Ancient ‘Chinese Pyramids’ Were Built in Alignment with the North Star

Many ancient structures were built in alignment with the stars.


China has a collection of Pyramids. There are approximately forty of them, and they were built thousands of years ago. Just as the Pyramids of Egypt are curiously aligned, the Chinese pyramids also feature an intricate alignment that experts could not fully understand. And while the Chinese Pyramids may not be as famous and spectacular as those in Egypt, they share similar characteristics.

Emperor Wu of Han ruled from 141 to 87 BC, and was set to rest in a 'Pyramid' nearly 250 meters long. Image Credit: Giulio Magli / AAAS.
Emperor Wu of Han ruled from 141 to 87 BC and was set to rest in a ‘Pyramid’ nearly 250 meters long. Image Credit: Giulio Magli / AAAS.

They are aligned with the cardinal points, but very little is known about them, and there is something that has always intrigued experts. While some of those pyramids show a perfect alignment to the North, some Chinese Pyramids have a small deviation of almost 14 degrees. Some were built to align with the cardinal points, but others seem to have been built with an error. But were they?


A mistake?

Is that deviation the result of a mistake made by its builders? Perhaps, but an Italian scientist believes he has an answer. Italian astronomer Giulio Magli has proposed an exciting hypothesis. Maybe the Pyramid builders did not want to align the structures to the North but rather to the North Star. According to Magli’s study, which investigated more than 40 such structures, some of the Chinese Pyramids were not oriented to the cardinal points but instead built to point in alignment with the North Star. Magli takes as reference the movement of our planet known as the precession of the equinoxes, the axis on which Earth rotates leans in one direction as it orbits the Sun, pointing toward two spots in the sky called the celestial poles. This takes about 25,700 years to complete.

Not in the same position

That means that if the North Pole and the Polar Star were aligned today, they were not in the same position 2,000 years ago. And all of that begins to make sense. According to scholars, the North Star was an essential celestial object in Chinese tradition.  It was seen as the great emperor of the heavens. This is why some experts believe that some of the Chinese pyramids’ builders decided to stop aligning the structures to the cardinal points and align them with the mighty North Star. Using satellite images and field surveys, Magli discovered two’ families’ of monuments in the northwestern region near Xian, along the Wei River.

One family of monuments aligns with the cardinal points – North, south, east, and west. However,  the other family of monuments does not; it used to align with the North Star. The study was published in Archaeological Research in Asia.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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