Ancient North American Skywatchers

Keeping track of the time of year is something that is found in all cultures, including those of the ancient Americas. We are very familiar with some of the systems used by the Inca, Maya, and Aztec. For example, the latter situated their central twin pyramids in their capital city of Tenochtitlan so that the equinox sunrise rose between the temples on top. However, many people are not aware that many of the American Indian cultures throughout what is now the United States, also erected mounds, structures and stone circles that aligned with the equinox and solstice sunrises and sunsets, as well as the rising and setting of certain bright stars and constellations. One of the more intriguing structures was built at the Cahokia site, and has been dubbed the “American Woodhenge.”
Keeping track of the time of year is something that is found in all cultures, including those of the ancient Americas. We are very familiar with some of the systems used by the Inca, Maya, and Aztec. For example, the latter situated their central twin pyramids in their capital city of Tenochtitlan so that the equinox sunrise rose between the temples on top. However, many people are not aware that many of the American Indian cultures throughout what is now the United States, also erected mounds, structures and stone circles that aligned with the equinox and solstice sunrises and sunsets, as well as the rising and setting of certain bright stars and constellations. One of the more intriguing structures was built at the Cahokia site, and has been dubbed the “American Woodhenge.”

North American sky watchers for thousands of years used the lights in the night sky as guides to travel around the continent and connected the lights to form shapes of familiar animals or objects.

Read about ancient North American sky watchers, the societies and belief systems they developed recording the patterns of lights they saw, and the ways they shaped ancient and modern life. 

Warren Wong.

Editor and Chief,

Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time.

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