Washington: During the winter solstice, the Sun is filtered into the Monastery at Petra, Jordan, which illuminates the podium of a deity. Just at this moment, the silhouette of the mountain opposite draws the head of a lion, a sacred animal.

These are the examples from a study where researchers from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and CSIC (Spain) showed how celestial events influenced the orientation of the great constructions of the Nabataeans.

The movement of the Sun in the skies of Petra determined the way in which the monuments of this and other Nabataean cities were erected. This is according to a statistical analysis on the spatial position of their palaces, temples and tombs carried out by scientists from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and CSIC, Spain, and the University of Perugia (Italy).

The results indicate that those great buildings were erected bearing in mind the equinoxes, solstices and other astronomical events that determined the Nabataean religion.

The Nabataeans prospered in the first century BC and the first century AD in what is now Jordan and neighboring countries.

Juan Antonio Belmonte, researcher of IAC and coordinator of the study, stressed to SINC, said that the Nabataean monuments are marvelous laboratories where landscape features and the events of the Sun, moon and other stars interact.

A clear example is seen in Ad Deir, the Monastery at Petra. During the winter solstice, the light of the setting sun entering through the gate of the monument illuminates the sacred motab. It is a podium where some stone blocks, which represent divinities such as the god Dushara, are placed.

The results have been published in the Nexus Network Journal.

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