The Lion Rock and the Constellation Leo

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the middle of Sri Lanka. It is an imposing landform standing approximately 660 feet above the surrounding countryside. King Kassapa chose the site for his new capital and palace in the 6th century CE. The palace was at the top of the fortress, which today contains numerous terraces and pools. The entrance is through a gateway in the form of an enormous lion, of which only the claws remain.

Sigiriya is also believed by some to be the mythological city of  Alakamandava – the City of the Gods –  built by King Kubera, the half-brother of Ravana as described in the ancient Hindu epic poem the Ramayanaya.

Was Sigiriya built by King Kassapa or did the site already exist, perhaps dating back to the time of King Kubera or earlier?

The rock fortress and surrounding complex are rotated approximately 8.5 degrees east of north. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna has determined that the site is aligned to the sunset on the days when the sun at mid-day is directly overhead. At the equator, the sun passes directly overhead on the equinox. The sun can also pass overhead at places near the equator on days surrounding the equinox. For example at Sigiriya, latitude 7.95° N 80.75° E, this happens around September 1 and April 11, which is about twenty days after the spring equinox and twenty days before the fall equinox (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The site is aligned to sunset on days around April 11 and September 1.

The days of the zenith sun – when the sun passes directly overhead – are the same every year so the alignment cannot be used to date the site by itself. Could the name “Sigiriya,” which means “lion rock” in the native Sinhalese language have some celestial significance; for example, is it associated with the constellation Leo, one of the twelve zodiacal constellations, which was also known to Vedic astrologers?

There are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the zodiacal constellations, each about 2160 years long, that add up to a precessional cycle of 26,000 years. The astrological age in which we live is defined by the heliacal rising of the constellation on the first day of spring. 

This year, on the first day of spring, the sun rises in the constellation Pisces. The sun rises in different constellations on other days. On September 1, the sun rises and sets in the constellation Leo (Figure 2). If Sigiriya were a modern site, aligning it to Leo on this day would have symbolic significance.

Figure 2 The sun currently sets in Leo on September 1. Graphics courtesy

During the reign of King Kassapa, the sun set in Virgo on September 1 (Figure 3). Why would King Kassapa build a site representing a lion that is aligned to Virgo? Perhaps he did not build Sigiriya but co-opted a site that was already there.

Figure 3 Approximately 1500 years ago the sun set in Virgo on September 1. Graphics courtesy

When was the last time the sun rose and set in the constellation Leo? There are two answers based on Sigiriya’s alignment. In the fall, on or around September 1, the last time the sun rose in Leo was one full precessional cycle ago, 26,000 years, or about 24,000 BCE. (Given the cyclic nature of the precessional cycle, its age could conceivably be N x 26,000 years, where N is an integer.)  In the spring, on or around April 11, the last time the sun rose in Leo was about 5 astrological signs ago, 5 x 2160 = 10,800 (or 10,800 + N x 26,000) years ago as determined from the diagram below.

Figure 4 Western zodiac shifts one astrological sign every 2160 years.

On the spring equinox, the last time the sun rose in Leo was 6 x 2160 = 12,960 years ago, which is believed to be Zep Tepi or “First Time” when the pyramids and Sphinx were first established on the Giza plateau in Egypt.

Did the builders of Sigiriya use a solar alignment on a different day, April 11, to mark a date, around 8800 BCE, when the site was first established, perhaps by King Kubera during the time of the Ramayana? Expert interpretation of Vedic astrology in this context, which is beyond the scope of this article,  might provide additional insight.

Pole Shift Hypothesis

Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis provides another even more ancient dating for Sigiriya. Our method of using pole shifts to date archaeological sites assumes sites were aligned to the north or to celestial events such as solstices referenced to north at the time they were built. 

In Before Atlantis we discovered two of the sites that point to an ancient pole in the Bering Sea refer to lions. Cuzco and the neighboring fortress of Sacsayhuaman are thought to represent a puma, a mountain lion. The temple of the Winged Lions in Petra also incorporates lions into its design. 

Figure 5 Aligned to an ancient pole in the Bering Sea (red arrow) Sigiriya is aligned in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise.

Could the Lion Rock of Sigiriya be another site that is aligned in some way with the Bering Sea pole? It can be shown that if Sigiriya were built when the pole was in the Bering Sea it would have been located almost exactly on the equator and rotated in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise (Figure 5). Not itself aligned to the cardinal directions, perhaps this was the best the builders could do to modify a pre-existing landform in order to somehow reference the sky at that time. If this was, in fact, the case then based on this alignment and Hapgood’s dating of an ancient pole near Alaska, Sigiriya could be 100,000 years old or more.


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