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KOKINO MEGALITHIC OBSERVATORY

The archaeology-astronomical site, the megalithic observatory “Kokino” are located in the north-eastern part of  Macedonia, at 19km to the northeast of the town Kumanovo and in the uphill  of the village Kokino. Administratively it belongs to the municipality Staro Nagorichane. It comprises an area with a surface of 100m in the direction east-west and 50m in the direction north-south, at the peak of the imposing rocky hill called Tatichev Roks It is at an elevation of 1013 m.

The hill had been formed from volcanic rocks. It has a conical form with a saddle at the top and it belongs to the volcanic hill called Zletovo.  The volcanic cone, the lateral secondary parasite effusions and volcanic neck (petrified lava in the lower volcanic channel) are preserved from the extinct volcano. The erupted lava is of an intermediate character with an artistic  composition, with clearly columnar (prismatic) emission and accentuated cracks.

The natural predisposition of these and site rocks to crack vertically and horizontally caused forming of almost ideal cubic rock blocks that could be easily shaped and wisely used by the prehistoric dwellers as the areas/positions for observing the movement of the Sun and the Moon and for performing religious rites.

All crucial features of the ancient observatory are situated is two platforms, an upper and a lower one, at an elevation difference of 19m. The shapes of four stone seats (“thrones”) placed in a row dominate the lower, western side. They are oriented in the direction north-south, thus enabling the one seated on the throne to observe the apparitions on the upper platform, while the tops of the rocks have the role of an eastern horizon. According to the archaeo-astronomical analysis, the main roles of the throne is the performing of the bonding ritual of the Sun God with his “representative” on Earth – the ruler, who sat on one of the thrones (the second one) during the ritual.  A testimony to that is the distinct stone block with a separate marker, cutting at its top, placed right under the highest elevation of the site. The ritual was performed in midsummer (today on the last day of July) when the sun is rising exactly in the opening of the stone marker. The marker, cutting was made with great precision, in such a way that the distance of its external vertical sides fully corresponds with the diameter of the Sun, when observed from the second throne. In order to enable the sun ray to fall on one of the thrones, the people had made a separate trench (incision) in the vertical rock that separates the upper from the lower platform of the site. On the day of the ritual the sun rays pass exactly with the right edge of the trench and falls only on the second throne, i.e. at the place where the most powerful member of the community sat. The day when the rise is performing corresponded with the time of the ending of the harvest – the end of the annual cycle of the plants, and in the same time end of the energy of the ruler. By reuniting with the Sun God, through the light, that his fall on the face during the ritual ceremony, the energy and the power of the ruler were renewed. This meant hope for a peaceful life for the community and rich crops in the year to come. Twenty hand grinders found in the proximity of the room at the base of the ritual mark are a testimony for the performing of the rite that marked the end of the harvest.

The central space of the observatory is to the south-west from the thrones. It was used for observing the eastern horizon. All nine marker cuttings at the eastern horizon are used by the ancient “astronomers” for daily marking of the rising of the Sun and the Moon can be seen from the observatory. Three of the marker cuttings were intended to mark the rising of the Sun during the day of the summer solstice, the autumn and the spring equinox and the winter solstice. The six remaining marker cuttings marked the spots of the rising of the Moon in the days when it has the smallest and the biggest declination during winter and summer. The two marker cuttings that were used for measuring the length of the lunar months can be seen from here. They were utilized in the making of a calendar for a periodic cycle of 19 lunar years.

In the “Kokino” calendar 12 lunar years contained 12 lunar months each. Six of them were winter months of 29 days and six summer months of 30 days. The remaining 7 lunar years contained 13 lunar months: six months winter of 29 days and seven summer months of 30 days. These are „excessive” lunar years were at each 2nd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 16th and 18thyear in a period of 19 years.