The Secret Behind Tulsa's Own 'Stonehenge'

Tuesday, October 26th 2010, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

Rick Wells, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- We recognize Stonehenge as a prehistoric monument in England.  It's a circular arrangement of large stones, which might have been used as a way of telling time or the seasons.

But News On 6 reporter Rick Wells found out Tulsa has its own henge, at Tulsa Community College's West campus.

The West Campus Henge is kind of a half sundial created by the architects who designed the plaza on the west side of TCC's west campus.

"They wouldn't or couldn't tell us how it was to be used as a sundial," said Earl Goodman Jr.

Curious, because he thought it looked a bit like Stonehenge in England, Goodman and some of his staff and students from his computer lab began charting the shadows created by a pole.

"We measured every 21st of the month for a year," he said.

They charted the shadows every ten minutes at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00. What they came up with is four elongated figure eight shapes, called analemmas.  They color coded them to mark the seasons, from the summer solstice to the winter solstice

"This is the autumnal and that is the vernal or spring equinox," Goodman said.

So it not only tells time it's also a calendar. Now that they know that, Anne Phillips who teaches history, says it's a teaching tool.

"We can come out here look at the solstices realizing that these ancient civilizations used them," she said.

She can use them to show her students how civilizations used the sun and shadows to plan their lives.

The West Campus Henge, as they have begun to call it, is just outside the Child development center, where three and four year olds are learning about shadows too.

It's a prehistoric tool teaching about time in the 21st century.