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Karahundj 3: Ancient Astronomy in Armenia.

Ancient Astronomy in Armenia

Supporters of an Astronomical purpose for the standing stones point to Armenia's long history of stargazing, ancestral Armenians using a number of devices to chart the night sky, including at least one other ancient observatory found in Armenia recently; at the 5th Millennium Metsamor settlement.

It is believed that the division of the sky into constellations was made thousands of years ago in the Armenian Highland. According to the English astronomer and historian W. T. Olcott, the only place where all the animals depicted in the Zodiac were located together was prehistoric Armenia. Recently, researchers have posited the source for the Indo European language to the Armenian plateau, with dispersion of the language into Asia, the Balkans, the Greek mainland and Europe. The roots of most European languages (along with the Zodiac) are traced to this dispersion.

Rock carvings on Armenia's mountains contain numerous astronomical symbols, including those on fields of stone on top of nearby Mounts Ughtasar and Ishkhanasar. The Earth, sun, moon, planets, comets, stars and constellations (even the Milky Way) are reflected in these pictures drawn on rocks in mountains around Lake Sevan and elsewhere in Armenia.

Bolstering claims that the stones at Karahundj may have an astronomical purpose is the exploration by Astrophysicist Elma Parsamian of 2800-2500 BCE observatory platforms at the ancient settlement at Metsamor (ca. 5000 BCE). The platforms have unique carvings and one a trapezium pointing to the mid 3rd millennium BCE appearance of the star Sirius through the rays of the rising sun. Her work at Metsamor is highlighted in the introduction to the Russian version of Stephen Hawking's book on Stonehenge.

A natural result of stargazing is an understanding of the cycles of time, and a calendar. Ancestral Armenians had a calendar at a very early age, at first using a lunar, then lunar/solar calendar before changing to a solar calendar based on 365 days; 12 months of 30 days and one interval period of 5 days. Each year began on Navasard (corresponding to our August 11), during the grape harvest, when the constellation Orion (Armenian “Haik”) became visible in the night sky. Each month and day was named, as was each hour of each day. The year 2492 BCE is a given date for the start of the old calendar, during the reign of the semi-mythical patriarch of Armenia, Haik.

Astronomy continued into the Middle Ages with the 7th century mathematician, geographer and astronomer Anania Shirakatsi, whose rather progressive views included his belief that the earth was round, that it and other planets circled the sun, that the Milky Way consisted of numerous faint stars, and his correctly interpreting Lunar and Solar eclipses. Later, Armenian stargazers recorded the 1054 supernovae in May of that year, months before the first recordings in China. Its remnant, the Crab nebula is still studied at the Biurakan Observatory in Armenia. Medieval Armenian manuscripts have numerous recordings of comets, supernovae and other astral phenomenon.