Trypilian temple - observatory at Nebelivka

In 2012 near the Nebelivka village, Kirovograd region, Ukraine at the territory of one of the largest settlements of Cucuteni-Trypillia civilization dating from 4000 BC archaeologists excavated a building that was unique for its time.

According to experts, the building is a Trypillian temple and has no equals in Europe. It had two levels and the area of 20 x 60 meters, that is 1200 m2. The researchers found seven altars made of clay, which had a crosslike shape. The altars had circles painted on them that formed a composition. Also, many fragments of pottery ware and animal bones, statuettes and other household items were found.


6000 years ago the Trypillians were the advanced well-developed civilization of the ancient world. They were the community of crops growers living in the territory of modern Ukraine, Moldova and Romania. They developed agriculture, pottery, weaving and metallurgy, thereby changing the historical period, ended the Stone Age and began the era of metallurgy, starting it with copper.

The Trypillians used to burn down their settlements every 50-70 years and move to a new place. The temple in Nebelivka was burned too and clay altars and remains of the walls  scorched and turned into ceramics.

On some fragments the prints of the rope were preserved, which fastened the wooden pillars with other elements of the building structure.

The temple in Nebelivka was divided into several sections. One third was occupied by the inner courtyard, and in two thirds sanctuaries with altars were located. Earlier, archaeologists have found clay models of Trypillya temples with the architecture similar to the structure of the religious building in Nebelivka. The clay model has the same proportions as the temple itself. One third of the area is occupied by the courtyard, two thirds – by a closed premise. Its scheme is also similar to the structure of the Karnak Temple in Egypt. Although the building in Nebelivka has no granite columns and its size is smaller than the Egyptian counterpart, both have common features: the courtyard, the front entrance and the central altar, which are located on the same axis, pointing to the place where the sun rises on a special day of the solar calendar. The central axis of the Karnak Temple is oriented toward the sun rising on the day of the winter solstice.

Only that day the sun beam entered the chamber where the altar was located through a series of gates, openings and passages and filled it with light. This phenomenon was called the “solar miracle”. Nebelivka temple is oriented toward the east, and thus to the point of equinox.

On the equinox day, the sunlight passed through the main gate, through the entrance to the temple and lit the central altar No. 7. In the dark temple, the altar, covered with red clay, shone in the rays of the sun. In the spring equinox in most ancient civilizations, a new year, a new turn of the spiral of time began. This is a day of cosmic harmony. When the world is balanced and the duration of the day and night is the same.

On the spring equinox day for most ancient civilizations a new year began, a new turn of the spiral of time. This is a day of cosmic harmony, when the world is balanced and the duration of day and night is the same.


The Trypillian temple has seven altars: one central one and three on each side, which are located at the same distance from the longitudinal and transverse symmetry axes of the building. A group of six altars number 1-6 is oriented toward the important astronomical events, at the sunrise points on the days of the winter and summer solstice.

Similar buildings were built not only for beauty or for religious purposes, but they had a practical function. They were astronomical observatories. To prove this it is necessary to go deep into astroarcheology.

The temple in Nebelivka has geographical coordinates 48о 38’ 31.07’’ South and 30о 33’ 45.70’’ East. 

Coordinates are needed to determine the azimuths of the sunrise on the days of the summer and winter solstice in Nebelivka. Nowadays here we can see the sunrise in its extreme positions on the horizon at azimuths 53о 21’ (June 21), and 127о 24’ (December 21). But 6000 years ago the Trypillians saw the sun in some other places on the horizon than we do today: 52о 16’ (June 21) and 128о 29’ (December 21). This is due to the fact that now the deviation of the ecliptic of the Earth is 23о 26’ 15’’, and 4000 years BC It was 24о 12’ 35’’and because of the oscillations of the Earth's axis, the solstice points shifted by 1о 05’.

If we draw a line between the centers of the altars No. 6 and No.3, its azimuth will be close to 52о 16’, and the line between the centers of the altars No. 1 and No. 4 has an azimuth of about 128о 29’. In the points where these imaginary lines cross the walls of the temple could be openings or windows, as shown in the photo of the clay model of the Trypillian temple. Through these openings or circular apertures, as they are called in optics, the rays of the sun and the moon illuminated the corresponding altars, marking the occurrence of an astronomical event and the holiday to celebrate it. The builders made the altar No. 1 stand out by making it the largest. This means that they especially honored the Kolyada holiday on the day of the winter solstice, when the newborn sun blessed the altar No. 1. The altars No. 2 and No. 5 are oriented exactly along the north-south line. In general, the arrangement scheme of the sighting pieces of the temple-observatory Nebelivka is almost identical with the system of near sighting pieces of the Bezvodivka solar observatory. The only difference is that in Bezvodivka the astronomers used the method of direct sighting of the heavenly bodies, that is, they observed the movement of the sun itself along the horizon throughout the year, and the priests of Nebelivka used the method of backward sighting of the sun. They watched the movement of a beam of rays which passed through a hole in the wall between the altars in the dark room of the temple-observatory.

The temple in Nebelivka is the evidence that the Trypillian civilization was one of the first to establish the astronomical tradition more than 6 thousand years ago as well as to create the canons in architecture which we see in thousands of years in the later civilizations of the Near East, Egypt and Western Europe. Most temples and religious buildings of different religions are oriented along the east-west line. Trypillians, the ancestors of Ukrainians, established the astronomical science and for thousands of years the following generations developed and perfected it, creating the astronomical device Chalice of the Sun for more complicated investigations of the laws of celestial mechanics. The wealth of knowledge accumulated over the long period of observation allowed the ancient astronomers to create the mega observatory Bezvodivka.

As the Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus writes in his chronicle, the Baltic Slavs (Bodrichi, Liutichi) in the domes of their temples had openings for observing the Sun. Since the beginning of a military campaign and other important actions depended on the position of the Sun, the priests read fortune according to its changes. This occurred in the temple of the Yugrobori city, which stood until the XVI century.

The story of the “sacred building” of the Baltic Slavs, which the Arab writer Masudi (end of the Х century) wrote according to his fellow merchants, tells about astronomy which the Slavs had. “This building,” Masudi reports, “is well-known for its architecture, for composition of stones of various kinds and of different colors, for openings in the roof and for the upper structures made to observe the sunrise ...”

An interesting feature of the Trypillian temple is arched decorations above the entrance and on the opposite side. The decorations looking like the calf horns top the roof of the building. The same horns had the temple in Nebelivka according to the reconstruction. If you stand at the western side at some distance along the axis of its symmetry on the day of the vernal equinox, you can see how the sun rises from the crescent moon protrusion. On the same day, in the evening, the sun sets behind the crescent moon on the western wall. It had a special symbolism for the people of that culture. The fact is that 6000 years ago, the zodiac “era of Taurus”  began. On the day of equinox, the sun began to rise in the constellation of the Taurus. And the Taurus on his horns brought the sun a new year to people. This crescent moon on a stick was later used by the astronomers of Babylon and Egypt as a portable sighting device. And the Egyptian goddess Hathor was depicted as a woman with horns or a cow with a disk of the sun in her horns. Hathor in Egyptian mythology was the goddess of the sky, which gave birth to the sun. The goddess of joy and love, dances and songs protected mothers and their children. Maybe the goddess Hathor came from the banks of the Dnipro river to the banks of the Nile and brought the knowledge about the sun and the construction of temples-observatories for knowing the sun God?