Astronomers believe that this 7000 year old stone circle in Africa is the world's first astronomical site

Anita Durairaj
Nabta Playa Calendar Circle, reconstructed at Aswan Nubia museumCredit: Raymbetz; CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Nabta Playa is a drainage basin in the Nubian Desert in southern Egypt. The region contains several archaeological sites including the Nabta Playa site which is one of the earliest sites from the Egyptian Neolithic Period or prehistoric Egypt.

Prehistoric Egypt includes the time from the earliest human settlement to the time period of Egypt's first pharaoh.

The prehistoric people of the Nabta Playa lived around 7500 years ago. They displayed a high degree of social organization and left behind evidence of their beliefs and culture. The most significant is a small stone circle which has been declared to be the world's first astronomical site.

Other ancient people have also erected stone circles. The most famous stone monument is Stonehenge. However, the Nabta Playa stone circle predates any of the other stone circles by centuries and is considered to be the oldest stone circle on Earth.

Astronomers believe that the Nabta Playa stone circle was created to track the summer solstice and the arrival of the annual monsoon season.

The stone circle is small at about 12 feet in diameter. The stones are geometrically arranged to mark the position of the north and the rising sun. There is also an east-west alignment of the stone and stones that are arranged to lead north-east and south-east from the same megalith. The geometric arrangement may symbolize a calendar for the prehistoric people.

Scholars still question the interpretation of the stone circle but there is no doubt that the Nabta Playa stone circle was an important cultural focal point for the prehistoric Egyptians.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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