Stonehenge is an incredibly complex monument, notable mainly for its impressive megalithic circle and “horseshoe” built around 2600 BC. Over the years, several theories have been put forward about the meaning and function of Stonehenge. However, today archaeologists have a fairly clear picture of this monument as a “place for ancestors” set in a complex ancient landscape with few more elements.
Archaeoastronomy plays a key role in this interpretation, as Stonehenge, due to the flatness of the horizon, shows an astronomical alignment with the sun, which signifies both sunrise at the summer solstice and sunset at the winter solstice. This explains the builders’ symbolic interest in the solar cycle, most likely related to the connection between the afterlife and the winter solstice in Neolithic societies.
This, of course, is far from saying that the monument was used as a giant calendar device, as suggested in a new published theory. ancient ages. According to this theory, the monument is a calendar of 365 days a year, divided into 12 months of 30 days each, and five epagomenal days with the addition of a leap year for each.
This calendar is identical to the Alexandrian calendar, introduced more than two thousand years later as a combination of the Julian calendar and the Egyptian civil calendar at the end of the 1st century BC.
To justify this “stone calendar”, multiply the (probably) 30 sarsen bridges found in the original design by 12 and add 360 to the number of standing Horseshoe trilitons, i.e. five. The addition of a leap year every four years is due to the number of “station stones”, which is actually four.
This mechanism is believed to have been supported in the study using the alignment of the solstice axis, and is believed to have allegedly been derived from Egypt, but it significantly improved the Egyptian calendar of 365 days (leap year setting did not exist until Roman times).
This is a fascinating theory that has been put to a serious stress test by Juan Antonio Belmonte (Institute for Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain) and Giulio Magli (Polytechnic Institute), two renewed experts in archaeoastronomy. Milan). In his article to be published in the journal ancient agesThe authors show that the theory is based on a number of obligatory interpretations of the monument’s astronomical connections, as well as controversial numerology and unconfirmed analogies.
First of all, astronomy. Although the alignment of the solstices is fairly accurate, Magli and Belmonte said that the slow movement of the sun near the horizon on days near the solstice, the device (remember: it’s made up of large stones) should be able to distinguish the position from the precise to a few arc minutes, i.e. less than 1/10th of a degree.
Thus, while the existence of the axis is of interest to the solar cycle in a broad sense, it provides no evidence for understanding the number of days in the year intended by the builders.
The second is numerology. Giving meaning to “numbers” in a monument is always a risky operation. At the same time, the “key number” of the so-called calendar 12 is nowhere recognized, and there is no way to account for an extra Epagomenal day every four years, and other “numbers” are simply ignored (for example, Stonehenge is made of two stones). Therefore, the theory also suffers from the so-called “choice effect”; thanks to this procedure, only those elements that conform to a requested interpretation are removed from the material record.
Finally, cultural examples. The first development of a 365-plus 1-day calendar was documented in Egypt just two thousand years after Stonehenge (and came into use centuries later).
Thus, even if the builders took the calendar from Egypt, they developed it on their own. They also independently invented a building to keep track of time, because nothing like it ever existed in ancient Egypt—probably the Egyptians reflected the movement of their 365-day calendar in their architecture through the seasons, but this one is quite different. Also, the transmission and clarification of ideas from Egypt took place around 2600 BC. and has no archaeological basis.
As a result, Stonehenge’s allegedly sun-sensitive “Neolithic” calendar appears to be a purely modern structure with flawed archaeo-astronomical and calendrical foundations. As has happened so many times in the past—with claims (modern research has shown to be untenable), for example, that Stonehenge was used to predict eclipses—the monument returns to its role as a silent witness to the sacred landscape of its builders. It’s a role that, as Mugli and Belmonte emphasize, diminishes its extreme appeal and importance.
Source: Port Altele
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