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Marking Time in the Inca Empire

Journal of Skyscape Archaeology

Equinox Publishing

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      Forecasting Andean rainfall and crop yield from the influence of El Nino on Pleiades visibility

      Farmers in drought-prone regions of Andean South America have historically made observations of changes in the apparent brightness of stars in the Pleiades around the time of the southern winter solstice in order to forecast interannual variations in summer rainfall and in autumn harvests. They moderate the effect of reduced rainfall by adjusting the planting dates of potatoes, their most important crop. Here we use data on cloud cover and water vapour from satellite imagery, agronomic data from the Andean altiplano and an index of El Nino variability to analyse this forecasting method. We find that poor visibility of the Pleiades in June-caused by an increase in subvisual high cirrus clouds-is indicative of an El Nino year, which is usually linked to reduced rainfall during the growing season several months later. Our results suggest that this centuries-old method of seasonal rainfall forecasting may be based on a simple indicator of El Nino variability.
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        The Sanctuary of Titicaca: Where the Sun Returns to Earth

        In Inka mythology, a large sandstone rock on the Island of the Sun, in Lake Titicaca, was the origin place of the sun. It was there that the sun first emerged and designated the Inka as his children. Under Inka rule, and perhaps before, this rock was a destination of pilgrims who went to worship and make offerings to the sun. We present evidence that a set of solar markers existed on a ridge northwest of the sacred rock. These structures framed the sunset for groups of watchers on the June solstice, near the time of the sun festival, Inti Raymi. Historic information coupled with the organization of archaeological sites within the sanctuary area on the island suggests that elites and common pilgrims may have observed the sunset from different locations.
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          Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Journal of Skyscape Archaeology
            JSA
            Equinox Publishing
            2055-348X
            2055-3498
            December 30 2015
            August 30 2015
            : 1
            : 2
            : 217-241
            10.1558/jsa.v1i2.28257
            © 2015
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