Winter Solstice, Poles Hill, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Before Atlantis describes the discovery and possible implications of the alignment of over fifty sites throughout the world to what could have been several previous locations of the North Pole over the past 100,000 years. This was for me no less exciting than the discovery of numerous celestial alignments atop a rocky plateau called Poles Hill in Gloucester Massachusetts a few years before. 

Poles Hill is located in a tidal estuary along the Annisquam River.

During the last Ice Age, from 12,000 to perhaps as far back as 50,000 years ago, Gloucester was buried under a vast ice sheet. Over this time as the glacier was advancing, rocks called erratics were carried hundreds of miles by the ice. As a local saying goes, “This being the last place created, all the rocks not needed in the rest of the earth were dumped here.” Poles Hill is one such place.

I learned about Poles Hill from a local anthropologist who believed it was once a Native American ceremonial site that might contain stone circles, standing stones, petroglyphs, and other lithic formations. On my first visit to Poles Hill, also called Sunset Hill, I looked for an arrangement of altered stones lined up in a westerly direction, possibly in the direction of a solstice sunset. What I found instead was a chaotic landscape – a rocky plateau of fractured bedrock dotted with erratics, not unlike other parts of Cape Ann. 

Summer solstice sunset at Poles Hill as seen from the central sighting stone (foreground).

Although I had found several rocks that could have served as sunset markers, only after returning a second time was I able to identify the sunset rock – a large erratic located on the western edge of the plateau on a section of exposed bedrock, and the place one would have to stand to see the sun setting behind it on the first day of summer. That place, near the middle of Poles Hill, was next to a very unusual stone seemingly placed on a knuckle of bedrock about 130 meters away. Saving the geo-coordinates on my GPS, I located the rocks in Google Earth imagery, drew a line between them and verified that the line of sight was in the direction of the summer solstice sunset.

Figure 3 Central sighting stone for observing solstice sunrise and sunset events.

Having located the sunset rock, I wondered if perhaps there was a sunrise rock too. Using Google Earth to search for boulders in the direction of the summer solstice sunrise, I found a candidate that was roughly the same size as the sunset rock about 165 meters to the northeast of the sighting stone. A few days later I ventured out on an unseasonably cold March afternoon and found a very distinctive looking boulder composed of pink granite that would be visible from the sighting stone provided there was a clear line of sight. This was later confirmed after trees and brush were cleared out along the sightline. 

Pink granite boulder marks the direction of summer solstice sunrise from the central sighting stone.

According to a local geologist, all three of these stones were erratics whose shapes had probably been altered by a process known as spalling. Otherwise, by repositioning as few as two of these three erratics, someone could have constructed a basic solar calendar using very little effort.

I later found two stacked slabs of granite perched on a ridge to the southeast in the direction of the winter solstice sunrise (see the featured photo at the top of this article). By analyzing the differences between the alignment angles of these markers and the direction of the sunrise and sunset directions I determined that the winter marker was probably established within the past few hundred years. The summer alignments were older, perhaps 2000 to 4000 years old. (Click here to read our paper published by the Massachusetts Archaeological Society.)

Since the terrain on Poles Hill slopes down southwest towards the Annisquam River, there would seem to be no winter solstice sunset alignment. But, as it turns out there is a way to experience the winter solstice sunset at Poles Hill. The sun sets on the first day of winter opposite to the direction where it rises on the first day of summer, and sets of the first day of summer opposite to the direction it rises on the first day of winter. At Poles Hill, around the winter solstice at sunset, the light of the setting sun to the southwest illuminates the pink granite summer solstice sunrise rock to the northeast. In my opinion, the effect is even more dramatic than the sun rising over the marker on the first day of summer. Standing at the sighting stone, as the sun dips below the horizon your shadow stretches all the way to the summer sunrise rock as shown in the photo below.

View from the sighting stone (foreground) looking northeast toward the summer solstice sunrise marker illuminated at the winter solstice sunset.

There is much more to Poles Hill than solar alignments. In the spring we will discuss equinox alignments at Poles Hill including an interesting pattern of stones that appear to be correlated to bright stars in several circumpolar constellations, including Draco.

On the Alignment of El Cerrito

An analysis of the alignment of the El Cerrito archaeological site, located about 180 km northwest of Mexico City, suggests that it could be 50,000 years old or more.

Before Atlantis describes how more than three dozen sites in Mexico and Central America appear to be aligned to previous locations of the North Pole, based on Charles Hapgood’s hypothesis that Earth’s poles have shifted several times over the past 100,000 years. 

The alignment of a part of modern-day Mexico City, formerly the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan is rotated about 7° east of north in the direction of one of those ancient poles in northern Greenland (Figure 1). Sites aligned to the Greenland pole could be 50,000 years old or more based on Hapgood’s climate-based dating as described in Before Atlantis.

Figure 1 Echos of the past – a part of modern-day Mexico City faces the ancient Greenland pole.

More than a century ago, in the process of examining thousands of clay pits over a two thousand square mile area, mineralogist William Niven discovered extensive stratigraphic evidence that a series of catastrophes had occurred in this part of Mexico over a period of tens of thousands of years. The layers or “pavements” in the stratigraphy appear to be correlated to three civilizations punctuated by two catastrophes, the most recent being the shift from the Hudson Bay to the current pole 12,000 to 18,000 years ago. The lowest layer uncovered by Niven appears to correlate to the time when sites such as Tenochtitlan were oriented due north toward an even earlier Greenland pole. 

I was inspired by a recent post in Megalith Research to examine the pyramid known as El Pueblito in the El Cerrito Archaeological Zone. In examining El Cerrito, located about 180 km northwest of Mexico City, the site appears to be similarly misaligned to the north (Figure 2). Archaeologists believe El Pueblito was built in several stages from around 700 CE until 1250 CE when the area was abandoned. The east side of the pyramid, which has been restored is not a perfectly aligned structure. Near the top, steps are aligned 5 to 6° east of north and 3 to 4° east of north at the bottom. Analyzing the alignment of the pyramid itself is thus problematic.

Figure 2 Alignment of El Cerrito archaeological site. The green line points toward the Greenland pole.
Figure 3 Vertically exaggerated elevation grid in the previous figure aligns to the south edge of the El Cerrito acropolis.

The pyramid is located on a hill whose southern edge along a road is aligned 7.4° south of east, which is at a right angle to the direction of the Greenland pole. Further analysis suggests the three-dimensional structure of the hill is also oriented in that direction (Figure 3) suggesting the possibility that the hill was an even older acropolis on which the pyramid was later built.

Figure 4 Perspective view of El Cerrito acropolis aligned in the direction of the ancient Greenland pole.

Similar sites in other parts of the world such as the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens and the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon are described in Before Atlantis. Is it possible that the so-called “first stage” of construction at El Cerrito in 700 CE was over a pre-existing site that had been first established by an even older “lost civilization” who inhabited the Valley of Mexico 50,000 years ago?


Alignment of the Bosnian “Pyramid of the Sun”

In 2005 Semir Osmanagić claimed that a collection of hills near the town of Visoko in central Bosnia and Herzegovina were not natural landforms that simply looked like pyramids but were, in fact, the remains of ancient structures created tens of thousands of years ago.

Geologist Robert Schoch’s assessment of the Bosnian pyramids was that they were similar in both shape and composition to the surrounding landforms. Satellite imagery analysis of the area revealed that certain features seemed to radiate heat faster (i.e., had a lower thermal inertia) than their surroundings, which suggested the hills had a different composition or density. The possibility that the anomalous thermal signature of these features could be due to the presence of inner spaces led to a search for tunnels, which have been found nearby, but not inside the pyramids themselves.

Is it possible that the Bosnian pyramids were natural features that were made into pyramidal formations for some unknown purpose long ago? If so they might appear today as eroded features, not unlike the surrounding landforms.

In Before Atlantis we hypothesize that when certain ancient sites were first established, they were aligned to the cardinal directions or other directions referenced to north but now appear misaligned due to shifts in the geographic position of the North Pole. In particular, it is shown that certain sites in Peru’s Sacred Valley as well as places in Europe, Middle East, and northern Africa are aligned to a possible pole in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands. Our hypothesis is that the alignment of these sites can be used to estimate the date when they were first established.

Figure 1 Google Earth image of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun with a line to a possible ancient pole in the Bering Sea.

Figure 1 shows the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is not aligned precisely to north but is rotated approximately 9° east of north. The misalignment of the structure is even more evident in LIDAR imagery (Figure 2).

Figure 2 LIDAR image of the Bosnian pyramid. The dotted line is parallel to apparent contours of constant elevation that are perpendicular to the alignment of the northern face.

Like the Tomb of Agamemnon in Greece, Knossos on the island of Crete, the Temple of the Winged Lions in Jordan, and several other sites in this part of the world, the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is aligned to the Bering Sea pole (Figure 3). According to our pole shift timeline, these sites could be 100,000 years old or more.

Figure 3 Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun and other nearby sites aligned to a possible ancient pole in the Bering Sea. Google Earth

Considering a feature such as the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun that has not itself been determined to be an archaeological site only adds to the controversial nature of the pole shift hypothesis. Strictly speaking, using an unproven theory of pole shifts cannot be used as evidence to date archaeological sites. But the fact that so many ancient sites seem to point to places that could have been previous pole locations is an interesting paradox – one that we will continue to explore in future articles…


Top Photo Credit

Two Mysteries in Siberia: A Possible Ancient Connection

Por-Bajin is a remote archaeological site located in the mountains of southern Siberia. The walls of the site, which resemble a fortress, are massive – up to 10 meters tall and 12 meters thick at the base – enclosing an area of about seven acres containing the remains of dozens of buildings. Constructed from clay supported by wooden beams, the buildings within the site are thought to have been built around 780 CE by a nomadic people known as the Uighurs.

What is particularly unusual about the site is that it is located on an island in the middle of a shallow lake almost literally in the middle of nowhere. If it were a fort, a shallow lake would offer little protection. Adding to the mystery is a lack of artifacts and evidence of sustained occupation. Perhaps this should come as no surprise as the ground beneath the buildings is permafrost and the buildings had no apparent heating system. Archeologists admit that after two years of intensive fieldwork, with one-third of the site excavated, Por-Bajin remains a mystery.

Although the site is said to be oriented east-west, Por-Bajin is, in fact, rotated 7.5 degrees east of north. Can its orientation offer any clues about when it was built, and by whom?

Figure 1 View from inside Por-Bajin looking eastward. Siberian Times.

Chinese Influence

In China, there are numerous earthen pyramids that were constructed as mausoleums and burial mounds containing the remains of early emperors and their families. Some of these pyramids are oriented to the cardinal directions, but some are not. Historically, the art of placing, arranging, and orienting cities, streets, palaces, houses, and tombs, known as divination, geomancy, or Feng shui, has been an important element in Chinese landscape design and city planning.

Researchers from the Czech Republic have shown that there is a correlation between the orientation of many Chinese pyramids and the location of the magnetic pole at the time they were built. The magnetic pole wanders slowly over time. By using a model of the past motion of the magnetic pole and knowing the approximate construction date of the site, the Czech study shows that some form of magnetic compass, which was known to the Chinese as early as the fourth century BCE, could have been used to align the pyramids to magnetic north.

Archaeologists have noticed that the architecture and construction methods at Por-Bajin are similar to those in China at the time. Did the builders of Por-Bajin use a compass to align the site to magnetic north? At the time of construction in 780 CE, the north magnetic pole was located near 83°N 40°E (Figure 2). A compass reading at Por-Bajin would have pointed 10° west of north, about 17.5° west of the site’s alignment to north. It is thus highly unlikely that a compass was used to align the site since it would have pointed in the wrong direction.

Figure 2 Location of the north magnetic pole at 780 CE is located at 83°N 40°E (orange circle). The magnetic declination at Por-Bajin would have been approximately 10° west of north (from McElhinny and McFadden ).

Past Celestial Alignment

Does the azimuth angle of the site, 97.5°, coincide with solar or lunar events such as solstices or lunar standstills? Table 1 lists sunrise azimuths at the summer and winter solstices and moonrise azimuths at the major and minor lunar standstills at Earth’s minimum and maximum obliquity angles. Clearly, the site is not rotated enough to the east to line up to any of these events.

Was Por-Bajin aligned to a previous location of the North Pole? The Hudson Bay, Greenland, Norway Sea, and Bering Sea poles are located at azimuth angles −2.4°, −4.4°, −28.2°, and 47.9°, respectively. Again, the answer is no.

There is one last possibility – that Por-Bajin could have been aligned to solar or lunar events referenced to earlier positions of the pole.

Table 1 Minimum and maximum obliquity values of sunrise and moonrise azimuth angles at solstices and lunar standstills.
Figure 3 East-west axis of Por-Bajin could have aligned with the winter-solstice sunrise when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea and Earth’s obliquity was near its maximum value (top yellow line in inset).

Figure 3 compares the alignment angle of the site to summer and winter solstices and major and minor lunar standstills in summer and winter at minimum and maximum obliquity angles for the current pole (white), Hudson Bay pole (magenta), Greenland pole (green), Norway Sea pole (yellow), and Bering Sea pole (red). For an alignment to have been possible it must lie between the minimum and maximum obliquity values. Comparing the orientation of Por-Bajin to these alignments we find that it would have lined up with the winter solstice sunrise if the pole were located in the Norway Sea.

The Norway pole is −28.2° or 28.2° west of the current North Pole. The site would have been aligned at an azimuth angle of 28.2° + 97.5° = 125.7°, which is within 0.3° of the winter sunrise/summer sunset solstice angle of 126° at the latitude of the site when the pole was in the Norway Sea and Earth was at maximum obliquity (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Alignment of Por-Bajin to the solstice when the pole was in the Norway Sea

Notice that the diagonal of the site is aligned due east-west. This means that the solstice angle relative to east, 126° −90° = 36°, is also encoded in the aspect ratio of the site’s bounding rectangle; i.e., W/L = tan 36°.

As shown in Figure 3 Por-Bajin would have aligned to the solstice when Earth’s obliquity was close to its maximum value of 24.2°, which occurred 9,000 years ago and reoccurs every 41,000 years. Using a modified version of Charles Hapgood’s original pole shift timeline places the North Pole in the Norway Sea 75,000 to 125,000 years ago. During this period of time, the site would have lined up to the solstice 9,000 + 2 x 41,0000 = 91,000 years ago.

Figure 5 Aspect ratio of Por-Bajin is related to its orientation (see text).

What is particularly intriguing about this date is that at this time, near the end of the Sangamon interglacial period, this part of the world would have been warmer, making the existence of Por-Bajin here in central Siberia much more plausible than it is today.  The only problem with this dating is that according to accepted genetic timelines modern humans had not yet left Africa.

A Denisovan Connection?

Evidence of Denisovans – a long extinct humanoid species who coexisted with the Neanderthals about a half-million years ago – was first discovered in a cave located about 900 km west of Por-Bajin. Archaeologists there have mapped out 22 layers of sediment. The earliest evidence of occupation is in the deepest layer (1) going back 282,000 years. In 2008 a stone bracelet was found in layer 11 that has been dated to about 70,000 years ago. The bracelet shows evidence of manufacturing technology typical of much later periods, including a hole made with what appears to have been a high-speed drill.

Figure 6 A 70,000 year old Denisovan bracelet. Siberian Times.

Given the apparent fine-scale technological sophistication of the Denisovans 70,000 years ago, and evidence suggesting that they inhabited this part of the world on and off for 200,000 years or more, could they have built larger structures during this period of time? Pushing the limits of what we know, given the Denisovans possessed an appreciation for jewelry and art perhaps they lived in other places besides caves.

Earlier we wondered how and why a nomadic people built an enormous site on an island in the middle of a lake in such a harsh climate. Perhaps they did not. Could places like Por-Bajin have been first established by Denisovans that were co-opted by later civilizations, the last being the Uighurs? Perhaps deeper excavations at Por-Bajin and other nearby archaeological sites might reveal the true origin of these sites.

Finally, one has to wonder if the Russian government’s interest in Por-Bajin, including its support of the excavation with paramilitary troops starting 2007, had anything to do with the discoveries being made in the nearby Denisova Cave at around the same time. Do they suspect, or have they already discovered a Denisovan connection between these two sites?

Finding evidence of Denisovans at Por-Bajin would support the hypothesis proposed in Before Atlantis that the site was not built by modern humans in historical times but by an earlier indigenous technological civilization in the distant past.

Hapgood’s Pole Shift Hypothesis Revisited

In Before Atlantis I apply Charles Hapgood’s hypothesis that Earth’s poles have shifted several times over the past 100,000 years to understand the alignment of numerous ancient sites across the world and to use the hypothetical alignment of the these sites to ancient poles as a new means of dating the sites. This article presents a revised version of Hapgood’s original pole shift hypothesis.

Milankovitch Cycles

It is widely accepted in the scientific community that climate patterns are driven to a large extent by the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth. The amount of radiation depends on a combination of factors including changes in the eccentricity in our orbit around the sun, axial tilt or obliquity, axial and apsidal precession, and orbital inclination. The combination of these effects gives rise to what are called Milankovitch cycles.

Although there is extensive evidence that the variation in solar radiation is an important factor, there are certain problems with Milankovitch’s model related to the timing of the cycles and their correlation with climate events. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the magnitude of climate changes have turned out to be far greater than what is predicted by the model.

Pole Shifts

The idea of pole shifts originates in a talk given in May 1872 by the French ethnographer Charles-Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg called “Chronologie historique des Mexicains.” He interpreted passages in the lost Codex Chimalpopoca that beginning about 10,500 BCE, four periods of cataclysms had changed the world, each caused by a temporary shifting of Earth’s axis [1]. In the mid 1900s Hugh Auchincloss Brown [2] and Charles Hapgood [3] proposed that shifts of the geographic pole could explain ice ages, mass extinctions, and other worldwide events. Hapgood proposed that an asymmetrical accumulation of polar ice created a force that caused the crust of the Earth to displace, i.e., slide over, the mantle. Albert Einstein later determined that this force was insufficient, leaving Hapgood’s hypothesis without a physical cause.

In the 1990s, a team led by Joseph Kirschvink found paleomagnetic evidence of a massive 90° pole shift 500 million years ago at around the time of the Cambrian explosion [4]. Although there is some indication that the magnetic pole has deviated significantly from the geographic pole over the past 100,000 years, paleomagnetic evidence of a shift in the geographic pole over this period is inconclusive. Perhaps the best independent evidence supporting Hapgood’s pole shift hypothesis is the alignment of over four dozen sites to four previous locations of the North Pole as described in Before Atlantis.

Adjusted Timeline

Rather than interpreting the ice ages as global climate events, Hapgood believed the spatial patterns of climate change were best explained by changes in the geographic location of the North Pole. By examining patterns of climate change, he estimated that three pole shifts had taken place during the past 100,000 years: 1) from Hudson Bay (60˚N 73˚W) to the current pole, 12,000 to 17,000 years ago, 2) from the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Norway (72˚N 10˚E) to Hudson Bay, 50,000 to 55,000 years ago, and 3) from the Yukon (63˚N 135˚W) to between Iceland and Norway 75,000 to 80,000 years ago (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Hapgood’s original timeline relating climate change to pole shifts.

Figure 2 shows an adjusted timeline based on currently accepted periods of glacial and interglacial events in Europe and North America. Before 125,000 years ago, during the Illinoian glaciation, we propose that the North Pole was in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands. At the start of the Sangamon interglacial period it shifted to a location in the Norway Sea. During this period the climate in North America became warmer and Europe became colder. Sometime between 75,000 to 125,000 years ago the pole shifted towards Greenland. About 75,000 years ago the pole moved to a location in Hudson Bay at which time the climate in North America became colder. Finally 12,000-17,000 years ago after the pole shifts to its present location, both North America and Europe become warmer.

Figure 2 Revised timeline based on more recent glacial data

Figure 3 shows our refined pole location model and adjusted timeline. In Before Atlantis it is argued that the pole spent more time in the Norway Sea than it did in Greenland based on a greater number of sites discovered to be aligned to the Greenland pole. As this interpretation may not be correct, the order and timing of these two pole shifts remains an open question.

Figure 3 Hapgood’s original poles (H) and refined pole locations based on site alignments and current climate data. Google Earth


[1] Howard F. Cline and John B. Glass, eds., “Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, Part Two, ”Handbook of Middle American Indians 13.

[2] Hugh Auchincloss Brown, Cataclysms of the Earth (Twayne Publishers, 1967).

[3] Charles Hutchins Hapgood, Earth’s Shifting Crust: A Key to Some Basic Problems of Earth Science, (1958, foreword by Albert Einstein).

[4] Joseph L. Kirschvink, Robert L. Ripperdan, David A. Evans, “Evidence for a Large-Scale Reorganization of Early Cambrian Continental Masses by Inertial Interchange True Polar Wander,” Science, 􏰉Vol. 277, No. 25, July 1997.

Evidence of Great Antiquity at Machu Picchu

Before Atlantis introduces the idea that many ancient sites throughout the world might be far older than previously thought based on the alignment of these sites to previous locations of the North Pole. This article discusses one of the sites, Machu Picchu, in greater detail.


Unlike so many other places that were destroyed by the Spanish, Machu Picchu remained unknown to the outside world until its rediscovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Most archaeologists believe Machu Picchu was built by the Incas for their emperor Pachacuti in the fifteenth century; however, no one has been able to adequately explain all of the structures at the site in terms of technology that is thought to have been available to the Incas at that time.

Figure 1 Machu Picchu divided up into four sectors (from Magli).

For the purpose of understanding the layout and orientation of the site, Giulio Magli divides Machu Picchu into four sectors (Figure 1). Sectors I and II occupy the southeast and northeast portions of the site consisting of numerous compounds called kanchas.  The kanchas at Machu Picchu contain structures constructed from coarsely fitted stones that conform to the terrain and are oriented in generally eastern facing directions. Magli sites evidence that the Incas could have conducted accurate celestial observations related to the solstices within these two sectors.

Skipping Sector III for the moment, Sector IV contains the enigmatic Temple of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana. In contrast with the kanchas, the structures in Sector IV consist of much more massive and precisely cut and fitted stones. Archaeologists believe that the structures in Sector IV were constructed last and left unfinished by the Incas. Another possibility is that the structures in this part of the site are the ruins of something that is much older, constructed by an earlier pre-Inca civilization. Is there any evidence of an earlier civilization at Machu Picchu?

Temple of the Three Windows

Sector III is an open northwest facing area that Magli associates with a range of directions between 135° to 155° (or -55° to -25°) that are thought to have been important to the Incas. Too far south of east to be aligned to the Sun or Moon, Magli suggests that this range of orientations might reference certain celestial features such as the Milky Way – the celestial counterpart of the Vilcanota river, which could have been used to determine the timing of the equinox based on its relation to the Sun. This direction also turns out to point to a possible pole in the Bering Sea 80,000 to 85,000 years ago or more. Could this direction have been important to the Incas simply because it was once north?

Figure 2 Temple of the Three Windows. Photo credit: mckaysavage

That this direction once pointed north seems consistent with the alignment of the Temple of the Three Windows (Figure 2). The orientation of the eastern wall, -34° (or 34° west of north) is aligned to within a few degrees of the Bering Sea pole. This means that if the North Pole were in the Bering Sea, the three windows would have faced due east and the Sun would have risen in line with the temple on the equinox (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Alignment of the Temple of the Three Windows to the Bering Sea pole.


It has been suggested that the Intihuatana (Figure 4) or “hitching post of the Sun,” a name attributed to Bingham, was designed to mark dates when the Sun would be directly above the Intihuatana and so would cast no shadow. A simple gnomon with a vertical shaft casts no shadow at noon on the equinox only if it is at the equator (Figure 5) Since Machu Picchu is about 13° south of the equator the device must be tilted in the direction of the Sun for it to disappear on a given date (Figure 6). For example, if it is intended to mark the date of the summer solstice, it must be tilted in the direction of the sun on that date by approximately 11°; if it is intended to mark the date of the equinox, it must be tilted due east by approximately 13°.

Figure 5 Solar path at the equator. The middle line is the path on the equinox.
Figure 6 Solar path at Machu Picchu. The southern path is that of the sun on the summer solstice.

If the function of the Intihuatana is just to mark the days when the shadow of the sun disappears why is its shape so complex?

Figure 7 3D model of the Intihuatana with alignments to the Bering Sea pole (solid line) and to the solstice directions (dotted lines).

Before the Bering Sea to Norway Sea pole shift, Machu Picchu would have been rotated approximately 34° counterclockwise (i.e., west of north) relative to its current orientation and shifted about 6° further south in latitude. Figure 7 is a 3D model of the Intrihuatana with alignments relative to the Bering Sea pole. Being even further south than it is now, the surface would have to have been tilted even further toward the east for the Sun to disappear on the equinox. Although some sides and edges of the Intihuatana stone appear to be somewhat aligned to the pole and the winter solstice sunrise directions, its shape seems inconsistent with that of a device designed to mark either solstices or the equinox at this time.

Figure 8 3D model of the Intihuatana with alignments relative to the Norway Sea pole (yellow lines) and possible sides and edges corresponding to these directions.

After the pole shift, the Temple of the Three Windows would no longer face east. A new way might have been required to mark the cardinal or other important directions at Machu Picchu.  It is hypothesized that several versions of the Intihuatana were constructed over time. The original device could have been constructed after the Bering Sea to Norway Sea pole shift (Figure 8) at which time the gnomon and several sides appear to closely reference the directions of the pole and the summer solstice. Was the original Intihuatana created at the time when the North Pole was in the Norway Sea to mark the summer solstice?

Figure 9 3D model of the Intihuatana with alignments relative to the Greenland pole (green lines) and possible sides and edges corresponding to these and previous directions.

A later pole shift from the Norway Sea to Greenland would rotate Machu Picchu to within a few degrees of its current orientation and shift its position to within 2° of the equator (Figure 9). At this point, the original device was no longer aligned to the summer solstice, but with a vertically oriented gnomon would have been virtually shadowless at noon on the equinox. Perhaps it is at this point in time that the device serendipitously became the “hitching post” of the Sun.

Figure 10 3D model of the Intihuatana with alignments relative to the Hudson Bay pole (violet lines) and possible sides and edges corresponding to these and previous directions.

After the next pole shift from Greenland to Hudson Bay, Machu Picchu shifted south several degrees and rotated clockwise several degrees. It is possible that the Intihuatana could have been modified to once again be an equinoctial marker by adjusting its inclination slightly to account for its new latitude and alignment to north.

Figure 11 summarizes possible alterations to the shape of the Intihuatana stone based on its past alignment to ancient poles and corresponding solar directions. Could the complex and otherwise inexplicable shape of the Intihuatana be the result of numerous incremental changes that had to be made to the device, originally designed as a solsticial marker, for it to continue to function later as an equinoctial marker?

Figure 11 3D model of the Intihuatana with alignments relative to the current pole (white lines) and possible sides and edges color-coded to previous pole locations.


Application of Charles Hapgood’s hypothesis that the Earth poles have shifted several times over the past 100,000 years provides new insights into many ancient sites that have defied conventional explanation. Our analysis suggests that the Temple of the Three Windows might be one of the oldest structures at Machu Picchu, and that the Intihuatana, constructed sometime later could have functioned first as a solsticial marker and later as an equinoctial marker over most, if not all, of its long history.

Featured photo credit: pululante, Machu Picchu, Peru-21Sept2013 (18), CC BY 2.0

Earth Ancients Radio

On October 27 I spent about an hour talking with Cliff Dunning on his show, “Earth Ancients” about Before AtlantisClick here to get the podcast, which is available on iTunes.