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Stonehenge

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Chapter 2 Journal Activity

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When? By Whom? How? Why?

5 comments

I am not convinced that any single theory explains the origin, purpose and use of Stonehenge. I believe the answer is multi faceted. This site evolved over time to become the place where a people periodically gathered to reinforce their common culture, purpose and faith.

Comments

4 months ago

Hi Karie

I couldn't agree more.

Neil

4 months ago

But is the real question "Why did they stop using it and simply walked away from the area?

4 months ago

Hi Paul

I have some ideas about that, but no one likes to wade through my endless missives, so I will respond by request.

Neil

4 months ago

In terms of "Why did they stop using?"--In the Americas, we have been exploring the impact of pandemic disease on the indigenous population of the Americas following the introduction of European diseases. (Most notably in "Guns, Germs and Steel...", Jared Diamond and "1421" by Charles Mann.) I've read that many people believe that the domestication of animals increased the likelihood that illness would be transferred from the animals to the human population and that some archaeologists believe that the Neolithic package of a sedentary life combined with animal stock was a ticking time bomb. I've read nothing about the possible impact of a pandemic in the Neolithic period in England, and I don't know how you would go about finding evidence for one. But a wave of pandemics might explain a few things.

4 months ago

Hi Megan

They got sick for sure — just like everyone always has. But there's no evidence for the kind of pandemic that would cause an entire culture to collapse.
Because collapse it did.

Let's look at the dates.
Before 1600 BC all was just peachy in the UK and NW Europe. Everyone seems to have been getting along and the culture itself was broadening. Megaliths were still being erected and Bronze was well in hand. They were moving inexorably toward the Iron Age without too much fuss.

Then it all stopped.
Four thousand years of social, cultural and technological mobility ceased in the blink of an eye and the consequences of it erased almost every aspect of their history, aspiration and inspiration.

At Isla Santorini in the Aegean Sea in 1,628 BCE, the volcano Thera exploded with such force and released so much ash into the atmosphere that it blotted out the sun for five years. There’s credible evidence that volatile Mt. Hekla in Iceland erupted at nearly the same time, perhaps extending the catastrophic dark age. Dates for this double-whammy appear in trees rings from Canada, Europe and the Balkans.
Another barometer for the after-effects is that all megalithic building in northwest Europe abruptly ceased and everybody appears to have just crawled into a hole, so silent is the record. The people who emerged from this catastrophe would have had no knowledge of the meaning or nuance of those funny piles of rocks. Plus, in a culture dependent upon the sun for life and belief, any survivors of mass starvation would have to give this age-old paradigm a fundamental re-think.

Everything they knew, believed, reasoned or dreamed under the sun was gone in a twinkle, while the accumulated knowledge and virtually all record of their history over the millennia was forever lost to the ages.

They didn't 'walk away' from Stonehenge — they were swept away.

Anyway, that's what I think happened ...

Neil

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