A Neolithic standing stone has been discovered in Sicily which has been found to align perfectly with the winter solstice. The stone was found in Gela, a small town on Sicily’s southern coast, when a group of historians and archaeologists were conducting a survey of abandoned World War II bunkers in the area. After radiocarbon dating, this “Sicilian Stonehenge” has been dated to between 3,000 and 6,000 B.C.
The 23-foot (7-meter) stone stands upright and has a hole carved through the top. Once a year, on the winter solstice, the sun aligns perfectly with the hole early in the morning. Researchers witnessed the sun pass through the hole this year at 7:23 am. While some are hailing the discovery as a “calendar rock,” Giulio Magli, archaeo-astronomer at the Polytechnic University of Milan, told Seeker that the only conclusion which can currently be made about the stone is that it can mark the winter solstice:
We should not consider the holed stones as a precise calendars or an instruments to observe the sun’s cycle, but rather monuments that provided information on the solstices for practical and agricultural purposes.
Still, you gotta admit that’s pretty fascinating for a 5,000-year-old rock. Another monolith was found nearby, but had fallen over at some point in the past. Several Bronze Age tombs were found nearby the site, implying that this standing stone had some sort of ritual significance for the ancient people who built it.
This discovery and other recent finds in Sicily are adding to a growing body of evidence which suggests Neolithic people on the island of Sicily were skilled with cutting stone. There are two other known Solstice stones at another location on the island, one which aligns with the summer solstice and another which aligns with the winter solstice. Based on that fact, researchers predict a fourth stone might exist in the area of this newly discovered stone. In 2015, a 10,000-year-old stone monolith was found in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily, the purpose of which is still unknown. Could this be the lost fourth standing stone?