by, James P. Scherz 8 June, 2012
In May, 2012, I spent several days surveying positions of some manmade mounds, manmade pits, seemingly organized rocks, and deformed trees atop of Christmas Hill. Christmas Hill is located about 1.6 miles southeast of Aztalan Park, in Jefferson, Co., Wisconsin. See Figure 1. Research work by Robert Johnson prior to 1985 indicated that the name Christmas Hill comes from one of the first people in our culture to write about Aztalan. The word “Christmas Hill” to the southeast of Aztalan suggests that a winter solstice sunrise over this hill might have been important to the natives whom this early writer met. Our Christmas (25 Dec.) occurs about 3 or 4 days after the winter solstice. At this time, even the casual observer can see that the sun has finished its southern migration on the eastern horizon, has stopped moving, and has begun to come back to the north, to usher in a new warm period. Given this possibility, we went to the top of Christmas Hill in 1985 to take a look. There, we located a earthen mound about 30 ft long and 15 ft wide. It is about 3.5 ft. high when approached from the down-slope of the hill. Further down the slope was a large manmade pit. We included the approximate location of these features into a survey we were then making of the mounds at Aztalan.
We began to investigate the possible function of these features as part of a large and accurate horizontal solar calendar system, related to the large mounds on a ridge northwest of the palisade area at Aztalan Park. In 1985, my surveying students and I, and numerous interested volunteers from the Ancient Earthworks Society of Madison, did an extensive field survey of the mounds at Aztalan. Also on the winter solstice of 1985, with the help of Jim Brey, landowner of Christmas Hill, we placed a light connected to a car battery near the mound on this hill, and observed where the sun rose over it (observed from the mounds at Aztalan). See Figure 2.
This early work showed that all of the earthen mounds (except one) west of the Crawfish River at Aztalan could function as a solar calendar between the fall cross-quarter day (about 1 Nov.) to the winter solstice (about 21 Dec.) and forward to the winter cross-quarter day period (our Ground Hog’s Day). This would work, provided that there was a fire near the mound and pit on Christmas Hill, and that the observer was on the mounds at Aztalan. Conversely, if the observer were at the mound and pit on Christmas Hill, he or she could see the sun setting over the mounds on the ridge to the northwest (very visible) from the spring cross-quarter day (about May Day) to the summer solstice (about 21 June) and forward to the summer cross- quarter day period (still celebrated today in England as Lamas Day and by some Native Americans as the Green Corn Festival). See Figure 3. A similar solar calendar can be seen on Frank’s Hill, north of Muscoda, Wisc. See Figure 4. In such a system at Aztalan, all of the earthen mounds on the ridge at Aztalan Park are part of this workable solar calendar system, except one.
It is the so-called Princess Mound, all by itself, about 700 ft. north of the tallest mound on the ridge. (This tallest mound is associated with a sunrise to the winter solstice or to the sunset on the summer solstice, as shown in Figures 2 and 3.) But for the Princess Mound to be part of an ancient calendar system, it would have to mark the set of some other body, north of where the sun sets on the summer solstice. The location of Princess Mound is consistent with a northernmost set of the planet Venus, at the beginning of of its 260 year cycle of extreme decimation. During this 260 year cycle, the declination of Venus varies from about 26.5 to 27.8 deg. north o the celestial equator. Although the magnitude of this extreme declination varies over this period of about 260 years, Venus reaches its observable northernmost set precisely on the same date m our calendar every 8 years. The time of northernmost set is heralded in by Venus also being as high in the western sky and as bright as it ever gets during this shorter cycle of 8 years. To someone not distracted by city lights and TV, an astronomer could hardly miss know1ng when to look for the northernmost set of Venus. This event occurs today on precisely 6 May, every 8 years. The period of 8 solar years was once known in ancient Mexico as the Venus-Solar Year. Our culture has lost track of this ancient heavenly display. But the ancient knowledge can be revived by simply looking to the heavens at this time of the 8-year cycle.
Besides solstice alignments in the mound groups, art work with rocks at several sites suggests that the ancient mound builders were concerned with alignments to the moon and the planets, as well. See Figures 5 and 5a. Since the northernmost set of Venus occurred on 6 May, 2012, I chose this approximate period of time to re-survey the features atop Christmas Hill with random equipment not available in 1985, and to concentrate on the apparent inclusion of this brightest planet, Venus, in this giant calendar complex. This is the focus of this report.
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