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The Karnak temple is aligned to sunrise on the December solstice

Kateryna Kolesnyk / Alamy

Ancient Egyptian temples and tombs were oriented towards certain regions of the sky, for religious and cultural reasons.

Many ancient structures are claimed to be aligned to celestial objects; Stonehenge is one example. However, most studies of this phenomenon are unreliable, says Fabio Silva at Bournemouth University in the UK, because they do not use statistical tests to reveal how likely it is that the supposed patterns are coincidences.

Now Silva has developed a statistical method that should help identify genuine patterns.

Most studies rely …

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