News Stories

Secrets of the Past Revealed

A Stonehenge-like observatory that's 2,000 years older than the Stonehenge in England has been discovered in Germany, using satellite photography. And linguists trying to decipher the ancient hieroglyphs of the Mayans now have help: They've discovered an Indian tribe that still speaks the Mayan language.

Madhusree Mukerjee writes in Scientific American that satellites have spotted a huge, shadowy circle in a wheat field in Germany which is all that remains of the world's oldest observatory. It's 7,000 years old?2,000 years older than Stonehenge. Originally it consisted of four concentric circles of monolithic stones. The sun would shine on certain stones at specific times of the year, turning the construction into a gigantic calendar. Scientist have dated the circle from pottery shards found nearby. A bronze disk depicting the moon and stars has also been found in the vicinity. Skeletons are buried nearby, meaning the site may have also been used for human sacrifices.

David Keys writes in the Independent that scholars have long been working to translate the hieroglyphs of the Mayans, who built huge cities and giant pyramids in Mexico and Central America from 550 BC until 1450 AD. Now they've got help?they've discovered a small tribe of Indians in Guatemala who still speak the Mayan language. The Mayans never discovered metal or the wheel, but they developed a calendar so accurate that modern calendars are still based on it today.

William Henry is one of the researchers who is discovering the secrets of the ancient past. Don't miss his interview with Whitley on this week's Dreamland.

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