What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

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What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby jbor on July 3rd, 2011, 8:14 am 

Is it possible that Stonehenge is not religious and was about the physics of the heavens?

Playlist:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?p=PL5C6D8494EA2D8249
(all of the playlist, 5 videos, takes about 10 minutes but skim through the recaps at the start.)

or this you tube below to skim the science intro:



What do you make of this new theory? (published a few days ago as a non-fiction appendix to a novel)

From elsewhere:
'Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others.’
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby Forest_Dump on July 3rd, 2011, 11:11 am 

I am not going to watch all the videos on this but perhaps I can make a few points. A lot of the scholarly research on Stonehenge has shifted to exploring the site in terms of the social and political organisation of the time. It has long been accepted that some astronomical function evolved at Stonehenge which makes sense in terms of many peoples of the times who were heavily invested in horticulture and needed to be able to predict weather (i.e., seasons) so as not to loose crops due to early or late frosts. However, these functions evolved over time and Stonehenge certainly served other functions first that would have been more religious and political, etc.

The earliest phase of Stonehenge was as a fairly simple enclosed circle. This was constructed around 3000 bc. Included were the "Aubrey holes" around the periphery, many of which held cremation burials, possibly some ritual sacrifice but just as likely more simply a burial area (i.e., the cremations could as easily have been high status individuals - perhaps priests where chiefs were buried in nearby megalithic tombs). It has been speculated that the Aubrey holes might have been posts for a massive wooden structure over the site but I don't think anyone would say that is for certain.

The central structures were built up over the following 1400 years (or 1700 years - see below) and appear to have been completed by around 1600 bc. Stonehenge was not the first of its kind as a "mini Stonehenge" was located about 3 km away that appears to have been a crematorium around 5000 years ago (i.e. when Stonehenge was just an enclosed, ditch and bank circle). (Note, the more detailed sources I used are older and a recent general text puts the dates between 2700 bc and 1000 bc which may be calibrated dates and therefore more accurate).

What is clear is that Stonehenge is more of the more complex megalithic structures know for the region but is part of a very complex system of causeways and megalithic tombs similar to what is seen over a lot of Europe. It was definitely linked to the growth of a more complex, non-egalitarian social and political structure and correlated with both economic change (increased farming) and environmental change. While astronomical functions probably were added to the structure over time, it is debatable whether this was due to the physical/geographic or the social/political placement of Stonehenge.

I know some modern religious groups put a lot of significance on Stonehenge but I would hope it is obvious that these modern religions have, at best, a very tenuous link to what the original society was like. Nonetheless, I can't see how it would be possible to completely divest Stonehenge of a religious significance for the people back then. Predicting weather, the growth in power of chiefs and the manpower needed to construct things like Stonehenge, the causeways, the megalithic tombs, etc., were all closely linked to religious authority. A key point here is that most of the attention given to Stonehenge by the public has been focused on the last stages of construction. Stonehenge evolved over a millennia and a half with, it seems, long pauses (several centuries in length) between major construction events. The society changed over this time and so did the function of the site.
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby Whut on July 3rd, 2011, 12:01 pm 

I would like to point out that much of, if not all, early religious beliefs and mysticism evolved from the personifications of the Sun, Moon and stars etc. Or "The physics of the heavens" as it was understood at the time.
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby Forest_Dump on July 3rd, 2011, 12:15 pm 

Whut wrote:I would like to point out that much of, if not all, early religious beliefs and mysticism evolved from the personifications of the Sun, Moon and stars etc. Or "The physics of the heavens" as it was understood at the time.


I think that might be over simplified. I would say that, as a rule, concerns over the sun, moon, stars, etc., are linked to the economic system when and where changes in seasonal availability of resources became important. Obviously we see the evolution of that kind of thing linked to the rise in importance of horticulture but it can also appear, perhaps more informally, when there was seasonal variability in other resources such as knowing or predicting when to start fishing where the spawning runs will be or go to intercept migratory caribou or bison, etc. People don't seem to care much about sun gods, etc., when the sun is very predictable but doesn't do much for you. If, on the other hand, you live or die based on late or early frosts, flooding, etc., they you care and seem to "develop" religions where controlling the elements (appeasing the sun gods, etc.) increases in importance.
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby Whut on July 3rd, 2011, 12:20 pm 

Forest_Dump wrote:
Whut wrote:I would like to point out that much of, if not all, early religious beliefs and mysticism evolved from the personifications of the Sun, Moon and stars etc. Or "The physics of the heavens" as it was understood at the time.


I think that might be over simplified. I would say that, as a rule, concerns over the sun, moon, stars, etc., are linked to the economic system when and where changes in seasonal availability of resources became important. Obviously we see the evolution of that kind of thing linked to the rise in importance of horticulture but it can also appear, perhaps more informally, when there was seasonal variability in other resources such as knowing or predicting when to start fishing where the spawning runs will be or go to intercept migratory caribou or bison, etc. People don't seem to care much about sun gods, etc., when the sun is very predictable but doesn't do much for you. If, on the other hand, you live or die based on late or early frosts, flooding, etc., they you care and seem to "develop" religions where controlling the elements (appeasing the sun gods, etc.) increases in importance.


I will agree, it is over simplified. Many factors play a part. But the point I was getting at is the answer to OPs question "Is it possible that Stonehenge is not religious and was about the physics of the heavens?" could be, and imo is, both. As in, it doesn't necessarily have to be just one or the other.
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby Forest_Dump on July 3rd, 2011, 12:33 pm 

Whut wrote:"Is it possible that Stonehenge is not religious and was about the physics of the heavens?" could be, and imo is, both. As in, it doesn't necessarily have to be just one or the other.


Then we agree because I do not believe we can have just one without the other (to be honest, even now).
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby jbor on July 3rd, 2011, 5:56 pm 

Thanks, some great comments

If the archaeology of the theory seems, at first sight, well researched, what scientific reasons can you see to dismiss the ideas?

Current ideas are that it's not aligned to the South (and should be, not the North East). Also that it would be too difficult and too much work for the Neolithic people to have done this.

Any other reasons come to mind?
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby jbor on July 9th, 2011, 4:10 am 

There's more up:



This video seems to make the additional claim that the Neolithic peoples knew that the Earth was also spherical and at the centre of a spherical Universe (and that it's all drawn out at Stonehenge)

Where's the flaw? Something really obvious?
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby linford86 on August 15th, 2011, 11:32 am 

jbor: while I doubt that Neolithic peoples "knew" anything about the Earth being spherical, one might ask why we should absolutely rule this possibility out (I should note that I have yet to watch your video). Ancient mythological systems were capable of generating all manner of nonsense, and, if by coincidence, they made up a spherical Earth with some other rubbish about the Universe being spherical, then why not?

I should say that modern cosmology definitely does not put the Earth at the center. In fact, in modern cosmology, the Universe does not have a center and is definitely not a giant 3-dimensional sphere.
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby jbor on September 2nd, 2011, 6:57 am 

I think neolithic peoples may have 'known' this because the legend of Hyperion and then Atlas says that they did and describes what they believed.. but I completely agree that they would have been wrong.

The flaws I'm searching for is in the science
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Re: What do you make of this new Stonehenge theory?

Postby gerhard on June 10th, 2012, 8:21 pm 

If you put a stick into the ground and stand next to it, at some point the moon and sun will align a shadow or position that is significant. The position of the stones in general is less significant than the goal posts in a football field, except those that align with the summer and winter soltices.
The religious connotations and superstitions following their erection and abandonment, have nothing to do with their original intent, even though in some rituals there are clues that remain of their builders and use. The henge was not originally part of a wooden structure etc, The whole building of the henge was interrupted during building, and was meant to be a completed mound, the stones would all be under earth and filled around with earth, except for a few narrow passages and rooms inside. Similar mounds have been used as tombs, but this hides their original purpose. If you study the unearthing of mounds you will discover that there were far more complex and larger ones globally and not all had the chance to be used as burial sites. Some of these burial sites have been robbed, and items stolen, but not the gold or precious stones that were in there - discovered much later. Wonder why? Back to observations of similar henges, a completed henge was inside an earthen mound, but through erosion the stones become exposed, and you will notice different levels of exposure in different ruins. At this point some minds are already speculating aliens and a whole lot of other ideas, but the henges were built by ordinary men and women, and in no wise stupid or primitive. What were they built for? Animal traps, shelters, storage, weapons, no none of these or anything like these. Did these types of structures exist in other forms other than mounds? Yes, many were cut out of the rock in underground structures, such as the tombs in Egypt (and all over the world) which were later used as tombs, but not originally. What they practiced often killed many of them, so there they remained. Others sought another chance of life by requesting burial there. Can you see why the religious aspects crept in? Concerns for the afterlife and so on. This post is long enough.
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