A new study published by the Nexus Network Journal, suggests that the position of palaces, temples, and tombs built at least 2, 300 years ago by the Nabataeans, including the famous city of Petra, were determined by the movement of the Sun and other astronomical events.
One example of a monument built based on celestial events is seen at Ad Deir, the Monastery at Petra. During the winter solstice, the light of the setting sun enters through the gate of the monument and illuminates the sacred motab, a podium where some stone blocks representing divinities, such as the god Dushara, are placed. But that is not all it does, another incredible event takes place in that moment. The setting of the sun recreates the aspect of the head of a lion, the animal of the Nabataean goddess Al Uzza, on the opposite rocks.
Mathematical calculations have also demonstrated that the Urn Tomb, a famous monument where king Malichus II is thought to be buried, follows an astronomical plan. Its main gate is centred with its environment according to the equinox sunset, when the day equals the night, and the solar rays during the summer and winter solstices establish the two interior corners of the building.
The study authors have concluded that the awe-inspiring ancient monuments of the Nabataean culture demonstrate that astronomical features were a “substantial element in Nabataean religion” and reveals “new evidence for cultic worship centred on the celestial sphere”.