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Session 38 - HAD IV: Demographics, Alignments & Outreach.
Display session, Thursday, January 08
Exhibit Hall,

[38.03] Astronomical Alignments in a Neolithic Chinese Site?

S. Nelson (U.Denver - Anthropology), R. E. Stencel (U.Denver - Astronomy)

In the Manchurian province of Liaoning, near 41N19' and 119E30', exist ruins of a middle Neolithic society (2500 to 4000 BC) known as the Hongshan culture. This location, called Niuheliang, is comprised of 16 locations with monumental structures scattered over 80 square kilometers of hills. Most are stone burial structures that contain jade artifacts implying wealth and power. One structure is unique in being unusually shaped and containing oversized effigies of goddess figures. This structure also has a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. The presence of decorated pottery, jade and worked copper suggests the Hongshan people were sophisticated artisans and engaged in long-distance trading.

During 1997, we've conducted a course at Denver as part of our Core Curriculum program for upper division students, that has examined the astronomical and cultural aspects of the Niuheliang site, to attempt to determine whether these contemporaries of the builders of Stonehenge may have included astronomical alignments into their constructions. The preliminary result of our studies suggests that certain monuments have potential for lunar standstill observation from the "goddess temple". For updates on these results, please see our website: rstencel/core2103.html.

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