5,000-year-old calendar rock found in Sicily excites archaeologists 

Posted: January 7, 2017 by oldbrew in History, Measurement

Winter solstice sunrise at the historic site in Sicily [image credit: Giuseppe La Spina]

Winter solstice sunrise at the historic site in Sicily [image credit: Giuseppe La Spina]

A team of researchers exploring the southern coast of Sicily have found an intriguing prehistoric calendar rock, reports Ancient Origins.

After conducting some empirical observations, they discovered the rising sun of the winter solstice aligns perfectly with a large hole in a rock formation on a hill near a prehistoric necropolis.

They also discovered a fallen megalith that would have stood directly in front of the hole. Stonehenge-like comparisons abound in the media.

Seeker reports that the team came upon the 3.2 ft. (.98 m) diameter hole in a rock formation while surveying the area around Gela for World War II-era bunkers. After noting the man-made appearance of the hole, they decided to look for its possible purpose – and a connection to the seasons made sense.

The summer and winter solstices were key points in time for many prehistoric peoples. The huge Stone Age megalithic monument in Ireland known as Newgrange, the Pictographs of Paint Rock, Texas, the fortress of Saqsayhuaman in Peru, and of course – the most famous of them all – Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, are just some of the archaeological sites that have shown the interest ancient peoples had in the sun and the changing seasons.

However there are many sites that have been tentatively linked to the solstices these days, and ANSA says that Professor Alberto Scuderi, a known expert in archaeo-astronomy and regional director of Italian Archaeologist Groups (GAI), suggested the team needed a scientific confirmation to support their hypothesis.

So, the team, consisting of archaeologists Giuseppe La Spina, Michele Curto, and Mario Bracciaventi, along with Vincenzo Madonia for technical support, used a compass, cameras, and a video camera-toting drone and waited for the sun to rise on the winter solstice. The results showed their effort was worth it.

The report continues here.

  1. Robin Heath says:

    This exciting Sicilian site is almost identical to the newly discovered midwinter sunrise up the (almost identical slope) of Foel Drygarn mountain adjacent to the Preseli bluestone site (of Stonehenge fame), as viewed from the centre of Castell Mawr henge, around 3500 BC, an almost unvisited henge site over 500 feet in diameter. I have a full survey report for anyone interested in this kind of thing, which will shortly appear on my website

    [reply] see: http://robinheath.info/

  2. Filming it was not really needed, to prove it scientifically. I would hope they first used the simple spherical geometry of the globe, in relation to the Sun at the winter solstice, to calculate it accurately and precisely. If Prof. Scuderi, or any other academic, would question that, he is not an expert in archeo-astronomy.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Another interesting solstice-related site of standing stones is Cairnholy in Galloway, S.W. Scotland.


    The stone lying flat in the foreground [of top left pic] is said to have alignment points carved on it.

  4. Curious George says:

    Precession: While the Pole Star in the northern hemisphere is now Polaris, in 3000 B.C., the north celestial pole coincided with Thuban, a star in the constellation of Draco.

  5. Saighdear says:

    Very Interesting stuff – this all BUT I have for several years tried to do my own thing and the Sun never obliges – usually been cloudy ON THE DAY. So question is: How long did it take ancient folk to realise and then to do something about it and create those markers…… . .. . … .

  6. oldmanK says:

    oldbrew’s pick this time invites a long post. There are many questions and other issues there.

    Excellent calendars, proven and tested in model form existed nearby in the Maltese islands from millennia before the date given in link (dated with better confidence from climate-research related proxies, —thus the need of a broader area of study). Archaeologically there is also known of contact between Sicily and Malta. Something I got from archaeologist/historians in a presentation, was this — a commonality between the two countries, of megalithic structures, in Sicily known as “Petra ‘ppennata” , meaning ‘rocks stood on end’. The ancient Maltese for that is ‘hagar qim’ which is also the name of a famous temple/calendar. Sicilian locals know of such a connexion (researched and confirmed, but not found the actual site), but no further research has been made afask.

    The calendar theory has taken another boost. This research, made available some days ago and presented in 2016, here: https://www.academia.edu/30667015/Rediscovering_the_Maltese_temple_of_Bor%C4%A1_in-Nadur_an_archaeoastronomical_perspective resurrects an old structure that was not previously available. It fits precisely with the theory as to a) old alignment, technique used, and viewing angle, b) new doorway/portal to equinox sunrise horizon but apparently abandoned before finished–widespread social collapse– (tallbloke may be interested here). Change occurred at 3195bce – known with some (a good deal) certainty.

    [there is also evidence, though tenuous, that earth tilt was well known, and measured in ways likely better than at any time in later history i.e. with gnomon. By Vertical plane pinhole camera]

  7. rishrac says:

    I think there is a reason that they made those structures so large. A small wagon wheel can be altered. There had to be considerable debate as to where and when the seasons changed. Meaning that at one time it had to be different. Somebody had to realize that the sun wasn’t coming up here on the shortest or longest day, but over there now. Since our memory isn’t perfect, it’d take quite a few people to move the stones. It’d take the resources of an area and a lot of people would know that the position had changed to move those large rocks. I was going to say that agricultural activities had a lot to do with it, but hunting could have been affected as well.
    Why else build them ? Nothing else to do ? I doubt that.