Radiocarbon Dating the Secret Towers of the Himalayas

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

towers in Danba, SichuanThere are hundreds of ancient towers in Southwest China shrouded in mystery, the most notable of which have star-shaped designs. Clusters of towers have been erected on mountain slopes, and lone towers were built in river valleys. The purpose of these structures remains unclear. How they survived in a region prone to strong earthquakes is yet another unanswered question. Their age, however, has already been determined through radiocarbon dating.

French archaeologist Frederique Darragon took fragments of wood beams from 54 towers in Sichuan and 23 others in Tibet and sent them to Beta Analytic Inc. in Miami, Florida, for radiocarbon dating. According to results, these towers are approximately 300 to 1700 years old. Dendrochronologist Achim Bräuning at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany has dated 16 towers, and the results corroborate with Ms. Darragon’s data.

Ms. Darragon introduced these structures to the world in her book and documentary film entitled The Secret Towers of the Himalayas. She is lobbying for the preservation of these towers through the Unicorn Foundation, which she founded, and with the help of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China (SACH). Their main goal is to protect and preserve some of the towers by having them designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Source: “PROFILE: FRÉDÉRIQUE DARRAGON: Unraveling a Riddle in Plain Sight,” Richard Stone, Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 685 – 687


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