Celebrate the Winter Solstice with Archeoastronomy!

Posted on December 21, 2020

by Brittany G

During this year of immense unpredictably, I have found solace in circumstances that will never change. Our planet, no matter the turmoil we face, will continue to rotate every day while orbiting around our sun annually. Between the 20th and 23rd of December every year, the winter solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere. Also known as the “shortest” day of the year, it is the span of time when our hemisphere receives the least amount of sunlight. This scarcity of light is directly correlated with the tilted axis of our earth’s rotation and its path around the sun.

Ancient and modern cultures alike have celebrated the winter solstice, marking it as the official beginning of the winter season. Past societies that relied on agriculture had to create their own systems of seasonal tracking. Archaeologists have discovered these “observatories” and solar calendars built by ancient civilizations around the globe. Archeoastronomy, the study of how ancient people understood astronomical phenomena, is the term often used to describe these early monuments. Many of these archeoastronomical sites were built to track the solar and lunar cycles. Travel to many of these national sites is not possible this holiday season, but I’ve compiled a list of the structures you can explore, as well as the people that constructed them, with your TLCPL card!

  • Cahokia Woodhenge in Collinsville, IL
  • Chimney Rock National Monument in Pagosa, CO
  • The Great Mound in Anderson, IN
  • The Great Serpent Mound in Peebles, OH
  • Hovenweep Castle in Blanding, UT
  • The Medicine Wheel in Lovel, WY
  • Newark Earthworks in Heath, OH
  • Poverty Point in Pioneer, LA
  • The Solar Calendar in Springerville, AZ
  • The Sun Dagger Site in Nageezi, NM
Cover of Indian mounds of the middle Ohio Valley : a guide to mounds and earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient people Cover of Indian mounds of the middle Ohio Valley : a guide to mounds and earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient people

Indian mounds of the middle Ohio Valley : a guide to mounds and earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient people

Indian mounds of the middle Ohio Valley : a guide to Adena and Ohio Hopewell sites

Cover of A serpent's tale : discovering America's ancient mound builders Cover of A serpent's tale : discovering America's ancient mound builders

A serpent's tale : discovering America's ancient mound builders

Cover of Ancient America : fifty archaeological sites to see for yourself Cover of Ancient America : fifty archaeological sites to see for yourself

Ancient America : fifty archaeological sites to see for yourself

Cover of Star mounds: legacy of a Native American mystery Cover of Star mounds: legacy of a Native American mystery

Star mounds: legacy of a Native American mystery

Cover of The Lost world of the Old Ones : discoveries in the ancient Southwest Cover of The Lost world of the Old Ones : discoveries in the ancient Southwest

The Lost world of the Old Ones : discoveries in the ancient Southwest

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