Where the ancients studied the moon and stars

4000 yo observatory for the study of the heavens in Macedonia.

Where the ancients studied the moon and stars
By Stephanie Busari, CNN and Catriona Davies
May 20, 2010 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)


* Macedonia has some 4,485 archaeological sites
* The relics include vivid mosaics, amphitheaters and Roman baths
* Kokino has been listed by NASA as one of the world's most
important ancient observatories

(CNN) -- Macedonia is the youngest ancient country in the world and is
full of relics of times past.

It has been part of all the great empires of history, from Roman to
Ottoman to Byzantine and they have all left their mark with thousands
of ancient sites.

The country has an estimated 4,485 archaeological sites from all
historical periods, according to Pasko Kuzman, of the country's
Cultural Heritage Protection Office.

Jewel in the crown is Kokino, discovered in the mountains near
Kumanovo in 2001 by local archaeologist Jovica Stankovski. It is a
4,000-year-old Megalithic Observatory used in the Bronze Age for
studying the sun and moon.

The site, at an altitude of more than 1,000m and with a 100m diameter,
is described as the "Macedonian Stonehenge" and is ranked by NASA as
the fourth oldest ancient observatory in the world, after Abu Simbel
in Egypt, Stonehenge in Britain and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Video: Macedonia's forgotten gem

Several stone seats, known as thrones and facing the east horizon were
also discovered on the site.

Research showed that the observatory had a specific place for
monitoring the stars and the sun, as well as specific holes through
which the movement of the sun and the moon could be recorded.

According to physicist Gjore Cenev, the ancient observatory worked by
using special stone markers to map the movement of the sun and moon on
the eastern horizon. With parts of the observatory well preserved, it
is still possible to mark the position of the sun during the summer
solstice, he said.

Cenev, who has carried out detailed analysis of the site, wrote in a
paper on the subject: "Kokino has incredible astronomical preciseness
and has a central observation post and accessory observation posts."

"The observatory defines the four main positions of the Moon and three
main positions of the Sun during a year, the autumnal and vernal
equinox and winter and summer solstice," he added.

It is believed some of the most important rituals for local
inhabitants during the Early Bronze Age would have taken place on the

Stankovski, who discovered the ruins, wrote in the Macedonian
Archaeological News: "One of the most attractive rituals noted at
Kokino is the ritual of the sacred union of the Great Mother Earth and
her Son, the Sun. The ritual was performed in mid-summer and it was
probably related with the end of the harvest season."

There are theories that the Kokino Megalithic Observatory was part of
a larger city after a network of 10 temples was discovered nearby.

Stone drawings and figurines have also been discovered and if Kokino
is identified as an ancient civilization, it could the oldest known in
the Balkans.