Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Expertise of Ancient Egyptian Astronomers

Egyptian temples followed heavenly plans 08 September 2009 Magazine issue 2724. Subscribe and get 4 free issues ANCIENT Egyptian temples were aligned so precisely with astronomical events that people could set their political, economic and religious calendars by them. So finds a study of 650 temples, some dating back to 3000 BC. For example, New Year coincided with the moment that the winter-solstice sun hit the central sanctuary of the Karnak temple in present-day Luxor, says archaeological astronomer Juan Belmonte of the Canaries Astrophysical Institute in Tenerife, Spain. Hieroglyphs on temple walls have hinted at the use of astronomy in temple architecture, including depictions of the "stretching of the cord" ceremony in which the pharaoh marked out the alignment for the temple with string. But there had been little evidence to support the drawings. Belmonte and Mosalam Shaltout of the Helwan Observatory in Cairo found that the temples are all aligned according to an astronomically significant event, such as a solstice or equinox, or the rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky (Advances in Space Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2009.03.033). "Somebody would have had to go to the prospective site during a solar, stellar or lunar event - as we did - to mark out the position that the temple axis should take," Belmonte says. "For the most important temples, this may well have been the pharaoh, as the temple drawings show." *************************************************************************************** Temple drawings - propaganda for Pharaoh! The one who would have done all of the grunt work ahead of time would have been a priestess of the Goddess Seshat (Safkhet, Sesat, Seshet, Sesheta, and Seshata), who is the Goddess of Measurements, Written Word, and Memory (i.e., the very first Librarian]. She was in charge of the 12-knot cord that was used to mark a true 90-degree (right) angle (using the 3/4/5 method). As I understand the process the ancient Egyptians used, once the true-square corners were established, ropes cut to equal measure were stretched on the diagonal and along the borders of a tentative square to measure, and then adjustments were made to make sure that the marked corners were "true square." It was the priestess of Seshat who marked the foundations of a building, with Pharaoh's consent, of course :) After all of the measurements were made, Pharaoh would give a couple of hammer strikes to the first marker, driving it into the sand, and thus the building was consecrated by the God as Man on Earth. But long before that ceremony could take place, I imagine the area for building would have been cleared and leveled close down to bedrock - a massive undertaking involving hundreds of workers! So, Pharaoh would have showed up on the day of the driving of the stake ceremony and the laying the cornerstone while hundreds of workers would have been waiting around, doing perfunctory hand-clapping, impatiently for him (or her) to get on with it, already!

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