Mintaka, Orion, Equinox

One of the minor “problems” in making a Henge is that you want to mark the solstices AND the equinox. Getting a solstice is pretty easy. The Equinox is a bit more tricky.

To find the Solstice dates and alignments:

Pick a spot as your “center” and stick a pole in the ground “a ways away” (with a clear horizon) toward sunrise. Every day, watch for sunrise. If it is to the North of your pole (and you are headed into summer) move your pole north to match. One day, the sun will no longer be rising “to the North” of your pole. It will seem to halt ( that is the “stopped sun” or solstice). That is your Summer Solstice. The same thing happens as winter approaches, but to the South. The sun keeps rising lower on the horizon, further south, until one day it stops. At that point, you plant the pole and that is the Winter Solstice. Pretty easy, really. One center marker and a pole. (After the spot is found, you can plop down a stone with a pointy top instead). A similar thing is done for the setting sun for both soltices, so you end up with 4 stones. Summer and Winter solstices, rising and setting. (Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere need to reverse winter and summer, or north and south, but not both. Then again, you ought to be use to us doing things backwards up here ;-)

But what about the equinox?

You could sort of measure 1/2 way between the two and stick a pole in the ground. But that’s not very precise. Is there a better way? Well, yes. The Equinox happens when the sun rises on the celestial equator. The celestial equator matches the earth equator, but is projected out to the stars. Now we could just use whatever latitude we are at, and measure the elevation of the celestial equator using it. There is a nice ‘how to’ here:

They have you find the north pole star (a bit useless south of the equator) and then measure that elevation up from the horizon. But there is an easier way. They mention it. The celestial equator is at the horizon due east and due west. So if you can spot those, you have each end. For sunrise / set, that is all you really need.

From geometry, it is easy to see that angle p, the elevation of the celestial pole from the horizon, is equal to angle l, the latitude. This is very important in navigation, as it allowed ancient sailors to tell their latitude by measuring the elevation of the celestial pole (in the Northern Hemisphere, this is easy because Polaris, a bright star lies near enough on the pole.) So if you’re ever lost in the snaky swamps of some strange country, or get shipwrecked and you’re marooned on some desert island, you know how to find your latitude- the elevation of the celestial pole.

Note also that the celestial equator always intersects the horizon exactly at East and West, wherever you are. To find the celestial equator, find the pole first. Look 90° one way, then the other, these are East and West. Then turn round through 180° so you’re facing the opposite way. At this point (opposite the pole) the equator is at an elevation from the horizon of 90° – your latitude, and it runs from East, through this point, then down to meet the horizon again at West. It will help you if you learn where the celestial pole and equator are where you live. Now you can see how the stars appear to move: following the line of the celestial equator, rotating around the pole.

Now finding “due east” and “due west” to under 1 degree might be just a bit hard if you are in the middle of a stone age plain (or geometric plane) and don’t have a sextant, compass, etc. etc. So lets say you don’t have much more than a few sticks, rocks, and rope? Yeah, you can get “due east” roughly pretty easy, but how exact? (Remember, you don’t have a calendar either, unless you make it…)



Original Image

Find the three stars of Orion’s Belt. Notice one of them is almost on that 0 degree celestial equator line? Mintaka.

Declination −00° 17′ 57″

You can be under one degree just by watching for the rising of the belt of Orion and picking the star closet to the bow. For even more precision, put your pole in the ground with the point just a bit ‘above’ the top edge of the star.

So now you have an exactly due east point where that star rises. When the middle of the sun rises directly over that pole point, you have the equinox. (A similar point can be marked at the setting for due west). To save your eyes and not be staring right at the rising / setting sun, look for when the pole point shadow aligns with the enter of your circle; your observing point.

And that, IMHO, is why Orion was so important to the old Druids and the makers of Henges. Some even having 3 circles in the layout of Orion’s Belt. It lets you find with quite good precision where east and west are; by watching it through the night, it marks the entire arc of the celestial equator; and by finding when the sun rises at the same point, it gives the equinox dates.

Thornborough Henge

Thornborough Henge

Original Image

In Conclusion

So with just that knowing, a couple of sticks, stones, and a bit of rope ( to swing an arc and mark the outer circle of your eventual ‘stone ring’ of your henge); you too can make a basic stone circle with the solstices and equinox points accurately marked, and with precise east / west and north / south lines marked.

North South can be marked via a perpendicular to the East West line. Measure one radius from your central observing point with your rope to either the East or West marker. Use that to measure 6 equal chords around your ring. Those are 60 degrees of arc each on your perimeter circle. Take the segment running east west on each side – the north and south sides – and bisect them. Run a line between those bisected points on each line. That’s due North South. There are other ways to do it too, but I like this one as all it takes is the rope… Alternatively, you can just take the rope and have a chunk a bit over one radius long; then swing one arc from the East point and another from the West point. They will cross at two points. The line between those two is North South. But that doesn’t mark your 60 degree points on your celestial circle rose…

(Bisecting each of those chord lines gives a line to the circle that marks the 30 degree points. A cord between each of them, bisected, gives the 15 degree marks. Celestial objects move through 15 degrees of arc in 1 hour; so you also get a rough clock; along with a fairly decent compass.)

Now you can mark the seasons, know the major celebration days, and make a good solar calendar. I’m fond of using 12 months of exactly 30 days each, with an Holiday on each of Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice and both Equinox days. Then an added holiday, for a total of a two day party Holy Day on the Winter Solstice. To that, we add a “Leap Holy Day” every few years according to one of two methods. The modern one, using “Jackson’s Leap” formula; or the ancient one. Watching Sirius rising. When it rises one day off cycle, that year you add the extra Holiday… er, Holy Day ;-)

Jackson’s Leap

In a comment on another posting about calendars:

Wayne Jackson posted a simple and accurate method of calculating Leap Years. I present it here just as he posted it:

wayne says:
22 December 2011 at 4:49 am

E.M., I went back to my old machine and there were additional terms. Since the current tropical year is ~365.2421897 days then an equation as
365 + 1/4 – 1/128 + 1/262144 – 1/524288 = 365.2421894
365 + 1/(2^2) – 1/(2^7) + 1/(2^18) – 1/(2^19)
gets you to where the next one day correction needed to the calendar would be about 3.44 million years in the future. Thought you might get a kick out of that… a near perfect binary calendar.
(and sure, you can use it freely, it’s yours

So that formula would be used to calculate “leap years”.

Egyptian Sirius Leap

For primitive conditions, we would use the Egyptian Calendar method. They would watch for Sirius to rise on the proper day. Eventually it becomes a day late. That year, you add another leap day. In practical terms, the Egyptians had figured out when to do this, and had their own “Leap Year” intervals figured.

The adjustments needed to make a complete year, i.e. the difference between 365.25636 days and the 360 (30 x 12) days, were made as follows:

The difference of 5.25 days comes at the end of the Egyptian year, by adding 5 days every year and an additional day every 4 years. The Ancient Egyptian Year currently begins (in 2003) on 11 September. The 5/6 extra days begin on 6 September.

The difference of 0.00636 day (365.25636 – 365¼ days) for each year requires adding another day every (1/0.00636) 157¼ years, which the Egyptians continued to do until our present times. This is accomplished by adding an extra day every 157, 314, 471, and 629 year cycles.

As you can see, the Egyptian Calendar is a bit complex. They also have only 3 seasons of 4 months each, so the only bit I’m picking up is the sync to a celestial timer. They also had a couple of different calendars, with one for agriculture that stayed in sync with Sirius, and an administrative calendar that tended to change with the Pharaoh. (But an in depth look at the complexities of old Egyptian calendars is not for this posting.)

Now, Smith’s Calendar starts on the Winter Solstice of 2012. (And not on the new Pharaoh date ;-) Then next leap year will be 2016, and every 4 years after until out of sync. So in 2169, 2326, 2483, and 2641. In addition, we watch the date when Sirius has a “Heliacal Rising”. This is at August 7th at my latitude presently. So it ought to stay on August 7th. (It will be a bit different at other latitudes, so each latitude needs to figure their own rising date and keep in sync accordingly.) The Heliacal rising is when the star just gets above the horizon and is visible, then the sun rises and snuffs it. So when it is not visible, you have not reached that day yet. When it is first visible then “snuff”, that’s the day. Later, when you see it for a long time… you are too late. So, if you miss a leap, and find that the Heliacal rising of Sirius is on the wrong day, toss in a leap year to get back in sync.

(In reality, you could use any of several rising dates, or even the equinox or solstice dates. In fact, the Solstice dates would be the easiest. Any time the actual standstill comes ‘a day late’, you just add a holiday to that solstice… Personally, I’d do it on the Summer Solstice since we already have a Winter Solstice double-day… In the original Smith’s Calendar, I had all leap years add the day to the Summer Solstice, and that is my preference; but folks are used to the big winter parties, so “as you like it” ;-) Stuck in the rough somewhere, I would just do the ‘leap years’ via a summer solstice sync day.)

Back To The Basic Henge

That is the basic Henge function for Solar use. In another posting I’ll add the parts for the lunar calendar, how to keep the two in sync / oriented, and how to predict likely eclipse dates. Oh, and the weather cycling bit too… but that’s pretty easy once you have a lunar calendar.

The nice thing about this method of Henge Making is that it does not depend on your latitude. It also takes nearly no materials or tools. Celestial alignments are used to lay out the stones. (That is, it is function based). When we eventually add standing stones, the henge will look similar too, but not exactly the same as, Stonehenge. But it will function correctly at whatever latitude it is built.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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37 Responses to Mintaka, Orion, Equinox

  1. Steve C says:

    Well, I’m watching, for one, having made that comment a week or so ago. ;-)

    Thinking about it, a henge would make a grand plan for a housing estate, using tower blocks as megaliths. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that if you suggested it to a planning department anywhere, they’d send for the men in white coats …

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    Well, now you have a few of the other things you can do with your basic “stone circle henge”. As Orion is on location all the time, you can get the equinox east / west line marked immediately, and the compass rose to 15 degrees ( 7 1/2 and 3 3/4 too if you don’t mind fractional degrees ;-) and that gives you the immediate use of location and orientation. ( Degree height of Orion mid arc also give you your latitude… At the equator it is 90 degrees overhead, at the poles it is at zero on the horizon, so just make a sighting circle (astrolabe or pseudo-sextant) and measure degrees off the south horizon if in the N. Hemisphere).

    You can also immediately get a general idea of how far the rising sun is from the equinox points and a general idea of how close to the solstice you are. (Crude seasons marking) as you wait to mark your first solstice or equinox crossing. Once that happens, you have an exact anchor for your calendar and can just start counting days ( that 30 day ring of sarsens…) so you have an exact calendar within 3 months of first Orion sighting.

    Inside 90 days, an exact calendar and compass rose with orientation E/W and N/S along with latitude. Time and space orientation. Sighting to various high landmarks (hills / whatever) lets you navigate the area with ‘dead reckoning’ and still get back to your rose. If doing farming / gardening, you can start making decisions about when on the calendar to plant or harvest and watching what local weather patterns map to on the calendar. (Where I grew up, we would typically get 2 weeks of wet in August. Right during peach harvest. Just a few thunderstorms. Not every year, and not every place, but the risk window was pretty constant.) In particular, marking “first and last frost dates” will be important. (Over time you can also note the variation and find your place in the 19 year lunar cycle of temperature shifts, your apprentice will be able to finish that out to the 3 cycle 56 year PDO cycle if nearer the tropics, or 74 year 4 cycle if near the poles.)

    It would be a good time to add the Z and Y holes (for lunar month counting) and a U shape of 19 holes (for lunar year cycle counting, but those will be described in the next posting. Eventually, the Sarsen Circle can be made ( 30 arches with tops… one for each day of the solar months) and the Summer Solstice sight line can get a ‘heal stone’ out a ways away. Land clearing around to make the horizon line flatter is a ‘nice to do’ if you own the land, and making ‘grand approaches’ to the Summer Solstice and due South directions give better sightings too. (Sure, you can use them as parade routes. Just be out of the way at actual solstice and during due south sightings of the rise of Minitaka… to set midnight. Don’t want the party, er “ceremonial” stuff getting in the way of the actual work, now do we? ;-)

    I know. A lot of work. One of my “thought games” is trying to figure out how to make a ‘portable henge’. (That is why I talk about ropes and poles more than stones and holes…) But it’s your choice how you do it.

    Frankly, I’m just glad even one person has some interest in the Henge postings. The political stuff is sort of interesting; but personally I find the understanding of the Operation Of The Henge far more permanently useful a knowing… If I were ever suddenly lost in the middle of who knows where (say, via a plane going down and had been sleeping so didn’t even know what continent I might be on); one of the first things I would do is set up the basic ‘stone ring’. Gives immediate orientation to the compass, lets you tell folks “15 degrees NNW of the big snowy mountain about 50 miles away”, lets you orient to where “camp” is if you go hiking for food, gives you a latitude (and thus hemisphere too). etc. etc.

    I suspect that is why we find ‘stone rings’ scattered around odd places, even in the Americas. As folks would ‘explore’, they would set up a stone ring every so often. So you make one. Sight a mountain at ‘140 degrees SE’ and march toward the mountain. When you get there, you make another one. Now you can point back to your first one. So “waypoint marking” at key landmarks. Now you can walk over a whole continent and not get lost. Having a clock at night doesn’t hurt either… So watch what constellation first rises as the sun sets. Now every 15 degrees is an hour… Wake up middle of the night, just find the constellation and look at what part of the compass rose it is over. That’s your time… Nice in a base camp.

    I think that’s why I find a Henge so interesting. For such a small investment of materials, you get so much of use… Just knowing that I can never be lost and can always orient to compass and latitude and time is, well, kind of fun. ;-) Besides, put on a white robe and mumble stuff and folks will bring pigs and grog for a big party ;-) ;-) Druids, gotta love ’em!

  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. You have to read John Michel´s book “The New View Over Atlantis”. The old ones built pyramids, obelisks, cromlechs, etc. to channelize EMF so as to energize fields and places. (Feng Shui chinese science).
    As we do not do it, we are like sewages for the energy which comes from our Electric Sun.
    Watch this photo,(clearly an atmosphere plasma discharge, wrongly interpreted as “mysterious”) it was the third photo taken by a tourist to his children with an Iphone, which, of course, took all the data (coordinates,etc.):

    Original video:

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    Did you see the black cloud above?.

  5. Steve C says:

    EM, I am duly amazed, though for the full effect I shall have to re-read with a tad less of said grog in the system. My own interest in this stuff is being fuelled by conversations with a navigationally-oriented friend, who is currently thinking about making a “rule-of-thumb” position-fixing instrument for locating himself from the sky using “rule-of-thumb” calculations.

    He was round earlier: today was splitting the equation of time into a couple of sine waves at f and 2f with a phase shift between them, and drawing a square grid in your quadrant to act as an angle function calculator. ;-) To be fair, he’s got a track record, having proved years ago that he was within about 25 miles of where he should be using not much more than cardboard and string.

    (Kids today, take away their little electronic toys and they wouldn’t know what planet they were on … though come to think of it, when I was their age … ;-)

    Anyhow, for now I’m back to the opera. (From your side of the pond – “L’Elisir d’Amore” from the Met. Their matinées in NY make a pleasant evening in over here.)

  6. Steve C says:

    ^^ Ha, too many thumbs. (I mentioned the reason … ) Still, for the first time in ages, there’s a “digital plug” with a bad connection between NY and us, so just as well I have the real ‘Elixir’ on hand,

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    BTW, I probably ought to add that the 56 Aubry Holes are not accidentally matched to 3 x Saros Cycle and the PDO / AMO cycle… Yes, it can also be used to calculate high probability times of the eclipse alignments. These two are both linked by physics…


    No, not read the book. Have seen the video though. I forget which one, but one of the S. American pyramids was found to have a large mica layer under some layer of it. The thesis being that it made a large dielectric layer between two blocks of charge collector.

    As there are a couple of hundred volts of differential charge over (a few meters?) of air, I’m not at all surprised that folks find energetic discharge effects. After all, even clouds do it ;-)

    The big question is just: Accidental, Deliberate High Wisdom Use, or Deliberate for Show?

    No way to disambiguate the “wisdom” from “scare the yokels but you don’t know why it works” from “it wasn’t expected”. Though the mica layer argues for “they knew it would happen”.

    On my “to do” list is to find a list of stone circles in S. America. If you have any pointers to such, it would be appreciated. I’ve got a 1/5 or less done posting idea / draft looking at parallels of style and units of measurement systems between Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Mayan pyramids and monuments. There are some “odd similarities” between the implied units of measure and the Sumarian units along with some style element similarities.

    Do I think all that means there is some global energy grid between pyramids? Nope. I think the answer will be much more prosaic. Though I hold open the possibility of some unexpected things like the Great Pyramid being some kind of water to energy conversion device or a device to point energy observing channels at particular stars. Just don’t know enough to rule those out yet.

    But yes, I saw the black cloud. The problem isn’t the energy pulse or the cloud. The problem is attributing intent… or mysticism.

    So, I know of some ‘stone circles’ in N. America (attributed to Native Americans, but might also have been very early visitation by Europeans – hard to know as the ‘tech’ is universal), and at least one in New Zealand. I think the “method” is fairly obvious to any civilization that watches the sky a lot (i.e. any ‘primitive’ society) and that most old cultures would be aware of the solstice and equinox points, and the latitude / celestial equator connection if they travel much. After that it’s just simple use of rising points and shadows. Kind of like sundials. Once someone has just one, the idea will spread everywhere. ( In fact, I think the equatorial sundial is a directly connected technology as at the equinox, both sides are illuminated, so it, too, marks the equinox, N/S line and E/W line. At least when properly made…)

    I just don’t know enough about S. America / Central America to know if there are stone circles around there, too. Any ideas?

  8. Steve C says:

    Not actually S. America, but one I shall look at later. Pardon my leaving a link to the original page to refer to later. ;-)

    “Back to the Polynesian link, it’s worth noting submerged stone circles off the coast of Taiwan and southern Japan that are identical to stone circles found in Hokkaido. I’m not talking about Yonaguni or stone circles like Stonehenge, but smaller, humbler constructions. Maybe the origins of the Ainu are lost beneath the ocean.”

    Hm. How far off coast -> depth -> sea level rise -> date -> and ‘we’ knew enough then, if even some of the ‘circles’ are henges.

  9. DirkH says:

    Potential difference is 100 V / m vertical. Earth is negative.
    The camera might have seen something we don’t see; CCD chips are sensitive in the near infrared.
    Today I saw on surveillance screens in a tech supermarket violet shining spots on the ground of the entrance hall, when I left the supermarket I looked for violet lights; but to my eyes the spots were just brighter than the rest of the mall, being lit by spotlights, nothing violet. The picture on the screens was correct in its colors otherwise.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    OH, and I ought to add that there ARE other stars in other constellations that are also near the zero / celestial equator. So if Orion isn’t visible, you can use the others, they just are not as easy to pick out or as obvious. Still, as you might have a time where the sun and Orion are fighting for visibility… the others are:


    Were “delta” has a near zero declination:
    Declination -00° 29′ 33.96″


    Declination −0° 22′ 18″

    (Hydra has one near, but not on, zero, so not as accurate)


    Declination –0° 35′ 44.9487″

    Declination –00° 40′ 00.5095″


    Declination –00° 49′ 17.2626

    Aquarius, with Four stars!
    Declination −00° 19′ 11.4568
    Declination –00° 01′ 11.7942
    Close, but over a degree:
    Declination –01° 23′ 14.403
    Declination +01° 22′ 38.6346
    so if you split between those last two you have it….

    And last, Cetus, where the last one on the neck between the two loops is is:
    Declination 0° 19′ 43″

    Which sits right next to M77 so you could use it:
    Declination −00° 00′ 48″
    but will likely need an optical aid… it is only 9th magnitude and at about 6th most folks can see much…

    So if you learn to spot those constellations and pick out those stars, you have pretty much a circle of the entire sky and can plot the celestial equator at any time of the year / night.

    Getting longitude is the one ‘hard bit’ out of using the stars. You need the local time AND the time standard ‘back home’ to get the offset. IIRC, the Polynesians use the rising time of a constellation to get that (compared to sun rise) but I have not learned the details yet. Still, knowing what rises AT sunrise (heliacal rising) and watching how it changes as you move, ought to give a rough idea of longitude change. So setting out on a voyage, spot what star is just rising at sunrise, and keep track of changes. Same thing at sunset… Over long time periods, that shifts, so only a ‘relative change’ indicator of short duration, not an absolute locator and not usable on trips measured in months / years…

  11. Steve C says:
    “The Stone Circles of Senegambia, Senegal and The Gambia
    Stone circles in Africa? Yep, these monuments aren’t as grandiose as the ones in Europe but they’re equally mysterious. There are about a thousand of them in a region of central Senegal and Gambia, meaning there’s about as many stone circles here as in all of Europe. The stones are as tall as 2.5 meters (8 ft.), although some are only a foot or so high. They mark burials dating from the 3rd century BC to the 16th century AD. There’s a large concentration of them at Wassu, Gambia. Locals put small stones on top of them as a sign of respect. Not much is known about these stone circles but they are beginning to attract attention from the archaeological community. A certain Gadling blogger may be visiting them next year, so stay tuned.”

    (My bold) And “some are only a foot or so high”. You can’t even invent the minihenge these days.

    On there are
    “examples of stone circles all over the world:
    – Wasu in Gambia, Africa
    – Brahmagiri, south of the rivers Narmada and Godavari in India, Asia
    – Nioro du Rip, in the province Casamance in Senegal, Africa
    – Sillustani at Titicaca Lake in Peru, South America
    – Ain es-Zerka in the east of Jordan, Middle East
    – South of the Emu Dessert in Australia
    – The southern main island of Japan and on the island Hokaido
    – The island of Naue, belonging to the Tongareva Islands
    – Several stone circles, (“medicine wheels”), in both the USA and Canada, North America
    – Different sizes of stone circles in the dessert of Libia, Northern Africa
    – Wesiory in the north of Poland, Eastern Europe
    – Terebinthe between Tiberias and Safed in Israel, Middle East
    – Znamenka in Minusinker in the former Sowjet Union
    – Ke’te-kesu, north of Makale on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia
    – A small stone circle of 72 meters, on the border of Switzerland and Italy, Europe (at an altitude of 2188 meters!)”

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, for fun “small stuff”: one of my favorites is my “planisphere”:

    I have the 10 inch one. (No, not bragging, just fact. ;-)

    With it you can set the date / time and know exactly where things are in the sky. But I find it just as useful the other direction. By putting what is rising / setting at dusk / dawn on the chart, you can find the date / rough time at your location…

    Interesting to note that is shows Orion’s belt nearly rising on the Winter Solstice and nearly setting on the Summer Solstice. (June 17 rising, About 6 pm, setting about 6 am. December 17 setting about 6 pm, Dec 12 rising about 6 am. ) So I have to wonder if at another latitude in another precessional state it happened to land exactly ON the equinox, making it doubly special…

    At any rate, it’s a fun toy for under $10 and fits easily in an ‘outback kit’ or ‘bugout bag’. So as long as you are near your default latitude ( 10 degree range on mine, so a lot further than I’m going to walk ;-) you can find the rough date via a sky check of what’s rising / setting and then a rough time off of where it is in the sky at any point in the night.

  13. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: Watch this (Caral is located 75 miles north of Lima, where I live):

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve seen it before. It’s good. FWIW, I’d always thought the “warfare caused civilization” idea was dumb. Folks naturally like to have a big party and trade. Only after that do they get into arguing and fighting. Only AFTER a load of wealth is built up do folks have reasons to fight over it.

    The whole idea of seeing fortifications first is just dumb. What’s to fortify? First you need the city, then and only then do you have something that needs a fort… (and then only after some other civilization has also made cities big enough to support a standing army…) So the commerce and agriculture and wealth must form first in order to support the development of armies and fortifications. Because of that I never accepted the “standard” ideas… (or that any public plaza is a religious site… it’s just a meeting place…)

    The bearded guy (Johnathan?) with a hat is just so breathlessly taken by his “new” discoveries that are, IMHO, just blindingly obvious…. IMHO folks have been farming for a few tens of thousands of years. We just are not very good at finding evidence of it…

    People naturally create, farm, party and trade. It is the warfare and political domination of others that are new and alien creations. The bastard result of too much city living too long…

    That they try to turn an infant mortality / funeral into a “barbaric sacrifice” just shows how looney they were (or how desperate to make a story out of nothing…)

    Also, that they can’t figure out why people made cities is just because they don’t understand economics. You get more total stuff, and more variety of fun / parties, with division of labor and standing industry. It’s that simple.

  15. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. and Adolfogiurfa There is a theory that the various pyramids and standing stones served to concentrate electric fields so that they could be used to charge seeds for better harvests.

    Also, E.M., in reference to using stone circles as navigational aids, I seem to remember something that G.I. Gurdjieff wrote. While he did not mention circles, he did say that in Central Asia, many of the standing stones were used as navigational aids in the mountains. The stones would be placed on peaks or passes to mark trails. They would be positioned and spaced so that they were visible from one to the next — a sort of “bread crumbs” marking of the proper road to take while traveling.

    Mystic forces? Static fields? Navigation aids? Stone calendars? Maybe all of the above and more.

  16. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “Getting longitude is the one ‘hard bit’ out of using the stars. You need the local time AND the time standard ‘back home’ to get the offset. IIRC, the Polynesians use the rising time of a constellation to get that (compared to sun rise) but I have not learned the details yet. ”

    If you are looking for a good book on Polynesian navigation, I would recommend “We The Navigators.”
    The link is to a second edition, but the first edition was published back in the seventies IIRC. My memory is that the Polynesians did not have a good way of finding longitude and generally used constellation rise to find latitude only. If you know what latitude your destination is at, you sail north or south to the correct latitude, then turn east or west (and you should at least know which way to turn!) and use dead reckoning to get close. At that point, look for wave patterns, birds, cloud phenomena and drift debris as pointers.

    By the way, are you familiar with the stone circles and rectangles of Java?

  17. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. My apologies for cluttering up the place with consecutive posts instead of one inclusive post; I am multitasking and do not know when I may be called away, so I post as I can.

    Regarding calculating latitude — the moon comes into the subject. Back in the 19th century, a then-common way of navigating ships used what is called the lunar distance method. It fell out of use as better timepieces became more available, but briefly it is this: The Moon travels the ecliptic in about 28 days. If you know the path of the Moon accurately enough, you can tell time by measuring the degrees of separation between the Moon and nearby marker stars. Once you have the time calculated from Moon measurements, you can take star observations to calculate your position with standard sextant procedures. All you need for timekeeping is a rather poor clock good enough to measure the lapse between measurements of moon and stars so that the proper corrections can be made. A wind-up alarm clock is good enough. So where does that apply to stone circles?

    We can use the Moon to provide a time synch for our calculations even without a sextant or ephemeris. We know that stone henges can be used to predict lunar eclipses. Suppose that two people a thousand miles from each other both have their henges predict a lunar eclipse one night. Both observers watch for the eclipse, and when the circle of totality first intersects the limb of the Moon, they measure the height of the Moon above the horizon. The difference between their two respective observations is the angular distance between their two respective locations on Earth. Now, if they know their latitude (which they would) it is simple to calculate the difference in longitude between their two henges. How hard is it to call time on the event of the umbra crossing the lunar limb? It is something of a judgement call, but most observers will agree within a couple of minutes. That would be an error of 30 or 40 miles. Throw in various observational errors, and I would expect to get within 50 or 100 miles on the longitude, even if the two sites are thousands of miles apart. Not bad for people with sticks, stones and the naked eye. Oh, yes, and with big brains.

  18. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. I saw once a photo of a stone circle identical to stonehenge but on the other side of the world, at the antipodes of stonehenge, but, afterwards, I couldn´t find it again.

  19. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. 100 VOLTS PER METER ….Those chinese, and old celts were not fools. That tale of Druids and Druidesses being fools, idiots, savages worshipers of satan, WAS INVENTED BY THE CHURCH ELITE, the inheritors of the Roman centralized power, now being associated in the CLUB OF ROME.

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    Such a CIVILIZATION, the one who taught you, among other cheats, “To fight for freedom” (their WALLETS, really) is what it is about to end, no so graciously of course.

  21. adolfogiurfa says:

    Excerpt from the Club of Rome:
    A closely related and equally serious problem is the rapidly increasing threats to the stability of planet earth due mainly to the unsustainable use of its resources. The consequences will be a more unstable climate, the progressive depletion of many important ecosystems – from farmland and tropical forests to freshwater resources and fisheries – as well as increasing difficulties for supply to meet demand for a host of finite resources, like crude oil, phosphorus and rare metals. One thing is clear: the era of cheap energy and commodities is over.´s-decline-save-the-economy/
    Accessed through:

  22. adolfogiurfa says:

    Nice guys…aren´t they?…They don´t say a word about printing fiat money and trash bonds for buying metallic gold for them…to avoid falling in poverty when the system collapses because of them. Nice, really cool…!!

  23. adolfogiurfa says:

    È finito!, capisce? (It´s over buddies! Got it?)

  24. Ian W says:

    E.M. I built a full scale model of Stonehenge for a school project many years ago, but with the advantage that I could visit it as at the time it was not even fenced off. That got me interested in what it was there for and all the various theories. As an astrological plotting tool it had to be there for some considerable time, therefore the first things in were poles and the ‘Aubrey Holes’ were pole positions that for some reason they used to bury the occasional people. But if to quote you, you are “leaving things for your apprentice” and perhaps him for his, then a piece of wood doesn’t cut it. A stone is nice but then you know that everyone wants one, so make it a piece of stone that cannot be simply removed. (Unfortunately, by Victorian times many of the stones had been taken as useful for other buildings). Ideally, when building the circles get stones of different colors to allow coding of the observations.
    It is unfortunate that Stonehenge has been taken over by ‘alternative religion’ not even real Druids who have added some more lurid and imaginative uses for Stonehenge. A reasonable more factual book on Stonehenge is ‘Stonehenge Decoded’ by Gerald S Hawkins. I have a yellowed copy from 40 years or so ago, although I believe it is still available online. Hawkins comes to similar conclusions to yourself.

  25. DirkH says:

    adolfogiurfa says:
    10 February 2013 at 3:43 pm
    “È finito!, capisce? (It´s over buddies! Got it?)”

    I didn’t realize that text was from the president of the Club Of Rome, I thought it was two bloggers reporting about the Club Of Rome and was about to comment, telling them that political sciences is maybe not what will give them a job, then I realized that it’s from the COR itself.

    Two possibilities:
    a) The COR people themselves are victims of TV; dumbed down to a half vegetative state.
    b) That’s what they want us to think.

    Stupid or evil. Can’t decide.

  26. adolfogiurfa says:

    DikH: As far as I know there are two peruvians who belong to it: M.Perez de Cuéllar, former Secretary General of the UN and Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel of Literature laureate. One of the corporation giving funds to it is “Telefonica de España” (Spain telephone Co.).

    You will know soon about such the era of cheap energy and commodities is over . What you don´t know up there is that everything is tested in smaller countries BEFORE it is applied in countries of the Like gasoline at US$7.- per gallon, where more than half of the price is taxes. You will also have a Value Added Tax of about 20%….but not to replace other taxes but in addition to all known taxes…

    @DirkH stupid or evil. Can´t decide…..Both!: They call themselves the “white brotherhood” that will save humanity… LOL!

  27. Steve C says:

    @EM – Thanks for tidying up my drunken formatting above, the Elixir must have been a little too concentrated. Agree re planispheres, though mine isn’t quite as pretty as the ‘Night Sky’, just a standard Philip’s ‘for latitude 51.5° North’ model. Also a 10 incher. ;-) The main problem is that, living in a city, I can’t see most of the sky for sodium light pollution – although I suppose if the Club of Rome hits the fan that problem would vanish very quickly.

    @Adolfo – I wish I didn’t agree with you. The horrible irony is that while most people who think about the problem would agree that we need some form of international government to keep the nation states in order, the prospect of an international government built by (and for) the present scum should make anyone with a mind shudder. My preferred solution would involve not the ‘removal’ of the poorest 90% of the world’s population (as favoured by ‘Them’), but the ‘removal’ of approximately the richest 0.001% (i.e. ‘Them’). With the vast quantity of wealth that would release, I don’t think the remaining 99.999% of us would have too much trouble sorting out our other problems.

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    An interesting set of graphs for finding the equinox and solstice lines from your latitude:

    Click to access eq_solst_rise-set-az.pdf

    if you are not interested in waiting for a year worth of solar movement ;-)


    Thanks! I guess I’ll be learning yet another method of navigation ;-)


    You are welcome.

    Sometimes I take mine with me when going to “Urban Jungles” just so I can look at it and remember where the stars are ;-)

    @DirkH & Adolfo:

    The COR is the SOURCE of the insanity. It started back in the ’70s (at least) with “Limits to Growth” by Meadows et. al. (sponsored by them) that was the first work to use “computer projections” to scare folks…

    @Adolfo: The ‘antipodes’ would be in New Zealand. There is a site there that claims to be a henge. Search “New Zealand Henge”…

  29. wayne says:

    E.M., I’ll be, had to stop by, you haven’t forgotten that calendar. Chuckle.

    That darn calendar still pops into my mind every now and then too. That’s because I left it partially underdeveloped: What is the one day, on January 1st, of some year in the future, when the deviance between coordinated time and local Greenwich time is as close to zero as possible when leaps are taken into account. That seem the day such a calendar should be kicked off, if such a thing were ever to happen, doubtful.

    Think I just said that wrong, you would want the deviation to be at a minimum and at a four year leap and at a 128 year skip and if I remember correctly, that was years ago, I came up with 2048 being the best year, January 1st, 2048. I’m sure you recognize that year! Us programmers have it seared into our minds. And that still might not be absolutely correct, have never taken the time dive in and work that out. (but anyone can feel free to do it for me!) ;)

    You’ve got some great posts here.

  30. wayne says:

    I was just laughing on my way to get more coffee. I stopped too short on my comment.

    I mean, if there was ever to be a binary calendar let’s at least try to do it right! For God’s sake get rid of February 29th, never liked that day anyway. Let’s have December 32nd instead, a double holiday, pre New Years on the 31st, a bash on the 32nd every four years. Kids would love a longer Christmas holiday every now and then. ;) There, somewhat better.

    And as to the line up of the equation-of-time, I remember that graph on Excel, the first 32000 years anyway, I think I hit Excel’s limit on the number of points on one graph’s series. It would go up and down every four years of course. Sometimes near -1/2 day off, sometimes near the top +1/2 day of deviance. Up and down but that four day pattern slowly creeps downward below -1/2, so every 128 years you hit a local minimum deviation and have to skip the leap. But that pattern even creeps globally rising to where in a quarter-million years later you need to go ahead and have the leap on a 128 boundary. And so on. If I remember, that is why exactly centering the equation of time to coincide with the actual UTC is a bit harder of a problem that it first appears. I guess the optimal year to start just might not lie on a multiple of four or 128 years the way I started out above.

    Any ideas how to tackle that?

  31. Steve C says:

    I was interested to see this:

    “Göbekli Tepe: (Temple/Shrine Complex).

    This is the site of the worlds currently known oldest shrine or temple complex in the world, and the planet’s oldest known example of monumental architecture. It has also produced the oldest known life-size figure of a human.

    Compared to Stonehenge, Carnac or the Pyramids of Egypt, these are relatively humble megaliths. None of the circles excavated (four out of an estimated 20) are more than 30 meters across. What makes the discovery remarkable are both the exquisite and intricate carvings of boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes and scorpions, and their age. Dated at around 9,500 BC, these stones are 5,500 years older than the first cities of Mesopotamia.”

    That date puts us well into Graham Hancock territory. I’ve read some of his stuff, and if he’s even half right then yes, we have been doing the civilisation thing for some millennia. (And one day we may even get it right ;-) The animals sound rather constellationary, too.

    My navigational pal also asks me to add that there was some high-resolution surveying of many of the UK’s circles in work done by Alexander Thom, “a Scottish engineer most famous for his theory of the Megalithic yard, categorization of stone circles and his studies of Stonehenge and other archaeological sites.” (wiki) I’m not (yet) familiar with his work myself, but the wiki looks promising.

  32. E.M.Smith says:


    You might like:

    I’ve read some of Alexander Thom’s stuff. Much of it is good, but that “Megalithic yard” has some issues. I think there is a different path to understanding. (In particular, that the “English Foot” is in fact an ancient measure the same as the Minoan foot, and that the Rod / Perch / Pole is the standard of measure, based on a pendulum and rotation of the earth.)

    As folks are finally looking at a few hundred feet down (right were port cities would have been during the last glacial) and finding structures, we will eventually find that the Vedas are full of truth and that the Egyptian statement that “Many have been the destructions of mankind.” made to Solon back around BC time was also true. We’ve had civilization for many 10s of thousands of years. Several times. It just doesn’t stick ;-)

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    Don’t know that I’ll be that uptight about it. I’m just going to start it on the solstice of Dec 2012 and be in sync with the Maya ;-)

    Though having looked into it, there is a 1.x day variation between the solstice / equinox durations, so you must choose either to have all 4 ON the celestial dates OR to have 3 x 30 day months between the ‘holidays’, but not both. I think this is why we have cultures focused on just one of the Solstice dates or Equinox dates. Makes the rest of the year regular and lets you ignore the fine drift of the length of individual seasons longer term:

    So I’m torn between using the traditional Orion Rising Equinox or using the Winter Solstice as the ‘sync day’. Presently leaning toward Winter Solstice as the “Formal start of calendar” and using Vernal Equinox as the “sync day” for “field expedient rings”… Henge vs Navigation …

    In an ideal world one would start the calendar when all seasons are equal, but I don’t have a few thousand years to wait ;-)

  34. wayne says:

    E.M., I didn’t have time to read the whole post… oops, I see, you are building a better one here. Scuse me, I’ll drop back later to read this post again, from top to bottom this time, see how it’s coming. Didn’t mean to drop in off topic, too many things going at once and cutting corners, but I seem to be good at that regularly.

    PS: has anyone else had problems with your expandable edit not expanding sometimes? It only works when I am in that tiny strip of an edit and the hit the refresh, then it will expand. Funny problem. Later.

  35. E.M.Smith says:


    WordPress added the ‘feature’ of the ‘comment box’ only adding the ‘post’ button after it expands with typing. I presume that is what you mean by ‘expandable edit’?

    Yes, a couple of times it has ‘bit me’. (more on WUWT than here). I think it has to do with the page not fully loading before I ‘did something’ and that bit of HTML got lost. Or it’s a wordpress bug. So now I will sometimes hit ‘return’ a few time to make sure the “post comment’ will show up before I type a lot…

    Personally, I find it much more a bother than their older form of just always putting up the boxes for who and post. But they have some programmer who likes to ‘play with things’ and break them a little bit from time to time. While I wish they wouldn’t, I’m not going to complain as mostly things work and it costs me nothing.

  36. Steve C says:

    @EM – “You might like:” – Aargh! Might have guessed! (Should have checked …) I have to agree re the age of human (attempts at) civilisation, but then having worked and played with plenty of sciency stuff over the years I’m happy to go with the evidence rather than a “consensus” every time. I hear that professional Egyptologists get quite upset when people point out that the Sphinx has a well-weathered surface, too. Tricky stuff, evidence.

    Also agree re Thom’s Megalithic Yard, but questionable inference in one matter doesn’t necessarily make his measurements invalid, and it saves a few years’ work going round the circles measuring them all myself. Anyhow, who can be certain there wasn’t a “Megalithic Metre” as well? We sophisticated* moderns still use two almost-the-same units, after all.

    * – So “sophisticated” that people use the word as a compliment

    I like the elegance of the thinking behind this “calendar reform”, but can’t help thinking that you’d have the devil of a job working in the Earth’s gradual slowing down, as has been already noted by those with atomic clocks, and who-knows-what other subtle influences. Also there was that recent observation that the “constants” of physics appear to vary across the universe anyhow – your “rubber ruler” for matters economic may need generalising to everything. There are times I’m very glad I can follow most of my interests with just two sig fig mental arithmetic and occasional recourse to the slipstick!

    Re comment box woes, none seen here (Firefox, XP), WUWT likewise. Also, I find I can post comments without bothering to switch NoScript off on the page, which is a lazy man’s plus point in my book, but I have noticed previously that if I allow all the WordPress addresses on the page the box behaves differently. It may well be a different difference now. Whatever happened to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

  37. E.M.Smith says:


    Never feel bad about discovering things twice. Or suggesting a look at something that I clearly like! (Sometimes things change after all, and often a new reference has new insights.)

    On Thom: I think he’s “close” on the MY thing, but that there is a more complicated underlayer. Haven’t had time (priority?) to write it up yet, but lots of hours looking at it. ( It has to do with the way the ancients used rulers. A custom ‘gauge’ for each mathematical conversion. So one meter / yard / vara / cubit for longitudinal distance and another for latitudinal due to earth oblateness and a third for incorporating Pi and… We still do this today with special rules for casting work. Shrinkage makes things change size, so either you do a lot of calculating, or you just make a ruler that has the adjustment built in and make a “10 inch” mold for a 10 inch object…) So when looking at monuments, one must measure circle dimensions with a different ruler for radius / diameter than perimeter and so it goes.)

    Per very old units: Does anyone really think it an accident that the old Sumerian units are almost the same (not identical as this link claims, but very close) to metric ones?

    So for Thom, I think he came very close; but needs to have a linear MY and a perimeter MY (and both will turn out to be closely related to the early Cubits of the same type ( L vs P vs 45 hypotenuse vs …) Start with a Rod and find the connections to things that ‘fit’… (posting to come “someday” ;-)

    Yeah, “sophisticated” as a complement always makes me smirk ;-)

    Watching Dr. Schock? talk about the erosion of the Sphynx enclosure was just wonderful. He is a geologist and just looked at the rocks, said ~”This is water erosion. Last time it rained that much here was about 10,000 years ago. This can’t be only 4,000 years old.” or something close to that. Just so simple, so irrefutable, and so clear. Then the body of the Sphynx has matching erosion while the head (that looks a bit small anyway) does not. Yes, the head is harder rock, but it also was not buried in the sand for a few thousand years either… So we’ve got an easy path to conclude “Head was recarved as the stele said, but on a 10,000 year old body of a lion from ‘way back.” Then the Sphynx Temple has megalithic stones without hieroglyphs (in front of the Sphynx and only recently uncovered) while the Egyptians decorated everything with text. (There is also another lower level temple built that way that the Egyptologists hand wave away…) It’s just very clear there was a pre-Pharonix culture that didn’t decorate with text and used megalithic construction that made the Sphynx as a large cat facing Leo.

    So there was some civilization 10,000+ years ago, and it built very large stone works. Then “shit happened” ( IMHO the Clovis event with both rapid ocean rise and several years of messed up crops / weather globally) and we took a ‘reset’.

    Per a calendar that allows for the earth slowing down:

    Well, mine does! (But you don’t need to. It’s way out in the weeds and doesn’t matter for any practical use for longer than all history of civilization….) Since I periodically add / remove a “leap day” at the “sync point” (presently proposed as Winter Solstice for precision work) then any ‘variation” that isn’t in the theoretical leap method gets “corrected” automatically once one day worth has accumulated and the Solstice shows up one day off. It is driven by the mechanics, not the theory, so changes in the mechanics are self correcting.

    BTW, I’ve carefully avoided looking too closely at that ‘changing of constants across the universe’ issue… I can only accept so much at once ;-)

    My experience with “the box problem” has been sporadic. Shows up one minute, then gone the next. Often gone for days (weeks? months?) at a time. All I can figure is “new programmer maybe on H1b visa”… Or someone who has a big “fool with factor” personality…

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