Lampedusa Stonehenge

INTRODUCTION
I have described in a dedicated post of this blog the remains of three “large sub-circular stone structures” with a 40+ meters diameter on the island of Lampedusa resembling to either “concentric ditches” or “henges” that can be found in continental Europe (Goseck Circle) and on the British Isles (Stonehenge) during  the Neolithic period and with no similar structures reported in the Mediterranean Sea.
Textual analysis of “The Circumnavigation of the inhabited world” attributed to a Pseudo-Skylax of the fourth century BC revealed that the three “large sub-circular stone structures” of the island of Lampedusa could be related to the three towers described by the Pseudo Skylax.
In this post I will focus on one of these structures, the best preserved one ( see picture below) describing its remains, its site and its orientation looking for astronomical alignments.

Large Stone structure number 1
Satellite imagery courtesy of Google Earth (copyright DigitalGlobe)

Coordinate: 35°31’16’’20N  12°34’09’’E - “Cimitero Vecchio”
Number of Concentric Circles: 3* concentric traces are clearly from satellite imagery
Outer Circle diameter:  Approximately 80 meters
Central Circle diameter:  Approximately 45 meters
Inner Circle diameter:  Approximately 25 meters
Entrance:  East


It will be showed that such structure was, most like, an ancient astronomical observatory. 
A full version of this research is posted as attached/linked pdf file, it is a 40 pages long working paper which is summarized in this shorter blog post version for the sake of brevity.

DESCRIPTION
The site hosting the main circular stone structure ( described as “Large Circle 1” in the following pictures, plans and maps) covers an area of approximately 150 x 150 meters consisting of:
-the main structure: three large concentric circles with an outer circle of approximately 80 meters diameter
-some peripheral smaller structures (described as A-B-C in the following pictures, plans and maps) and walls (D) 
Site and structures tentative plan

Not far from this site there are three different sites with small stone circles and/or huts (see pictures below ) creating a wide area of archeological interest.

Wide area view

The site hosting the main circular stone structure  is characterized by large zones of exposed limestone bedrock because of strong soil erosional losses caused by wind and rain and aggravated since 1850 by human land use and a widespread deforestation and construction activity. The soil loss is so pronounced that in most of the site the bedrock lies almost exposed with little or no soil or vegetation.

Site soil

The main circular stone structure can be described as a set of three (or up to five) concentric circles with remains of earthworks and ditches,  most likely it once had parts made of wood and earth:  wood has decayed and the upstanding earthen features have been eroded by wind and water. Nonetheless, evidence of the remains of the ancient structures is still visible by satellite imagery and also on the field. 

Main structure

Next to the main circular structure looking eastwards some additional minor stone structures complete this very interesting archaeological site (for a detailed description of the minor structure please read the full PDF working paper) 
Tentative plan of site with structures A-B-C-D highlighted

Structures A-B highlighted

Main and D structures highlighted

ANCIENT ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY
The size of the main structure, its poor conservation status and the deep erosion of the soil of this site makes it a more convenient option to study it by examining satellite imagery: in this paper I use image restoration techniques such as deconvolution of the original images , edge enhancement and others tools applied to original Google Earth satellite imagery .
Observation of the enhanced satellite imagery reveals how the recognizable geometric pattern of the remains of the main structure and of the peripheral ones looks  surprisingly similar to the Stonehenge plan. From this observation the title of this post.
Stonehenge (above) Lampedusa (below)

Stonehenge (above) Lampedusa (below)

Stonehenge, one of the most famous sites in the world is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, composed of earthworks (built around 3000 BC) surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones (most likely erected around 2500 BC). Stonehenge has long been studied for its possible connections with ancient astronomy: many archaeoastronomers have claimed that Stonehenge represents an "ancient observatory".
The main structure of the site in Lampedusa has a similar opening/entrance facing East creating an opening toward the local horizon of approximately 60° in azimuth, the alignment of structure B to the main structure is approximately 127° measured from the centre of the main structure and the enhanced satellite imagery of the structures seems to reveal the presence of several potential collimation points/markers. 
Ancient astronomers used to deal with horizontal astronomy using marks on the great circle of the horizon for the positions of Sun, Moon and stars as they rose or set.  The ancient observatories were typically circular because an observer could walk around the circle (if its diameter was large enough) sighting  a target in the middle of the circle with a collimation mark around the whole horizon grid while keeping always the same distance from the target.

Ancient sky watching techniques

I have performed several test for the astronomical alignments of the structure B relative to the main circular stone structure and that of the main structure opening/entrance in the occasion of relevant astronomical phenomena such as Sunrise at Solstices, Equinoxes and Moonrise at major Lunar Standstills. The choice of these particular astronomical phenomena is related to the importance that they had for ancient cultures, especially for their agricultural and navigation calendars.
-The date used for this test is that of 3000 BC or the date that is associated with the erection of Stonehenge (different dates imply a slightly different Earth obliquity and therefore different azimuth angles).
-The latitude used for this test is the exact latitude of the main structure ( 35°31’)


TEST
Lampedusa 3000 BC Summer Solstice: Azimuth of Sunrise 60.1°
Lampedusa 3000 BC Winter Solstice: Azimuth of Sunrise 119.9°



Plan of the site and Azimuth of Sunrise at the Solstices 3000 BC

The entrance/opening of the main circular structure (as tentatively derived from the foundation remains visible through satellite imagery) shows a close alignment with the sunrise azimuth at Solstices


TEST
Lampedusa 3000 BC Lunar Standstill: Extreme NE Azimuth of Moonrise 53.36°
Lampedusa 3000 BC Lunar Standstill: Extreme SE Azimuth of Moonrise 126.64°



Plan of the site and Azimuth of extreme Moonrise declinations at Lunar Standstill around 3000 BC


The alignment between structure B and the main circular structure shows a close match with the the extreme South declination of the Moon at major Lunar Standstill

3D MODEL
Visual analysis will help inexpert readers to better  understand the tentative alignments tested.

Spring Equinox Sunrise through the Main structure entrance

Main Structure- Structure B and Lunar Standstill extreme South Moonrising alignment

Summer Solstice Sunrise  on the SE edge of the Main structure entrance

CONCLUSIONS
The site that I have emphatically named “Lampedusa Stonehenge” in this post despite its poor conservation status still reveals unexpected and surprising features worth of mention and of further research and study. My main purpose with this paper is to bring back the attention of researchers (and of all those people who care about the archeological heritage of the Lampedusa island) to the unique megalithic structures of Lampedusa, better equipped researched (I am not an archaeologist) will likely confirm or reject our hypothesis, still the important point here is that renewed attention to these structure may encourage additional efforts to protect them. These megalithic structures survived for thousands years to the destructing forces of man and nature and they represent very important archaeological heritage that our generation has the duty to preserve in order to pass it to the next generations.
COPYRIGHT © 2011 DIEGO RATTI
All Rights Reserved

COMPLETE WORKING PAPER IN PDF
Lampedusa Stonehenge (on Scribd)  Language: English
Lampedusa Stonehenge (on Google Docs) Language: English


BIBLIOGRAPHY 
1Large circular stone structures of Lampedusa”, Diego Ratti, August 2011
Megalithic-Lampedusa.com Free eBooks Series
2The Three Towers of Lampedusa” Diego Ratti, August 2011
 published on www.megalithic-lampedusa.com
"Lampedusa Stonehenge" Diego Ratti, September 2011
  Megalithic-Lampedusa.com Free eBooks Series

“Il grande cerchio di pietra degli antichi Comenses” , Adriano Caspani, 2009, Ed. Terra Insubre
“Skywatchers : A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico”, Anthony F. Aveni Publisher: University of Texas Press; Revised and Updated edition (August 15, 2001)
by Jean Meeus, 6.00" by 9.00",
“Astronomical algorithms”, Jean Meeus, 2nd Edition published 1999
“The significance of Monuments” Richard Bradley, Ed. Routledge, 1998
“The Stonehenge People”, Rodney Castleden, Ed. Routledge, 2002