Lunar alignments in Mesoamerican architecture

  • Ivan Šprajc
Keywords: Mesoamerica, archaeoastronomy, architecture, orientations, Moon, standstills


Systematic archaeoastronomical research recently conducted in several regions of Mesoamerica has revealed the existence of architectural orientations corresponding to major and minor extremes of the Moon (also known as standstill positions) on the horizon. Particularly indicative are the results of quantitative analyses of alignment data from the Maya Lowlands, disclosing a prominent group of orientations that can be convincingly related to the major lunar extremes. The astronomically-motivated intentionality of these alignments is additionally supported by contextual evidence, particularly significant being the fact that most of them are concentrated along the northeast coast of the Yucatán peninsula, where the lunar cult is known to have been important. Since the lunar orientations are regularly associated with those corresponding to the solstitial positions of the Sun, it is very likely that particular attention was paid to the full Moon extremes. This contribution also presents some independent evidence that sheds light on the cultural significance of lunar orientations.