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16 August 2003
Astronomical alignment of stones in Colombia

Two Colombian geology students doing field work for their graduation thesis discovered ancient irrigation canals and mounds along the Bogotá River, in Colombia. While mapping the Jaboque wetlands, they discovered four stone menhirs called "Piedras de Los Indios" (Indian Rocks) by local inhabitants. Further investigation led to the discovery of a total of 14 menhirs, and one associated square rock.
     An in-depth study by Mr Harry Andrew Marriner (Group Coordinator, Western Cundinamarca Rock Art Investigations GIPRI Colombia) showed that the location and alignment of the menhirs made it possible for them to be used as sighting devices to mark the position of summer solstice sunrise, summer solstice sunset, winter solstice sunrise, and winter solstice sunset. According to  Mr Herman Bender, a geologist and archaeoastronomer, the layout or planned design of the menhirs strongly suggests that it was constructed to resemble the constellation Scorpius, seen as the Big Snake constellation by many South American native cultures. The heliacal rising and setting of the stars Shaula and Leseth (eyes of the Big Snake) in the Scorpius constellation are also part of the overall scheme.
     Two stone menhirs have holes drilled through them. Noting the importance placed on the solstice dates and the rise/set of Scorpius, the Jaboque complex appears to have been used to prepare for agricultural activities during the dry seasons, and not the wet seasons. The site is also the first southern Mu'sca area identified with agricultural canals and mounds. It is the first discovery of standing stone menhirs with astronomical alignments, and is the first petroform or geoglyph found in Colombia other than a snake design cut into the soil in a Mu'sca cemetery in the La Ramada farm in Funza, Cundinamarca.

Source: GIPRI (4 June 2003)

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