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Sacred Directions for Mac OSX

Much is revealed by the geometry and alignment of archaeological sites. Historically, certain directions have significance and may be considered special, even sacred. These directions include north, south, east, and west - the cardinal directions, the directions in which the sun rises and sets on the summer and winter solstices, and the directions of extreme motion of the moon (lunar standstills).

Sacred Directions displays these directions on a satellite image at practically any location on Earth. A time slider shows how they change as Earth's obliquity varies over a 41,000-year cycle - a phenomenon that is exploited in archaeoastronomy to date a site based on its alignment.

This is illustrated in the following example that shows how the app can be used to date parts of Stonehenge. The line from the center of the site to the heel stone is currently misaligned to the summer solstice sunrise (left). By moving the slider to about -2700 or 2700 BCE, the sunrise direction lines up with the heel stone (right).

The Ziggarat of Ur is thought to have been dedicated to the moon god Nanna. The following example shows that it is aligned to major lunar standstills.

Some alignments are defined with respect to sacred destinations on Earth. For example, mosques are aligned to Mecca. The following example reveals the surprising result that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is not aligned to Mecca but to Petra.

A particularly unique feature of the app shows changes in alignments over the past 125,000 years due to hypothesized shifts of Earth's geographic poles as described in Sample results are shown below.

Sacred Directions is preloaded with sample site data. Data can also be loaded from user-specified tab-delimited text files. Access to more than eighty ancient site locations is provided through the app.

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