BY Nduta Waweru, 4:03am May 18, 2018,

Namoratunga II, where ancient Kenyans studied the stars in 300BC

Namoratunga in Kenya

One would think the 19 basalt pillars at Namoratunga II in Turkana, Kenya are just randomly placed.

However, archaeologists state that the stones are not random at all and that they could be the evidence that ancient Kenyans studied the stars.

These pillars have four facets and an inclined top and at the base are more than 20,000 stones.

These stones in the area also known as Kalokol Pillar Site are organised to align with 7 star systems: Triangulum, Pleiades, Bellatrix, Aldebaran, Central Orion, Saiph, and Sirius. It is believed they were used for the Cushitic lunar calendar, which the Turkana observed to plan their rituals.

Local Legend

According to local legend, these pillars, discovered by archaeologists in 1978, were not just stones, but rather human beings petrified by the devil.

Namoratunga means dancing stones in Turkana language.  The name came from the legend that sheepherders living in the area used to go to the site to dance and sing lullabies.

Namoratunga II, where ancient Kenyans studied the stars in 300BC

Namoratunga I stones, where ancient inhabitants of the area buried their dead. Photo: British Museum

One day a woman, dressed in a way that did not please the locals, went to the site to dance and told the others not to laugh at her as she dances.  But they did and she turned them into stones.

Another version of the legend claims that the devil would play a song and anyone who showed any emotions would be turned into stone.  They believed the biggest pillar is a chief, who had tried to outwit the devil and in his victory forgot about the ‘no emotion’ rule and smile only for the devil to turn him into stone.

Over the years, children were warned against going to the site because it was filled with evil spirits.

Still Accurate

Currently, the stones, are still accurate except three stones, which are off by 1 degree each ‘due to gradual changes in the Earth’s axis of rotation’.

In December every year, the clans of Turkana meet at the site to seek divine intervention for issues affecting their lives.


Last Edited by:Nduta Waweru Updated: May 18, 2018


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