A group of archaeologists and astronomers have discovered Inca calendars that have been hidden in the Atacama Desert of Chile for centuries and confirmed their presence after the winter solstice in 2017.
Scientists had noticed piles of stones that were stacked approximately four feet high and also discovered three alternate cairns that had been strategically placed less than 2,000 feet away to the east of the first two sets of stones, as The Economist report.
These rows of stones are what are known as saywas, which translates to the word markers in the ancient language known as Quechua. Around these rows of stones that constitute Inca calendars was an old path that formed what was once a major road constructed by the Incas over five centuries ago.
The Pre-Columbian Art Museum’s Dr. Cecilia Sanhueza has described how it felt to be watching the sun rise over these Inca calendars in the desert, explaining that it was a moment that was “an extremely moving experience.”
Sanhueza had long suspected that these stones were aligned specifically to be used as Inca calendars, and her assertions were indeed proven to be correct, with this area of the Atacama Desert in Chile constructed to be its very own Stonehenge, albeit one that is found in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Inca sun god was an entity that was known as Inti, and Incans believed that when solstices occurred, Inti would sit upon these markers, or saywas, watching over his people as the sun gently rose in the skies.
According to Dr. Sanhueza, the creation of these Inca calendars was the way that the ancient people of Chile went about “sacralizing the political presence of the Inca.”
Dr. Cecilia Sanhueza’s idea that these stones were, in fact, Inca calendars came about through careful studies of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala’s illustrations along with a close examination of 16th-century Quechua-Spanish dictionaries. However, when it came to proving her theory, astronomers at the Atacama Large Millimeter Array were employed to conduct simulations of these stones in the Atacama Desert.
After astronomers Sergio Martín and Juan Cortés had carefully completed their simulations, it was determined that some of the stones that were discovered in Chile did, in fact, line up with the sunrise on solstices and other special days of the year.
Now that it has been proven that the rows of stones in the Atacama Desert of Chile were once used as Inca calendars, scientists will be visiting the site again in person to observe the stones on specific days of the year and will be reporting their findings.