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[ November 1st 2005 ]

Chinese archaeologists have unearthed what they claim to be the world's oldest observatory during an excavation at the Taosi relics site in Shanxi province, Agence France-Presse reports today. The remains, in the shape of a semi-circle 40 meters (132 feet) in diameter in the main observation platform and 60 meters (198 feet) in diameter in the outer circle, were made of rammed earth.

"The observatory was not only used for observing astronomical phenomena but also for sacrificial rites," said He Nu, a research follow with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The ancient people observed the direction of sunrise through the gaps and distinguished the different seasons of the year."

The Taosi relics site, dated back to 4,300 years ago, is located in Xiangfen County, Linfen City of Shanxi Province, and covers an area of 3 million square meters. It is believed to be a settlement of the period of the five legendary rulers(2,600 BC-1,600 BC) in Chinese history, reports AFP.

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