The prehistoric tombs could have also been astronomical observatories

The prehistoric tombs could have also been astronomical observatories

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Astronomers are investigating what could be described as the first astronomical observation tool potentially used by prehistoric humans 6,000 years ago.

In research, they suggest that long, narrow passages made between ancient stones or in megalithic tombs could have been used by early humans to observe the night sky.

The idea is investigate how a simple aperture could affect the observation of slightly fainter stars, focusing on the study of megalithic tombs, mostly composed of a chamber of large interlaced stones and a long narrow entrance.

It is believed that these spaces could have been sacred and used for rites of passage, in which the "initiates" spent the night inside the tomb, without natural light, observing the sky, so they could have been the first astronomical tools invented thousands of years before telescopes.

Kieran simcox, a student at Nottingham Trent University`s School of Science and Technology and project leader, stated that «It was a great surprise to see that no one had thoroughly investigated this topic, such as the color of the night sky with the naked eye from these sites«.

The project is aimed at seeing the way in which the human eye, without the help of any telescopic device, can see the brightness and color of stars, with the intention of applying this theory to dolmens such as those of Anta (Portugal), of 6,000 years old and site where the research is carried out.

Dr. Fabio Silva from Wales Trinity Saint David University explained that «the orientation of the tombs may be in alignment with Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus. To accurately measure the time of the first appearance of this star in the season, it is vital to be able to detect stars during twilight«.

The first sighting of a star after its long absence from the night sky could have been used as a marker for the start of the season, and could indicate, for example, the start of a summer migration. The time when this could be seen is only obtained from these observation sites since cannot be seen from the outside, so they believe that they could have been detected thanks to the ability of the human eye to see them in these twilight conditions, taking into account the small entrance conduits of the tombs.

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