Photo by Mòni
It’s traditional to follow up a post on Stonehenge with a spurious connection. This is a Moai on Easter Island, the most isolated spot on Earth where they had a sky. Just like Stonehenge. If I ever write my alternative archaeology book then I’ll make a big deal of that.
The tale of Easter Island is one that has great significance for our own times. The pursuit of prestige led to the destruction of environmental resources on the island. The collapse when it happened appeared to be sudden and when the Europeans discovered the island what they found was a poverty-stricken civilisation trapped in the shadow of its past. Disease and slavery accounted for all but twelve of the population by the twentieth century. The moral of the tale is either the usual one of the need for sustainable development, or if you’re more morally lax, “Party like there’s no tomorrow, because for your children there might not be.”
You can read more about Easter Island at Nova and Discovery.
A couple of summers ago I designed a module for the Interdisciplinary Science course, called Powers and Prophets. The brief I was given was “Do a module about Stonehenge, It has to have Physics, Geology and Archaeoastronomy in it with some Archaeology.” It was a fun, if intense experience as the course was to be taught by Problem-Based Learning, so I had to find out what that was too. Eventually the overall problem I set was “Could a new Stonehenge be built authentically and accurately at the new visitor centre?”
I’ve been thinking about it more recently, for reasons which may become apparent around June 20. I did think to write another theme, like A Celtic Calendar, for Stonehenge running between now and June 21. I’ve decided not to, for a couple of reasons. One is that the next batch of i-sci students might find this and decide what they find here is the ‘right’ answer. The other is that I don’t have the right answers and even writing up my best guess will take more time than I currently have to spare. However there are likely to be theories in abundance around over the next month, so I thought I could ask some interesting questions instead.
The first is when a researcher explains his new Stonehenge theory, which Stonehenge is he talking about? Phase One, dates from around 2950 BC. The end of Phase Three is beyond 1900 BC. That’s a thousand years difference and, as you can see from the plans below, quite a lot of rebuild.