An Astronomical Monument in Oaxaca

(This is taken from John D. Baldwin's Ancient America, originally published in 1871.)



In a part of Mexico [Oaxaca] Captain Dupaix examined a peculiar ruin, of which he gave the following account: “Near the road from the village of Tlalmanalco to that called Mecamecan, about three miles east of the latter, there is an isolated granite rock, which was artificially formed into a kind of pyramid with six hewn steps facing the east. The summit of this structure is a platform, or horizontal plane, well adapted to observation of the stars on every side of the hemisphere. It is almost demonstrable that this very ancient monument was exclusively devoted to astronomical observations, for on the south side of the rock are sculptured several hieroglyphical figures having relation to astronomy. The most striking figure in the group is that of a man in profile, standing erect, and directing his view to the rising stars in the sky. He holds to his eye a tube or optical instrument. Below his feet is a frieze divided into six compartments, with as many celestial signs carved on its surface.” It has been already stated that finely-wrought “telescopic tubes” have been found among remains of the Mound-Builders. They were used, it seems, by the ancient people of Mexico and Central America, and they were known also in ancient Peru, where a silver figure of a man in the act of using such a tube has been discovered in one of the old tombs.




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