21 September 2007

A World of Stonehenges

I thought I'd share this interesting Craig Childs opinion piece regarding new finds at Stonehenge and seeming different versions of the ancient site all over the world, old and modern.

The new discovery, two miles from Stonehenge itself, is an elaborate residential compound now being excavated. It is a site where the builders of Stonehenge may have lived and where pilgrims may have stayed while attending feasts and ceremonies. Fascinating tidbits have been unearthed: a timber version of Stonehenge, evidence of different kinds of occupations in the 4,600-year-old village and a processional "road" leading to the nearby Avon River. These finds add to the picture of an enigmatic Neolithic religion, in which stone-paved roads are aligned with celestial features and great circles frame the rising and setting sun at key times of the year.

These recent discoveries fill out the picture of Stonehenge. I always assumed, as did everyone I guess, that there must be remains of settlements somewhere close by Stonehenge. For all that building to go on there would have to have been people living in permanent homes, similar to the worker settlement near the Giza pyramids in Egypt. That said, the bigger story is the Stonehenge-like structures the world over. There is a Stonehenge-like structure even here in the states.

The Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, dating back several hundred years, is a complex celestial calendar, its 28 spokes of aligned stones pointing to risings and settings of the sun and various stars. This medicine wheel, in turn, is similar to the Nonakado Stone Circle of Japan, from the 1st millennium BC, where standing stones mark important, calendrical events on the horizon.

Other Neolithic Stonehenge-like structures can be found in Turkey, the Sahara desert in Egypt and New Mexico from the Chaco culture. All these structures, as well as many modern buildings such as governmental buildings in D.C., were built according to the stars or otherwise incorporated sacred geometry. I find this fascinating to say the least. I don't know a thing about architecture in the practical sense. I just find it amazing that ancient, and many modern, buildings were built to align with the cardinal directions or showcase celestial events like solstices, equinoxes or the rising of certain important stars. And while I don't really care about modern government buildings I would definitely want my fantasy Roman home and temples built according to these sacred alignments.

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