Chapter 3: The Temples That Faced Heaven

“…The great antiquity of Stonehenge, which kept increasing as scientific knowledge about it progressed, is of course what troubles most scientists; and it is primarily the dates of construction ascertained for Stonehenge I and II + III that have led archaeologists to seek Mediterranean visitors, and eminent scholars to allude to ancient gods, as the only possible explanations for the enigma.

“…The father of the science of archaeoastronomy – though he preferred to call it astro-archaeology, which better conveys what he had in mind – was undoubtedly Sir Norman Lockyer.

“…It struck him, he wrote, that it was truly remarkable that in Babylonia “from the beginning of things the sign for God was a star” and that likewise in Egypt, in the hieroglyphic texts, three stars represented the plural term “gods.” Babylonian records on clay tablets and burned clay bricks, he noted, appeared to deal with regular cycles of “moon and planet positions with extreme accuracy.” Planets, stars and the constellations of the zodiac are represented in the walls of Egyptian tombs and on papyruses. In the Hindu pantheon, he observed, we find the worship of the Sun and of the Dawn: the name of the god Indra meaning “The Day Brought by the Sun” and that of the goddess Ushas meaning “Dawn.”

“…Can astronomy be of assistance to Egyptology? he wondered; can it help define the measure of Egyptian and Babylonian antiquity?

“…When one considers the Hindu Rigveda and Egyptian inscriptions from an astronomical point of view, Lockyer wrote, “one is struck by the fact that in both, the early worship and all the early observations related to the horizon.”

“…Since the most regular phenomenon observable on the horizon was the rising and setting of the Sun on a daily basis, it was natural to make this the basis of ancient astronomical observations, and to relate other phenomena (such as the appearance of movements of planets and even stars) to their “heliacal rising,” their brief appearance on the eastern horizon as the turning Earth reaches the few moments of dawn, when the Sun begins to rise but the sky is dark enough to see the stars.

“…Studying the orientation of temples old and not so old, Lockyer found that those he called “Sun Temples” were of two kinds: those oriented according to the equinoxes and those oriented according to the solstices. Though the Sun always rises in the eastern skies and sets in the western skies, it is only on the days of the equinoxes that it rises anywhere on Earth precisely in the east, and Lockyer therefore deemed such “equinoctial” temples to be more universal than those whose axis was oriented according to the solstices; because the angle formed by the northern and southern (to an observer in the northern hemisphere, the summer and winter) solstices depended on where the observer was – his latitude. Therefore, “solstitial” temples were more individual, specific for their geographic location (and even elevation).

“…As examples of equinoctial temples Lockyer cited the Temple of Zeus at Baalbeck, the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, and the great basilica of St. Peter’s in the Vatican in Rome – all oriented on a precise east-west axis. Regarding the latter he quoted studies on church architecture that described how at the old St. Peter’s (begun under Constantine in the fourth century and torn down early in the sixteenth century), on the day of the vernal equinox, “the great doors of the porch of the quadriporticus were opened at sunrise, and also the eastern doors of the church, and as the sun rose, its rays passed through the outer doors, then through the inner doors, and penetrating straight through the nave, illuminated the High Altar.” Lockyer added that “the present church fulfills the same conditions.”

St.Peter's Basilica; Rome, Italy.

St.Peter’s Basilica; Rome, Italy.


Avenue de la Conciliazione

Avenue de la Conciliazione


St.Peter's Basilica; Rome, Italy.

St.Peter’s Basilica; Rome, Italy.

“…As examples of “solstitial” Sun Temples Lockyer described the principal Chinese “Temple of Heaven” in Peking, where “the most important of all state observances in China, the sacrifice performed in the open air at the south altar of the Temple of Heaven,” was held on the day of the winter solstice, December 21; and the structure of Stonehenge, oriented to the summer solstice.

Temple of Heaven, Peking (Beijing).

Temple of Heaven, Peking (Beijing).


Outer wall of Altar of Heaven.

Outer wall of Altar of Heaven.

“…All that was, however, just a prelude to Lockyer’s main studies, in Egypt.

“…Studying the orientation of Egypt’s ancient temples, Lockyer concluded that the older ones were “equinoctial” and the later ones “solstitial.” He was amazed to discover that earlier temples revealed greater astronomical sophistication than later ones, for they were intended to observe and venerate not only the rising and setting of the Sun, but also of stars. Moreover, the earliest shrine suggested a mixed Sun-Moon worship that shifted to an equinoctial, i.e. Sun, focus. That equinoctial shrine, he wrote, was the temple in Heliopolis (“City of the Sun” in Greek) whose Egyptian name Annu, was also mentioned in the Bible as On. Lockyer calculated that the combination of solar observations with the period of the bright star Sirius and with the annual rising of the Nile, a triple conjunction on which the Egyptian time reckoning Point Zero was circa 3200 B.C.

“…The Annu shrine, it is known from Egyptian inscriptions, held the Ben-Ben (“Pyramidion-Bird”), claimed to have been the actual conical upper part of the “Celestial Barge” in which the god Ra had come to Earth from the “Planet of Millions of Years.” This object, usually kept in the temple’s inner sanctum, was put in public display once a year, and pilgrimages to the shrine to view and venerate the sacred object continued into dynastic times. The object itself has vanished over the millennia; but a stone replica thereof has been found, showing the great god visible through the doorway or hatch of the capsule. The legend of the Phoenix, the mythical bird that dies and resurrects after a certain period, has also been traced to this shrine and its veneration.

“…While this shrine has not survived the millennia, what may have been another later shrine modeled after the Heliopolitan one has been found by archaeologists. It is the so called Solar Temple of the Pharaoh Ne-user-Ra of the fifth dynasty that lasted from 2494 to 2345 B.C. Built at a place now called Abusir, just south of Giza and its great pyramids, it consisted primarily of a large raised terrace upon which, within a great enclosure, there stood on a massive platform a thick, short obelisk-like object. A ramp surmounted by a covered corridor lighted by evenly spaced windows in the ceiling, connected the temple’s elaborate entrance with a monumental gateway in the valley below. The sloping base of the obelisk-like rose some sixty-five feet above the level of the temple’s court; the obelisk, which may have been sheathed with gilded copper, rose another 120 feet.

Abusir; Egypt.

Abusir; Egypt.

Mr. Sitchin explains the orientation, both equinoctial and solstitial, of the Solar Temple in Abusir in detail in his book. He also mentions:

“…The equinoctial orientation of the temple proper and the solstitial one of the corridor, bespeaking the movements of the Sun, led Egyptologists to apply to the structure the term “Sun Temple.” They found reinforcement in this designation in the discovery of a “solar boat” (partly carved out of the rock and partly built of dried and painted bricks) buried under the sands just south of the temple enclosure. Hieroglyphic texts dealing with the measurement of time and the calendar in ancient Egypt held that the celestial bodies traversed the skies in boats. Often, the gods or even the deified pharaohs (having joined the gods in the Afterlife) were depicted in such boats, sailing above the firmament of the skies that was held up at the four corner points.

Barque of Cheop, in display at Solar Boat Museum, Egypt.

Barque of Cheop, in display at Solar Boat Museum, Egypt.


Egyptian Solar Boat on display in Museum at Giza.

Egyptian Solar Boat on display in Museum at Giza.


A Mural, from Burial Tomb of a Queen.

A Mural, from Burial Tomb of a Queen.

Mr. Sitchin explains the details in his book, of one or two more examples of temples who had emulated the pyramidion-on-platform concept of the Ne-user-Ra “Sun Temple,” one of Pharaoh Mentuhotep I; and six centuries later, another addition from Tuthmosis III and Queen Hatshepsut, which orientation was similar but not exactly so.

Pylon at the Temple of Tuthmosis III and Hutshepsut; Deir el Bahari.

Pylon at the Temple of Tuthmosis III and Hutshepsut; Deir el Bahari.


Ramp leading to the Temple of Hatshepsut.

Ramp leading to the Temple of Hatshepsut.

“…It was at Thebes (Karnak) that Lockyer made his most important discovery, one that laid the foundation for archaeoastronomy.

“…The sequence of chapters, facts, and arguments in The Dawn of Astronomy reveals that Lockyer’s route to Karnak and Egyptian temples passed through the European evidence. There was the Orientation of the Old St. Peter’s in Rome and the information about the beam of sunlight at the spring equinox sunrise; and there was St. Peter’s Square (a woodcut drawing of which Lockyer included), with its startling similarities to Stonehenge

Lockyer found similarities between St. Peter's Square (above) and Stonehenge (below).

Lockyer found similarities between St. Peter’s Square (above) and Stonehenge (below).


Stonehenge
Lockyer also observed the Parthenon, Athens.

Lockyer also observed the Parthenon, Athens.

“…He looked at the Parthenon in Athens, Greece’s principal shrine and found that, “there is the old Parthenon, a building which may have been standing at the time of the Trojan war, and the new Parthenon, with an outer court like the Egyptian temples but with its sanctuary more nearly in the center of the building. It was by the difference of direction of these two temples at Athens that my attention was called to the subject.”

“…He had in front of him drawings of the layout plans of various Egyptian temples where orientations seemed to vary from early to later buildings, and was struck by an obvious one in two back-to-back temples at a site not far from Thebes called Medinet-Habu and pointed out the similarity between this Egyptian and the Greek “difference of orientation” in temples that, from a purely architectural aspect, should have been parallel and with the same axial orientation.

“…Could the slightly altered orientation result from changes in the amplitude (the position in the skies) of the Sun or stars caused by the changes in the Earth’s obliquity? he wondered, and felt that the answer was Yes.

“…Lockyer’s masterful innovation was this: by determining the orientation of a temple and its geographic longitude, it was possible to calculate the obliquity that prevailed at the time of construction; and by determining the changes in obliquity over millennia, it was possible to conclude with sufficient certainty when the temple was constructed.

“…The Table of Obliquity, fined-tuned and made more accurate during the past century, shows the change in the angle of the Earth’s tilt in five hundred-year intervals going back from the present 23º 27′ (about 23.5 degrees):

  • ~500 B.C.; 23.75°
  • 1000 B.C.; 23.81°
  • 1500 B.C.; 23.87°
  • 2000 B.C.; 23.92°
  • 2500 B.C.; 23.97°
  • 3000 B.C.; 24.02°
  • 3500 B.C.; 24.07°
  • 4000 B.C.; 24.11°

 

“…Lockyer applied his findings primarily at the great temple to Amon-Ra in Karnak.

Views of the Great Temple To Amon.

Views of the Great Temple To Amon.


Views of the Great Temple To Amon.

Views of the Great Temple To Amon.

“…Indeed, further archaeological discoveries at Karnak corroborate Lockyer’s principal innovation – that the orientation of the temples changed in time to reflect the changes in obliquity. Therefore, the orientation could serve as a clue to the temple’s time of construction…

Mr. Sitchin explains several points, including the date of construction for the oldest part of the Great Temple at circa 2100 B.C., with:

“…repairs, demolitions, and rebuilding then continued through the ensuing centuries by pharaohs of subsequent dynasties; two obelisks were set up by pharaohs of the XVIII dynasty. The final phase took shape under Pharaoh Seti II of the XIX dynasty who reigned in 1216-1210 B.C. – all as Lockyer had determined.”

“…Archaeoastronomy – or, astro-archaeology as Sir Norman Lockyer named it proved its merit and validity.

“…At the beginning of this century Lockyer turned his attention to Stonehenge.

“…presented his conclusions in Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments (1906); they can be summed up in one drawing. It assumes an axis that begins at the Altar Stone, passes between the sarsen stones numbered 1 and 30, down the Avenue, toward the Heel Stone as the focusing pillar. The obliquity angle indicated by such an axis led him to suggest that Stonehenge was built in 1680 B.C. Needless to say, such an early date was quite sensational at the time, a century ago, when scholars still thought of Stonehenge in terms of King Arthur’s days.

Mr. Sitchin explains at this point in his book, the dates for the earlier phases of Stonehenge, which:

“…As the drawing shows” (Lockyer’s), “he did not rule out a much earlier date for the prior phases of Stonehenge, this too compares well with the presently accepted date of 2900/2800 B.C. for Stonehenge I.

Phase III which we see today

The Heel Stone appears in the distance between the center of the sarsen stones, Stonehenge.

The Heel Stone appears in the distance between the center of the sarsen stones, Stonehenge.


Stonehenge, Phase III.

Stonehenge, Phase III.

“…Archaeoastronomy thus joins archaeological findings and radiocarbon dating to arrive at the same dates for the construction of the various phases of Stonehenge, the three separate methods corroborating each other. With such a convincing determination of Stonehenge’s dates, the question regarding the builders becomes more poignant. Who, circa 2900/2800 B.C., possessed the knowledge of astronomy (to say nothing of engineering and architecture) to build such a calendrical “computer,” and circa 2100/2000 B.C. to rearrange the various components thereof and attain a new realignment? And why was such a realignment required or desired?

“…If, as all agree, the sophisticated scientific knowledge that was required for the planning, sitting, orientation, and construction of Stonehenge had to come from outside the British Isles, the earlier civilizations of the near East seem to be the only sources for such knowledge at the time.

“…Were the Sun Temples of Egypt, then, the prototypes for Stonehenge? We have seen that at the dates established for Stonehenge’s various phases, there already existed in Egypt elaborate temples that were astronomically oriented. The equinoctial Sun Temple at Heliopolis was built at about the time, 3100 B.C., when kingship began in Egypt (if not somewhat earlier) – several centuries before Stonehenge I. The construction of the oldest phase of the solstitially oriented temple to Amon-Ra in Karnak took place circa 2100 B.C. – a date coinciding (perhaps not by chance) with the date for the “remodeling” of Stonehenge.

“…From the beginning of dynastic times in Egypt, with which the appearance of a distinct Egyptian civilization is linked, it was the pharaohs of Egypt who had hired the architects and masons, the priests and the savants, and decreed the planning and construction of the marvelous stone edifices of ancient Egypt. None of them, however, appears to have designed, oriented, and built a circular temple.

“…What about those famous seafarers, the Phoenicians? Not only did they reach the British Isles (mainly in search of tin) too late to have built not just Stonehenge I but also the II and III phases, but none of their temple architecture bears any resemblance to the emphatically circular essence of Stonehenge… On the vast platform at Baalbeck in the Lebanon mountains, people after people and conquerors after conquerors built their temples precisely on the ruins and according to the layout of preceding temples. These, as the later extant ruins from the Roman era reveal, represented a rectangular temple (black area) (details shown in the book) with a square forecourt (the diamond-shaped entrance pavillion is a purely Roman addition). The temple is clearly oriented on an east-west axis, facing directly east toward the Sun at sunrise – an equinoctial temple. This should perhaps be no surprise, since in ancient times this site too was called “City of the Sun” – Heliopolis by the Greeks, Beth-Shemesh (“House of the Sun”) in the Bible, in King Solomon’s time.

The "diamond" shape (hexagonal), added by the Romans, Baalbek.

The “diamond” shape (hexagonal), added by the Romans, Baalbek.


The "diamond" shape (hexagonal), added by the Romans, Baalbek.

The “diamond” shape (hexagonal), added by the Romans, Baalbek.


View of the Temple from the "Diamond" shape.

View of the Temple from the “Diamond” shape.

“…That the rectangular shape and east-west axis were not a passing fad in Phoenicia is further evidenced by the Temple of Solomon, the first temple of Jerusalem, which was built with the help of Phoenician architects provided by Ahiram, king of Tyre; it was a rectangular structure on an east-west axis, facing eastward, built upon a large man-made platform.

“…Circles do appear, though, in the case of the other Mediterranean “suspects” – the Mycenaeans, the first Hellenic people of ancient Greece. But these were at first what archaeologists call Grave Circles – burial pits surrounded by a circle of stones that evolved into circular tombs hidden beneath a conical mound of soil. But that had taken place circa 1500 B.C., and the largest of them, called the Treasury of Atreus because of the golden artifacts that were found around the dead, dates to circa 1300 B.C.

“…Archaeologists who adhere to the Mycenaean connection compare such eastern Mediterranean burial mounds to Silbury Hill in the Stonehenge area or to one of Newgrange, across the Irish Sea in Boyne Valley, County Meath, in Ireland; but Silbury Hill has been determined by carbon dating to have been constructed no later than 2200 B.C. and the burial ground at Newgrange at about the same time – almost a thousand years before the Treasury of Atreus and other Mycenaean examples; the period of the Mycenaean burial mounds, moreover, is even further removed from the time of Stonehenge I. In fact, the burial mounds in the British Isles are much more akin, in construction and in timing, to such mounds in the western rather than eastern Mediterranean, such as the one in Los Millares in southern Spain.

“…Above all, Stonehenge has never served as a burial place. For all these reasons, the search for a prototype – a circular structure serving astronomical purposes – should continue beyond the eastern Mediterranean.

King Solomon's Temple.

King Solomon’s Temple.


Circular Graves at Mycenae.

Circular Graves at Mycenae.


Silbury Hill, in the Stonehenge area.

Silbury Hill, in the Stonehenge area.


Threshold Stone at entrance.

Threshold Stone at entrance.


Threshold Stone at entrance.

Threshold Stone at entrance.

“…Older than the Egyptian civilization and possessing much more advanced scientific knowledge, the Sumerian civilization could have served, theoretically, as the fountainhead for Stonehenge. Among the outstanding Sumerian achievements were great cities, a written language, literature, schools, kings, courts, laws, judges, merchants, craftsmen, poets, dancers. The sciences flourished within the temples where the “secrets on numbers and of the heavens” – of mathematics and astronomy – were kept, taught, and transmitted by generations of priests who performed their functions within walled-off sacred compounds. Such compounds usually included shrines dedicated to various deities, residences, work and study places for the priests, storehouses and other administrative buildings, and – as the dominant, principal, and most prominent feature of the sacred precinct and of the city itself – a ziggurat, a pyramid that rose sky high in stages (usually seven). The topmost stage was a multichambered structure that was intended – literally – to be the residence of the great god whose “cult center” (as scholars like to call it) the city was.

“…A good illustration of the layout of such a sacred precinct with its ziggurat is a reconstruction based on archaeological discoveries at the sacred precinct of Nippur (NI.IBRU in Sumerian), the “headquarters” from the earlier days of the god Enlil… As luck would have it, archaeologists have also unearthed a clay tablet upon which an ancient cartographer drew a map of Nippur; it clearly shows the rectangular sacred precinct with the square-based ziggurat… The orientation of the ziggurat and the temples was such that the corners of the structures pointed to the four cardinal points of the compass, so that the sides of the structure faced to the northeast, southwest, northwest, and southeast.

“…It was an orientation that it made it possible to scan the heavens in many directions and angles… the line between the east-pointing and west-pointing corners provided the equinoctial orientation; the sides gave solstitial views to either sunrise or sunset, at both summer and winter solstices. Modern astronomers have found many of these observational orientations in the famed ziggurat of Babylon, whose precise measurements and building plans were found spelled out on clay tablets.

“…Square or rectangular structures, with precise right angles, were the traditional shape of Mesopotamian ziggurats and temples, whether one looks at the sacred precinct of Ur at the time of Abraham circa 2100 B.C., the time of Stonehenge II – or goes back to one of the earliest temples built on a raised platform, as the White Temple at Eridu that dates to about 3100 B.C. – two or three centuries before the date of Stonehenge I.

Mesopotamian Ziggurats. Above is a ruin from UR, today's Iraq.

Mesopotamian Ziggurats. Above is a ruin from UR, today’s Iraq.


A ruined Ziggurat from today's Iran.

A ruined Ziggurat from today’s Iran.

“…The deliberate manner in which the Mesopotamian temples, at all times, were given the rectangular shape and specific orientation can be easily inferred from the layout of Babylon by comparing the haphazard meshing of buildings and alleys in cities in Babylonian times with the straight and geometrically perfect layout of the sacred precinct of Babylon and the square shape of its ziggurat.

“…In case someone wonders whether this was because the Sumerians and their successors were unfamiliar with the circle or unable to construct one, suffice it to point out that in mathematical tablets certain key number of the sexagesimal (“base 60”) system were represented by circles; in tablets dealing with geometry and land measurement, instructions were given for measuring regular- and irregular-shaped areas, including circles. The round wheel was known – another Sumerian “first.” Obviously circular residential houses were found in the ruins of early cities; a sacred precinct was sometimes surrounded by an oval-forming wall. It is clear that avoiding a well-known circular shape for temples was deliberate.

“…There were thus basic design, architecture, and orientation differences between Sumerian temples and Stonehenge, to which one could add the fact that the Sumerians were not stonemasons (there being no stone quarries in the alluvial plain between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers). The Sumerians were not the ones who planned and erected Stonehenge; and the only instance that can be considered an exception to discoveries and Sumerian temples, as we shall see, reinforces this conclusion.

“…So, if not the Egyptians or Phoenicians or early Greeks, if not the Sumerians and their successors in Mesopotamia – who then came to the plain of Salisbury to plan and supervise the creation of Stonehenge?

TUMULUS, at Newgrange.

TUMULUS, at Newgrange.

“…An interesting clue emerges as one reads the legends concerning the tumulus of Newgrange. According to Michael J. O’Kelly, a leading architect and explorer of the site and its surroundings (Newgrange: Archaeology, Art and Legend), the site was known in early Irish lore by various names that all designated it as Burg Oengusa, the “House of Oengus,” son of the chief god of the pre-Celtic pantheon who had come to Ireland from “the Otherworld.” That chief god was known as An Dagda, “An, the good god.”

“…It is indeed amazing to find the name of the principal deity of the ancient world in all these diverse places – in Sumer and his E.ANNA ziggurat of Uruk; in the Egyptian Heliopolis, whose true name was Annu; and in far-removed Ireland.

“…That this might be an important clue and not just an insignificant coincidence becomes possible when we examine the name of the son of this “chief god,” Oengus. When the Babylonian priest Berossus wrote, circa 290 B.C., the history and prehistory of Mesopotamia and Mankind according to the Sumerian and Babylonian records, he (or the Greek savants who copied from his works) spelled the name of EnkiOannes.” Enki was the leader of the first group of Anunnaki to splash down to Earth, in the Persian Gulf; he was the chief scientist of the Anunnaki and the one who inscribed all knowledge on the ME‘s, enigmatic objects that, with our present knowledge, one could compare to computer memory discs. He was indeed a son of Anu; was he then the god who in pre-Celtic myth became Oengus, the son of An Daga?

“…All that we know, we were taught by the gods,” the Sumerians repeatedly stated.

“…Was it, then, not the ancient peoples, but the ancient gods who created Stonehenge?

Continue to Chapter 4: DUR.AN.KI – The “Bond Heaven-Earth”