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China's Oldest Star Observatory Applies for World Cultural Heritage Listing

Dengfeng Star Observatory Platform in central China's Henan Province, the oldest of its kind in the country, is applying to be listed as a World Cultural Heritage, said an official with the Henan provincial cultural relics administration.

The platform, built in 1276 in the early Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), was located in a temple courtyard in Gaocheng 12 kilometers to the southeast of Dengfeng City. Built with bricks and stone, the building has two parts, the platform and the stone Chinese sundial.

On the 9.46-meter-high platform, there are two small cottages on each side. To the north of the platform is an entry and exit which are symmetrically arranged. Linking the entry and exit to the platform are stairs and pathways. Between the two pathways is the 31.19 meter-long stone Chinese sundial, which was paved by 36 slates.

According to historical records, a total of 27 observatories were built in the Yuan Dynasty but only the one in Dengfeng is known to have survived. Using these observatories, former astronomer Guo Shoujing and others had compiled the world's earliest calendar in Yuan Dynasty.

Surrounding the star observatory platform, there are also other cultural relics which are also of great importance to the historical and arts study, said the official.
(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2004)

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