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Article on Taino Solstice Traditions in Boriken (Puerto Rico) by Angel Rodriguez

Article published as part of a series in the

Archaeoastronomy & Ethnoastronomy News


Number 32 June Solstice 1999

Caguana: A Potential Solar Observatory? Angel Rodriguez Alvarez sends a report of his ongoing research on the Caguana Ceremonial Center, an ancient ball court in Puerto Rico. The archaeological remains of ball courts are found throughout the American Southwest, Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Area. Of all the Antilles, the greatest number of ball courts are found in Puerto Rico. These plazas are characterized by rows of upright stones embedded in the ground to delimit the area. In Puerto Rico, the most important of these sites is the Caguana Ceremonial Center. The Caguana Site is a large ceremonial center constructed during the late prehistoric and early protohistoric Capa Phase (A.D.1200-1500), and occupied by the Tahino indians up through contact with the Spaniards. The site consist of 10 earth and stone line ball courts, making this the largest of its kind in the entire West Indies.

In essence, The Caguana Site, as a ball court and ceremonial center had different functions: First, it was used for ceremonial dances, religious rituals and other rites; second, it was used for playing ball games in which two teams of equal in numbers tossed a ball to each other; and third, we believe it was used to make astronomical observations . The aim of the present study is to determine if there is any relationship between the aligment of the ball courts in Caguana with the sunrise during the solstices and equinoxes. Results indicate that two row of slabs on Plaza A are aligned toward the Autumn and Spring Sunrise. Also, the two shorter sides of Plaza B are aligned toward the Summer Solstice Sunrise. In addition to the Summer Solstice and Equinox Sunrise, the Tahino Indians could also observed the Full Moonrise along Plaza A.

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