Atlas sphere dating site

This vast carved platform, measuring sixty metres in diameter, was used to locate the rising of the sun at the different periods of the year.

As tradition dictated that the rulers of China, first kings and later emperors, should receive their political mandate from the sky, astronomy soon became a dominant science in China.

The main responsibility of political power was to keep the Earth in total harmony with the sky.

This obligation was called the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ and the emperor himself was called Tian Zi .

The stars themselves were bestowed with astrological meaning, both enabling predictions that influenced daily life as well as major political strategies, and thus astronomy swiftly became a powerful political tool.

It is possible that the observation of the sky in a scientific sense was first undertaken as a way of marking time and recording events within a recurring pattern in order to create a calendar.

A calendar marks the seasons and helps farmers to know when to plant and harvest their grain.

Like many ancient societies, China based its calendar upon the phases of the moon but then added extra months.

This was because a solar year is not evenly divisible by an exact number of lunar months – there are about 12.37 lunar months during a solar seasonal year – so without the extra months the seasons would drift each year. The Chinese calendar therefore had a thirteen-month year every two or three years.

In May 2005, some relics of this early astronomical activity were uncovered with the discovery of the oldest astronomical observatory known in China today.

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This structure is located in the Shanxi period (2300–1900 BC).

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