Andes Archaeogeodesy Pages

Casma-Sechin Archaeogeodesy

2017-10-21 - International Archaeology Day - Now online for public release, an updated Casma-Sechin Archaeogeodesy KML file, sechin.kml, v2017.10.12. Global, Andean, and intra-valley site relationship findings are featured. This page is the companion website. The file may seem esoteric to those not already familiar with my previous writing and placemark files. The following discussion is intended to help overcome that obstacle and to present some of the results in a more accessible format. Perhaps this will encourage more archaeologists and students alike to explore Google Earth as an archaeology tool.

In February, I reviewed and refined coordinates for Casma-Sechin monuments following a Google Earth hi-res update. With refined coordinates, I started analysis of monument inter-relationship geomertry. The large scale of the monument distribution in the Casma and Sechin valleys provides a set of monuments useful for intra-site study. Additionally, not only is the latitude of the Sechin complex significant, radiocarbon dating at Sechin Bajo predates the pyramids at Giza.

The Casma-Sechin intra-site geometry analysis was prompted in part by results of study of the Monumental Mounds complex and immense circular earthworks in the Bolivian Amazon (bolivia.kml). Those results include Nevado Huascaran and Sechin. I sought another region to reapply intra-site geomertry analysis after encouraging results from analysis of the Bolivia sites. The Bolivia analysis relied on a GPS survey of lomas by Umberto Lombardo and on my own survey of visible zanjas in Google Earth. The Casma-Sechin stone monument details are readily visibly in Google Earth, whereas the Bolivian lomas are eroded earthen mounds obscured by vegetation, making coordinate verification more difficult and less precise. I wanted to repeat the study in an area better suited to Google Earth methodolgy. The recent high resolution satellite imagery at Casma-Sechin offered appropriate data for some of the most important early monuments in the Americas.

Reading the Results Placemarks

The image above illustrates several points and the shorthand used in the Google Earth balloons. The illustrated placemark is named secal-cargp, the label visible in Google Earth's Places menu. These site name codes represent Sechin Alto and Caral Greater Pyramid. Enter the codes in the archaeogeodesy.xls applet (range F5-F7, illustrated below) and the applet uses the latitude and longitude coordinates they represent.

In the image above, the placemark balloon first displays the relationship Sechin Alto - Caral Greater Pyramid then two distinct results. The second line presenting the ratio "n-s : e-w @ cargp = 1.0 : 0.500004" indicates the north-south distance between the monuments is twice the east-west distance at Caral. The second result is a related finding repeating the 2:1 ratio, except this ratio is actual degrees east-west (n-s : e- w° instead of n-s : e-w @ one of the latitudes). The site codes lhalp-lidol reference Las Haldas and Huaca de los Idolos. The shorthand e-w° indicates it is actual degrees. Using e-w @ indicates ground measure, which varies with latitude for the same number of degrees of longitude.

Site codes such as lhalp-lidol can be resolved using the archaeogeodesy.xls applet by entering them in the arcs worksheet, range F5-F7. The sites worksheet listing all the sites and corresponding variables can be sort ordered alphabetically using the range name "sitelist." In Google Earth, clicking the five letter site codes reveals the names, coordinates, and more in a balloon. The applet and the companion archaeogeodesy.kml file contain about 4,500 monument coordinates globally. Download this large KML file to display all sites. The sechim.kml file only presents the sites in the Casma-Sechin area.

The module codes seen below and in the balloons are defined in the epoch worksheet of the applet. The first eight are astronomical motion units equating time and space. These adjust values to match the epoch setting. The astronomical constants underlying the modules and mentioned in the results are defined in the epoch worksheet and also display in the aegeo worksheet. AeGeo is the name of my archaeogeodesy computer language, the shorthand terms for the sites, astronomy constants, and modules. I discuss the modules and fundamental astronomy in the Eclipses, Cosmic Clockwork of the Ancients webpage.

The following image displays an arc distances ratio from Marcahuamachuco to the immense Sechin Alto and Pachacamac huacas. The ratio reflects one of the fundamental astronomical constants, albeit the decimal position is moved. This observable constant, lunar orbit per rotation, is also one of the modules; r27 equals 0.036501 circumference. In the placemarks file I've included parentheses indicating, given the coordinate positions, the inaccuracy in meters of the expressed result. For the geodetic placements to precisely represent 1.0 : 10 lr ("lr" and r27 both represent lunar orbit per rotation, the later in degrees), the lesser arc would need to be 3 meters shorter (-3m). Note how the other major ruin at Marcahuamachuco reflects a related astronomy constant, lunar orbits per day; c27 equals 0.036601 circumference. The lunar orbits per day and lunar orbits per rotation numerical values are seen redundantly in other Casma-Sechin results.

The method of determining the monument centerpoint coordinates is not as precise as these Marcahuamachuco results. Several meters of plus/minus inaccuracy must be assumed for all site coordinates given the methodology used. Distant inter-site scale is far greater than intra-valley relationships, hence several meters difference has far less impact on the numerical precision of their ratios. Greater scale of monuument spacing enables greater accuracy in relationship results and higher precision in correlated numerical expression. This is a reason I favor researching long distance relationships; the small error can be a mere one-millionth of the arc distance between sites. Perhaps the decimal shift seen in the Marcahuamachuco and other examples is functional, enabling representing the astronomy constants with greater accuracy. Of course, over even greater, global distances variable tectonic motion is a factor, moreso the more ancient the monuments. While not included in this file, I have calculated the temporal change in monument coordinates and distant spatial relationships using individual site tectonic motion modeling. Some of those coordinates are found in the applet.

Results presented should be considered in the context of previous results available online and linked in the placemarks and below. Additional research results for other monument complexes remain unpublished. More findings are available to professionals employing the applet and data to examine site relationships for themselves.

Using the Archaeogeodesy Applet

There is no user manual. Unlock worksheet protection with the password "arc". Cells to input or select variables and data have a white background. The applet allows the user to set the epoch. The drop menu in the arcs worksheet, cell F17 has preset epochs and a user drop-menu selection. Epoch chavin is selected in the graphic below. Each epoch's corresponding year, month, and day are entered in the epoch worksheet, range B150-E184. The user can specify more epochs in the blank lines there. The "user" selection in the drop menu employs the year, month, and day variables entered in range I16-I18 of the arcs worksheet. Note also the corresponding Julian Day number next to the epoch selector.

The epoch setting alters the illumination results moreso than astronomy constants. Illumination angles are quite variable from day to day and over time, so I rarely take note of them. Therefore, my illumination calculator is not a very refined formulation. Atmospheric variables are input in the calc worksheet, range L75-L77, where you can also access the formulation.


Site-to-site bearings are displayed in range E13-F15. Only rarely do three sites form a great circle line (ley lines in pseudoscience writing). I use the arcs worksheet, range C45-G52 as a scratch board to add bearings, to calculate accuracies, and other tasks. Cells D45-G45 are used to determine degrees difference and the results convert to meters in D44-G44. Range J43-O48 is used to determine accuracies of the three arcs.

Both "user" and "user2" are site variables used without adding a site to the database, respectively for adjusting the coordinates of an existing site variable (G10-H10) and for entering user coordinates (C18-D18). I use an iMac with 2560 x 1435 display, allowing display of three worksheets at one. This 2.8 MB screen capture image illustrates my current work environment. Contact me if you have any questions. I am willing to consult with professionals and to share other research results with qualifying persons and institutions.

Latitude Geometry and Astronomy

The importance of the Sechin complex is not just evident by the massiveness of Sechin Alto, the age of Sechin Bajo, or the incredible number of carved megaliths at the Cerro Sechin, but also by the latitude trigonometry. Before ancient Egyptians erected pyramids and Europeans erected the great stone circles, an ancient Andean culture placed a monument at the latitude forming a 1 : 6 sided triangle in relation to the center of the earth. Additionally, important major monuments in the Andes and on the other continents were erected with apparent relationships to the earlier Sechin complex.

In the 1980s I noted the geodetic geometry of Cahokia. Cahokia's obvious east-west axis, Woodhenge, and Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric monument north of Mexico and the largest-in-volume prehistoric earthen construction in the Americas, are situated in relation to the geodetic latitude. Specifically, the latitude tangent equals precisely 0.80, four-fifths. In other words the site's geodetic axis, the line to the center of the earth's mass, is the hypotenuse of a 4:5 geocentric triangle.

Cahokia Mounds, Monks Mound, Woodhenge, and Cahokia's baseline.  The latitude tangent equals 0.80.

Thereafter I determined and converted the latitudes of other major monuments to trigonometric functions and other geodetic and astronomical modules. One of the oldest known stone circles is Nabta Playa in Egypt. The latitude placement of Nabta Playa, near one-fourth the distance from equator to pole, could imply intentional latitude placement originates by around 7,500 years ago. Given such early context, less suprisingly some of the largest monuments in the world and earliest major monuments in both hemispheres evidence construction at specific significant latitudes, latitudes which imply accurate astronomy, systematic point positioning, and possibly observational astronomy as a function of their geodetic positions.

The geometry of the angle between the local geodetic and celestial reference frames presents a functional rationale to place astronomical observatories at locations with low-integer geodetic triangles. Monument placement at latitudes where small rational numbers describe the local geometric relationship to celestial motions has astronomical utility. Such placement of observations provides considerable simplification of mathematical operations. With simple integer ratios expressing trigonometric functions, complex math operations are avoided while also eliminating the inaccuracy of decimal rounding.

Given latitude placements are intentional, monument positioning evidences the earliest known precise astronomical and geodetic measurements. Thus, great ancient monuments evidence a capability of accurately determining latitude spanning the range of their construction. The earliest evidence of astronomical observatories using exact sciences is implied by monument latitude positioning.

Astronomy is essential to place determination relative to the whole earth. Latitude is far easier to determine than is longitude. Geodetic latitude is determined using earth's poles and the celestial poles, extensions of the earth's axis of rotation to two fixed, non-moving points in space. To determine geodetic latitude the local level and plumb reference frame is compared with the angular position of an astronomical pole. The poles inter-reference astronomical and terrestrial coordinates. At Cahokia, the North Pole angle's tangent is five-fourths.

While trigonometric function was a new consideration which I first brought to ancient monument placements, another latitude property, fractional geodivisions of circumference had received previous notice. Livvio Stecchini noted the latitude at Karnak equals one-seventh the meridian arc and wrote that ancient geographers divided the meridian from equator to pole into seven zones. The latitude baseline equaling one-fourteenth of earth's circumference intersects Karnak, passing between the Mut and Amun Halls. By comparison, the list of Nile monuments closest to similar geometric subdivisions presents large margins of error. The Giza pyramids are several kilometers from one-twelfth of circumference (30.0°), a significant error. Without precision, intentionality is not a valid consideration. Tectonic shift needs to be incorporated in accuracy considerations.

Precise latitude and the accuracy of placement of monuments is only recently relatively easy to determine. In 1984, the World Geodetic System (WGS) established accurate global place determination and point positioning in a universal geodetic reference frame. Current cartography research and study also benefits from recently developed tools and methods. The Google Earth virtual globe has placed high resolution aerial and satellite imagery at anyone's fingertips, along with the capability to create customized placemark files and the graphics herein. And, of course, accurate GPS devices employing the global positioning system pinpoint user positions. With the aid of modern technology we have caught up to ancient geodetic science sufficiently to realize the geometry and placements of ancient monuments is complex rather than unordered.

Further Reading

Ancient Monument Latitudes Evidence Accurate Astronomy
Newark Archaeogeodesy Assessing Evidence of Geospatial Intelligence in the Americas
Eclipses, Cosmic Clockwork of the Ancients


Excerpt from:  Early Monumental Architecture on the Peruvian Coast
Evidence of Socio-Political Organization and the Variation in its Interpretation.

The Casma and Sechin Valleys contain the largest concentration of Preceramic period, Initial period and Early horizon sites along the Peruvian coast (Pozorski and Pozorski 1987b:2). The largest of the Casma Valley sites is Sechín Alto. With a U-shaped monument plan covering about 200 ha, it is one of the largest constructions ever built in Prehispanic America (Burger 1992:77).

Five plazas extend 1.4 km from the central mound, three with central sunken courts, one of which is about 80 m in diameter (Fung Pineda 1988:87). The main mound is 44 m high by 300 m by 250 m., making it the largest single construction in the New World during the second millennium B.C. (Burger 1992:80). The mound was faced with granite blocks, some weighing over 2 tons. Sechín Alto's great size may represent a 1000 year span of building (Burger 1992:82).

Recent KML Files

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Space Archaeology in the Amazon, Beni, Bolivia

Tumichucua, Newark, and Pi


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© 2017 by James Q. Jacobs. All Rights Reserved.
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"Antiquity willfully veils the truth so that the fool will go astray and only the wise may know." 
Phaedrus, writer of fables, writing in Rome.