Thursday, April 03, 2008

Digging To Unearth The Past

Megalithia image


Expect New Discoveries From Stonehenge Excavations


Visualize a structure made of stone in the middle of nowhere. Two large vertical stones, each weighing a few tons, and supporting another, third stone that sits like a lintel on the other two. (Technically known as a trilithon.) The stones being very hard rock, created from sand and glued naturally by silica, and go by the name of "Sarsen" stones.

English Heritage site image


And now visualize not one, but several such trilithons, all arranged in a circle. And then a similar set of trilithons inside this circle, arranged circularly, but not fully closed. Plus, now visualize another set of blue-colored rock, as nicely hewn as can be using crude tools, again concentric around these two trilithon circles. Yes, you get the picture. Circles within circles. One is talking about the Stonehenge of Great Britain.

BBC Image


Now what exactly was the purpose of such a structure? This week, archaeologists from the Bournemouth University and the Society of Antiquaries have begun yet another attempt to find clues to precisely this question.

BBC image


Why this fascination with circles? Rationalists speculate that the construction was used to conduct astronomy studies. You see, the study involving accurately measuring the progress of constellations. Now, just consider this. In an age when farming had just begun, benefits of animal husbandry had just about been discovered, clothing came from peeling hides off animal carcasses, writing was unknown and vocabulary was limited, people had moved out of caves and moved into own-constructed houses ... do you think that the one technology and science that would reach such an exalted level would be Astronomy? So much, as to motivate people to make strenuous efforts across quite possibly many years to mount a project of this size? So much for rationalism.

BBC Image


At the same time, it is a wonder how the heavy lintel stones could be lifted to such heights and placed very gingerly over their two supports. The mind also baulks at the gigantic efforts expended in hauling the stones from miles away. And these are the imponderables that lend that extra dimension to the mystique.

Turner Toys image


As a New Ager, what fascinates me are the engrossing stories about ritualism and spirituality and paganism that have over the centuries grown around the Stonehenge. While one school of thought attributes the structure as the final, resting place of the dead (which the availability of abundant skeletons in the now ongoing excavation will no doubt corroborate), another school of thought attributes to it the center of life and birth, with the centre resembling the human vulva and the birth canal.

Stonehenge.co.uk image

The excavations that the good scientists are carrying out will continue till April 11th, and are being faithfully recorded by the BBC here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/stonehenge/. There is an excellent animation that zips through the history of the construction down the ages, here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7322134.stm.

Sunset at Stonehenge


There is a lot to learn from the ancients. Even if they were wearing clothing that smelt of carcass and used tools for their masonry that were um, less than sophisticated.

Greece Athens image – neolithic figurine of an ithyphallic seated man

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