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Chapter 1 Journal Activity

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Stonehenge, landscape and culture


I think that it's just natural to combine both views, to look in detail on the stones and other elements of the site and then think about them in the context of the landscape. That's quite natural - we can try to understand Stonehenge only in the context of the culture that built and used it, and thinking and research on the physical landscape around is the only way to know something about them.
The thinking of its builders and users is however so unaccessible that It's not only an exercise in humility, but almost in futility...
I'm not a big fan of abundant use of anthropological parallels in archeology. No contemporary societies, however native they look to us, are conservations of ancient times. They are inspirational. But to me, they point more to the unending variability of human culture and remind me not to take anything as obvious and given.
I'm thus enjoying learning about Stonehenge and it's a great adventure to read about every detail, however small, discovered. Even if I consider the "why did they did that" question as unanswerable...
That doesn't mean I'm completely nihilistic. I just think the literature on Stonehenge I met (as an amateur both in archaeology and British prehistory) is overflowing with maybe too ambitious theories. It is very natural for us to think in dichotomies, for example. Eternal rock and perishing wood. The sacred and the profane. The land of the living and land of the dead. But there were and are cultures that do not see the world in that way. If we jump on those complex ideas too quickly, we may overlook something important...
I think to be more vague and thus more open is a better approach, even though it's not enabling us to "tell the story"...

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