London, November 23 (ANI): A new research has indicated that the ancient Greeks deliberately built their temples to face the rising Sun, which suggests that they were inclined towards the worship of the sun.
According to a report in the Times, an investigation into temples built by Greek colonists in Sicily has found strong evidence that they were aligned to the East.
The findings, by Alun Salt, of the University of Leicester, UK, suggest that Ancient Greek religion may have included ritual elements inspired by astronomy, as well as illuminating the national culture of settlers who founded communities beyond the mainland. he study could settle a long-running dispute among archaeologists and classicists about temple orientation.
Although it has long been known that most of these shrines face east, some academics have questioned whether this alignment reflected a deliberate plan.
Critics of astronomical theories have pointed out that some temples face north, south or west, and argue that their orientation was not important to the Greeks.
Dr Salt's research, however, indicates that the predominant east-west alignment is almost impossible to explain by chance, and probably followed a religious convention founded on astronomy.
Temples laid out in accordance with astronomical phenomena could have highlighted the role of gods and goddesses as arbiters of nature, or helped priests to interpret celestial omens.
They could also have helped in observations needed to calibrate the religious calendar.
In the study, Dr Salt found that 40 of 41 temples that he analysed in Sicily were oriented towards the eastern horizon.
A statistical analysis all but eliminated the possibility that this was due to chance.
Dr Salt also examined data for Greece, collected by Gregory Retallack, of the University of Oregon.
Though there were more exceptions, he again found a highly significant bias towards east-facing layouts.
Dr Salt said that while the reasons for this preferred layout have still to be established, he suspects that astronomical factors played a significant part.
"It may have had something to do with the priest looking into the sky for omens," he said.
"There is also evidence that astronomy was important to the relgious calendar, and there was probably a practical purpose too. A temple that faces the sunrise would be well-lit at dawn, so the priest would not be working in the shadows," he added. (ANI)