Home > Astronomy > The shadows Of Petra Awaken Its Astronomical Orientation

The shadows Of Petra Awaken Its Astronomical Orientation


Credit: J. A. Belmonte - A. C. González-García

Credit: J. A. Belmonte – A. C. González-García

During the winter solstice, the sun is filtered into the Monastery at Petra, Jordan, illuminating the podium of a deity. Just at this moment, the silhouette of the mountain opposite draws the head of a lion, a sacred animal. These are examples from a study where researchers from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and CSIC (Spain) showed how celestial events influenced the orientation of the great constructions of the Nabataeans.

The movement of the Sun in the skies of Petra determined the way in which the monuments of this and other Natabean cities were erected. This is according to a statistical analysis on the spatial position of their palaces, temples and tombs carried out by scientists from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and CSIC, Spain, and the University of Perugia (Italy).

The results, published by the ‘Nexus Network Journal’, indicate that those great buildings were erected bearing in mind the equinoxes, solstices and other astronomical events that determined the Nabataean religion. The Nabataeans prospered in the first century BC and the first century AD in what is now Jordan and neighbouring countries.

“The Nabataean monuments are marvellous laboratories where landscape features and the events of the sun, moon and other stars interact,” Juan Antonio Belmonte, researcher of IAC and coordinator of the study, stressed to SINC.

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