Passage of the Sun

Archaeoastronomical "instruments" for "measuring" or demonstrating the passage of the Sun throughout the year. The Connection is limited to those structures specifically "constructed" for observing the Sun as opposed to those for observing wider astronomical bodies/phenomena.

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Brú na Bóinne Newgrange has a remarkable Winter Solstice event
Cahokia Mounds "The most spectacular sunrise occurs at the equinoxes, when the sun rises due east. The post marking these sunrises aligns with the front of Monks Mound, where the leader resided, and it looks as though Monks Mound gives birth to the sun"
Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex Chankillo is one of only two places in the ancient world known to have incorporated a complete solar horizon calendar, using its markers to track the progressive passage of the sun along the horizon throughout the entire solar year. And it is the only one where this was achieved on a monumental scale and where all the component elements of the instrument are still extant and functional. (Executive summary, p. 3)
Chichen-Itza "El Castillo appears to be oriented so that the west plane of the pyramid faces the "Zenith passage". Thus at the spring and fall equinoxes (and for a week before and after) as the sun sets, a play of light and shadow creates the appearance of a snake that gradually undulates down the stairway of the pyramid. This diamond-backed snake is composed of seven or so triangular shadows, cast by the stepped terraces of the pyramid"
Cuzco Temple of the Sun
Florence "In 1475 the Italian astronomer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli (...) pierced a hole in the dome at 91.05 metres (298.7 ft) above the pavement to create a meridian line. The height precluded the installation of a complete meridian line on the floor of the cathedral, but allowed a short section of approximately 10 metres (33 ft) to run between the main altar and the north wall of the transept. This allows for observation for around 35 days either side of the summer solstice. (...) The meridian line was covered over by the fabbricieri in 1894 and unveiled again in 1997. A yearly re-enacement of the observation takes place on 21 June each year at 12.00 UT."
Machu Picchu Intihuatana Stone: "Intihuatana also is called "The Hitching Point of the Sun" because it was believed to hold the sun in its place along its annual path in the sky. At midday on March 21 and September 21, the equinoxes the sun stands almost above the pillar?casting no shadow at all"
Megalithic Temples of Malta At dawn of this day of the year with the longest daylight period, sunlight passes through a hole, known as the 'oracle hole', at Hagar Qim temples, which opens onto a chamber on the northeast side of the temple. Here, the sun's rays project a disk of light on a stone slab at the entrance of the apse. As the minutes pass, the disk becomes a crescent, then elongates into an ellipse, elongates even further and finally sinks out of sight as though into the ground.
Neolithic Orkney winter solstice at Maeshowe
Nubian Monuments Abu Simbel - "The axis of the temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that twice a year, on Oct 20 and Feb 20, the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculpture on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the god connected with the Underworld, who always remained in the dark. These dates are allegedly the king's birthday and coronation day respectively, but there is no evidence to support this"
Oaxaca and Monte Alban What appears to be a "Zenith Tube" is built into the base of Building P at Monte Alban. "The sun is visible through this perpendicular shaft for several weeks around the time of the zenith passage"
Piazza del Duomo (Pisa) "Between the tenth century and 1749, (...) Pisa used its own calendar, in which the first day of the year was March 25, the feast day of the Annunciation of Mary. Years were counted such that the Pisan New Year begins nine months before the ordinary one. The exact moment is determined by a ray of sun that, through a window on the left side, falls on an egg-shaped marble, just above the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano; this occurs at noon."
Risco Caido An impressive hierophany involving an artificial cave takes place at Risco Caído (...). The main cave at this sanctuary is hollowed out with a smooth paraboloidal roof and is decorated with numerous cup-marks and pubic triangles. Between the spring equinox and the autumn equinox, morning sunlight enters the cave each day through a specially constructed opening and interacts with various of the carvings. (Chankillo Nomination Text, p. 133)
Rome Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Marteri
Sammallahdenmäki The site is associated with sun worship rituals.
Stonehenge "the summer solstice sun rose close to the Heel Stone, and the sun's first rays shone into the centre of the monument between the horseshoe arrangement"
Sun Temple, Konarak
Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona
Teotihuacan Temple of the Sun
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier Tower of Shadows
Xochicalco The "Observatory" Cave is thought to be a "Zenith Tube":- In the 105 days running from April 30 to August 15, the sun shines into the cave. In the sun's movement towards the Tropic of Cancer and upon their return, respectively, on May 14/15 and 28/29 July, the sun is at its zenith and the astronomical noon, the beam of light falls directly through the chimney showing the image of the sun on the floor of the cave


Do you know of another WHS we could connect to Passage of the Sun?

Send it to me!

A connection should:

  1. Not be "self evident"
  2. Link at least 3 different sites
  3. Not duplicate or merely subdivide the "Category" assignment already identified on this site.
  4. Add some knowledge or insight (whether significant or trivial!) about WHS for the users of this site
  5. Be explained, with reference to a source