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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Alice and the Ice Age



Having watched part of the final episode of "Ice Age Giants" (I failed to see the final part of it -- maybe I just nodded off) I have to say that my attention was diverted from Alice's vowels to another matter -- the gradual slowing down of the whole programme to the point where it became about as moribund as a mastodon or a woolly mammoth...... Alice's commentary became slower and slower, to the point where it became a source of such fascination that I really don't recall what much of the programme was actually about.  Having thought about it, I reckon that there just wasn't enough material in the series to fill three programmes, so Alice was instructed by the Director to stretch out her phrases and hope that nobody would actually notice.  Or maybe she was just tired, after all that plodding about in deep snow pretending to be a woolly rhinoceros, or climbing up vertical rock faces to show us that she was capable of climbing up vertical rock faces for reasons that were not immediately apparent.  Very sad about the funereal pace of the whole thing -- because some of the material in  the programmes was actually quite interesting.

29 comments:

chris johnson said...

Agree. I drifted in the middle - the amount of repetition was mind boggling but this seems to be the current style.

Some interesting scenes and info but the most interesting theory about a cosmic impact did not seem to be mentioned although hard evidence is emerging - I say seems not to have been mentioned because I might have nodded off.

The megafauna had survived several ice ages and why they should fall prey to the most recent was not addressed.

TonyH said...

Didn't see Our Alice in her current Series, as I'd probably nodded off before she presented herself to us on the screen. I often listen to the equally delightful Sarah Walker on Radio 3 for Essential Classics to waken myself up of a morning, whilst enjoying her unaffected no- nonsense South Yorkshire flat vowels, a la Ian MacMillan. This week her male colleague was interviwing author, lecturer, explorer and TV presenter (yes! another one) George McGavin. He got onto the subject of Early Mammals In The UK, and mentioned how common Elephants were herabouts say 40.000- 100,000 years ago (v. v. approx). He mentioned that, when they were preparing to erect (ladies, turn away now) Nelson's Column, the workmen [Irish or not!] uncoverd loads of elephants and hippos, etc etc.
Perhaps Our Alice missed a Televisual Opportunity, to recreate (for the exhausted viewer) regenerated scenes of Trafalgar Square Long Ago Before The Horse And Cart. Or does someone know different out there? Did she show just such a scene?

Anonymous said...

an odd question for you all.
How heavy would the total of bluestones be?
1/ stones that are there now and
2/ total of stones that has been assumed to complete the monument? 80?

I'll tell you why I need to know later,
PeteG

TonyH said...

Some prefer Alice's fully rounded vowels. Personally, I go for Sarah Walker of Radio Three's flatter, South Yorkshire sounds - a little like Michael Parkinson in enunciation and far more working - class sounding.

This is my 2nd submission to Brian's blog on this theme, hopefully he'll pass this one!

Which would Paleolithic Man have preferred? Probably whichever could have skinned a Sabre - Toothed Tiger the quicker.

Alice, of course, is for ever musically connected to Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace. But how many of us realise loads of Paleolithic elephants (and others) were unearthed when Trafalgar Square was preparing to receive Nelson's impressive Column? Heard THAT on Radio Three recently, from explorer, scientist, and, yes, TV presenter George McGavin. And the music helps keep me alert.

Anonymous said...

Surely the elitist expertise and clarity of Kenneth Clarke or Robert Hughes on art, David Attenborough on natural history, or Patrick Moore's feeble Astronomical efforts. Pale into insignificance along side the efforts of the fair Alice?

Well done the BBC just can't wait for the next vanity project by Alan Yentob!!; why do these remind me of so much research on Stonhenge??

Jon Morris said...

You can find current estimated weights on page 60 of the Laser Scan report:

http://services.english-heritage.org.uk/ResearchReportsPdfs/032_2012web.pdf

The 80 comes from P&Q? MPP says in his book that the SW segment may never have been completed as a dual ring and may have been intended to be single, with only a crescent to the NE segment.

BRIAN JOHN said...

The figure of 80 or 82 bluestones has been around for ages -- but it's good to see that there is increasing acceptance that there never were that many bluestones on the site. But we will still have differences between those who think the builders simply ran out of stones, and those who think that the "partial" monument was as it was intended to be......

Anonymous said...

I've just finished filming with the BBC Sky at Night team at Stonehenge over the Solstice period.
This is to launch the Moore Moon Marathon in the July episode.
Clive Ruggles explains the connection with the Moon and Stonehenge.
PeteG

Jon Morris said...

This is to launch the Moore Moon Marathon in the July episode.
Clive Ruggles explains the connection with the Moon and Stonehenge.


Great! Can you let us know when this will be aired? Ruggles seems to have a very logical and consistent approach, but there's one aspect of the Moon alignment connection that I just don't get. It'll be great to see it explained.

Jon Morris said...

But we will still have differences between those who think the builders simply ran out of stones, and those who think that the "partial" monument was as it was intended to be......

Difficult one this. If you consider Stonehenge to be largely an aesthetic construction, then it makes sense to impose symmetry (so the number of stones intended must be towards the high end)

If you consider Stonehenge's sarsen construction to have existed for a purpose, then you have to know the purpose to know how many stones might have been intended.

So it seems to me that the number of stones which one would predict to have existed at any one point in time depends on a personal pre-conception of what the monument was intended to be.

Anonymous said...

" but there's one aspect of the Moon alignment connection that I just don't get."

whats that Jon?

PeteG

Jon Morris said...

Mike Parker Pearson refers to it in Stonehenge: pages 48-49 in his description of alignments that can be satisfactorily explained:

The last one on the list, Station Stones notes the rough alignment with one set of moonset & moonise: This applies to one of the axes that passes through the monument (so you can't actually see the alignment). However it doesn't apply to the other axis: What you would expect the alignment to be for the opposing moonset and moonrise if it were intentional.

Given that it's only roughly aligned, applies to one axis and not the other, and can't actually be seen because the monument is in the way, it struck me that this was more likely to be coincidental rather than intentional. Hawkins refers to it in a lot more detail in his book on page 170.

geocur said...

Jon , it is likely to be coincidental/epiphenomenal because of the latitude , which results in an almost right angled lunar/solar extremes relationship ,leading some to suggest that was the reason for the siting of the monument .
The station stones did predate the megalithic monument so arguably the view was clear but that doesn't mean you could actually see the standstills for the usual reasons i.e. they may have taken place below the horizon , during the day ,or in a less visible phase .

Jon Morris said...

The station stones did predate the megalithic monument so arguably the view was clear

Good point George, but in MPP's latest book (page 310), he says that the most likely element to go up first would have been the trilithons with the Stations after. I suppose it's a bit unfair on Ruggles to apply my "you could not have seen it" argument if he was using the Cleal sequence.

Anonymous said...

MPP is an archaeo so I wouldn't ask him about astronomy.

As George says it's likely coincidental.
The line from lower left to upper right also points to sunrise/set on 4 of the cross quarter days.
PeteG

geocur said...

Jon , the problem with the station stones is that they are undated and there is no reason or evidence for them not to predate the Trilithons. Even in relation to the Aubrey holes they are only considered to be "probably later than them " p 258

Jon Morris said...

Thanks Pete. Yes I'm inclined to with go you and George on coincidence. Maybe it's just MPP's reading of what Ruggles said. Tried to get hold of his book at the library to see what he actually said and they told me it was not available anywhere. Seems a bit odd.

Jon , the problem with the station stones is that they are undated and there is no reason or evidence for them not to predate the Trilithons.

Thanks George. My guess would also be that they were prior, but I assumed that MPP must have a reason for saying otherwise. Mind you, even if they were prior, there was probably something else in the way at the centre. Difficult to know. Will be interesting to see what Ruggles actually says in the film!

Anonymous said...

there are some clips here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ccn5f

from the forthcoming Sky at Night Program.
Probably only available in the UK
PeteG

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Pete -- managed to watch it, even in Sweden! Interesting..... but it does presuppose the completion of the monument in a "perfect" form, and with that idea I do have some problems.

Anonymous said...

yup but I had no control over the 3D model and modelers don't seem to know about the monument not being complete.
I disagree with Ruggles also, I Can use it as an observatory and the astronomers I talked to also could.
Each stage of the building has something astronomical about it.
PeteG

TonyH said...

Jon, if you want a copy of MPP's book, you should look on Amazon and/or in 2nd hand or Charity bookshops. There's plenty available.

TonyH

geocur said...

Pete , because you can use Stonehenge as an observatory doesn't mean that it was used as such , prior to your use .

Anonymous said...

yes i know G, but it was refreshing to talking to pople who had no preconceived ideas about the site.
Just because I cannot prove it doesn't mean it Wasn't used as an observatory.
For me , personaly, the observatory idea works much better than the bonkers theories that have come out over the last few years.
I hear today that things are only going to get worst on this front after the next immanent secret dig!

Anyway it's much more fun for me as an astronomer to use the site for observations of celestial events though out the entire year.
PeteG

Anonymous said...

G, Just because the periglacial stripes align with the avenue doesn't mean the avenue was built because of the stripes does it?
I would class that as a simple coincidence. IMHO
Recently I have gotten tired of archaeo's telling me that astronomical alignments are just a coincidence.
All the archaeo's I have talked to don't even have a basic understanding of astronomy so I don't see why I should consider their opinion valid.
I wouldn't ask Nick Howes the comet hunter to interpret a trench for me and like wise MPP couldn't tell me about the orbit of comet ISON. Horses for courses...

It doesn't matter to me if Stonehenge was 'intended' to be used as an observatory. the fact that it can still be used as one is a good pointer that it was built to be one. imho
If it wasn't Intended then the coincidences are far too many for me to consider it to be a Happy accident.
Personally, I don't go there to Pray at a temple, I go to observe.

Peteg

geocur said...

Pete , you could go to pray at Stonehenge it still wouldn't make it a temple at time of build . We could never prove that it was ever used as an observatory or temple but if I was an observer /recorder of the heavens in the period I would choose somewhere else away from what appears to be a ceremonial site with it's ditches and burials and worse , big stones getting in the way of the view .

Jon Morris said...

Hi Tony

It was Ruggles' book: Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland, that I was after, largely because the editor of Antiquity recommended it when discussing something else.

Nowadays, I always get books from the library first if they cost more than £20: I spent so much on books in the first year that my accountant insisted that being an author had to be a separate 'trade' from being an engineer.

geocur said...

pete , archaeos don't tend know about astronomy and the little they do about archaeostronomy is very basic , many would opt for "Stonehenge was an observatory ,among other things " .MPP sensibly defers to Ruggles who has a more nuanced approach .
I don't see why anyone would want to use a ceremonial site complete with ditches and burial deposits for observing the heavens ,even if they were allowed to .Once the stones were up they would only get in the way .You could go anywhere else and get a better view of the heavens .

Jon Morris said...

Hi Geo & Pete

There's no doubt that it could have been used as an observatory, even if the latter stages were not intended by the designers to be an observatory. If the main function was not related to observation, there may still be one or two features of the monument which did have a function directly related to observation? If this were the case, I guess these would have to be design features which did something directly related to whatever primary purpose was served by the monument.

I'm very keen to see what there is in the way of expanded evidence for some of the descriptions in MPP's book.

Had a bit of trouble posting on Brian's site recently, hopefully it's all back up and running.

geocur said...

Jon , anywhere with a clear view of the sky and hopefully the horizon could be used as an observatory .The problem is establishing how to recognise a Neolithic /BA observatory ,if that is possible , and being capable of proving it from the archaeology .