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The Exceptional Kokino Observatory – Ancient Megalithic Site, Holy Mountain

The Exceptional Kokino Observatory – Ancient Megalithic Site, Holy Mountain


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At the dawn of the 21 st century, at a place called Tatic's Stone , near the village of Kokino, in the Republic of Macedonia, archaeologists discovered an exceptional prehistoric megalithic site which dates back to the Bronze Age. It was built on a mountain top at 1013 meters (3323 feet) above sea level, right upon a neo-volcanic plate made of craggy andesite rocks.

According to the movable archaeological material unearthed at the site, archaeologists believe that certain cult activities took place there. Researchers found an abundance of fractured ceramic vessels, molds for bronze axes, and jewelry. Within cracks in the rocks of the towering archaeological site, the remains of vessels filled with offerings were found, leading to the site being dubbed a “holy mountain”.

Display of artifacts found at Kokino Observatory.

Nevertheless, the most interesting part of the site are the four impressive stone thrones dominating over the terrain and facing towards the east horizon.

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These thrones attracted local physicists who measured and analyzed the archaeoastronomical characteristics of the site, proving that Tatic's Stone is both a sacred site and a Megalithic Observatory.

The Megalithic Thrones

Beside the four stone thrones, in the easily carved andesite rocks there are seven more markers shaped from the vertical standing rocks nearby. These markers indicate the rising positions of the sun on the summer and winter solstices, and on the spring and autumn equinoxes. Next to the markers for the solstice of the sun there are markers which were used for measuring the movement and phases of the moon. All of this was built in a special way so that on an exact day the rays from the sun would pass through the marker and light up one of the thrones.

This spectacle must have been a remarkable sight for the person standing in the central position of the site and observing the movement of the celestial bodies.

It is speculated that on the most important event days, a great fire was probably lit behind the thrones on the mountain top. From there, a fire could easily be seen by all inhabitants more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) away.

Archaeoastronomical Calculations

After measuring the horizontal coordinates of the markers made for the sun, and using the formula for transit from the equator coordination system (sinδ = cosAcosφcosh +sinφsinh; where δ is the declination of the celestial object, A is the azimuth, h is the height over the horizon, and φ is latitude of the site) a conclusion for the nature of the celestial object rising in the east was made.

With the help of a professional geodesist (experts who measure the Earth's size and shape, tides and gravity fields) and a Total Station optical surveying instrument, archaeoastronomers got very precise measurements, and without a doubt they calculated the declination of the sun. The value was δ = 23,90, which is the exact declination value of the sun on the day of the summer solstice in 1800 BC. This means that the markers were made around 1800 BC. This enabled the astronomers and physicists, as well as the archaeologists, to date this observatory to the same period.

Prehistoric Kings and Rites

Archaeoastronomers believe the main role of the thrones was to perform a bonding ritual connecting the Sun God with his earth-bound representative. One of the thrones has a separate marker cut into its top, and is placed at the highest point at the site. This is where it’s thought the ruler sat. This throne marker was cut with great precision to ensure that on ritual days the sun’s rays would pass exactly where the most powerful member of the community was seated. It is highly likely such ceremonies coincided with the ending of harvest, ensuring peace and prosperity for the year to come. Twenty hand grinders found at the base of the ritual mark support this theory.

Similar observatories to this one, like Stonehenge and the Cambodian Temples, are considered lunar calendars, which show the phases of the moon, and even the 19-years eclipse cycle. Although this was very advanced knowledge for the period, it seems to have existed all over the world. We may only guess who the people were who built these kind of observatories, and from where did they get this knowledge—an even bigger mystery.

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Stonehenge, prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. (Qalinx/ CC BY 2.0 )

Today NASA has recognized Kokino as one of the most important observatories of its kind in the world. UNESCO has also determined that the Kokino Observatory represents a unique testimony to human creative genius in using the natural landscape to satisfy the vital needs, beliefs, and the most important rites in the life of the people from that time.

Yet archaeologists still struggle to discover other sites of great importance from the same period in the surrounding area. Because of this we cannot simply put this observatory in a wider context of some unknown, but highly developed civilization. It is up to the scientists of the future to give us precise and detailed knowledge how these kind of sites came to being, who made them, and what was their main goal.

The exceptional Kokino Observatory at sunset. (markoskavensa/ CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Featured image: The beautiful and astounding archaeo-astronomical site, Kokino Observatory, or Tatic’s Stone. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

By Vladimir S. Derliev

References

Stankovski J.,2002, “Tatic’s Rock-Megalithic observatory and sanctuarie” Museum Herald of National Museum Kumanovo vol. 7-9, p.29-39

Cenev Gj. 2002 “Megalithic Observatory in Kokino” Museum Herald of National Museum Kumanovo vol. 7-9, 2002 p.49 – 68.

Đoređević N. 2003, “Geological Reconnaissance of the Terrain on the Archaeological Localitiesound Kumanovo during Year 2002”,Pyraichmes vol.II, National Museum Kumanovo

p.263-280.

Hawkins S.Gerald, 1963 “Stonehenge decoded”, Nature vol. 200, p.306 – 307

Gjorgjevic Nedeljko, 2003, Geological Reconnaissance of the Terrain on the Archaeological Localities around Kumanovo during Year 2002, Pyraichmes vol.II, p.275, National Museum Kumanovo

Cenev Gjore, 2006, Megalithic observatory Kokino, Publications of the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade, vol 80, p. 313-317

UNESCO, 2015. Archaeo-astronomical Site Kokino. World Heritage List [Online] Available here.


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“Macedonia 🇲🇰

The Kokino Megalithic Observatory is a very important site.
Astronomy aficionado or not, this place is something to see, and it is listed side by side with ancient observatories such as Stonehenge (England), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), and Machu Picchu (Peru) which by the way, I have been to as well. Super amazing!
The similar observatories to this one, like Stonehenge and the Cambodian Temples, are considered lunar calendars, which show the phases of the moon, and even the 19-years eclipse cycle. Although this was very advanced knowledge for the period, it seems to have existed all over the world. We may only guess who the people were who built these kind of observatories, and from where did they get this knowledge an even bigger mystery.

Kokino represents a significant heritage and is definitely of great interested if one is into ancient history, nature, or somewhere between adventure and mysticism. Science reveals that it represents an astronomical observatory, as well as a ceremonial place, which is approximately 3,800 years old. Kokino consists of two parts. It includes special stone markers used to track the movement of Sun and Moon on the eastern horizon. The observatory used a method of stationary observation, marking positions of the Sun at the winter and summer solstice, as well as the equinox. The importance of the site, was confirmed by the U.S. space agency NASA. It appears 4th on the list of old observatories compliled by NASA. The road leading to the observatory isn’t perfect by any stretch, but it reinforces the feeling of adventure, out there in the open, at this mostly uncrowded site. It is perfect for taking a hike, a moderate one in fact, especially recommended during summer days. History wise, it speaks volumes about life back in the day Pagan rites, prehistoric beliefs, but also curiosity and the effort to improve life of the community by understanding nature. Following and understanding the Lunar cycles easily represented the peak of the human creative thought at the time. This had its implications over not only rituals, but community activities such as agriculture, especially knowing when to plan or harvest. In this photo (bottom left) you can see the gigantic stone thrones that were carved for Ancient ceremonies. These thrones attracted local physicists who measured and analyzed the archaeoastronomical characteristics of the site, proving that Tatic’s Stone is both a sacred site and a Megalithic Observatory.
Archaeoastronomers believe the main role of the thrones was to perform a bonding ritual connecting the Sun God with his earth-bound representative. One of the thrones has a separate marker cut into its top, and is placed at the highest point at the site. This is where it’s thought the ruler sat. This throne marker was cut with great precision to ensure that on ritual days the sun’s rays would pass exactly where the most powerful member of the community was seated. It is highly likely such ceremonies coincided with the ending of harvest, ensuring peace and prosperity for the year to come. Twenty hand grinders found at the base of the ritual mark support this theory. At the dawn of the 21 st century, at a place called Tatic’s Stone , near the village of Kokino, in the Republic of Macedonia, archaeologists discovered an exceptional prehistoric megalithic site which dates back to the Bronze Age. It was built on a mountain top at 3323 feet above sea level, right upon a neo-volcanic plate made of craggy andesite rocks.
According to the movable archaeological material unearthed at the site, archaeologists believe that certain cult activities took place there. Researchers found an abundance of fractured ceramic vessels, molds for bronze axes, and jewelry. Within cracks in the rocks of the towering archaeological site, the remains of vessels filled with offerings were found, leading to the site being dubbed a “holy mountain.”
The entirety of the observatory is volcanic rock. But carving and shapes alone, though interesting, are of significantly less value when compared to what this site once served for. Namely, it has seven markers that were once used for following the Sun and the Moon in order to understand astronomy. Three of the marker cuttings were intended to mark the rising of the Sun in the day of the summer solstice, the autumn and the spring equinox and the winter solstice.
The six remaining marker cuttings marked the spots of the rising of the full Moon in the days when it has the smallest and the biggest declination during winter and summer. The two marker cuttings that were used for measuring the length of the lunar months can be seen from here. They were utilized for the making of a calendar for a periodic cycle of 19 lunar years. By far we can speculate, within reasonable limits, that Kokino observatory served just as much of a ritual purpose as it did for observing and measuring the cycles.
Especially significant is the stone block with a separate marker cutting on its top. It was made for ritual function with an explicit solar character. In mid-summer (end of July) a sun ray from the sunrise that penetrated through the opening of the stone marker cutting and passed by the right edge of the artificially formed trench, illuminated the ruler alone, who set on one of the four stone thrones, made especially for rite needs. The illumination of the face of the ruler, in all likelihood, signified ritual union with the Sun God and returning/renewing of his ruling power.

There is not much else to see in Kumanovo, but we chose it for a rare two-night stay, as we wanted to avoid the big city stay, which will come soon enough. We got our laundry done, and while we searched for a hair cut place, we found none open. It is Saturday, and most of the town shops are closed, as well.

This church was high on a hill and looked interesting, too. But, it had a bar across the road, so no access. Another church we wanted to see was under repair with scaffolding all around it, so no point in stopping at that one either. No worries, since we have seen plenty of churches

Tomorrow, we head back to the capital city of Skopje, (we are only 30 minutes away) where I already have a list of several options for getting our negative COVID19 testing done, so we can cross the border to Bulgaria, with proof in hand we are healthy. Bulgaria is our next stop on our road trip, and since we have never been, we will spend the money for the tests, since its the only way we can get into their country. We are excited, because we will get to head for some coastal waters again the Back Sea


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