For more information, see See J. McKim Malville, Fred Wendorf, Ali A. Mazar and Romauld Schild, “Megaliths and Neolithic Astronomy in Southern Egypt,” Nature 392:6675 (1998), pp. 488–491.


These three sets of stars apparently had special significance for the Nabta Playans. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and the striking belt of Orion has caught the attention of many cultures around the world. By the third millennium B.C., the Egyptians associated Sirius and Orion with Isis and Osiris respectively. Dubhe, a fairly bright star close to the north pole, became associated with funeral rituals in dynastic Egypt.


The first dates (7,000–8,000 years ago) were determined by radiocarbon analysis of organic material in the sediment. The second date (6,000 years ago) was determined by calculating the precession of the equinoxes. That is, over time stars appear to change position in the sky because of a slight wobble in the earth’s axis of rotation. The star (Dubhe) marking north 6,000 years ago has since moved to another position.