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Architecture                  3,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

The residential architecture of Uruk reflects a diversity of occupational, economic and social classes. All the buildings were mud brick, but some were larger, better built, an more elaborately decorated. Many of the people lived in small rectangular buildings along narrow winding streets through which ran both above- and below-ground drainage canals. Apparently, houses were one story high for the poor (and two stories tall for the wealthier, but both types were similar. Built of mud brick and whitewashed, they represent an ideal architectural adaptation to the climate. (46)

A city that throbbed with vitality in the third millennium BC lies buried, forlorn and silent, beneath the windblown soil of the Upper Euphrates River Valley in southeastern Turkey. Mapping the site of the city, known today as Titris Hoyuk, archaeologists are delineating the usual urban remains. At the center once stood a palace and other public buildings on high ground. Out from there, streets ran through residential neighborhoods. Beyond city walls lay a cemetery and scattered suburbs. On closer examination, however, archaeologists have found surprises. The streets and terrace walls appear to have been laid out and built before the houses. And the houses seem to follow a master plan, some larger than others but all of the same design. Archaeologists are thus drawn to the conclusion that Titris Hoyuk, population 10,000 in its heyday, represents a striking example of urban planning in antiquity. Built in about 2500 BC, this was a kind of Levittown-on-the Euphrates. (84)

Streets examined by the archaeologists were carefully prepared, cut into virgin soil and then paved with cobbles and crushed pot shards. It was clear, the archaeologists concluded, that the streets were "laid before the houses at either side because, in places, the foundation trenches for the house walls had cut into the street." At both excavation sites, archaeologists uncovered limestone and fieldstone foundations of several houses that were more or less identical in design. Walls rising from the foundations were made of mud bricks, which have now disintegrated. The roofs were of thatch. One well-defined dwelling consisted of 15 rooms arranged around a central rectangular courtyard. The courtyard seemed to be subdivided with low partition walls defining what appeared to be four separate working areas. People typically entered the houses through a door off the street that led to an antechamber and then to a second small room that opened on the main house. The houses were probably occupied by extended families, for each one contained several cooking areas. Each house excavated so far had a family crypt, usually in the central courtyard. Though partly subterranean, the tops of the crypts were visible above the floor foundations. (84)

\Woolley's conjecture of previous inhabitants suggested that if he dug deep enough beneath Ur, he might encounter the flood deposit, its silt strewn across the land when the deltas of the Tigris and Euphrates were drowned. He hypothesized that this horizon would separate those who came before the flood from those who came after. Five years into his project, and with his crew of local laborers by then well trained in sorting through layers of debris, he sank deep shafts that led him to the royal cemeteries. When opened, the tombs displayed an interment of king and queen accompanied by human sacrifice on an extravagant scale. The entire retinue of the ancient court - its servants, soldiers of the guard, musicians, the ox that pulled the funeral cart, the driver and grooms - had been laid out as if they had fallen asleep under a spell at the foot of the wooden bier upon which the monarch lay, with the queen on her own platform wearing a floral headdress made of paper-thin leaves and flowers of gold, silver, and electrum. Every individual appeared poised to accompany the regent into the afterlife. To Woolley's experienced eye the grave objects expressed an art form and metallurgy so advanced that they could not have been achieved without a long period of gestation. Even the architecture was revolutionary in its use of the arch, vault, and dome - inventions that would not reappear outside of Mesopotamia until the time of the Romans almost forty centuries later. (131)

Now the ziggurat was the stepped type of mound temple, and for many centuries virtually the only kind of temple characteristic of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria. Temples of this type were erected to the best of our knowledge from 2900 BC to 800 BC and even reappeared atavistically in the Middle East under the Moslems. It was also the type of temple, virtually the only type of temple, found amongst the Central American Indians. The ziggurat in both regions had a temple at the top, for the benefit of the god, a temple which was also used in both regions by the priests for astronomy. In both regions the temple was often erected with its four sides places in accurate relationship to the four points of the compass. In both regions, there was a broad flight of steps, a Jacob's ladder, leading from the ground to the temple at the summit. (135)


The remianing cyclopian stones of the northern Phoenician town of Aradus. (135)

3200 BC White temple erected at Uruk, not a ziggurat. 2900 BC First Mesopotamian ziggurats. (135)

After excavating at Lagash, the archaeologist's spade uncovered Nippur, the onetime religious center of Sumer and Akkad. Of the 30,000 texts found there, many remain unstudied to this day. At Shuruppak, schoolhouses dating to the third millennium BC were found. (146)

2700 BC First ziggurat built in Iraq (160)

Egypt

 
The Predynastic people of Hierakonpolis lived in rectangular, semi-subterranean houses of mudbrick and thatch, they apparently worshipped in small, perhaps wooden shrines, they made and distributed regionally several kinds of pottery, some of it very beautiful. (47)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Simply stated, the floor in the back of the Sphinx was weathered to a depth of only four feet, while the front was weathered to a depth of eight feet; this suggests that the front of the Sphinx is twice as old as the back. Schoch estimates that the rear floor of the enclosure was first exposed in 2500 BC, and that the exposure of the front and side floors of the enclosure (and the initial Sphinx carving) must have occurred between 7000 and 5000 BC. (70)


Djoser's step pyramid, built during the third dynasty, around 2630 BC, is believed to be the oldest stone pyramid in Egypt, and the first pyramid ever built. Apparently it is also the only place where these types of stone housewares have been found in quantity, although Sir Flinders Petrie, a late-nineteenth-century investigator, found fragments of similar bowls at Giza. (70)

The ceremonial complex must be at least as old as the beginning of extremely arid conditions four thousand eight hundred years ago. This places Nabta's construction before most of the megalithic sites in Great Britain, Brittany, and elsewhere in Europe. Within five hundred years or so after the abandonment of the Nabta Playa region by the people who erected the megaliths, the Sakkara step pyramid was built (approximately 2650 BC). (70)

In the 1930s archaeologists came upon the center and capital city of the Amorites, known as Mari. At a bend of the Euphrates, where the Syrian border now cuts the river, the diggers uncovered a major city whose buildings were erected and continuously re-erected, between 3000 and 2000 BC, on foundations that date to centuries earlier. These earliest remains included a step pyramid and temples to the Sumerian deities Inanna, Ninhursag, and Enlil. The palace of Mari alone occupied some five acres and included a throne room painted with most striking murals, three hundred various rooms, scribal chambers, and (most important to the historian) well over twenty thousand tablets in the cuneiform script, dealing with the economy, trade, politics, and social life of those times, with state and military matters, and, of course, with the religion of the land and its people. (146)

In addition, it accords fully with archaeological evidence which suggests that the two superb Pyramids at Dahshur were built by Sneferu (2572-2551 BC), the founder of the Fourth Dynasty and the father of Khufu. In other words the Bent and the Red Pyramids were indeed built before any of the great Pyramids of Giza' - which is exactly what one would expect if the drift of the vernal point into the Hyades-Taurus was the trigger that set the whole enterprise in motion. (134)

With funding from the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Lehner collected fifteen samples of ancient mortar from the masonry of the Great Pyramid. These samples of mortar were chosen because they contained fragments of organic material which, unlike natural stone, would be susceptible to carbon-dating. The outcome was surprising. As Mark Lehner commented at the time: The dates run from 3801) BC to 2869 BC. So generally the dates are significantly earlier than the best Egyptological date for Khufu...In short, the radiocarbon dates, depending on which sample you note, suggest that the Egyptological chronology is anything from 200 to 1200 years off. You can look at this almost like a bell curve, and when you cut it down the middle you can summarize the results by saying our dates are 400 to 450 years too early for the Old Kingdom Pyramids, especially those of the Fourth Dynasty ... Now this is really radical...I mean it'll make a big stink. The Giza pyramid is 400 years older than Egyptologists believe. (134)

One of the earliest of their temples to be reconstructed by archaeologists is the one at Erech, now called Warka, dated about 3200 BC. The temple itself resembles our fairly contemporary bank architecture. The temple was raised upon a single mound, presumably to keep it dry in the event of floods in the river-valley. The ziggurats were vivid with colour, rising upward, each stage coloured differently white, black, red, purple and blue. (135)

The Amratian peoples lived c. 4000-3500 BC and are significant in that they were the first people to introduce the use of totemic imagery on pottery. Their graves were also notable in that they lined them with mud walls. The Gerzeans were their successors, and among their achievements were the building of more substantial houses from materials such as reeds, mud and straw, as well as the construction of papyrus rowing-boats, complete with cabins. They also discovered the art of making faience, a form of blue-green glazed earthenware, and of casting copper tools and weapons, such as hand-axes, daggers and knives. In addition to this, the Gerzeans imported lead and silver from south-west Asia and lapis lazuli from as far away as Afghanistan. The Gerzean culture came to an end c. 3100 BC, just as Egypt was making its final transformation into the mainly arid desert we know today. (149)

2650 BC First pyramid in built at Seqqara (160)

2500 BC is the astronomical dating of the alignments of the Great Pyramid's shafts (supported by undisputed archaeological evidence of intense activity at Giza at around 2500 BC)...(161)

Indus Valley

 

The Harappans built their cities according to models that we still use today. The streets were straight and laid out in a rectangular grid pattern. Like the Sumerians, they used bricks (made out of baked earth and wood) as their primary building material. These bricks--standardized in a length-to-width-to-height ratio of 4:2:1--were a signature of Harappan construction. (68)

The close-jointed brickwork and the use of bitumen damp-courses and gypsum mortar to waterproof it all bespeak a high culture with much experience of architecture - experience that could not have evolved overnight ... Particularly impressive is the drainage system, whereby water was released from the Great Bath, passing through a deep channel covered by a high brick corbel vault. (124)

DK would have been an imposing residential suburb. Many of its buildings had two, sometimes even three, storeys and some walls still stand up to four metres high. Evidence that wooden beams, long since rotted away, once supported floorboards and ceilings. Also evidence of municipal street-lighting (lanterns in wall-sockets - one such lantern in museum) and municipal refuse collection - with public rubbish-bin enclosures. Even more impressive is the obvious concern with sanitation evidenced by the miles of covered drains and by the fact that many of the houses had private toilets, somewhat of the modern Western type, which vented down carefully made angled brick slipways into the sewers or into refuse pots that stood outside in the street under the vents and that are thought to have been cleared away at regular intervals by municipal sewage squads. Inside the main sewage drains themselves, spaced at regular intervals and again regularly cleaned out, were rectangular sump-pits that trapped solid waste while allowing liquid waste to flow away. (124)

At its peak in the mid-third millennium BC the total inhabited area of Mohenjodaro exceeded 250 hectares and it is possible that its population may have risen as high as 150,000. By then it was part of a vast network of other cities, towns and villages within the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, the majority of them built out of baked mud bricks produced from moulds with standard proportions. One size of brick (measuring 7 x 14 x 28 centimetres) was used in house construction, and a different size (10 x 20 X 40 centimetres) was used in the building of city walls. But both sizes of brick have identical proportions: thickness=1, width = 2 x 1, length = 4 x 1. It has also been noted that weights and measures found at Mohenjodaro, Harappa and many other widely separated Indus-Sarasvati sites are not only extremely accurate and consistent but demonstrate a high level of mathematical development. The weights appear to have been designed according to a binary scale: 1,2,4, 8, 16, 32, etc., up to 12,800 units (with one unit being equivalent to 0.85 grams). Measures, on the other hand, made use of a decimal system: 'In Mohenjodaro a scale was found that is divided into precise units of 0.264 inches. The "foot" measured 13.2 inches (equalling 50 x 0.264).' Likewise in the Indus-Sarasvati port of Lothal, S. R. Rao excavated a scale with tiny divisions of just over 1.7 mm: Ten such divisions...(are equal to...17.78 mm. The width of the wall of Lothal dock is 1.78 metres, which is a multiple of the smallest division of the Lothal scale marked in decimal ratio. The length of the east-west wall of the dock is 20 times its width. Obviously the Harappan engineers followed the decimal division of measurement...(124)

...we are justified in seeing in the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro and in its roomy and serviceable houses, with their bathrooms and elaborate systems of drainage, evidence that the ordinary townspeople enjoyed here a degree of comfort and luxury unexampled in other parts of the then civilised world. (135)

China

 Chang also notes that the first traces of town walls--which became a standard feature of later communities--are found at the Longshan site of Ch'eng-tzu-yai. It was built with the "stamped-earth" technique, in which layer after layer of fine loess silts and clays were stamped by workers into a compact wall. The wall at Ch'engyai has now largely deteriorated, but from its traces the excavators estimate it was six meters high and nine meters wide at the top. (49)

...in search of the ancient city of Takla Makan, hidden beneath desert sands since antiquity. At the edge of the forest were structures crafted not of stone or mud-brick but of hand-hewn posts and walls of reeds attached by twine to stakes and plastered over with clay. The polished interior walls were painted with colorful murals depicting both women in flowing garments kneeling in prayer and men with black beards and mustaches that were clearly not Chinese. The pictures included nautical scenes of boats sailing on a vast inland lake. Further digging into the ruins revealed docks for the boats and wood from their keels. The Takla Makan lake had been enormous in area and depth. Its middle shoreline stood more than three thousand feet above the lowest part of the lake floor. (131)

We were also intrigued by the way in which some of the cemeteries in the Tarim Basin, in particular the Loulan area, were marked. Dr Barber describes them in a way which conjures up images of the enormous Uriel machine of Woodhenge, in Wiltshire, England. (160)

 

 

Europe

 In talking about these cultures we must remember, of course, that nearly all the people of this era were simple agriculturalists, with a few families living together in tiny hamlets. Most would have lived out their lives in small houses and farms. Houses were simple structures of logs, clay, and thatch. (50)

For many years, Joseph S. Ellul's father was the caretaker of Malta's Hagar Qim, which means "standing or upright stones." In 1988, Ellul published his experiences and lifelong observations in Malta's Prediluvian Culture. One of his most telling observations concerns the original state of the ruins at Hagar Qim. When first built, believed to be in 3200 BC, a protecting wall encircled the temple complex. Today, a large portion still stands on the northwest, north, and east sides of the main ruins. However, the west wall has been not only toppled over, but also swept away. Huge blocks of the outer wall were lifted up and thrown inside the temple. Most of the big blocks were carried away, and what was not carried away was left exposed to the wind and rain. (70)

 

In southern Crete, between 2800 and 1700 BC, the Cretans built vaulted tombs that were used not merely as tombs but also as ritual centers. The ground plans looked like the following (at right) They'd built their "kivas" all through the Mediterranean in Sicily, Sardinia, Balearic Isles, Malta, and then in Spain, had moved out past Gibraltar, built more "kivas" in Brittany, the British Isles, England, Ireland, then up to Denmark and, in a more southerly route, across the Atlantic to the Azores, which may have been a much larger landmass in Neolithic times, to the Americas. (120)

…two of Malta's extraordinary prehistoric monuments - the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni (fully carved out of the living rock underground and thus not visible from the air) and the majestic Tarxien temple complex with its apsidal ('kidney-shaped') rooms, graceful spirals carved in relief, looming 'mother-goddess' figures and gigantic megaliths. Archaeological consensus dates Tarxien to between 3100 and 2500 BC while the Hypogeum is thought to be a few hundred years older - with parts of it perhaps going back as far as 3600 BC. Such a range of dates ranks these structures amongst the very oldest examples of monumental architecture yet to have been discovered anywhere on earth. And the problem is that they are clearly not the work of beginners. The megaliths, some weighing 20 tonnes, perfectly balanced and integrated with one another in complex walls and passages, are hewn from the hard coralline and globigerina limestone with which Malta is plentifully endowed and which to this day affords the inhabitants their primary source of building materials. (124)

Imagine yourself at the entrance to an underground labyrinth with a footprint of half a square kilometre in the horizontal dimension measured out across three irregularly shaped levels stacked on top of one another in the vertical dimension - and the whole plunged in sepulchral darkness. This labyrinth, descending into the bowels of the earth, is the Hypogeum. It is thought by archaeologists to have been created earlier than 3000 BC. The spaces within the Hypogeum, like the clover-leaf lobes of the megalithic temples, feel womb-like rather than strictly 'architectural'. Some of the chambers were washed from top to bottom in red ochre, enhancing the organic effect. Others were gracefully painted with spirals, disks, volutes, honey-comb patterns, animal figures, hand-prints and ideograms - the majority in red ochre, a few in black manganese dioxide pigment. Here a cavernous circular hall was hewn out of the bedrock. There a 'window' was cut at eye-level into the wall of a passage and then an area beyond was hollowed out with infinite care to create an ovoid cist about the height of a man that can only be accessed through the window. A few paces to the west along the same wall, an elliptical hollow a metre deep was carved. It eerily amplifies low-pitched voice tones while absorbing higher notes like a sponge. Over here a graceful gallery was hewn. Over there the rough, blank face of the bedrock was first chiseled into a sweeping curve, then carved and penetrated to create a linteled megalithic gateway leading to further galleries beyond. The lintel was painted with a pattern of twelve disks in red ochre. Above, ceilings were cut here so lofty that they recede from view and there so low that you must stoop to pass beneath them. Below, the floor was left rough in places, chiseled smooth in others, treacherous curbs and drops were created, and a stairway descending into the lowest depths was left hanging in mid-air after six steps down with a straight fall of 2 metres below it. (124)

Altogether thirty-three major 'rooms' have been defined within the labyrinth. Of these eight are on the upper level, nineteen on the middle level and six on the lowest level. Some of the rooms have as many as four subsidiary chambers branching off them and multiple entrances and exits connecting to the wider network weaving through the entire edifice. The result, as we may still experience it, is a surreal underworld of stairways and chambers, galleries, pits, and tunnels interconnected with sinuous passages and shafts - like a game of three-dimensional snakes and ladders. No complete skeletons came to light, and the bones lay in confusion through the soil as in the rest of the Hypogeum, except that occasionally an arm with fingers, and a complete foot, and several vertebrae would be found lying with the parts in situ. From the upright position of an isolated radius it might be judged that the filling up of the cave was of a wholesale nature, rather than that individual burials took place in it...unrelated bones and also implements were found in the interior of skulls...Animal bones were found mingled with human. Altogether, Zammit calculated, the skeletons of somewhere between 6000 and 7000 individuals lay tangled and mashed up together within the Hypogeum. So some sort of a combination between a tomb and a temple, with perhaps just a smidgeon of dimly lit cultic or initiatory behaviour grafted on, seems to be a fair summary of the gamut of orthodox opinion as to the function of the Hypogeum. (124)

Hagar Qim is the higher and northernmost of the twin temples. Occupying a flattened promontory of glaring white limestone, it is thought to have been built between 3500 and 3300 BC. As with other surviving sacred architecture of archaic Malta it seems to abhor straight lines, seducing the eye with patterns of curves and waves. Its flowing perimeter, flung out in a great irregular ellipse, is defined by a picket of enormous upright megaliths, deeply gnarled and weathered, some laid side-on, some face-on, some broken, some missing, some restored. What seems like its primary entrance, framed by an imposing trilithion, is on the south-eastern side of the structure in a gently concave section of wall made of large, finely fitted blocks. On the north side, to the east of a second trilithion, a narrow, tapering monolith, like a chimney or an obelisk, towers 7 metres tall in the very top of it, only visible from a helicopter or a crane, is a carved basin, function unknown. Hagar Qim offers several alignments on the summer solstice. One, at dawn, is on the north-east side of the structure, where the sun's rays, passing through the so-called oracle hole, project the image of a disk, roughly the same size as the perceived disk of the moon, on to a stone slab on the gateway of the apse within. As the minutes pass the disk becomes a crescent, then elongates into an ellipse, then elongates still further and finally sinks out of sight as though into the ground. A second alignment occurs at sunset, on the north-west side of the temple, when the sun falls into a V-shaped notch on a distant ridge in line with a foresight on the temple perimeter. I suspect in some way connected with astronomy is an object, unknown from any other site in Malta, in Hagar Qim's south-western apse. Described as 'a mysterious column altar', it is a smoothly hewn white limestone pillar, almost circular in cross-section, with a circumference of about 1 metre and a height of 1.5 metres. The pillar stands upright within the curve at the south-western end of the apse - which has been identified as an 'inner sanctum' - so it seems to have been accorded a special significance. measurement and astronomy. (124)

Mnajdra is not one temple but a complex of three. Of these the easternmost, with three delicate apses disposed as a clover leaf, is the smallest and is believed to be the oldest - about 3600 BC, the same period as Gigantija. Archaeologists think that the westernmost, 'lower' temple was built next, around 3400 BC. Finally, at around 3200 BC, the middle - or 'upper' - temple was squashed in between its elder predecessors. …the lower temple is particularly imposing, with several courses of cyclopean masonry still intact on top of enormous dressed boulders at ground level. (124)

And then suddenly, around 3600 BC, the fireworks start to fly with the Gigantija phase (3600-3000 BC). Here, as we know, the type site is not a pottery heap, a mud-brick wall, or a few rock-cut tombs, but Gigantija herself - the 'tower of the giants' - literally the mother of all temples if the orthodox chronology is correct, built with megaliths that are consistently amongst the biggest ever used in Malta. How are we to explain such a sudden and dramatic leap forward as the appearance in the Gigantija phase not only of the 'blueprint' for the archetypal Maltese megalithic temple - to which, with adaptations and refinements, all later temples adhere - but also, at the same instant, the complete suite of organizational and technical abilities necessary to build such temples when, we are told, none had ever been built before? I am not an archaeologist, but after reviewing what archaeology has found out about the 1600 years between the supposed date of first settlement and the beginning of temple-building at Gigantija - 5200 BC down to 3600 BC - I personally see no convincing evidence of any build-up of skills 'slowly, over time' that would have been relevant to the construction of the megalithic temples. (124)

The drainage system of the palace of Knossos would, according to Baikie, be hard to parallel in Europe for efficiency until the middle of the last century, while the Knossos town sanitary system has been described as 'staggeringly' modern. (135)

Carbon dating has been applied to the megalithic monuments in western Europe with the following results: the passage grave in the Sept-Iles archipelago has given carbon dates between 3500 and 3000 BC. The Passage Grave on Ile Carne 3030 BC ±60 years. The people who built them according to the same authors, came by sea from the east Mediterranean to Iberia and later spread out from there to England, Ireland, Scotland, the Orkneys and Scandinavia. It is suggested that they were prospectors and copper-miners. Clearly they were sea-people for their passage graves are everywhere close to the water. (135)

Megaliths in general in Britain were erected over more than 2000 years from the end of the fourth millennium to the commencement of the first. Calendar clocks, Thorn discerns, from an analysis of their layout, were erected for less than 500 years and he draws a histogram of their incidence, showing that most of them were built between 1900 and 1750 BC. Here it is; this is the age of Kronos, the time-worshipping people, the early Phoenicians and Amorite alliance from Canaan. (135)

3500 BC Food-producing communities established on Orkney (160)

3420 BC First burial at Quanterness (160)

3215 BC First houses built at Skara Brae (160)

3215 BC Tomb of the Eagles, Isbister built (160)

3200 BC Newgrange in use (160)

3200 BC Bryn Celli Ddu chamber built (160)

3040 BC Stones of Stennes set up, henge dug in bedrock (160)

3020 BC Houses 2, 7 and 8 added to Skara Brae (160)

3020 BC Henge started at Stonehenge (160)

2990 BC Human burial at Quoyness (160)

2895 BC Central setting of stones of Stennes built (160)

2830 BC Structure built at Peirowall Quarry with spiral stones (160)

2820 BC Structure built at Maes Howe 2700 BC Silbury Hill built (160)

The most famous stone circle, Stonehenge, in the county of Wiltshire, is close to the southern limit of the zone described by Enoch. ...at around 8000 BC some unknown group erected two large wooden poles where its car park stands today. They were aligned east-west and could have acted as equinox-sighting markers. This date was well before the cometary impact of 7640 BC, which we knew from the sand layer covering most of Scotland and unfossilized sea shells on top of Snowdon resulted in the swamping of the British Isles. But there is also clear archaeological evidence that just under 1,000 years later, two further posts were erected only 350 metres away, also aligned east-west. There is no evidence of what happened on the site for the next 3,500 years, but at some time around 3020 BC a henge (a circular ditch and raised mound) was constructed with 56 holes dug around its perimeter. The site appears to have been in regular use until around 2600 BC when it was abandoned. (160)

Around 500 years later, another unidentified group cleared the ground again and radically remodelled the complex using bluestone pillars brought from the Preseli Mountains in south-west Wales. These stones, weighing up to four tons each, were transported on a 380-kilometre journey by raft along the sea coast and up local rivers, until they were finally dragged overland to the site. The entrance to this earliest setting of bluestones was aligned on the sunrise at the summer solstice and a widened approach was constructed. Around 100 years later, this first bluestone construction was dismantled and work began on the final phase of the site. The bluestones were moved within the circle, and the gigantic sarsen stones that can be seen today were first erected. These sarsen stones were transported from the Marlborough Downs, 32 kilometres to the north, and set up in a circle of 30 uprights capped by a continuous ring of stone lintels. Within this ring a horseshoe formation of five trilithons was built, each consisting of a pair of large stone uprights supporting a stone lintel. The tapered sarsen stones are of exceptional size, being some 9 metres long and weighing up to 50 tons. It remains a mystery how such huge stones were moved such a distance by these supposedly primitive people. (160)

Wherever an observer is located, on the equinoxes...the rising appears exactly due east and the setting sun due west, causing the morning and evening shadows to align in a straight line. On every other day of the year, the sunset and sunrise will occur either further north or south and will not line up. But at the latitude of Stonehenge a particularly significant alignment happens at the summer solstice...and the winter solstice. In simple terms, this means that when the winter solstice is viewed from Stonehenge, the shadow cast by a pole placed to mark the position of the sunrise on the horizon will align perfectly with a shadow cast from a second pole marking the midwinter sunset. (160)

We found that nobody is sure when Skara Brae was first inhabited, since the earliest of the surviving buildings (radiocarbon-dated to 3215 BC) are known to have replaced earlier ones, but it is certain that it was abandoned suddenly. The date put on this abandonment is circa 2655 BC. (160)

We have seen that the builders of the henge at Stonehenge had abandoned the site around 2600 BC, and that it had remained unused for the next 500 years. Given that all of these dates have a margin of error greater than 55 years, it appears that Skara Brae and Stonehenge could have been abandoned at pretty much the same time. (160)

Dr Anna Ritchie, an archaeologist who is particularly expert on the megalithic sites of Orkney, has confirmed that the earliest radiocarbon dates and pollen diagrams suggest that food-producing communities were fully established in the islands by about 3500 BC. She also believes that it is inherently unlikely that developed settlements such as Skara Brae represent homes of the first pioneering colonists. In her opinion these sites are the products of a mature, confident, farming society and she is certain that changes in sea level and coastal erosion have destroyed some of the evidence of the earliest inhabitants. (160)

At first sight, the eight best preserved of the dozen or so apartments at Skara Brae look like a set from the Flintstones movie. They appear to be a Stone Age version of a modern housing estate, with a formalized regularity of layout. Some prehistoric architect appears to have planned the whole development so that stone versions of modern conveniences were provided inside each apartment. They all have standardized stone cupboards, fireplaces, bedsteads, water tanks and seats. Of the eight apartments, six are linked by a main corridor but the seventh is reached by a separate tunnel running at right angles off the main corridor. There is also a separate house which stands on the far side of a paved open-air courtyard. Both the thoroughness of the design and the quality of building at this site are simply breathtaking. ...the city of Rome was 2,500 years in the future when Skara Brae was built, complete with an underground sewage disposal system. The drains were made of stone and had originally been lined with tree bark to make them watertight. It was indeed a remarkably sophisticated system for its time. Many of the houses are also equipped with a small adjoining chamber connected to the drainage system which may well have been lavatories; when the contents of the drains were examined they were found to contain high levels of ancient human excrement. (160)

Each of the houses has a large room with a single entrance fitted with a bolt-securing hole cut in the stone to lock a door from the inside - except for house seven which, rather curiously, has a door that is designed to be bolted from the outside. The rooms were at least three metres high with approximately 36 square metres of floor space and...all were equipped with the following set of desirable 'mod cons':
• A central stone hearth with a kerb to retain the fire
• A large stone dresser with two shelves supported on three large stone legs
• A rectangular stone chair
• Two stone bedsteads, with large end stones which Professor Childe has suggested would have supported a canopy. A Stone Age four-poster bed no less!
• A stone water tank with its seams packed with clay
• Storage space consisting of small stone boxes and cells let into the floor and walls
(160)

The Grooved Ware People were sophisticated builders. They produced villages such as Skara Brae with modern drainage and standardized ranges of interior fittings, and created artificial horizons, called henges, in the most difficult terrain in order to facilitate their astronomical observations. They also built magnificent underground stone chambers, with aligned tunnels to allow the sunlight inside at particular times of year. Despite developing an advanced culture, sufficiently skilled to organize and direct massive civil-engineering projects which took many generations to complete, these people vanished without trace around 2655 BC. (160)

As we stood in front of the huge, white-crystal wall of Newgrange, we were both powerfully reminded of the words of Enoch, who was almost certainly a nomadic tent dweller: "And I went in till I drew nigh to a wall which is built of crystals and surrounded by tongues of fire: and it began to affright me. And I went into the tongues of fire and drew nigh to a large house which was built of crystals: and the walls of the house were like a tessellated floor of crystals, and its groundwork was of crystal. Its ceiling was like the path of the stars and the lightnings, and between them were fiery cherubim, and their heaven was (as clear as) water. A flaming fire surrounded the walls, and its portals blazed with fire. And I entered into that house, and it was hot as fire and cold as ice: there were no delights of life therein: fear covered me, and trembling got hold upon me. And as I quaked and trembled, I fell upon my face." We have dated Enoch's journey of instruction as happening shortly before the comet impact of circa 3150 BC, and we also know that he was in the British Isles because of his latitude and because of the instruction he received in astronomical matters. So he could have been describing Newgrange itself, which was built less than 50 years earlier than his visit to the cold north. (160)

Whoever built Newgrange was able to organize a large workforce with sufficient skill to construct a corbelled roof chamber, align a 24-metre-long passageway exactly with the line of the rising sun at the winter solstice, and carve the intricate patterns which adorn the structure. The construction of Newgrange itself is a splendid achievement, but there are two other passage mounds of similar size and magnificence from the same period and in the same part of the Boyne Valley. We were impressed by the skills that the people of the Boyne Valley must have possessed in the period between 3,700-3,100 BC to create these structures. The reality is that it must have taken a community of many hundreds of people many years to plan and build Newgrange, even assuming that they did nothing else (Professor O'Kelly has estimated 30 years). This structure is undoubtedly a major feat of civil engineering. It even shows evidence from its construction that the builders understood the action of static stress forces in the way they cantilevered the roof structure to ensure its stability. (160)

A surprising discovery made when the upper surface of the passage roof was exposed was that grooves or channels had been picked (by using a hammer and points, as for the execution of the ornament) on all the slabs so as to carry off the rainwater percolating through the cairn. By means of a most skilful arrangement, water was led away from one slab to another until it passed into the body of the cairn on either side of the passage. The roof slabs of the corbelled chamber had been carefully packed with burnt soil, used as a kind of putty, to make sure water was kept out of the chamber. (It was this burnt soil which carbon dated the building works to about 3200-3500 BC) The builders intended this structure to be weathertight and to last, and it is still dry and solid today. (160)

Population studies of the area around Newgrange in 3200 BC carried out by Dr Frank Mitchell suggest about 1,200 people lived in the Boyne Valley Basin. ...the Roman historian Tacitus had recorded that the Celtic tribes of western Europe always tried to ensure that their children were born at the winter solstice, which means they would have had mating rituals at the time of the spring equinox. (160)

The Minoan temple was built up on an artificial mound some 7 m (almost 22 ft) high, composed of the piled-up remains of 10 successive building levels of Neolithic housing dating back to 8000 B.P. Mediterranean provided even more wealth to the island. A burst of development, centered on the site of Knossos, occurred at about 5000 B.P., beginning with the importation of bronze from the mainland. (170)

South America

 It has been estimated that the Initial Period pyramid complexes on Peru's north coast in Lurin, Rumac, and Chilon represent over 12 million person-days of work. Based on a workforce of 50 people working every day, building such monuments would require 700 years--an astonishing proposition implying a dedication of effort spanning more than 40 generations. It is unlikely that more labor would be available in such a small overall population that included women, children, and the elderly as well as those whose major responsibilities centered on food production, irrigation projects, food distribution, and other tasks related to agriculture. As with the Great Pyramid and the Olmec heads, the handling of colossal blocks of stone with primitive tools and methods presents a seemingly impossible challenge, and once again these factors point to the extraordinary scope of the effort required to build such complexes and monuments. (68)

The ziggurat of the American-Indian civilization was certainly neither Carthaginian, nor Phoenecian, nor Mykenean Greek, nor Hittite, nor Minoan Cretan in style, but it was the characteristic type of ecclesiastical architecture probably of Mohenjo-daro and certainly of Sumer, Akkad and Babylon during the third millenium. Historians attribute their concentration upon astronomical research to their desire to fix the calendar for agriculture and their interest in astrology. But these Asian nations were served by the greatest merchant-seamen of the ancient world who used the stars for navigation. Navigation was far more important than agriculture to the rulers of empires. The first discoverers of American wealth in copper, tin, silver and gold were the seamen working for the Indus Valley Aryans and Sumerians. (135)

In the 1930s, Rolf Muller, professor of Astronomy at the University of Potsdam, found convincing evidence to suggest that the most important features of Machu Picchu possessed significant astronomical alignments. From these, through the use of detailed mathematical computations concerning star positions in the sky in previous millennia (which gradually alter down the epochs as the result of a phenomenon known as precession of the equinoxes), Muller concluded that the original layout of the site could only have been accomplished during 'the era of 4000 BC to 2000 BC. (152)

2600 BC First large temple mounds built in Peru (160)

Mesoamerica

 Now the ziggurat was the stepped type of mound temple, and for many centuries virtually the only kind of temple characteristic of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria. Temples of this type were erected to the best of our knowledge from 2900 BC to 800 BC and even reappeared atavistically in the Middle East under the Moslems. It was also the type of temple, virtually the only type of temple, found amongst the Central American Indians. The ziggurat in both regions had a temple at the top, for the benefit of the god, a temple which was also used in both regions by the priests for astronomy. In both regions the temple was often erected with its four sides places in accurate relationship to the four points of the compass. In both regions, there was a broad flight of steps, a Jacob's ladder, leading from the ground to the temple at the summit. (135)

North America

 
The Koster site, in the Illinois River Valley, was first occupied at about 7,500 BC, and people lived at this site many times, at least until about 2,500 BC. These people slowly improved their technologies, adding new varieties of stone tools, more permanent forms of housing made of clay, poles, and thatch, rare implements of copper for which they traded with neighboring groups, and various other tools.(26)

 

 

 

Other

 

On the same trip I learned that certain pyramid-shaped mounds, hills and mountains are regarded as sacred beings in Japanese mythology and saw evidence which suggests not only that this belief is rooted deep in Jomon times but also that it sometimes led the Jomon into 'artistic manipulation' of the landscape on an even larger scale than the disputed structures now underwater at Yonaguni, Chatan and Kerama. The experts concluded that a natural hill had indeed once stood on the site but that this had been deliberately quarried, sculpted and reinforced with stone blocks to create a pyramidial core with seven terraces that was finally covered with ramped earth and then overgrown by vegetation. …four Shinto shrines positioned around the base of Kuromata Yama lie in direct lines pointing north, south, east and west from the summit and incorporate solstitial alignments datable through the accepted formula for changes in the obliquity of the ecliptic to 4000 years ago: 'The shrines were built relatively recently on what are known to be sacred sites dating from ancient times, suggesting the shrines may have maintained that link since the Jomon Period. (124)