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Sicily’s Valley of the Temples Surveyed

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sicily Greek templesAGRIGENTO, ITALY—An international team of scientists has conducted a survey of Sicily’s Valley of the Temples. It had been thought that the 2,500-year-old Greek temples were aligned with the rising sun, but the new measurements suggest that at least four of the ten buildings, including the Temple of Zeus, were aligned with the town’s grid along the cardinal directions. “For such temples, only a general rule imposing the façade towards the eastern horizon was applied,” Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan’s Polytechnic University, told Discovery News. The study also revealed that the Temple of Juno was aligned to the stars in the Delphinus constellation, and the Temple of Demeter and Persephone—dedicated to goddesses who were key to the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries—was aligned with the setting full moon near the time of the winter solstice. “We know very little about the relationship between astronomy and those secret religious rites. A connection with the moon-orientated temple is possible and will be at the center of further research,” Magli said. To read about the decades-long effort to restore the Acropolis, go to "The Acropolis of Athens."

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