It is one of many world’s most iconic historic websites and a British cultural icon, nevertheless it appears the talk over how and why Stonehenge was constructed some 5,000 years in the past is much from over.
A brand new paper claims to “debunk” a concept proposed final yr that the Wilshire monument served as a photo voltaic calendar, serving to individuals preserve observe of the times of the yr.
The Italian and Spanish consultants argue that this declare is “completely baseless” and primarily based on “stretched interpretations, numerology and unsupported analogies”.
The British researcher behind the speculation thinks that Stonehenge’s massive sandstone slabs, referred to as sarsens, every represented a single day in a month, making the whole web site one big timekeeping machine.
He reacted to recent criticism of his concept, calling it “a traditional piece of rant with no conclusion” that’s “misinformed” and “picks corners.”
The brand new article was written by Dr. Giulio Magli of the Milan Polytechnic and by Professor Juan Antonio Belmonte of the College of La Laguna in Tenerife.
Stonehenge could have served as an historic photo voltaic CALENDAR, serving to preserve observe of the twelve months of the yr – READ MORE
“Stonehenge is a surprisingly complicated monument, which may solely be understood by making an allowance for its panorama and the chronology of its totally different phases over the centuries,” they are saying.
‘In a current article, the writer proposed that Stonehenge’s sarsen part design was designed to characterize a calendar yr of 365.25 days.
“The aim of this letter is to point out that this concept is with out basis, being primarily based as it’s on various strained interpretations, numerology and unsupported analogies with different cultures.”
The calendar concept was proposed final yr by Professor Timothy Darvill, who thinks Stonehenge would have allowed historic locals to plot a 365.25-day photo voltaic yr calibrated by solstice alignment, taking inspiration from historic Egypt.
Professor Darvill referred to as the newly printed evaluation ‘a traditional piece of rant and not using a conclusion’.
“Their fundamental drawback just isn’t actually with my concepts however reasonably the consensus of Egyptologists that I quote in my unique article,” the British researcher informed MailOnline.
‘It is easy to argue that somebody is mistaken, however what’s their proof? And the way precisely do they interpret the association of the stones at Stonehenge?’
For his examine printed in Antiquity a yr in the past, Professor Darvillanalyzed the quantity and placement of Stonehenge’s massive sandstone slabs, referred to as sarsens.
Was Stonehenge an historic calendar? Two research provide conflicting arguments
Preserve time at Stonehenge
– Professor Timothy Darvill, Bournemouth College
– Launched in March 2022
“Archaeoastronomy and the alleged ‘Stonehenge calendar'”
-Giulio Magli, Polytechnic of Milan, and Professor Juan Antonio Belmonte, Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife
– Launched in March 2023
The Sarsens kind all 15 stones of Stonehenge’s central horseshoe, the posts and lintels of the outer circle, in addition to peripheral stones such because the Heel Stone, Slaughter Stone and Station Stones.
Stonehenge, Professor Darvill stated, was a “easy and chic” perpetual calendar primarily based on a tropical photo voltaic yr of 365.25 days.
The complete web site was the bodily illustration of 1 month (lasting 30 days) and the 30 stones within the sarsen circle every represented sooner or later throughout the month.
Folks at Stonehenge seemingly marked the times of the month every represented by a stone, maybe utilizing a small stone or wood peg, he informed MailOnline on the time.
However the Italian and Spanish duo, each astronomers, wholeheartedly reject this idea by calling it “numerology” (the pseudo-scientific examine of the hidden relationships between numbers and ideas).
Additionally they level out that just about half of the stones within the circle have been misplaced and it’s “attainable that they have been additionally small, thus breaking the magic of the speculation”.
It’s already identified that the whole Stonehenge plan is positioned in relation to the solstices, i.e. the intense limits of the motion of the suns.
English Heritage explains: ‘At Stonehenge on the summer time solstice, the solar rises behind the Heel Stone within the north-east of the horizon and its first rays shine into the guts of Stonehenge.
Stonehenge’s Best Remaining Mysteries – READ MORE
“Observers at Stonehenge on the winter solstice, standing on the entrance to the enclosure and going through the middle of the stones, can watch the solar set within the southwestern a part of the horizon.”
Professor Darvill thinks that the inhabitants of the well-known henge not solely used to maintain observe of the occasions of the yr, but additionally the times of the month.
“I believe what they did was simply to mark the times represented by the stone,” he informed MailOnline.
“We’ve got some later prehistoric calendars the place they checklist the times and have a gap subsequent to every one to allow them to mark them with a peg.”
“I believe one thing comparable would have occurred at Stonehenge, possibly utilizing a small stone or a wood peg.”
Professor Darvill additionally thinks the calendar may mark the 12 month-to-month cycles of 30 days every which add as much as a yr.
However astronomers countered by calling the machine “unknown” and stating that the 12 months are usually not represented by the monument.
Professor Darvill finally thinks the brand new paper ‘pinches corners with various claims supported solely by the content material of their earlier publications’.
“Additionally they fall into the entice that made many archaeo-astronomers consider that prehistoric individuals labored with a excessive stage of precision,” he informed MailOnline.
“They did not do this. They used observations and poles and bits of string. The theodolite and the compass have been but to be invented.”
Whereas nobody will be sure why Stonehenge was constructed, there has lengthy been a college of thought that served as an historic calendar, however the British skilled pinpointed the way it in all probability labored.
Different theories embody that it was a cult heart for therapeutic, a temple, a spot the place ancestors have been worshiped, or perhaps a cemetery.
MailOnline has reached out to Dr Magli and Professor Belmonte about any theories they might have concerning the function of Stonehenge.
Dr. Magli replied: “We predict the present archaeological/archaeoastronomical interpretation of Stonehenge as a spot symbolically associated to ancestors and the winter solstice is appropriate, so we haven’t any new theories of our personal.”
‘Curiously, Darwill credit us with exaggerating the accuracy of the alignment when it is fairly the alternative; let’s simply say it wasn’t correct sufficient to work as a tuning for the calendar, as he proposed.’
Their new article has been printed in Antiquity journal.
The Stonehenge monument standing as we speak was the ultimate part of a four-part constructing mission that ended 3,500 years in the past
Stonehenge is considered one of Britain’s most necessary prehistoric monuments. The Stonehenge that may be seen as we speak is the ultimate part accomplished some 3,500 years in the past.
Based on the monument’s web site, Stonehenge was inbuilt 4 phases:
First stage: The earliest model of Stonehenge was a big earthwork or Henge, together with a ditch, embankment and Aubrey’s Holes, all in all probability constructed round 3100 BC
Aubrey’s holes are spherical pits within the chalk, about one meter (3.3 ft) vast and deep, with steep partitions and a flat backside.
They kind a circle roughly 86.6 meters (284 ft) in diameter.
Excavations have revealed cremated human bones in a part of the plaster fill, however the holes themselves have been in all probability not made to be used as tombs, however as a part of a non secular ceremony.
After this primary part, Stonehenge was deserted and left untouched for greater than 1000 years.
Second part: Stonehenge’s second and extra dramatic part started round 2150 BC, when round 82 bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in southwest Wales have been transported to the location. The stones, some weighing 4 tons every, are thought to have been hauled on rollers and sleds to the waters of Milford Haven, the place they have been loaded onto rafts.
They have been carried by water alongside the south Wales coast and up the rivers Avon and Frome, earlier than being hauled overland once more close to Warminster and Wiltshire.
The ultimate leg of the journey was primarily by water, up the River Wylye to Salisbury, then up the Salisbury Avon to West Amesbury.
The journey took practically 240 miles, and as soon as on the web site, the stones have been positioned within the heart to kind an incomplete double circle.
Throughout the identical interval the unique entrance was enlarged and a pair of Heel Stones have been erected. The closest a part of the Avenue, which connects Stonehenge with the River Avon, was constructed in keeping with the midsummer daybreak.
Third stage: The third part of Stonehenge, which occurred round 2000 BC, noticed the arrival of sarsen stones (a sort of sandstone), which have been bigger than the bluestones.
They have been in all probability introduced from the Marlborough Downs (40 kilometres, or 25 miles, north of Stonehenge).
The most important of the sarsen stones transported to Stonehenge weighs 50 tonnes and transport by water wouldn’t have been attainable, so it’s suspected they have been transported utilizing sledges and ropes.
Calculations confirmed that it could have taken 500 males utilizing leather-based ropes to haul a stone, with one other 100 males wanted to put rollers in entrance of the sled.
These stones have been set in an outer circle with a steady run of lintels – horizontal helps.
Contained in the circle, 5 trilithons – constructions made up of two vertical stones and a 3rd transversely on the prime as an architrave – have been positioned in a horseshoe form, nonetheless seen as we speak.
Last stage: The fourth and ultimate part happened quickly after 1500 BC, when the smaller blue stones have been rearranged into the horseshoe and circle that may be seen as we speak.
The unique variety of stones within the bluestone circle was in all probability round 60, however these have since been eliminated or crushed. Some stay as stumps under floor stage.