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An astronomical alignment in North America

26 October 2011

A site in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, or so the song goes, has caught the eye of a Virginia archaeologist – see www.clarkedailynews.com/archaeologist-claims-12000-year-old-solstice-sit… – but it was the new owner of the land that found the mysterious feature – when he started to clear scrub and woodland. What he found was a series of concentric rings of stones – and this is what caused him to bring in the archaeologist. What was it all about? The archaeologist has been investigating the site for some time and has come up with the idea it was created as part of an astronomical alignment – with the well worn explanation that the locals wanted to know the passage of the seasons – as if leaf fall didn't tell them winter was approaching, and leaf growth that summer was a'coming. A person ensconced in the centre of the stone rings is able to observe the Sun rise directly over Bears Den Rock on the summer solstice, the rock being a prominent object on the skyline. Likewise, winter solstice can be targeted via a stone pillar in the circle and a prominent geological landmark on a high ridge. Now, the archaeologist dates the site to around 12,000 years ago – during the Younger Dryas climatic downturn. If so, what were they really looking at?

Some of the comments take the archaeologist to task for dating it that early but it seems he bases his chronological deduction on the fact that tools made of jasper were being quarried not that far away, and the Shenandoah Valley may have lain on the route to the mine. It seems that tools made from jasper were common during the Younger Dryas, or early Paleo-Indian period, and although they persisted for thousands of years thereafter they were never exclusively used – and that is apparently the situation at the alignment.

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