The stonehenge of Nabta Playa, located about 800 km south of Cairo in Egypt, is a calender and a stone observatory from where the sky can be mapped. The stones are aligned with the rising and setting sun, the Orion constellation can be easily traced, and, the Summer and Winter solstice can be tracked. Researchers say that the correspondence between the ground and sky is self evident. The site is dated up to about 10,000 years old.

The Megaliths of  Nabta Playa in Egypt

So what about the name ‘Nabta’. As per known history, the site has always been known as ‘Nabta’. Here is a look at the name ‘Nabta’ through the Sanskrit lens.

‘Nabh’ (नभ) means ‘sky’. ‘Nabh Atah’ (नभ अतः) would mean ‘the sky from here’. NabhI (नाभी) means ‘centre point’ or ‘focus’.

The name of the site ‘Nabta’ seems to be definitely related to ‘sky’. The megalithic stones at Nabta track celestial events. The stones are arranged in straight lines radiating from a ‘centre point’. Six of the megalithic stones at Nabta Playa align with six important stars in the Orion constellation. One of the megalithic alignments is aligned to the rising point of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Another is aligned to the fifth brightest star in the sky, Vega. This indicates that Nabta was an observatory.

Another megalithic site, Nevali Cori in Turkey has a similar name. Sanskrit Nibhal (निभाल), ‘perceive’ or see, may be the root word for Nevali, and may be associated with the study of the sky.

What Nabta’s exact ancient name was is difficult to trace. Though ‘Nabta’ means ‘growth’ in Arabic, it is much more likely that given the antiquity of the site and the ‘astronomy related’ nature of the site, the name is likely to be a distortion of a word that is from a language older than Arabic.

Egypt has had ancient Vedic connections. In fact, the name of the Sun Temple of ‘Karnak’ in Egypt too has a connection to Sanskrit. In the Vedic tradition in India, the word ‘Konark’ refers to temples dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. ‘Karnak’ is therefore just a distortion of the word ‘Konark’ . In Sanskrit ‘Kona’ (कोण) means angle, and ‘arka’ (अर्क) means ‘sun’.

Interestingly, the English word ‘arc’ which was initially used only to describe ‘the sun’s apparent motion in the sky’ is also derived from the Sanskrit word for sun, that is ‘arka’ (अर्क).

The famous Megalithic Site in Brittany in France too goes by the name ‘Carnac’, probably a distortion again of ‘Konark’. And, yes, the stones of Carnac are also aligned to the sun and moon in a special way.

For more details of the astronomy related to Nabta Playa, and ancient sites in Egypt refer to the following suggested links:

1. The Astronomers of Nabta Playa
2. Carnac Megalithic Site, Egypt: The Sanskrit Connection
‘Playa’ is an English word which means ‘the sandy, salty, or mud-caked flat floor of a desert basin having interior drainage.’ Reference: www.dictionary.com


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