(Image source / Corresponding newsletter)
In a world of ephemeral real-time news feeds and instant search results, I've recently become very interested in stone sculptures and structures - their mystery, physicality, universality (created by ancient civilizations around the world), and ability to endure (I mean, 2100 BCE... that's a looonggg time ago) amidst our increasingly fleeting, digital world. This sparked my interest in learning more about Stonehenge,
1. Who built it? Not the Druids and not Merlin. (By the time the Romans came up with the Druids theory, Stonehenge had been there for already 2,000 years). "The best guess seems to be that the Stonehenge site was begun by the people of the late Neolithic period (around 3000 BC) and carried forward by people from a new economy which was arising at this time." (Brittania)
2. Pass the protein powder: In a world with no cranes or modern construction machinery, how did these people cut and transport these stones, some weighing 50 tons each? (Toyota Camry weighs about 1.5 tons) By muscle of course. Check out this short (1:35) National Geographic video re-enactment. In verbs, they:
- Traveled to mountain ranges 23 miles and 200 miles away
- Quarried the stone
- Transported them by roller and sledge
- Floated them on a boat
- Dragged to the site
- Lifted into place (Brittania)
3. Engineering feat: This may look like a pile of miscellaneous rocks, but each stone was finely carved and notched to fit together (like Jenga pieces) in a post-and-lintel setup.
- There's actually 3 components to Stonehenge made at 3 different points in time: Circular earthworks/ditch, outer ring, inner horseshoe.
- More megaliths? Check out the Carnac stones, this amazing astrological map
- Apparently has all sorts of art + tech intersections, such as excellent acoustics, experience it up close with Street View, using sensors and GPS for virtual excavation to find additional structures.
All images, videos, and articles are linked to their respective sources. Elements of this post were also drawn from the following:
- Book: Janson's History of Art
- Online: Stonehenge - Brittania
- Online: Stonehenge - UNESCO
- Online: BBC News - "Archaeologists virtually excavate Stonehenge" and "Archaeologists unearth Neolithic henge at Stonehenge"