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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Stonehenge was a huge prehistoric art gallery?



The daggers found on the face of sarsen stone 4

I thought the silly season was over -- but I was wrong. David Keys (in the Independent) has a bit of fun with this one -- but his tone appears deadly serious.  Surely he must be joking?  So the old ruin has been a concert hall, a temple, an observatory, and a lot more besides -- and now an art gallery.  Whatever next?


Revealed: Early Bronze Age carvings suggest Stonehenge was a huge prehistoric art gallery

A detailed laser-scan survey of the entire monument has discovered 72 previously unknown Early Bronze Age carvings chipped into five of the giant stones.

David Keys
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/revealed-early-bronze-age-carvings-suggest-stonehenge-was-a-huge-prehistoric-art-gallery-8202812.html

Tuesday 09 October 2012

64 comments:

chris johnson said...

I think this is a separate puzzle - bronze age graffiti from 1500-2000 BC. As the laser people suggest, the inscriptions were made likely after the original meaning of the monument no longer applied and when the original meaning might even have been forgotten entirely.

The number of axe-heads is a new puzzle because I have no idea what people who made the engravings had in their mind. If it was graffiti, then laser scanning of other locations might take us forward.

We can see many bronze age barrows in the area and so there might be a connection. Still, to my eyes, Stonehenge III was a neolithic construction.

The laser report gives no opinion whether the dressing might have been achieved by stone or metal. I assume stone.

TonyH said...

There are Bronze Age graffiti adornments in some of the Brittany tombs, etc, I believe. Neil Oliver showed us some of these, with interpretations interpretations by French archaeologists, in one of Neil's late-night, blood-curdling, eyebrow-raising-Roger-Moore-style BBC shows. Anyone out there remember or know more than this distant memory?

Anonymous said...

according to ABC news in America last night of the carvings are about 18 inches high and show arrow heads or hatchets!
It's was also a place for "Shadowy rituals"

PeteG

Geocur said...

Rock art is associated with about 25 Neolithic passage graves in Brittany much of it earlier than the monuments and hence re-used .eg Gavrinis , Mane -Lud , Barnenez , Mane - Rutual ,Table des Marchand etc .The axes tend to be hafted .Also plenty of engravings in and around Neolithic passage graves in Ireland particularly Knowth , Newgrange ,Loughcrew etc a smaller percentage here has been re-used and no axes or daggers .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh dear -- shadowy rituals? I feel a new novel coming on.......

Matt said...

If it was a prehistoric art gallery surely there would be a prehistoric cafe and a prehistoric gift shop?

:)

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, there was this hugely popular BBQ place up the road, according to MPP! Does that count?

chris johnson said...

Geo. It seems the cup marks they looked at are natural. Do you happen to know whether they examined the cup marks on the lintels?

The news stories about rock-art seem quite misleading. The only rock-art they found are the axes and the daggers, seemingly from a later date. Had they found some lozenges or spirals it might be more exciting.

Also no anthromorphology such as dogs on the heel stone - although they say their resolution was inappropriate.

As it is I see a distinct break with long barrow culture, and an equally distinct break before axe graffiti. No links with Avebury - the plot thickens.

Geocur said...


Chris , I couldn't see a specific mention of the lintel "cup marks " but there was the general disclaimer that "various posible cup marks were examined and confirmed as natural ." Dunno who decided and what experience they might have (archaeologists tend not be rock art experts ) but the verdict seems perfectly reasonable considering that sarsen does have natural markings that look like cups .However it is worth noting that part of the reason for the verdict was that there was no sign of working within the cup which in itself is not diagnostic as the majority of cup marks do not have pick marks .There was also an interesting comment that “three subtle circular marks ...are visible to the naked eye but these are not clear in the laser scan .” and “some graffiti that is clear to the naked eye is barely visible in the laser scan models “

TonyH said...

George Osborn is a rock art specialist who has connections with both the West of England and also South & West Wales. he has connections with something called the Clifton Antiquarian Club, but is also an academic. Geo may well know of him or be interested in looking out his background. Also, interestingly, he was involved in that excavation fairly near you, Brian, near Newport, where cup marks were found on what is deemed to be a rock that had been part of a Neolithic dolmen. Myris has been involved (or his friend R.I.?). Attempts are being made to date a rarely-found small amount of human bone. No doubt the MPP/ Tim Darvill/ Geoff Wainwright crew are waiting with bated breath....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah yes -- I was reading about the Trefael Stone today. post coming soon.....

Geocur said...

If you want a laugh dig out the comments about the markings from the excavation a couple of years ago .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, et al

What strikes me about this “rock art” are the same repetitive simple markings of a T or a _ . Always oriented the same and etched over other previous such marks. Totally at random and restricted to the lower areas of the large sarsens.

If you were a Neolithic rock artist, would you leave the same mark over existing marks oriented the same way? Wont you be a little inventive and maybe etch an X or a sideways T? And possibly do it on some of the recumbent stones as well?

The markings on the sarsens are not art! But they are man-made. Possibly by Medieval people using Stonehenge for a weapons factory. The sarsens were used as the backstop to hammering metal spikes into wood.

Stonehenge should be mandatory study for all psychologists, sociologists and philosophers.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Here we hear all.
I can but wonder if when Dr Ixer was shown photos of some of the shallow circular impressions in the sarsens he might have ventured the opinion that they were natural rather than anthropogenic in origin.
He does not claim much experience with Prehistorical carvings (he cannot even read hieratic!!) but has seen many solution hollows.
Consulting my ompholotic stones suggests that the Traefel stone will wax great soon.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- did your friend Rob manage to get a chip off it?

Myris of Alexandria said...

I am told that when he visited the stone he used his 20x loupe and left.He has done the petrography of an associated sherd and was very surprised by the clasts.
M

Geocur said...

Kostas , the “rock art” at Stonehenge is Bronze Age. Why would medieval engravers copy BA styles when they were almost certainly unaware of their existence ?, furthermore there are similar engravings found in datable contexts .“Art“ is a relatively modern western concept that certainly post dates these engravings , whilst it may not be an ideal description based on the intentions of the engravers it is certainly applicable as far as many beholders are concerned .

Geocur said...

Man made cup marks in sarsen are very uncommon even the usually accepted as genuine Fyfield down stone has doubters . As well as solution hollows there are also root holes to consider but even in these very unlikley circumstances judging from pics is far from ideal . I get sent lots of pics asking "is this rock art ?" it gets tiresome repeating it but you have to say that ,particularly in the less likely cases and poor lighting ,you shouldn't judge from a pic .I ahve seen too many and I can provide examples , of what looks like unmarked rock in one light producing ornate markings with oblique light , or what looks like possible markings turning out to be perfectly natural .I doubt that there are any cup marks at Stonehenge but it is worth mentioning that natural markings can be enhanced and are sometimes found in association with anthropogenic carvings and may have been the reason for the choosing a particular surface to be engraved in the first place .

TonyH said...

From what Egyptian Myris has just said today, perhaps his friend won't need to chip it, just melt a portion of it. Easy, peasy.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

The reference to medieval was a 'made up example'. Any other period when metal spikes were used on wood or leather would have been just as valid to my argument. I was going to use Roman, instead. But I have no trouble these being Bronze Age! What exactly dates these stone carvings as BA? Besides the very primitive nature of the carvings? Of course, if these were not “art” but “stamps” formed in the making of tools or weapons using the sarsens as backstops, all such dating would have to be reconsidered! As I am doing!!!

The very similar and repetitive feature of these stone stamps and their location (always to the very bottom of the big flat rock surfaces) suggests to me these were not deliberate “art”. But were a result of a manufacturing techniques used.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Mr Geocur

They were not sarsen root marks but all your other comments are, of course, correct, apposite and useful.
Hence the qualification that the opinion was given from a photograph and has that credit alone.
I wonder about the sword sharpening marks at Fyfield? also.
I suspect this is a field where much field experience is needed and a lots of frogs have to be kissed before Damascus is sited (sic).
M

Geocur said...

Mr M , I've never seen what looked like root holes on any SH pics but mentioned them as yet another potential problem with sarsen .

The polisher ? ,what are you a wondering ?
Kissing Damascene ploughshares seems the order of the day .

TonyH said...

We have been assured here in Wiltshire (those of us who have been on guided tours with experienced archaeologists from Natural Trust at Avebury and seen the evidence) that certain of the Avebury sarsen megaliths have also been used for axe-sharpening, like the Polissoir on Fyfield Down.

Geocur said...

Kostas , the engraved axes are distinctively flanged with splayed edges typical of the period 1800-1500 BC so therefore not earlier .
The engravings are far too shallow , wrong size , and vertical and not how axes were produced .see http://www.templeresearch.eclipse.co.uk/bronze/casting.htm

Scroll down to see more sophisticated multiple Neolithic axe heads in relief and therefore not moulds .
http://www.finestoneminiatures.com/catalog/catalog_49.htm

Anonymous said...

The Trefael Stone sounds interesting; wouldn't it be a surprise if it turns out to be a sandstone from far to the east --- A bluff or Hay Bluff perhaps?

But meanwhile:

Now I'll tell you a tale of Old Trefael,
Of a geologist who came to take stock.
He gave a sigh and a terrible cry,
As he fell through the hole in his sock.

Thomas Rhymer --- or maybe an imposter?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Sadly the Traefel stone is not sandstone from Hay or even Blind Man's Bluff.Tis warmer than that.

Like Alice he came through to wonder,
On persons from Salop who ponder,
and challenge the great
who give on a plate,
the answers
and it won't be the Rhondda!

C.P.C it ain't.

M with the muse of Alexandria

Anonymous said...

@Tony,
I have been working with Jim on this project for a number of years and can confirm we have found well over 100 stones in the Avebury area with polishing marks on them.

None around Stonehenge but its probable that the stones used and shaped for the monument were also used to sharpen axes,
PeteG

TonyH said...

Myris/Thomas the Rhymer

PLEASE when you are able to release the truth as to the provenance of the Trefael Stone, and anything more you are able to reveal on the excavations adjacent to it, SHARE them with us - but in PLAINSPEAK, not in riddles! You seem to have your finger on the pulse, or my Aberystwyth landlady's husband's name wasn't Arthur!

Anonymous said...

Geo, the stone carvings at Gavrinis Island have nothing to do with the stone 'stampings' found at Stonehenge. Nothing in this invalidates my argument. Though the dolmen may have been dated to 3500BC, clearly the carvings were done much later and only with very fine sharp metal tools.

Kostas

Geocur said...

Kostas , what is your "argument " about the the axes at Stonehenge . The reason I pointed out the Gavrinis axes was to show the difference in style , and period of the axes and the greater sophistication of engraving . As mentioned earlier the art predates the building of some of the monuments .The markings at Gavrinis were not made by metal tools .Why do you suggest that they were ?

Anonymous said...

Geo,

… having checked your link on BA 'axe molds', I am convinced you do not understand my plausible explanation for the 'markings' found on some of the SH sarsens. Clearly an upright sarsen surface will not make a mold for casting axes! The stone surface, I argue, was used as a backstop in hammering metal objects (spikes, etc.) into wood or leather. Like a spiked leather jacket – to illustrate my thinking!

My point is I don't believe these stone etchings are deliberate art. But rather collateral markings produced by some manufacturing activity involving the sarsen stones as backstop to hammering metal objects into wood, leather, etc.

Certainly the details are not certain. But the idea is very plausible. And it makes sense. What sense do you otherwise ascribe to these “art”? Oh! I forgot. Art does not make sense. And prehistoric art is especially senseless!

Kostas

Geocur said...

Kostas , axe markings are usually found in funereal contexts or at least monuments associated with the deposits of human remains and do not suggest anything utilitarian .The grouping of multiple motifs as found at SH is also typical . Your idea may seem plausible and sensible to you but not I imagine to many more .

Anonymous said...

Geo,

My “argument” is the “axes” at SH are not “art” and they are not “axes”. They are not deliberate but coincidental markings made during a “manufacturing process” using the sarsen stone surface as a backstop to hammering metal objects (spikes, for example) into wood or leather. That explains why the same image is found in the same orientation randomly stamped and always in the lower portion of just four standing sarsens.

In words I can only describe the process. If I was there I could demonstrate the process for you. I leave it up to you to seek to understand or misunderstand.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

If you want PLAINSPEAK read the proper literature. You have been told do make the effort.
Here, I shall remain pythianesque or pythonesque as the whim takes me or as Sublime Apollo directs.
(Being an independently funded(the Constantine XI Palaeologos Research Fund may the Gods bless them)toiler in the fields of truth I have no constituency other than capricious nature. I do not have to tell anyone anything I find in that meadow be it pleasure or prose.
Certainly a blog is the last place that new facts are to be given. Peer reviewed outlets are the only correct place.
You heard it here first. Blogs are for topical titification. I have always wanted to be a Gureilla in the Mist.

Geocur said...

Best avoid a “what is art “ discussion , but the axe markings at Stonehenge are ,as has been mentioned previously , depictions of a flanged axe , the grouping of multiple motifs like axes is common in other , usually funereal , contexts where it is even clearer that they are not utilitarian .

Geocur said...

Kostas “clearly the carvings were done much later and only with very fine sharp metal tools. “ What was “clear “ to you a day ago goes unmentioned now that you realise the mistake , does this not suggest that a bit of study might be in order , prior to constantly suggesting convoluted unlikely scenarios merely to justify your tiresome archaeoanthropogenaphobia .

chris johnson said...

Myris, knowledge develops apace. Opinions are profuse. Discussion is needed.

The peer-review process is slow, narrow, and constrained. I would not want to abolish it, but it does slow things down enormously and given the limited resources available we do need to focus on those things that might take us further within our lifetimes.

Much is being investigated at the moment and new facts kept closely secret. A person like MPP is privileged to know many things we do not know while subject to the tyranny of sponsors and his free expression is restrained.

Personally I think blogging is the way forward. Perhaps some sophistry and drivel can be excluded to encourage the real scientists to participate without getting sucked into meaningless debate like sh being a bronze age clothing factory - Brian can be a strict taskmaster so I personally trust this forum, as do you I think.

Maybe there is a better forum. At the Rhos-y-felin dig I was impressed by several people arriving from Spain and Orkney and the other side of the world with something urgent to tell - mostly whispered to the insiders but my hearing is still sharp.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

What was left “unmentioned” a day ago was not because I “realise the mistake”. But because I did not wish to compound my comment with too many issues. But obviously this issue is important for you. So I will address it now.

Why do I think the stone carvings at Gavrinis Island were made much later using fine sharp metal tools? Because to make such fine controlled curvilinear repeated patterns on stone you need something that is fine, sharp, hard and small in order to control the carving. And at 3500BC such tools could not exist. Such tools must be made of metal. Stone axes are just too crude to make such etchings on stone. Stone axes are too ineffective to even cut down big trees, let alone make fine detailed carvings on stone. But if such tools capable of doing such stone carving were available 3500BC, wont they have been used in many other contexts and places? Technology is not isolated to a cave or an island. It propagates like wild fire! Like the iPhone5!

But here is another reason why these fine stone carvings had to be done much latter, in my view. From 3500BC (when the dolmen is said to date – presumably using some RC dating of charcoal found in it) we have a span of 5500 years! It is inconceivable that for 5500 years this site was left undisturbed and never used by latter people in Brittany! I can imagine a scenario of say medieval knights (or others) using caves and the like for sacred secrete rituals. And carving the existing stones in images appropriate to them. So just because these carved stones are found in a dolmen that dates to 3500BC does not make the carved stones found in it 5500 years old!

As for “what is art”, I was not the one to initiate such discussion. And wont in Brian's blog. I was merely responding to comments you have made on this and on our inability to know or question what is 'meaningful' to prehistoric people.

Your “archaeoanthropogenaphobia” comment is laughable! I love archeology and anthropology. Not fear them. I love people! And all their mystery and intrigue and creations. But above all, I love truth and sensible reason.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Mr Johnson
I think your points are fine. There is a difference between opinion, drivel and sophistry (‘though on this blog they are often so co-mingled (by us all) that Ariadne herself would be threadless were she to try to distinguish them, only a royal Macedonian resolution would, at a stroke, solve that problem.
It is probably true that BJ and RI are alone, in that within the providers of new and raw data on this blog, they have the luxury of untrammelled expression. But peerless opinion is less regarded (correctly) than that that is peer-reviewed.
As for speed remember Achilles and the tortoise.
That Rhosyfelin is rapidly becoming the new Eleusis is grave news what Mysteries lie there?
I do agree if we must have a despot BJ is fine in that role and it is after all HIS blog, we mere(a)musing squatters (I shall not give in to the temptation to go all Bardic).
mmmmm M

Geocur said...

Kostas , The Gavrinis engravings like other passage engravings were produced before the use of metals and more importantly engraved with stone . The entrance of Gavrinis like many other passsage tombs was blocked long before your medieval knights and their rituals could have gained access .maybe you could point us in the direction of these some of these motifs , being from the historic period they will have been recorded or there must be some examples we can compare with the neolithic ones . Some of the engraved stones pre-date the construction of the passage graves , you seem to have failed to notice that too .There are plenty of other examples of engravings achieved with stone not metal tools and from secure contexts before metal production .
The jokey neologism was not in relation to anthropology but anthropogenic hence anthropogena ,the whole suggesting a fear of ancient man made artefacts .
For someone so interested in truth why do you continue to make confident statements that have no basis in fact and on subjects that you know nothing about . e.g. “clearly the carvings were done much later and only with very fine sharp metal tools. “

Anonymous said...

Geo,

If you say these Gavrinis engravings were made with stone tools, I'll accept you are convinced these engravings were made with stone tools. I remain skeptical! Someone has to! Otherwise mankind will sink into a hole of make-belief in this and so many other matters. I have no problem being the 'odd man out'. My allegiance is not to any group. But rest assured I can as easily change my mind if the evidence (as I know and understand it) convinces me. But pointing an atheist to the 'scriptures' as the place for enlightenment will not resolve the issue for me. Only sensible reason can do that. And so far, what I've read I see none. Show me the evidence, as Brian often has advocated.

Are you arguing that for 5500 years this dolmen at Gavrinis was sealed and insulated from history? The reference to medieval knights was only an example to illustrate what I meant. It could have been done by any other such group even before the Roman times.

I have no “fear of ancient man made artefacts”. In fact, some of my most memorable dreams as a boy were finding such artefacts!

But really, what all this has to do with the SH 'stone art'?

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Chris Johnson,

… you write,“meaningless debate like sh being a bronze age clothing factory” referring of course to my recent comments but grossly misrepresenting them. Would a debate on “Stonehenge was a huge prehistoric art gallery” be more meaningful to you? Is anybody keeping you from such discussion? Or forcing you into a plausible alternative view?

You have tried unsuccessfully to shut me out of discussions in other blogs. Are you an authoritarian unable to hear dissenting views? How sad!

Kostas

Geocur said...

Kostas , you blithely stated “clearly the carvings were done much later and only with very fine sharp metal tools. “ with no knowledge of the subject an unwillingness to investigate and without providing any evidence . You then claim “I love truth and sensible reason.” And continue to ask for evidence despite being spoon fed enough to refute if you could .
Gavrinis was blocked just as many other other passage tombs were in Iberia and Ireland yet have the similar engravings ,all dated to the Neolithic . Not only do we have secure dates for these monuments prior to the use of metals ,the engravings are clearly not done with metal tools but stone. There are clear differences , metal does not leave diagnostic pick markings ,but most importantly it retains a uniform cross section on curves and abrupt changes of direction . Once again read the literature . You also failed to follow up the information about some of the carvings predating the tomb construction , a fascinating insight into the period ,but that is clearly of no interest .

chris johnson said...

The extent to which SH is a form of art seems to me to be a valid discussion and backed up by science, also in the recent paper about laser scanning. It is a interesting subject for this blog.

The evidence appears in the apparent deliberate choice of colour, type of stone, the dressing of the stones for visual effect, the glimpses provided apparently intentionally to landscape features and orientation on heavenly events. Perhaps we can include acoustic properties, or the shapes people see in some of the stones that remind them of animals and such-like.

You will notice I use words like "apparently" and "perhaps" to indicate my opinion that the level of evidence is not conclusive, although it now seems beyond dispute that the stones were modified for artistic effect.

As an art form Stonehenge has inspired many imaginative leaps and transported people beyond the mundane - all of which is surely one of the purposes of art.

As to whether your contributions fulfil the editorial requirements of this blog or others, this is not my decision. What I would like is more contributions from people who understand the subject and are willing to help assemble this puzzle from the past. They are not likely to be encouraged by the sight of old men bickering, or by people making unsubstantiated and untrue claims as if they are definite facts - there is too much of that in other places, even universities. I would hope, with your insistence on the "truth" that you would support much of what I just said.

Geocur said...

kostas ,I forgot to mention that not only can it be shown that engraved structural components of passage tombs predate the tombs , the reverse side of some of the structural orthostas , only visible after excavation ,were also engraved . Any medieval knight intent on carving their ritual sigils would have had a bit of job doing that .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

In a separate comment you write, “the reverse side of some of the structural orthostas , only visible after excavation ,were also engraved”.

How could this be? Let me try to answer. I am not saying this is how, but this is possible. Given the facts you describe.

Clearly, to carve these structural orthostas on the 'reverse side' visible only after excavation will require these orthostats be accessible from all sides. Like, for example the huge pillars inside cathedrals that hold the structure up. So the question is raised. Were these orthostats engraved and then used? Or were they used and then engraved. In my view it is unlikely they were first engraved and then used. As this would damage the engravings upon moving them. If they were first used and then latter engraved, they had to be fully exposed when they were engraved.
But how did the soil encroached to fill in the space? Was this 'human agency' or 'natural agency'? If human, why would anyone spend effort to engrave these orthostats all around only to fill in one side with dirt. So I argue it had to be 'natural agency' that filled in the dirt. So when could this have happened? Clearly after the engraving already took place. But that leaves us with a time span of some 5500 years! A lot could have happened naturally during such a long span of time. It is not wild speculation to argue this happened latter. And if it did happen latter, than this leaves open the possibility the engravings also happened latter as well. But before the filling in of soil. And since the cave was found 'blocked', isn't it reasonable to assume perhaps the soil that filled in and buried one side of the orthostats happened at the same time as the blocking?

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Though you leave your comment unaddressed clearly you are addressing me. So I will be considerate and respond to you.
Would it help if I qualified my arguments as being 'sensible to me'? If these come across as 'facts' I apologize. I have (always had) an 'inquiring mind' and never denied others to doubt or question anything I argue. I welcome it in fact!

If I be permitted to make the following point in direct response to what you say, “the apparent deliberate choice of colour, type of stone, the dressing of the stones for visual effect, the glimpses provided apparently intentionally to landscape features and orientation on heavenly events”

What do we know about how Stonehenge looked like to the people that supposedly built it? Do stones change color over time? Do “the shapes people see in some of the stones that remind them of animals and such-like” exist for all people or for some people? Did these shapes exist for Neolithic people? Do surfaces of stone change in time to shape new shapes? Are we fantasizing or rationalizing?

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo (this post should have preceded my post on 14 October 2012 18:34)

I have checked all the links you referenced. My views on the stone carvings at Gavrinis come directly from these. The SH stone etchings, however, have nothing to do with my theory on SH. And have nothing to do with Brian's theory on the transport of bluestones. But I agree it is a fascinating issue, as so many others you and I have discussed before. With Brian's indulgence, I add to this one …

You write,

“Gavrinis was blocked just as many other other passage tombs were in Iberia and Ireland yet have the similar engravings ,all dated to the Neolithic . Not only do we have secure dates for these monuments prior to the use of metals ,the engravings are clearly not done with metal tools but stone. There are clear differences , metal does not leave diagnostic pick markings ,but most importantly it retains a uniform cross section on curves and abrupt changes of direction .”


I accept that Gavrinis was dated to 3500BC presumably by RC dating of charcoal or animal bones found in it. And I accept inside it were found stone carvings. And furthermore I accept Gavrinis was 'blocked' when it was found in recent times. Here are my issues:

1) What is found in a 5500 year old cave may not be 5500 years old. Thus, the stone carvings found inside Gavrinis I say probably were made much latter. Judging from the very fine quality of workmanship and motif.

2) Finding a cave blocked does not in itself date when the cave was blocked. We have some 5500 years of History between the dating of Gavrinis and the finding of Gavrinis. What is the evidence the cave was blocked and left undisturbed and insulated from History for some 5500 years? Couldn't the blocking have occurred say 3000 years ago? 500 years ago? I am willing to consider such evidence with an open mind. But please don't ask I accept such interpretations with an unquestioning mind.

3) The distinguishing differences in your quote between stone carvings using stone vs. metal tools is unconvincing. Such differences could be as much due to the tool used as to the use of the tool. From the photos in your link, the carvings are just too detailed and too fine with well controlled lines to have been made by crude stone tools.

This is my view. You can dismiss it as being uninformed. But such characterizations of me will not change my mind, or my arguments. Only evidence and sensible reason can do that. And if you had spend more space presenting 'evidence and sensible reason' rather than 'interpretations', we would be further along in this discussion. And asking me to read the same 'scriptures' describing such 'interpretations' does not help resolve the matter for me.

Lets stick to 'points of argument' rather than arguing if I am qualified to argue. All inquiring minds are qualified to argue! Truth based on irrefutable evidence and sensible reason has nothing to fear of any idea I or others may propose.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

@Kostas, you ask some good questions although there are many more.

I think of the Glastonbury Music Festival, where the act of attendance is part of the performance and almost more important than the quality of the music.

Colin Richards explained to me that cultures which move stones within living memory can assign different meanings to stones depending whether they are still attached, just quarried, or being moved. He also said that the stones can lose an important meaning when they have arrived - the act of moving the stones being the centre of the ritual.

Trying to understand the neolithic world is "through a glass darkly" (1 Corinthians 13).

Geocur said...

Kostas , you have a problem with the carvings being only 5500 years old because of the "very fine quality of workmanship and motif." . Why shouldn't someone from a few thousand years ago be capable of such workmanship and using the various motifs which are found in other typically Neolithic contexts ? This sounds like the attitudes of the Victorians who couldn't accept that Stonehenge wasn't Roman , what incredible arrogance . I have already mentioned that some the engravings predate the tombs and some engravings are on the reverse of structural orthostats . As you say you don't know anything about engravings of the period how they were produced , the differences between metal and stone tools , the motifs used etc . I know you can't visit but at least read the literature and maybe apply some radical doubt to your own ideas and comments.

Geocur said...

Kostas , the reason the Gavrinis axes were mentioned in relation to SH was to show examples of axe carvings from other monuments and how the Neolithic carvings showed typical Neolithic non hafted ,non metal axe shapes for the period .

The orthostats that are carved on the reverse were used in the monument but the non engraved face , faced out towards the passage where it was either engraved in situ “less likely as some markings are also found below floor level and others in almost impossible to access in roof spaces )or engraved prior to erection . After the passage was built the whole area was backfilled behind the carvings as part of the structure ,there would have been no way to access the back of the orthostats after the monument was built and until the excavation . This is all to be found in the literature from various sites . Similarly even a little search on the web might provide info on structural stones that are clearly from a single stone but are used in three different passage tombs .Gavrinis , Table des Marchands and Er Grah . This is all basic stuff that anyone with an interest in the subject would be aware of .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

There are many good questions to be asked or asked without answered. We need 'inquiring minds' and an uncensored unbiased approach to these.

I share with you some guiding principles I follow when thinking on these matters.

1)Foremost I consider the harsh physical conditions prehistoric people had to endure and their struggle for survival, for them and their families. I ask, would people be willing to spend scarce resources and immense man-hours to pursue such undertakings with no practical benefits? Thus,“...the act of moving the stones being the centre of the ritual” does not make sense to me. Do you believe people would spend so much time and human resources just for the fun (or ritual satisfaction) of moving immovable objects? This is not credible to me. That it is credible to Colin Richards, MPP, GeoCur and others only raises my mistrust on their professional judgment and sensible reason.

2)Vast 'public works' require superior socioeconomic organization and technology 'advanced' for their times. But such cannot exist in isolation and for singular narrow purposes, like Stonehenge. The capabilities of a culture are reflected in so many other ways. I have not seen any such irrefutable evidence to convince me Neolithic people had such capabilities.

3)Modern man using primitive tools to perform difficult tasks does not translate to primitive man performing the same tasks. It's not the tools, but the mind and intend of the men using the tools. But mind and intend require culture to develop. They are simply not just born.

“through the glass darkly”
puts us in the dark nonetheless. And in the dark we 'see' what we wish and fear the most. Though 'believers' can confirm their faith in the dark, science confirms facts in the light.

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Geo you write,

“Why shouldn't someone from a few thousand years ago be capable of such workmanship”


Read my most recent comment to Chris for my views on this.

“This sounds like the attitudes of the Victorians who couldn't accept that Stonehenge wasn't Roman , what incredible arrogance”

Who is being “arrogant”? The Victorians who thought the Romans did Stonehenge or you who believes in superior Neolithic civilizations?

“some engravings are on the reverse of structural orthostats “


I have already addressed this point in my posts to you on 14 October 2012 18:34 and 15 October 2012 01:00 . You either did not bother to read these or bothered to ignore them.

“ you don't know anything about engravings”


I suggested the T and _ stone marks on the four sarsens at Stonehenge could have been formed as coincidental markings to some manufacturing activity using the sarsens as backstops to hammering metal objects into wood or leather. Do I need to know about engravings to think this?

But I have made this argument several times before. And you chose to ignore it and talk about all the literature on this you read and I haven't. If reading alone could answer all the questions on Stonehenge do you think there would still be so many questions?

Please explain the repetitive markings of T and _ all oriented exactly the same, all in the lower part of just four standing sarsens. My working hypothesis can! All you can do is argue such like “stone art” are also found at other similar sites. This is NOT an explanation! This is “quoting scriptures”.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

@Kostas, MPP and Colin Richards looking seriously at living megalithic cultures is indicative of their open and enquiring minds. They did not invent these cultures, which have been studied seriously for more than a century.

You seem to have no idea that these cultures exist so you will pardon me for thinking your opinion carries a lesser weight.

Obviously we need to be cautious to transpose beliefs and activities from 20th century Madagascar, Indonesia, etc into 3rd and 4th century BC Wiltshire. I do believe they are legitimate interests for any inquiring mind.

The evidence for massive public works in the neolithic is abundant and under our noses. That you will not see it is a pity. You are right that a high degree of social organisation was required even to make an earthen henge or causeway camp.

I also take issue with your picture of the "struggle for survival". I interpret the evidence that farming took a long time to become the dominant lifestyle as indicating that natural resources were abundant. Stonehenge was built by pastoralists, not farmers, and as the evidence shows. They had time over to build huge monuments and study astronomy.

Geocur said...

Kostas , no the arrogance is all yours ,where did I say superior Neolithic civilisations ? .You may mistrust my judgement or “sensible reason “on comments that I have made here but you cannot refute them . The root of your constant problem of having to coming up with outlandish non parsimonious explanations for anything that does not have a warranty is outlined in your 1),2) and 3) responses to Chris . They are all beliefs with no evidence to support them and plenty to refute them , they are merely redundant in the face of what we know . You are alone (or at least I can't think of anyone else who does not accept it from the evidence we have ) in not accepting that prehistoric peoples among other things moved large rocks great distances , erected them and even put lintels on them in some cases . Even those who are opposed to the human transport of the bluestones from Pembroke to Wiltshire accept other examples of stone movement , the erection of the monoliths and construction of large projects like cursuses ,henges , Long barrows etc but they may have also read at least some of the literature .You may not understand why they did it or their socio-economic conditions but that doesn't man they didn't do it.

chris johnson said...

Geo, I debated this already too many times with Kostas and I think I can predict his reply.

For me "civilization" is related to living in cities. There are no cities in the British neolithic so it is simply the wrong word, although in a more forgiving discussion we might simply accept it as a synonym for society or culture and move on to discuss more essential matters like Gavrinis or art.

When Kostas thinks that living in cities in a sine qua non for building monuments then he is simply wrong. The fact that he repeats his view so often does not make it more convincing.

The notion of "superior" is so loaded with value judgements that it does not add anything and I don't intend to get started. Kostas has his own particular view, and seems to believe that writing a story on the landscape, or singing a song, is inferior to scratching letters. So if you do not write you are inferior - baloney!

Anyway, I hope you personally do not get too frustrated by the interchange. I like to read your contributions and always learn something.

I

Anonymous said...

Geo you write,

“ After the passage was built the whole area was backfilled behind the carvings as part of the structure”


So after the builders engraved these stones in situ, they backfilled the structure with dirt and covered the engravings below the floor, above the ceiling and behind the supporting stones. Were I to ask, “why would people do such stupid thing”, you would respond: “Just because we do not know why people would do such a thing does not mean that people did not do such a thing. The fact that some engravings were buried and hidden is evidence that they did such a thing”. Were I to argue this is a cyclical argument, you would argue I have not done the reading telling us people did such a thing. Were I to characterize this as “quoting from the scriptures”, you could accuse me of arrogance in believing prehistoric people were less capable than their contemporaries. Were I to follow on this and argue I greatly esteem and admire prehistoric people for what they were able to endure and survive; it does them great injustice to 'Flintstones'caricature their struggles by having them do meaningless tasks. You will argue, it is a known fact that some cultures did meaningless tasks and moved big stones.

So now Geo, are we going to debate the Great Pyramids and Easter Island? We've done this before but you and Chris feel not enough was said. I'll let you have the first go at it! If Brian has not yet gotten fed up with such use of his blog!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Can we call this one to an end? I fear that you three are going round in circles and retreading ancient ground ...... I have been a bit too busy to get involved over the past few days but have read enough to see that tempers are beginning to get frayed!

Geocur said...

Kostas , you said ““So after the builders engraved these stones in situ, they backfilled the structure with dirt and covered the engravings below the floor, above the ceiling and behind the supporting stones. “ . No , I said it was less likely they (both primary and secondary carvings ) were carved in situ and more likely just prior to erection and later backfill . It is hardly odd behaviour simply recycling but it does show that the carvings on the reverse sides are older than the tomb and thus not likely to be associated with putative medieval knights bearing metal tools,and that is the reason it was mentioned . If you are really interested see Newgrange : Michael J O' Kelly . Knowth before Knowth :George Eogan which details the re-use of decorated stones at Knowth .Details of the re-use of a decorated stone found in three separate passage graves including Gavrinis can be found on web .

Anonymous said...

Brian,

Out of consideration for you I will end this endless debate with Geo and Chris. I can have better outcomes discussing The Big Bang with Christian Fundamentalists!

Kostas

Geocur said...

Kostas , Rather than the cheap jibes and wild conjecture ,why not provide something useful like info or evidence .

Geocur said...

Kostas , I have patiently provided you with info and references in many posts , not something that was ever reciprocated ,al lI got in return was your beliefs . If that is the level of thanks then I'll do the sensible thing recommended to me by others a liong time ago and simply not waste my time .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Definitely no more. Shutting this off now!

Anonymous said...

(Brian, please allow this post as I owe it to Geo. I promise I wont post further in this thread)

Geo,

Your many references were greatly appreciated! I want you to know that. But your arguments leave much to be desired.

Kostas