Kokino (Кокино) is the fourth oldest astronomical observatory in the world. It is a complex prehistoric archaeological site (2000 BC), on the territory of Municipality Staro Nagorichane near Kumanovo, Macedonia.
It encompasses most of neo-volcanic hill Tatikjev Kamen, at the bottom of which the village is Kokino is located.
The archaeological excavations that started in 2001, resulted in numerous archaeological artifacts that belong to the so-called Bronze Age. The findings from the early (XIX – XVII century BC) and Middle Bronze Age (XVII – XIV century BC) are relatively small in numbers and are dominated by the findings of the Late Bronze Age (XIV – XI century BC).
The latest archaeological excavations revealed traces of settlement of the so-called Iron Age (seventh century BC) on the southern slope of the site, thus confirming its use in a time span of over 1200 years.
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Some topographic characteristics of the site, such as the great visibility from the highest part of the hill, and the wealth of archaeological finds found in structures with ritual nature confirm its use as a “holy mountain.”
One of the rituals, probably tied to fertility and the Great Goddess-Mother, performed in a way that in the natural cracks in the rocks, were deposited vessels, probably filled with fruits, which were then covered with earth and stone.
The Megalithic Observatory is one of the most interesting features on this complex site.
Situated below the top of the hill, with dimensions of 100 m in an east-west direction and 50 m in the direction north-south. Seen in the third dimension, the contents of the observatory are located on two platforms: east and west, east of which is 20 meters higher than the west. In that space, the ancient people observed the heavenly bodies, primarily the sun and moon, and commemorated places rising visible horizon. On the west side were built observation places, and on the upper east side into the rocks were formed markers to mark the places of rising Sun and Moon on exactly certain days of the year.
Thus, with a long-term and dedicated gathering of information, the periodical movement of the Sun and Moon was discovered and the people then were able to develop and use a lunar calendar. They have managed also to recognize the cycles of eclipses of the sun and moon and could also predict them, which probably had great importance in building the image of the world and the organization of the religious life of the former community.
The age of the observatory, the homogeneity of the structure, the building, and proven purpose, contributed Kokino to be ranked fourth in the list of ancient observatories in the world published by the American space agency NASA (2005).
In 2008 the site was placed under temporary protection as a “Cultural landscape Kokino”.