By Awake! Writer in Ecuador
AMAZING DISCOVERIES at EARTH'S EQUATOR
(December 22, 2005)
Debate over the exact shape of the earth raged at the prestigious Academy of Science of Paris in 1735. Supporters
of Isaac Newton's theories concluded that the earth was a sphere with slightly flattened poles. Supporters of the Cassini
school of thought said that the flattening occurred at the equator.
Therefore, in 1736, two expeditions were sent to measure the earth's curvature. One went to Lapland, headed
toward the North Pole, and the other went to present-day Ecuador, to the equator. ('Ecuador' is Spanish for 'equator').
The Investigation proved Newton's supporters to be correct.
In 1936, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of that French mission, a monument was constructed near Ecuador's capital,
Quito. The monument is located at the line reckoned by the 18th century French scientists to be zero degrees latitude, or
the equator. To this day countless tourists visit the monument, called the Middle of the World. Here they
can straddle the equator and be in two hemispheres at once. Or can they?
Not really. Recent findings have slightly relocated the equator. Amazingly, centuries before the French sages
arrived, the native peoples inhabiting the area had already pinpointed this precise location. But how?
The True Equator
in 1997 the seemingly insignificant ruins of a semicircular wall were discovered on top of Mount Catequilla, which
lies a little to the north of Quito. Using the satellite technology of the Global Positioning System (GPS), investigator
Cristobal Cobo discovered that one end of this wall was located precisely on the equator. (On the other hand, GPS places
the famous Middle of the World monument some 1,000 feet to the south of the true equator).
The wall's allignment with the true equator might have easily been brushed aside as coincidental. However, a line
connecting the two ends of the wall creates a 23.5-degree angle to the equator. This is almost precisely the angle at
which earth's axis is tilted. (exact tilt is 23.45-degrees). Further, one end of the connecting line points to
the rising of the sun on the solstice in December; and the other end, to the setting of the sun on the solstice in June.
More discoveries followed.
Using the theodilite on top of Catequilla, researchers noted that the pre-Inca pyramids of Cochasqui were aligned at
an angle that coincided with the rising of the sun on the solstice of June. Sifnificantly, Pambamarca, another archaeolofical
sire, is found at an angle that coincides with the siring of the sun on the solstice in December.
Could it be that Catequilla was used as the hub of astronomical observation? Were other sites specifically built
in line with astronomical calculations obtained from this hub?
Further Amazing Discoveries
As more astronomical alignments were plotted on a map, a figure began to emerge --an eight-pointed star.
This figure is found on ancient ceramics and has often been explained as a simple representation of the sun. Since early
inhabitants of this land were sun worshippers. Ceramic fragments excavated on Catequilla have been analyzed and were
found to date back nearly a thousand years. To this day the indigenous tribes weave an eight pointed star into their
tapestries and clothing, as their ancestors apparently did. However, their ancestors may well have attributed more to
this figure than is commonly suspected.
The Quista-to Project, directed by Cobo, is amassing compelling evidence of the astronomical acumen of the
early natives. ('Quitsa-to' comes from the language of the Tsachila Indians and means 'Middle of the World.' Some believe
that Quito is a name derived from this term.) More than a dozen archaeological sites and many ancient towns have
been found to line up perfectly along the astronomical star figure when it is superimposed over the equator with Catequilla
at its center.
Even more astounding is the fact that the location of the then undiscovered ruins was predicted. How
was this done? In September 1999 the Quitsa-to Project recommended that excavations be made in the Altamira sector of
Quito, on one of the 23.5-degrees spokes from Catequilla. There, a great necropolis was found, along with numerous ceramics
from colonial, Inca, and pre-Inca periods.
Some of the Catequilla radiuses also fall across churches built during the Spanish colonial era. Cobo
explains that in 1570 the council of Lima insisted on building 'churches, convents-monasteries, chapels and crosses upon all
pegan 'guacas' and worship places of native people.' Why did they do this?
Well, these places of worship were considered heathen by the Spaniard Crown. So they were destroyed,
and Catholic churches were built on the original sites. Building churches on ancient sun temples made it easier to convert
the natives to Catholicism.
The Church of San Francisco in the old colonial sector of Quito lies on one of the Catequilla radiuses.
It was built in the 16th century upon a pre-Inca structure and was constructed in such a way that the rays of the rising sun
of the solstice in December penetrate the cupola of the church, striking a triangle above the altar. As the sun rises
farther, the light bean progresses downward and creates a brillian glow on the face of an image entitled 'God the Father.'
This effect occurs precisely on the December solstice! In other local churches, such sunlight displays were also incorporated
into the architecture for the purpose of converting the sun-worshipping natives to Catholicism.
How did they know?
How could that ancient civilization have known that Catequilla was the 'middle of the World?' There
is only one place where objects cast no shadow at midday on the equinoxes: the equator. So the Quitsa-to Project
proposes that careful observation of shadows would have indicated the equator's location to the ancients.
Furthermore, Mount Catequilla is a natural astronomical observatory that would not go unnoticed by people
who worshipped the sun. The mountain rises a thousand feet from its base and lies between the eastern and western ranges
of the Andes Mountains. Therefore, the rising and setting of the sun each day would have definite points of reference
against the spectacular backdrop of the Andes. For example, the magnificent snowcapped volcanoes Cayambe and Antisana
pierce the eastern horizon with their three-mile-high peaks--conspicuous markers for monitoring solar movement.
Mount Catequilla also offers an unobstructed 360-degree view of about 20 ancient towns and some 50 archaeological
sites, all visible without the use of optical instruments. Moreover, both the southern and northern skies are visible
from Catequilla because of its position on the zero degree parallel. Thus, Catequilla can be called the true middle
of the world, for there is no other place on the equator that offers ll these advantages at an altitude of over 10, 000 feet
above sea level.
The greater part of the equator passes through ocean or tropical jungle, where vegetation obstructs celestial
observation. Additionally, such vegetation does not provide stable points of reference from which to draw conclusions,
since the foliage is in constant change as it grows and dies. Only in Kenya are there mountains near the equator, but
these are not flanked on either side by mountain ranges, as is Catequilla. Yes, Catequilla occupies a privilege location,
uniquely suited to astronomical observation.
Who were they?
Who were these ancient astronomers? The Quitsa-to Project suggests that Indigenous tribes, such as
the Quitu or Cara, might have been the original possessors of this knowledge. However, the project is still in its infancy,
and much remains to be learned.
Yet, some basic precepts of the early inhabitatants are evident. Understanding the sun's apparent
movements would be necessary for formulating calendars useful to agriculture. Since the sun is crucial for sustaining
life, it is no wonder that the sun was worshipped. Thus, solar observation and calculation were taken from a secular
level to a sacred level.
Religious zeal evidently motivated the people to study meticulously the heavens and their luminaries.
Over the centuries their studies apparently resulted in an impressive accumulation of astronomical knowledge that is only
now being revealed through the amazing discoveries surrounding Catequilla.
See also, archaeoastronomy.com