A petroglyph found in the US is believed to represent a total solar eclipse that was seen by our ancestors around 1,000 years ago.
While people in the USA await the total solar eclipse of August 21, it turns out that a petroglyph found in Chaco Canyon, in the state of New Mexico reveals a similar event observed by Pueblo Indians some 1,000 years ago.
A mysterious set of symbols etched on a rock at Chaco Canyon may represent an astronomical phenomenon observed by the ancient Pueblo culture some 1,000 years ago, according to scientists.
Furthermore, experts have discovered evidence of ceremonial practices at the site which seems to point to the fact that the free-standing rock may have been used thousands of years ago for solstice-related activities.
The petroglyph in question features a circular engraving surrounded with numerous looping tendrils which according to experts depicts a coronal mass ejection.
First discovered in 1992, the strange stone has since been dubbed Piedra del Sol. It also features a large spiral petroglyph on its eastern side which is said to mark the sun rises about 15 days before the June solstice.
Furthermore, a triangular shadow projected by a large rock on the horizon which intersects the center of the spiral at that time.
McKim Malville of CU Boulder’s department for astrophysical and planetary sciences believes that it could have been used to mark a countdown for the summer solstice and related festivities. That side of the rock also features a hole in the shape of a cup where people probably left offerings.
“To me, it resembles a circular feature with curved tangles and structures. If we observe a drawing made by a German astrophysicist of the total solar eclipse that occurred in 1860 during high solar activity, rays, and loops similar to those depicted in the Chaco petroglyph are visible,” said Professor Malville.
Researchers argue how the “Piedra Del Sol” illustrates a coronal mass ejection—a solar eruption which sends billions of tons of plasma from the sun towards space.
“The petroglyph of the eclipse at the Piedra del Sol is the only one we know in the Chaco canyon,” said Malville. “I believe it is quite possible that the ancient cultures gathered around Piedra del Sol at specific times of the year to see how the sun was moving away from the summer solstice when the eclipse occurred.”
To understand whether or not the enigmatic symbols were depicting an eclipse and coronal mass ejection, scientists used tree ring data, naked eye observations and historical data to trace back solar activity hundreds of years.
With the help of tree ring data—which contains traces of carbon-14—researchers were able to understand the amount of cosmic rays that impacted against Earth’s atmosphere—which in turn can be linked to sunspots.
Experts discovered that the occurrence of a Coronal Mass ejection during the event that took place in 197—when the eclipse occurred, was certainly possible.
Professor Malville explained:
“This was a testable hypothesis. It turns out the sun was in a period of very high solar activity at that time, consistent with an active corona and CMEs.”