Kokino (Кокино) is the fourth oldest and most important 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.
Archaeological excavations, started in 2001, found numerous archaeological artifacts that belong to the so-called Bronze Age. The findings 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.
Some topographic characteristics of the site, such 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.
Another ritual behaved toward sacred merging of the object deity Sun with Great Goddess-Mother, personified as a the rocky mountain peak and was performed in the middle of summer (July 30 or 31). On that day, the rays of the morning sun, which emerged behind the ritual marker on the highest part of the site going down trough artificially cut rock, twenty feet below the marker and enlighten only one of the participants in the ceremony, which sat on one of several stone seats on lower western platform location. Both rituals were designed to ensure greater fertility and cyclical renewal of nature.
Megalithic Observatory is one of the most interesting content on this complex site.
Situated below the top of the hill, with dimensions of 100 m in 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. On 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 in exactly certain days of the year.
Thus, with long-term and dedicated gathering of information, the periodical movement of the Sun and Moon were 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 a great importance in building the image of the world and the organization of religious life of the former community.
Precisely determined 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).
On the west side of the site was discovered Central or astronomical position from which can be seen all 9 markers for marking positions of the sun rising and the moon on the eastern horizon. Three of the markers are designed to mark the places of the sun rising in the day of the summer “long-day”, the day of winter “short-day” and the day of the vernal and autumnal equinox.
By measuring the position of the marker for the sun rising in the day “long-day” was determined the age of the observatory.
Other 6 markers marked places of Full Moon Rising, of which two markers in summer time marked the days when it had a maximum and minimum value of the declination, and the other two in winter marked the days when she had a minimum and maximum value of the declination. The other two markers were used to determine the length of the lunar month of 30 days in summer and 29 days during the winter.
Through observations of the central position a lunar calendar was made with a period of 19 lunar years. The whole cycle contained 12 common lunar year of 12 lunar months (6 winter of 29 days and 6 summer 30 days), and 7 years were leap and contained 13 lunar months, and the added lunar month had 30 days. In science this cycle is known as Meton cycle, which according to the theoretical path was set by the Athenian philosopher Meton (423 BC) and in ancient times was very popular.
Studies have shown that at least 1500 years before Meton, this cycle was known to the ancient observers from Kokino, which on easy way have measured and have marked it permanently on the rocks on the eastern horizon.
Second in importance is the position of the observation of the solar eclipse and lunar cycles. In the astronomy is a known fact that, from the same geographic location, solar eclipse and lunar cycles are repeated every 54 years and 34 days. On the eastern horizon were revealed 4 markers, which are seen only from specially processed place on the west side, next to the thrones. With observation from this place sky watchers have marked places on the eastern horizon, showing the place of the rising of the full moon exactly on the day when playing the new Eclipse cycle of 54 years and 34 days. Measurements and mathematical analysis have shown that oldest marker originated since 1917 BC which means that the construction and operation of the observatory began at least in the twentieth century BC.
In 2008 the site was placed under temporary protection as a "Cultural landscape Kokino".