AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 10. HAD IV: Women, Alignments, Biography
Historical, Display, Monday, May 31, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[10.02] The Search for Astronomical Alignments in the Seventh Century A.D. Silla Capital at Kyongju, Korea

S.M. Nelson, R.E. Stencel (Univ. Denver)

In the center of the modern Korean city of Kyongju stands a modest structure dating from the 7th century AD, known as Chomsongdae, or the Star Observatory. Known locally as the oldest observatory in Asia, details of its precise use are lost, but its construction coincided with the height of Silla culture and its dominance over the Korean peninsula. Radially from the structure are located the so-called Moon Fortress, numerous large tombsites for elite of the culture, plus hillside fortresses and elaborate Buddhist temples. During 1999, we've conducted a course at Denver as part of our Core Curriculum program for The Women's College, that has examined the astronomical and cultural aspects of the Kyongju site, to attempt to determine whether the architects may have included astronomical alignments into the ``Feng Shui" of their city planning, spanning centuries. The preliminary result of our studies suggests that east and west of Star Observatory lay fortress and wall features that may have been useful for equinox determination. A discussion of ethnographic supporting evidence will be provided, but additional on-site observations will be needed to confirm the idea.

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