the book, and in the video above, the motion of precession not only “delays the sky” through the ages such that a different zodiac sign is in the position above the rising sun before sunrise on the March equinox (creating the different precessional ages such as the Age of Pisces or the Age of Aquarius), but it also changes the angle that the constellations such as Orion will appear to a viewer at the same location on our planet throughout the different ages.
The angle of the stones representing the belt stars appears to be correct for the period between 6400 BC and 4900 BC — an archaeoastronomical dating of incredible antiquity. This was the period of least tilt of the constellation Orion with respect to the meridian (when the constellation is most vertical and the belt stars are the most horizontal).
Dr. Brophy then goes on to an even more significant hypothesis, which is that the southern three stones represent the head and shoulders of Orion, but that they are at an angle when Orion is at his greatest tilt from the motion of precession. The implications of this proposal, however, are revolutionary. Due to the very slow motion of precession, the time period indicated by the stones representing the head and shoulders of the constellation would center around 16,500 BC!
Even if these stones were not erected at such an unbelievably early date, it is not inconceivable that they were erected around the first set of dates (those indicated by the tilt of the belt-star stones), and indeed conventional archaeologists currently date the site to a time quite close to Dr. Brophy’s astronomically-derived date.
If so, and if Dr. Brophy is also correct about the southern set of stones indicating the head and shoulders of Orion at the period of greatest tilt of the constellation (caused by precession), then this would mean that the ancient designers of the Nabta Playa circle were aware of precession (something conventional historians believe was unknown until about 125 BC), and further that they understood precession to an astonishing level of sophistication, such that they could calculate and diagram the maximum tilt that precession would cause to the familiar stars of Orion!
Either that, or the designers of Nabta Playa were in touch with someone who could (or that the information was handed down from someone who knew these things, pushing the antiquity of this sophisticated understanding even further back in time).
This proposition clearly has enormous implications. The evidence that the ancients understood precession to a degree far more precise than that achieved by Hipparchus or Ptolemy (the first astronomers that conventional scholars say were able to detect and understand the phenomenon) is quite extensive, and fills a good portion of the discussion in Hamlet’s Mill, by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend (as John Anthony West points out in the video above).
The entire Maya Long Count / 2012 phenomenon is based upon clear evidence that the Maya had sophisticated understanding of the effects of precession and could predict with a high degree of accuracy its effect upon the angle and rising times of celestial bodies — in their case, a special part of the Milky Way galaxy, as discussed in several previous posts, such as this one. The extreme antiquity of the dating of the Nabta Playa site, however, pulls back the curtain on a whole new corridor of time stretching into a distant past during which mankind apparently knew far more than modern academics will acknowledge.
However, this revelation is only the beginning of the incredible aspects of the Nabta Playa site which physicist Dr. Brophy finds evidence for. The circle discussed above is actually part of a three-dimensional structure that continues below the level of the surface of the earth, and includes bedrock many feet below which has apparently been worked by tools into some sort of art form — but where conventional archaeologists see a “cow” that might have been a stand-in to represent the sacrifice of an actual cow, Dr. Brophy sees a representation of the Galactic Center encoding more precise knowledge that ancient people simply should not have possessed, according to the conventional timeline of history. Dr. Joseph Farrell explores these aspects of Dr. Brophy’s analysis of Nabta Playa in his book Grid of the Gods, a text discussed in this previous post.
Further, the Calendar Circle site is also located within a larger context of other stone monuments in the Nabta Playa basin, and Dr. Brophy believes that the distance and direction relationships among these sites also encodes extremely precise astronomical information (see the continuation of the above-linked video here).
As Dr. Robert Schoch explains on pages xxii – xxiii of his foreword to Dr. Brophy’s book:
The megaliths are arranged at various distances from a central point, known as “Complex Structure A.” As you can read in detail below, Brophy interprets these distances from the central point as recording a) the actual distances of the stars in question from our solar system, and b) the speeds that the stars are moving away from us. The information and interpretations that Brophy extracts from the Nabta megaliths correspond to a high degree with modern knowledge of these parameters for these specific stars. Further, analyzing smaller companion stones associated with the primary “star” megaliths, Brophy suggests that the builders of the Nabta site may have had information about planetary systems or companion stars associated with the six stars in question — information that we do not have today! And then there is the “Cosmological cow stone.” Does this stone encode information about the origin of the universe, the age of the solar system or universe, the structure of the galaxy and universe, and / or the fundamental constants of nature? Read Brophy’s analysis and see what you think.
These possibilities are even more staggering, clearly, than the possibility that the designers of Nabta Playa knew about precession to a degree far beyond that attained by Hipparchus or Ptolemy thousands of years later. We are accustomed to thinking of Planck’s constant, for example, as a discovery of quantum physicists working in AD 1900 and after — not 1900 BC and certainly not 4900 BC! And yet this constant is one of those “fundamental constants of nature” that Dr. Schoch refers to above that Dr. Brophy sees in evidence among the dimensions of the monuments in Nabta Playa in Egypt.
Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, it would be prudent to examine Dr. Brophy’s discussion and analysis of the evidence and to keep an open mind while doing so.
Moving back a bit from possibilities such as awareness of quantum physics, it is fairly clear that the designers of the Nabta Playa circle created a summer solstice alignment, as well as a meridian alignment which may well line up with the belt stars of Orion (which Dr. Brophy’s analysis shows were along that meridian around the summer solstice during that epoch). Setting aside even the evidence that these ancients might have understood precession, one huge question still remains for proponents of the conventional theories, and that is: how are archaeologists and archaeoastronomers even able to make calculations about the location of Orion in reference to this site, if the site is over 6000 years old and if continental drift has been going on for all these years the way proponents of plate tectonics believe?
At the very least, Nabta Playa should blow the theory of plate tectonics wide open. Unless, of course, we want to argue that Nabta Playa is a big hoax, and that the stones were actually set out there in the 1970s by clever archaeologists and physicists who threw in references to the Planck constant and precession just to fool people (but who forgot about the motion of plate tectonics, or didn’t take it into account, since plate tectonics was still something of a novel theory even in the 1970s).