Work is under way to rebuild a so-called temple of the sun in Germany that was erected by Europe's first known civilization 6,800 years ago, long before the great cultures of Mesopotamia or the pyramids of Egypt.
Known as the Goseck Circle, it is one of 150 monumental sites arrayed through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia.
Each comprising four concentric rings of earth and wood, their gates are thought to point to sunrise and sunset at the winter solstice.
The realization that a very early European farming people designed and built such vast sites has arrived in little more than a decade. Textbooks that assume late Stone Age Europe was far more primitive than the Middle East must be rewritten.
But despite the growing interest, archaeologists know nothing of the appearance or language of the people and can only surmise about their religious beliefs. The culture is known only as that of stroke- ornamented ceramic ware, from fragments of pottery it left.
The jars and bowls had their decoration jabbed into the soft clay with a kind of fork to form zig-zag lines.
The discovery of the 75m-wide circular enclosure at Goseck, 40km southwest of the German city of Leipzig, was announced in 1993, a couple of years after archaeologists in aircraft first noticed the pattern in wheat growing on the flood-plain site.
After excavations, work began this month to rebuild the site for growing numbers of tourists.
In a make-work project, 10 local unemployed people are cutting 3,000 oak posts in a nearby forest to make new palisades.
"The bark has to be stripped off by hand, the same as 7,000 years ago," said Ruediger Erben, the chief executive of Weissenfels County.
"It mustn't look as if it was done by machine or came from a shop."
The walls and ditches are intended to be completed by Dec. 21 for a winter solstice festival: the sun is to rise that day over the southeast and set over the southwest gate, as seen from the "sacred place" at the center.
In a dry run, hundreds of people showed up last December to eat sausages, drink and cheer the sunset there.
Erben said reconstruction would cost just 100,000 euros (US$120,000), while a parking area, plus an information center set to open next year in a castle a kilometer away, will cost 787,000 euros.
Bus tours of Stone Age and Bronze Age sites are already coming through Goseck, which is only 25km from Nebra, where a bronze-and-gold map of the heavens dating from 3,600 years ago was discovered in 1999.
The Nebra celestial disc was in use for hundreds of years, and its latter-day Bronze Age owners were closer to us in time than they were to the people who built the quadruple enclosures. But both discoveries are leading to a reassessment of Central Europe's past.
Long before the first towns developed in the 4th millenium BC in Mesopotamia or the first pyramid was built after 2700 BC, some kind of political leadership had formed, had a vision of monuments and could count on collective labor to build them.
Scientists remain puzzled at the short life of the enclosures, which only remain as discolored earth from where the postholes and ditches were. Analysis shows they collapsed and were replaced by farmsteads within about 200 years and monuments stopped being built.
The whole period of stroke-ornamented pottery is limited to 4900 BC to 4650 BC.
While Goseck has been dubbed a "temple of the sun" in the media, there is no proof of sun worship. Archaeology professor Francois Bertemes of Halle University who led the excavation of Goseck is convinced, though, that it is the world's oldest solar observatory.
Even that remains controversial.
Christoph Heiermann, spokesman for the Saxony state archaeological service, said the purpose of the quadruple enclosures, which inspired his agency's new four-ring publicity logo, is still unknown.
"We prefer to just speak of central places where people gathered. We don't know what they did there. Maybe they were temples. Or markets," he said. The scientific community had not yet accepted that Goseck was an observatory.
Another such enclosure, 126m across, has been excavated under time pressure in Nickern, a suburb of Dresden. It will be lost when a new autobahn leading to Prague is built.
"It was a civilization, and highly organized," said Heiermann. "They cultivated crops and had village communities. They skilfully used stone tools. You can't assume any more that the further back you go, the more savage the people.
"These people were just like us. Where they came from and where they went is a mystery."
This year’s Kuandu Arts Festival (關渡藝術節), which opened on Sept. 23 and runs through Nov. 29, is focused on music. Under the theme “Joy of Music,” a nod to the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, the program features performances by seven symphony orchestras as well as several Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學) student and faculty shows, in addition to the annual film and animation festivals. However, there is still room for other performing arts, and two productions this weekend and next at the university in the hills of Taipei’s Guandu area (關渡) feature students from the
The prognosis for biodiversity on Earth is grim. According to a sobering report released by the UN last year, 1 million land and marine species across the globe are threatened with extinction — more than at any other period in human history. According to a recent study, about 20 percent of the countries in the world risk ecosystem collapse due to the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, a result of human activity in tandem with a warming climate. The US is the ninth most at risk. Despite this desperate outlook, the Trump administration, as part of its aggressive rollback of regulations designed
A disconsolate mother dressed in white wanders through Mexico City’s floating gardens looking for her children killed by COVID-19, in a pandemic-era adaptation of a legend rooted in Aztec mythology. The traditional play La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) returns to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Xochimilco ahead of the Day of the Dead with a poignant tribute to the victims of COVID-19. The ghost with flowing black hair, who according to legend reappears every year searching for her downed children, has spread throughout Latin America. “It’s dedicated to the memory of all the people who left without saying goodbye to their loved