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Ancient Observatories
Hovenweep Castle

Hovenweep Castle, Hovenweep National Monument straddles the southern, Utah-ColoradoLong after this massive building was created to shelter them, Native Americans realized it could serve another purpose as well. Within an ancient room added almost as an afterthought, a shaft of light shines through an opening in a massive wall and connects its dwellers with the sun's springtime cadence. 

 

Location:
Hovenweep National Monument straddles the southern, Utah-Colorado border.
Latitude 37d 23' 09N
Longitude 109d 04' 49W
Altitude 5,200 feet

Alignments:
Tree-ring dating of timbers used in the construction of the 'Sun Room' suggest that it was added in 1277 AD about 100 years after the main structure, called the Castle, was completed. Two ports, or windows, in the large tower admit the rays from the sun into the interior room, and it has been proposed that this arrangement was used as a solar calendar. The equinox port points to the sunrise azimuth 4 days after the vernal equinox. One explanation for this is that this is the consequence of a method for establishing the equinox azimuth by counting and halving the number of days between the winter and summer solstices.

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep Castle, Spiral PetroglphThis June 21, 2004 image taken at Hovenweep National Monument shows a spiral petroglph illuminated shortly after sunrise on the summer solstice. Not unlike possible sun watching stations in Chaco Canyon, this example indicates that ancestral Puebloans may have taken advantage of natural solar markers, carving designs to mark the seasons.

The Sun dagger at Hovenweep National MonumentA view of the Sun dagger at Hovenweep National Monument. Two concentric circle petroglphs are illuminated as the sun rises on the Summer solstice. Within in a matter of minutes two separate shafts of light, the first appearing from the left and the second from the right, make contact in the center forming one large band of light. Not unlike possible sun watching stations in Chaco Canyon, this example indicates that ancestral Puebloans may have taken advantage of natural solar markers. Carving designs to mark the seasons.

Structure found at Hovenweep National MonumentThis is one of a number of structures found at Hovenweep National Monument. Hovenweep was inhabited by ancestral Puebloans but it is not considered a Chacoan site. At its peak, Hovenweep was home to over 2,500 people.

 

Hovenweep Castle Structure at SunsetThis is one of a number of structures found at Hovenweep National Monument taken at sunset on the summer solstice. The "sun room" a rectangular room attached to southern side of this tower could have been used to mark the equinoxes and solstices. Beams of light shine through portholes illuminating lintels on doorways in the room.

Hovenweep Castle Sunset ViewThis spectacular sunset view was taken during the 2004 summer solstice at Hovenweep National Monument. The "sun room" a rectangular room attached to southern side of this tower could have been used to mark the equinoxes and solstices. Beams of light shine through portholes illuminating lintels on doorways in the room.

by: Courtesy of NASA

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Source: http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2005/locations/hovenweep_castle.htm

Photos: Troy Cline

 

 
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