The 25th Century BC: Stonehenge vs The Great Pyramid of Geeza  

4 04 2020

When people think of the greatest wonders of the ancient world, they will almost certainly consider the pyramids of Geeza and Stonehenge. However, a surprising fact about two of the world’s most heralded monuments is that they were built in the same century- and are perhaps the two most significant features of their century from today’s perspective. These seemingly immortal monuments possess a similarly mesmeric quality – gained through their sheer antiquity and the mystery surrounding their construction. Given their temporal bond I thought I would compare and contrast the two great monuments, Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Geeza: their size, their construction, the civilizations which constructed them and the myths that have followed them to this day.

Stonehenge and the Pyrimids

Is the construction of Stonehenge far more interesting than the Great Pyramid?

Size
If this were a competition, then the great pyramid would win this round- it quite literally would tower over our beloved stone circle. Stonehenge’s largest stones, the Sarsens stones, boast a height up to 9m and an individual weight of up to 35 tonnes. On the other hand, the Great Pyramid of Geeza stands at 146.7m, with a length of 230.34m- the whole mass weighing in at an estimated 6.5 million tonnes. Stonehenge comes in at an estimated 680 tonnes. The sheer scale of the pyramid is truly astonishing.

Construction
But is the construction of Stonehenge far more interesting than the Great Pyramid? Again, if this were a competition this round might end in a draw. Of course, the scale of the pyramid is more impressive, but the two monuments share a similar sense of mystery when it comes to their construction. With both, there are very few facts surrounding construction – we deal mainly in inferences and theories. A key theory about the construction of the pyramid is the theory that great ramps were constructed linking the pyramids to quarries and allowing the workmen to reach such a great height without the advent of the crane.

One of the greatest discoveries surrounding the construction of Stonehenge was the location of a quarry in Preseli hills, Pembrokeshire, south wales where the smaller Blue stones were sourced – 140 miles away from the site of Stonehenge! Theories of how the stones were transported are multifarious (and the myths are even more wide ranging). However, a popular theory chimes with the construction of the pyramids as some have suggested a continuous proto-rail system was constructed between the sites to push the stones along.

Alas, the pyramid might score more points on the transportation of materials – there is a suggestion that some stones from the King’s Chamber in the The Great Pyramid were brought from 500 miles away.

Civilisations
The scale of the Great Pyramid in comparison to Stonehenge is easily explained in reference to the two different civilisations that built them. Whilst most of Europe in this period was literally stuck in the stone age – Britain lagged particularly behind and was mostly inhabited by relatively primitive farming peoples. In comparison, the civilisation of Egypt was the greatest civilisation on Earth at this point and one of the greatest civilisations in the history of our planet. They had far more advanced construction techniques, paper and writing on which to plan, complex irrigation systems, artwork… the list goes on. I would argue that the relative primitiveness of the society which constructed Stonehenge makes It more impressive.

Myths
The mystery which inexorably links these two monuments will always spawn the most fascinating mythology. Out of the possibly thousands of myths about the monuments I will pick my favourite about the construction of each. Egypt had its own mythology, but modern-day thinkers have added to that treasure trove with their own theories about the pyramids. A popular myth is that the pyramids were constructed by either a lost civilisation with advance technology or perhaps even aliens (as reported in the Daily Express). As for Stonehenge, it has long been claimed that it was magically constructed by Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian legend.

Whichever you think is the ‘best’- there can be no doubt that these two great monuments of the 25th Century BC share an extraordinary history of intrigue.

Relevant Links:
From the pyramids to Stonehenge – were prehistoric people astronomers? ZME SCIENCE
To understand the pyramids and Stonehenge, look up – not down – THE GUARDIAN
Egypt SHOCK: Aliens BUILT the pyramids claims INTERGALACTIC medium – THE EXPRESS
The Lore and Lure of Ley Lines –LIVE SCIENCE
The pyramids, the Minoans, Stonehenge: 6 of the greatest unsolved mysteries in history – THE MIRROR

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The government has given the go ahead to the controversial Stonehenge tunnel scheme.

12 03 2020

Plans to dig a two-mile (3.2km) road tunnel near Stonehenge have been given the go ahead by the chancellor

Stonehenge tunnel

The A303, which often suffers from severe congestion, currently passes within a few hundred metres of the ancient monument.

The full Budget documents posted on the government website state: “The government is boosting regional connectivity and transforming connections through the largest ever investment in England’s strategic roads.

The announcement made yesterday, (Weds 11th March), quashes rumours that the multi-million pound project was about to be scrapped.

Earlier this week Wiltshire Council came out IN FAVOUR of A303 Stonehenge scheme.

Chancellor pledges A303 tunnel ‘will get done’

“Through RIS2 the government will spend over £27 billion between 2020 and 2025.

“It will take forward schemes such as building a new, high-quality dual carriageway and a two-mile tunnel in the South West to speed up journeys on the A303, and to remove traffic from the iconic setting of Stonehenge.”

In February, campaign group the Stonehenge Alliance amassed more than 50,000 objections to the plans and delivered the petition to Downing Street.

RELEVANT LINKS:

Chancellor pledges A303 tunnel ‘will get done’ SPIRE FM

Government gives go ahead to Stonehenge A303 scheme in Budget – SALISBURY JOURNAL

A-OK Chancellor gives green light to landmark A303 Stonehenge tunnel scheme to end traffic nightmare  THE SUN

Stonehenge A303 tunnel given go ahead by chancellor – BBC

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Stonehenge monoliths may have been dragged there using greasy sledges lubricated with pig fat

21 07 2019

This new theory is based on pig fat residue on ancient pottery found near the famous monument and fits in with the generally accepted concept that the monoliths were dragged by people all the way from quarries in west Wales.

Stonehenge

Archaeologist Lisa-Marie Shillito say residues of fat on pottery discovered near the monument suggest Neolithic people greased the sleds used to move the huge stones with lard.

  • Scientists claim the enormous stones were dragged using ‘greased sledges’
    Newcastle University archaeologists found fat residues on shards of pottery
    They suggest the same lard could have been used to lubricate the sledges

The pig fat concept was proposed by researchers from Newcastle University after they studied pottery found at Durrington Walls, a Neolithic settlement that is just a couple of miles away from Stonehenge.

According to Science magazine’s Eva Frederick, archaeologists previously posited that the high concentrations of lard left in bucket-sized ceramic containers at the prehistoric village resulted from elaborate feasts hosted by Stonehenge’s builders. Shillito believes otherwise, arguing that the size and shape of the pottery make it better suited for storing animal fat than cooking and serving meals. Additionally, the archaeologist notes in a statement from Newcastle, “The animal bones that have been excavated at the site show that many of the pigs were ‘spit roasted’ rather than chopped up as you would expect if they were being cooked in the pots.”

Analysis of residues of absorbed fat is a widely-used technique which can reveal what foods different type of pottery was used for. There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the construction of Stonehenge’, she says.

‘Until now, there has been a general assumption that the traces of animal fat absorbed by these pieces of pottery were related to the cooking and consumption of food, and this steered initial interpretations in that direction.

‘But there may have been other things going on as well, and these residues could be tantalising evidence of the greased sled theory.

‘Archaeological interpretations of pottery residues can sometimes only give us part of the picture.

‘We need to think about the wider context of what else we know and take a ‘multi-proxy’ approach to identify other possibilities if we hope to get a better understanding.’

RELEVANT LINKS TO THIS STORY:

ROCK SLIDE Stonehenge builders may have ‘dragged rocks into place on sledges greased up with PIG FAT –  THE SUN

Did Stonehenge’s Builders Use Lard to Move Its Boulders Into Place? SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE

STONEHENGE: NEOLITHIC PEOPLE MOVED ENORMOUS ROCKS USING PIG FAT FOR LUBRICATION, ARCHAEOLOGIST SAYS – THE NEWS WEEK

Stonehenge was ‘dragged into position using LARD’: Massive stones of the 5,000-year-old Wiltshire monument may have been slipped into place using ‘greased sledges’ lubricated with pig fat – THE DAILY MAIL

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The first-ever scale model of Stonehenge that lets researchers explore how the monument would have sounded in its heyday has been created by UK researchers.

12 07 2019

Scientists turn to ‘laser accurate’ model to test Stonehenge acoustics

A diminutive model of Stonehenge could help crack the acoustic secrets of the ancient site, according to scientists who have built a version of the megaliths at a 12th of their size.

sonic

The team say the 1:12 model, with a stone circle spanning 2.6 metres, has an edge over other replicas of Stonhenge, such as the full-scale one near Maryhill,Washington, for being based on laser scan data. The data collected by Historic England allowed the team to produce a highly accurate representation.

Academics worked with English Heritage using laser scans of the stones and architectural research to create the shape and position of the stones in an acoustic chamber.

In 2012, a team of academics carried out acoustic experiments using a full-sized concrete reconstruction of the monument in Maryhill in the United States.

RELATIVE LINKS: 
Scientists turn to ‘laser accurate’ model to test Stonehenge acoustics.  THE GUARDIAN
Stonehenge mini model reveals sound of monument.  BBC NEWS

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The ancestors of the people who built Stonehenge travelled west across the Mediterranean before reaching Britain.

17 04 2019

DNA reveals origin of builders: DNA shows migrants who arrived in Britain around 6,000 years ago constructed the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

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Britons who built Stonehenge were product of ancient wave of migrant farmers, DNA reveals

Researchers compared DNA extracted from Neolithic human remains found across Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe.

The Neolithic inhabitants appear to have travelled from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to Iberia before winding their way north.  They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Ancient skeletons reveal arrival of eastern Mediterranean population replaced hunter-gatherer population of British Isles

Paleogenomicist Federico Sánchez-Quinto from Uppsala University in Sweden used these techniques on dozens of remains from four megalithic tombs in Ireland, Scotland, and Sweden that were first uncovered years ago. He and his team sequenced the nuclear genomes of those remains—most of which have been dated to between 4500 B.C.E. and 3000 B.C.E.

Whereas Britain’s outgoing hunter-gatherers—including the oldest known Briton, “Cheddar Man”—likely had blue or green eyes and dark or even black skin, the farming populations migrating across Europe are believed to have had brown eyes and dark to intermediate skin.

Details have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

RELEVENT STONEHENGE STORIES:
DNA reveals origin of builders – BBC WEBSITE
Were Europe’s megalithic societies patrilineal? – SCIENCE MAG
Study: Aegean farmers replaced hunters of ancient Britain – PHYS.ORG WEBSIITE
Stonehenge builders came from as far as modern-day Turkey, DNA suggests – ITV NEWS
Stonehenge built by descendants of early immigrants, study finds – SKY NEWS
Britons who built Stonehenge were product of ancient wave of migrant farmers, DNA reveals – THE INDEPENDENT

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Was Stonehenge built by seafarers? Prehistoric sailors may have been responsible for many of the megalithic monuments.

16 02 2019

Stonehenge is one of many megalithic monuments from prehistory dotted around Europe and scientists have now discovered the art form of giant rocks was a popular trend that started 6,500 years ago in France.

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  • The first monument was erected in northwest France in 4,500 BC, study finds 
  • Then the tradition, practice and popularity for similar monuments spread 
  • Monuments appeared at coastal regions on Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts
  • Sailors are thought to have taken the trend around Europe over 2,000 years as they used their budding sea routes  

The knowledge and expertise to create these monuments was then spread around Europe by sailors over the following millennia.

Similar monuments to the original appeared in coastal regions around the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts via sailors on large ships using emerging sea routes.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, theorizes that these megalith structures have been around for nearly 7,000 years and may have originated in northwestern France.

Relevant Stonehenge News links:
Was Stonehenge built by seafarers? Daily Mail
Stonehenge, other ancient rock structures may trace their origins to monuments like this.  Science Mag
Prehistoric sailors may be responsible for Stonehenge.  New York Post 
Stonehenge mystery solved? Fox News

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Did Neolithic cows moooove Stonehenge’s bluestones?

14 12 2018

A new study suggests Neolithic farmers had mastered animal traction

The mystery of how Stonehenge’s bluestones were transported 160 miles from Wales to Wiltshire has puzzled archaeologists for generations.  Some experts say glaciers picked up and deposited the huge rocks in the last ice age, while others have suggested the stones were dragged on rollers or sleds by manpower.

Stonehenge

The bluestones of Stonehenge may have been dragged by animals

Stonehenge may have been built with the assistance of cows who helped carry the enormous rocks across the British Isles.

It could help explain how the fabled bluestones managed to complete the journey from Wales to Wiltshire, where Stonehenge still sits today.

Previous research has claimed the movement of glaciers deposited the huge slabs of rock 160 miles away from their original location.

New research has found evidence of cattle being used by humans to pull and carry heavy loads for 8,000 years.

Archaeologists at University College London discovered that the bones in the feet of Neolithic cattle demonstrated distinctive wear patterns, indicative of exploitation as ‘animal engines’.

Neolithic cattle in the Balkans were therefore being used for our purposes two millennia earlier than previously thought

Watch the video and read the full story on the Daily Mail website and the Daily Telegraph website 

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