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Amazon Rock Grouping May Be Old Observatory

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A grouping of granite blocks on a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory.

The 127 blocks, some as tall as 9 feet, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet across. On the shortest day of the year -- Dec. 21 -- the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it. The site is near the village of Calcoene in northern Brazil.

The blocks have not yet been submitted to carbon dating, but pottery shards near the site indicate they are pre-Columbian or older -- as much as 2,000 years old, said archeologist Mariana Petry Cabral of the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute.


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