Bronze Age Sundial Found May Be Oldest Of Its Kind
2013 10 09
By Stephanie Pappas | LiveScience
A carved stone found marking a Bronze Age grave in the Ukraine is the oldest sundial of its kind ever found, a new study reveals.
The sundial may have marked the final resting place of a young man sacrificed or otherwise marked as a messenger to the gods or ancestors, said study researcher Larisa Vodolazhskaya of the Archaeoastronomical Research Center at Southern Federal University in Russia. Vodolazhskaya analyzed the geometry of the tire-size stone and its carvings, confirming the stone would have marked the time using a system of parallel lines and an elliptical pattern of circular depressions.
The elliptical pattern makes the carving an analemmatic sundial. A traditional sundial marks the time using a gnomon, a fixed vertical that casts a shadow. An analemmatic sundial has a gnomon that must move every day of the year to adjust to the changing position of the sun in the sky.
The sundial belonged to the Srubna or Srubnaya culture, known for the timber-framed graves they left on the steppes between the Ural Mountains and Ukraine’s Dneiper River.In 2011, a group of archaeologists led by Yurii Polidovich of the Donetsk Museum of Regional Studies was excavating a Bronze Age burial mound dating to the 12th or 13th century B.C. and uncovered the carved slab, which was marked with lines and circles on both sides. In February 2013, the archaeologists sent pictures of the find to Vodolazhskaya, suggesting that she might find it interesting given her work on Bronze Age petroglyphs.
"Having received photos of [the] plates, I pondered the possible interpretations of images," Vodolazhskaya wrote in an email to LiveScience. "One of my hypotheses was associated with a sundial."
To prove the carvings represented a sundial, Vodolazhskaya calculated the angles that would have been created by the sun and shadows at that latitude and confirmed that the carvings on the slabs could have been used to mark the hours accurately.
"They are made for the geographic latitude at which the sundials were found," she said.
How it works
Unlike many modern mass-produced garden sundials purchased and plopped down without a thought to the angle of the Earth and sun, the ancient Ukrainian carvings reveal a sophisticated grasp of geometry.
The circular depressions, placed in an elliptical pattern, are hour marks of an analemmatic sundial; the largest groove on the plate, Vodolazhskaya said, marks where the vertical, shadow-casting gnomon would have been placed at the winter solstice.
Meanwhile, a long carved line transected by a number of parallel grooves in the center of the slab would have acted as a linear scale for a more traditional horizontal sundial, where the hours are marked by a gnomon’s shadow falling along hour lines. In this case, the horizontal sundial actually had two gnomons, Vodolazhskaya said. One gnomon tracked the time in the morning hours and early afternoon, and the second covered from late morning to evening, measuring time in half-hour increments. Ancient sundials with half-hour marks are rare, though one was discovered earlier this year at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
Yellow lines indicate the hours on a Bronze Age sundial at the equinox. The shadow-casting gnomon of the sundial would have been fixed at point "EQ" on the equinoxes.
Read the full article at: livescience.com
READ: Stunning Astronomical Alignment Found at Peru Pyramid
Astronomical alignments were vital in Mesoamerica
Galactic Alignment 2012?
Ancient Egypt City Aligned With Sun on King’s Birthday
Mystery Deepens Over Ancient African Coins Discovered in Northern Australia
Ancient technology for metal coatings 2,000 years ago can’t be matched even today
Ooparts: Out of Place Artefacts
Antikythera treasures: richest haul of objects ever found from the ancient world
Latest News from our Front Page
Tiny Micro Robots Build Things in ‘Microfactory’
2014 04 17
The teenie-weeniest robot uprising ever might be sooner rather than later due to the work of research institute SRI.
Don’t let these microbots’ size fool you, there is power in numbers and thousands of the robots can work together to perform tasks at dizzying speed.
SRI International has developed a new generation of ant-like robots that can work as ...
’We are not dead yet’: Heartbreaking text messages sent from schoolchildren trapped aboard South Korean ferry
2014 04 17
Passengers on board the South Korean ferry sent heartbreaking messages to their family members just moments before it sank.
Children waiting to be rescued frantically reached for their phones as the boat began to list in a bid to communicate with their loved ones a final time.
Twenty-four people, including five students and two teachers, have been found dead, but 272 are ...
"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to "anarchy"
2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka:
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Artists ’have structurally different brains’
2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found.
Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery.
The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate.
But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report.
As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online
2014 04 17
A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping.
Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...
|More News » |