In the times that run when they name us astronomical observatories The first thing that comes to mind is the image of a large tower equipped with a powerful telescope and dedicated solely to the scientific study of celestial bodies, something very different from what they were in pre-Hispanic times.
Previously, an observatory was used in most cases as temples or places of prayer in which the divine will was expressed through the movement of the stars.
Orlando Casares Contreras, specialized in archaeoastronomy and belonging to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), explains that the Mayan culture He used these pyramid-shaped buildings to observe the movements of the Sun, the Moon and Venus and, in addition to being used for political and religious activities, he identified the right time to cultivate the fields.
Similarly, Jesús Galindo, an archaeoastronomer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), affirms that the calendar development It was due to the observation of the frequent movements of the stars and through the solar marks that the Mayans made, by means of which the days were counted.
The dates April 29 and August 13 divided the solar year of 365 days in the two characteristic periods of the Mesoamerican calendar. On both days the archaeoastronomers have recognized alignments of light and shadow on the buildings, and although no significant solar event occurs, they served to manage their activities.
Some of the buildings in which the phenomenon occurs are the Upper Temple of Los Jaguares del Chichen Itza Great Ball Court, in the central window of the Caracol (Observatory), in the same Mayan city of Yucatán; and the Edificio de los Cinco Pisos, Edzná, in Campeche; and externally to the Mayan area, the Pyramid of the Sun, in Teotihuacan, State of Mexico.
To the observatories too it was used to worship the gods and with that end, constructions were made that accommodated the movements of certain celestial bodies, thus harmonizing human work with the universe. As an example of this is the monolithic temple of Malinalco, located in the State of Mexico, in which during the winter solstice the sun's rays that penetrate it illuminate the head of an eagle located in the center of the sanctuary.
Horizon observatories have also been found in which if the observer is located in a position indicated by some element, a celestial element is observed in the center of the monument. In the same way, Venus is pointed out, as the Morning Star, through an axis of symmetry with the Governor's Palace in Uxmal (Yucatán), which was built by Mesoamerican priests.
Another type of observatories are zeniths, which show through the rays that penetrate them the arrival of the Sun to its zenith, the highest point in the sky in relation to the observer.
The person chosen as ruler was shown as intermediary between the gods and the people Therefore, the palaces in which they lived show a double function, they were both their home and heavenly observatories.
I was born in Madrid on August 27, 1988 and since then I started a work of which there is no example. Fascinated by both numbers and letters and a lover of the unknown, that is why I am a future graduate in Economics and Journalism, interested in understanding life and the forces that have shaped it. Everything is easier, more useful and more exciting if, with a look at our past, we can improve our future and for this… History.