The Chanquillo solar observatory in Peru, more than 2,000 years old, classified this Tuesday as World Heritage by Unesco, testifies to a sophisticated solar cult, accompanied by particularly precise astronomical observations. The significance of these ruins, dating from around 400 BC, located on a hill near the Peruvian coast, 370 kilometers north of Lima, has long been a mystery to scientists and historians.
“This place is dedicated to sun worship,” the director of the Chanquillo archaeological program at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) told AFP. Built in a complex of ritual ceremonies, 13 stone towers are aligned at regular intervals on a north-south ridge.
Calculation of solstices and equinoxes
“The 13 towers were installed very precisely, very carefully,” said the manager. Visible from two observation sites, these towers were placed so as to indicate, depending on the position of the sun, the months, solstices and equinoxes over the entire year, with a margin of error of barely one. or two days.
These observations would have enabled the inhabitants to predict the planting and harvest periods, as well as religious festivals. “Chanquillo is a masterpiece of architecture, a masterpiece of technology and astronomy. It is the cradle of astronomy in America ”, underlines the director.
The observatory and its ceremonial center were protected by a fortress with large stone walls, mud and carob tree trunks used for the monumental gates. The ovoid-shaped fortress has three concentric walls and a solar temple. According to him, only 1% of the archaeological center has been studied.