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Aosta Valley: looking up at the sky, then and now

Saint-Barthélemy Valley: astronomical observatory and the protohistoric site of Castelliere

Aosta Valley Slow Tour: here we are in the St. Barthélemy Valley, a place that has always been privileged for sky observing, because it is protected from distant lights by a mountain crown. Not surprisingly here, in the Lignan area, there is the Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley. Where high-level scientific research is carried out with state-of-the-art equipment and important international collaborations, but also public disclosure with the opportunity to participate in guided sky observation evenings or educational workshops for children.

This place is relevant also for archaeoastronomy, that is the study of the astronomical knowledge of the most ancient populations and orientations in archeology. That could be the reason why in Lignan we also find the protohistoric castle of Castelliere, a defensive or collection structure that could date back to 700 or 800 BC. Its purpose is actually unclear, but the central structure could easily have been a sanctuary: it is astronomically oriented so that the main entrance was enlightened by the very first ray of sunshine of the summer solstice!

The Longhede peak works as natural sundial and those who used to live here observed and understood this phenomena, probably giving it a ritual and religious value. We are led to think that the development of civilizations only goes straight ahead, but we should be less presumptuous about how amazing was the knowledge of the ancients!

Saint Barthelemy Valley
Saint Barthelemy Valley

Filmed in collaboration with Aosta Valley Region

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