Tuesday, March 4, 2014

June Magic In The Hills Of Central Mexico

 June Magic In The Hills Of Mexico

Tropic of Cancer Archaeological Ruin Site.

     On June 22 some magic happens in the hills of Central Mexico.  The sun appears to stop on its northward journey through the sky and hover over the archaeological ruin site called Alta Vista, a 1,600 year old settlement in Zacatecas built directly on the Tropic of Cancer.  
     Chalchihuites is another name for the site, the same name as a nearby town.  What is magic here is the ancient settlement's placement on the Tropic of Cancer, the place where the sun stops in its movement north and then hovers for a day before rising and setting further and further south as the days progress and it works its way back south. 

Stone Calender Buildings

Did the ancients plan this placement on the Tropic of Cancer and if so why?

If you visit you will quickly learn that it was no accidental placement of this settlement.  In fact the place could be a stone sundial, celestial observatory, and carved rock calendar all in one.

Alta Vista Archaeological Ruin Site 

     Reach the Alta Vista archaeological ruin Site on a long downhill glide from the town of  Chalchihuites in Zacatecas State, Mexico.  Reach the town from the nearest large town Sombrerete, reached from Zacatecas.
     You enter the small museum and learn that the Teotihuacan culture built the site and that they built it with sight lines to the distant mountains where notches and ridges would mark the solar events.

     Research at Alta Vista began with Mexican archaeologists Manuel Gamino in 1908 and continued with Charles Kelley who began digs in 1971 and studied the site and region for 45 years.

 Solar Significance 

     The Archaeologists found solar significance in the construction of the buildings situated on a gently sloping hillside at 7200 feet above sea level.  The research by Kelley cites deliberate placement by the builders of the ritual center at latitude 23°28′58″N 103°52′39″W, on the Tropic of Cancer, give or take a mile.  Since the tropic line moves a few feet each year the ancient builders could be forgiven any error.

Chalchihuites  Museum

     From the museum, enter the site itself and look for the calendar stones and columns.   At the northern end of the site you will find stones aligned east to west and another group crossing that runs north and south.  It appears that the ancient builders constructed an ideal spot for the observation of the summer solstice or zenith day.  Those north south and east west stones would announce the coming of that day with diminishing shadows and announce the day itself when no shadow at all falls beside the stones .  At that location the sun would appear to stand still in its movement north over the earth on June 21 and would not only linger for a day directly overhead at Chalchihuites, but appear to reverse direction and start its (apparent) annual movement south.

     Researchers found cross-shaped petroglyphs on the mountain peak, Picacho, in the distance to the southwest, and on a ridge called Chapin,  similar to stone glyphs used by the builders of Teotihuacan when they designed that city. The sight lines to the glyphs would track the movements of the sun.

     Since no shadow would fall to the side of a standing column on Zenith Day it seems likely also that the so called Hall Of Columns had its ritual purpose as well.
The site was occupied from 100 AD to 1400 AD with active building stages between 400 and 850 AD according to researchers.  

   While it might seem like magic to us users of the compass and the GPS it appears that the indigenous of Mexico were keen observers of nature who built their religion around observed natural events.

Archaeoastronomer Anthony F. Aveni of Colgate University, famed for his work with sun and star alignments on other Mexican sites, collaborated with Kelly in 1977               Aveni, Anthony F., Horst Hartung, and J. Charles Kelley. 1982. "Alta Vista (Chalchihuites): Astronomical Implications of a Mesoamerican Ceremonial Outpost at the Tropic of Cancer." American Antiquity, vol. 47, pp. 316-335.

Zacatecas City, Zip line, Hiking Tour

Alta Vista Chalchihuites, Zacatecas

La Quemada, Chicomostoc Ruin Zacatecas

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