In a posting entitled "something interesting", Mickey at the blog 3 Old Men Building Things in the Woods does a superb job of describing the factual situation, accompanied by several easily understandable cartographical maps from Google Earth .
The situation is essentially this. In the year 1736 the French (see Louis Godin, Pierre Bouguer, Charles Marie de la Condamine) measured the exact location of the Equator - something which in those days was not easy to do because the equatorial regions consist primarily of ocean, other waters, swamps and jungle.
Finding "hard ground" to measure the Equator led the French to Ecuador and the region north of the city of Quito, where the point of La Mitad del Mundo ("The Middle of the World") was established, where it still exists today as the "Equator Line Monument", which was built 200 years later in 1936 over the old French point to commemorate its measurement, and is today the leading tourist attraction in Ecuador . [For our German members, this French historical measurement of the earth has been described by Daniele Jörg in Ecuador – Armes reiches Land, Stipendien-Aufenthalt in Ecuador, 25. März bis 06. Mai 2004, "Die Vermessung der Erde".]
A geopage by Olivier Auverlau at the University of California at Berkeley provides panorama photos of the Middle of the World Monument as well as the orange line marking the Equator in Ecuador. Take a look. The photography is quite impressive.
With the arrival of satellite-driven GPS technology, scientists discovered to everyone's surprise, however, that the 1736 French measurement was not quite accurate, being off by about 300 meters. The correct line of the Equator turned out to run straight through the middle of a nearby pre-Inca ruin, Catequilla. See photo and cartographic map marking at the 3 Old Men, who comment this development as follows:
"A group in Ecuador has found all sorts of alignments with other ruins suggesting that the Ancients knew a lot more about how to find the Equator than the French scientists.…"At the site of the Mexican Jaguars a detailed article is found which we definitely recommend as important background reading material:
"... In 1936 ... a monument was constructed near Ecuador's capital, Quito ... at the line reckoned by the 18th century French scientists to be zero degrees latitude ....
Recent findings have slightly relocated the equator.... in 1997 the seemingly insignificant ruins of a semicircular wall were discovered on top of Mount Catequilla, which lies a little to the north of Quito. Using ... the Global Positioning System (GPS), investigator Cristobal Cobo discovered that one end of this wall was located precisely on the equator. (On the other hand, GPS places the famous Middle of the World monument some 1,000 feet to the south of the true equator).
[A] line connecting the two ends of the wall creates a 23.5-degree angle to the equator ... almost precisely the angle at which earth's axis is tilted.... Further, one end of the connecting line points to the rising of the sun on the solstice in December; and the other end, to the setting of the sun on the solstice in June....
As more astronomical alignments were plotted on a map, a figure began to emerge --an eight-pointed star....
The Quitsa-to Project, directed by Cobo, is amassing compelling evidence of the astronomical acumen of the early natives. ('Quitsa-to' comes from the language of the Tsachila Indians and means 'Middle of the World.' Some believe that Quito is a name derived from this term.) More than a dozen archaeological sites and many ancient towns have been found to line up perfectly along the astronomical star figure when it is superimposed over the equator with Catequilla at its center...."
The website Exploring Ecuador writes about Cristóbal Cobo, the driving force behind this research, as follows :
"Cristóbal Cobo is an Ecuadorian scientist who has engaged in extensive studies about pre-Incan astronomical wisdom. His theories have already led to the discovery of several archeological sites in and around Quito, dating back to 1500 BC. Cobo holds that all the pre-Incan archeological sites in Quito and its surroundings are either in line with or parallel to the ecliptic and solstices axes running through Catequilla. He believes all these complexes are the work of the Quitus-Caras, a culture of which very little is known ...." I believe that Catequilla was the middle of the world for the Quitus-Caras, the point where their cosmological and spiritual belief systems came together." (Geographical, September 2002).
Cobo also discovered that several colonial churches in Quito, built over antique pre Incan sites, are aligned with the sunrays of the solstices....
Cristóbal Cobo is the director of the scientific research project Quitsa-to (Quitsa-to is the original name of the city, meaning "middle of the world"). His research findings are displayed at the "Solar Culture Museum" close to the Middle of the World Monument. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his cell phone 099-701-133. Contact him to learn about activities programmed for December 22nd."
This research is having its public impact. Sailariel.com writes in their sailing log book:
"We spent one day in Quito adjusting to the high altitude which at 9200 feet was necessary for our sea level adapted bodies. Just outside Quito at La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) where the equator passes through, we found a scientific research project exploring this past discovery using GPS.... It is now known that the monument is in fact 300 meters away from the equator but that a pre-Inca site on a nearby hill was built exactly on the equator proving this ancient civilization had more accurate calculations. In old town Quito there are a cluster of about 15 churches all built on top of ancient pre-Inca solar sites. On the solstices and equinox the sun shines in on the faces of the Christ above the altars. Much of the Indian weaving seen in the markets depict the layout of these sites in their designs."
One of our members, Enrico Calzolari, the discoverer of the Mark of Cassiopeia in Italy, recently sent me a photo of Catequilla in Ecuador, together with the following information:
Latitude: 00Â° 00' 00"
Longitude: 078Â° 25' 43,3"
Elevation: m 4 000
Datation: 980 years B.C.
The semicircular wall between winter and summer solstices is the Real Middle of the World (quitsa-to).
Copyright of the Photo: Project Quitsa-to
Director of the project: CristÃ²bal Cobo
Archaeologist: Oswaldo Tobar"
I was going to upload that photo for you here on Lexiline, but in order to save me time and work in formatting that photo for our purposes, I found instead a similar photo of Catequilla and several related photos online at the following photography website: