Κυριακή, 27 Νοεμβρίου 2016

The megalithic monuments of Greece and the alignments af Archaeoastronomy

A megalith is a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The word " megalithic " describes structures made of such large stones without the use of mortar or concrete, representing periods of prehistory characterised by such constructions. For later periods, the term monolith, with an overlapping meaning, is more likely to be used. The word "megalith" comes from the Ancient Greek "μέγας" ( transl. megas meaning "great") and "λίθος" (transl. lithos meaning "stone"). Megalith also denotes an item consisting of rock(s) hewn in definite shapes for special purposes. It has been used to describe buildings built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods. A variety of large stones are seen as megaliths, with the most widely known megaliths not being sepulchral. The construction of these structures took place mainly in the Neolithic (though earlier Mesolithic examples are known) and continued into the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age. Megaliths were used for a variety of purposes ranging from serving as boundary markers of territory, to a reminder of past events, and to being part of the society's religion. Common motifs including crooks and axes seem to be symbols of political power, much like the crook was a symbol of Egyptian pharaohs. Amongst the indigenous peoples of India, Malaysia , Polynesia , North Africa, North America, and South America, the worship of these stones, or the use of these stones to symbolize a spirit or deity, is a possibility. In the early 20th century, some scholars believed that all megaliths belonged to one global "Megalithic culture" (hyperdiffusionism, e. g. 'the Manchester school', by Grafton Elliot Smith and William James Perry), but this has long been disproved by modern dating methods. Nor is it believed any longer that there was a European megalithic culture, although regional cultures existed, even within such a small areas as the British Isles. The archaeologist Euan Mackie wrote "Likewise it cannot be doubted that important regional cultures existed in the Neolithic period and can be defined by different kinds of stone circles and local pottery styles. No-one has ever been rash enough to claim a nationwide unity of all aspects of Neolithic archaeology!" Let’s dive into a wonderful part of the ancient history of Greece! Mega… what? Surprisingly the word Megalithic means “Big Stones” and the word itself is actually Greek like many used in science. They are also known as Cyclopic (origins from the word Cyclop, who refers to a race of Greek giants). You may have read about Cyclop Polyfimos from the Odyssey. While with the word Megalithic people tend to believe it is about building type of constructions, it is also used for other types of construction works like tunnels and more. So, there are those of “Stonehenge type” but not only. Unesco defines as Megalithic all the constructions build with megaliths (big stones). In Greece the Megalithic monuments are usually combinations and formations of a variety of shapes and geometry. While some resemble the front of a ship, other were used in aqueducts and tunnels. Others look like Stonehenge. For example they are build at a location of an amazing scenery, they are oriented with some star constellation, rocks are connected without some intermediate material (like mud, clay), they carry petroglyphs and they seem perfectly carved to fit… Too perfect indeed. Here is a list of such monuments which are a well shared knowledge among archaeologists. The Citadel and Lion Gate at Mycenae, Location: Mycenae, Peloponnese. Eupalinos Tunnel (Aqueduct), Location: Island of Samos . Fort of Tirinth Location: Tirinth, Peloponnese. “Dragonhouse” of Ochi, Location: Karistos, Evia. Pyramid of Argos, Location: Argos, Peloponnese. The Arcadian Gate, Messini Location: Messini, Peloponnese. So, here is an intriguing question. How did they lift all these huge rocks? How they were placed and set with such accuracy? Some of them fit so perfectly that not even a paper leaf can pass through. This is indeed a mystery that spreads all over the world, as many megalithic monuments exist everywhere, and Greece has it’s part.Greek pyramids , also known as the Pyramids of Argolis, refers to several structures located in the plain of Argolid , Greece . The best known of these is known as the Pyramid of Hellinikon . In the time of the geographer Pausanias it was considered to be a tomb . Twentieth century researchers have suggested other possible uses.Writing in the 2nd century AD, Pausanias mentions two buildings resemblingp yramids, one, twelve miles southwest of the still standing structure at Hellenikon (Ελληνικό in Greek), a common tomb for soldiers who died in a legendary struggle for the throne of Argos and another which he was told was the tomb of Argives killed in a battle around 669/8 BC. Neither of these still survive and there is no evidence that they resembled Egyptian pyramids. There are also at least two surviving pyramid-like structures still available to study, one at Hellenikon and the other at Ligourio/Ligurio, a village near the ancient theatre Epidaurus. Although these structures are of great interest, written references are rather scarce and they are not mentioned in ancient sources. Pausanias (2nd century AD) mentions two buildings resembling pyramids, one, twelve miles southwest of the still standing structure at Hellinikon,  a common tomb for soldiers who died in a legendary struggle for the throne of Argos and another which he was told was the tomb of Argives killed in a battle around 669/8 BC. Neither of these still survive.At the Southeastern edge of the plain of Argolid, near the springs of the Erasinos river (nowadays Kephalari ) and on the main arterial road which in antiquity led from Argos to Tegea and the rest of Arcadia and Kynouria , there is a small structure extant known as the Pyramid of Hellenikon. "On the way from Argos to Epidauria there is on the right a building made very like a pyramid, and on it in relief are wrought shields of the Argive shape. Here took place a fight for the throne between Proetus and Acrisius; the contest, they say, ended in a draw, and a reconciliation resulted afterwards, as neither could gain a decisive victory. The story is that they and their hosts were armed with shields, which were first used in this battle. For those that fell on either side was built here a common tomb, as they were fellow citizens and kinsmen.". The pyramidal in Hellenikon was excavated first by Wiegand, who essentially removed all the fill from the floor. Later on in 1937, more excavation was made by the American School of Archaeology at Athens under the direction of L. Lord who concluded that both the structure at Ligurio and the one at Cephalaria were "guard houses capable of accommodating a small garrison who could control the countryside and be safe behind their walls from surprise attacks by a few persons." Amongst the findings are a large pithos, the floor of the long corridor and the room, re-carved from repairs, entrance door, and parts of the wall, infill from earlier excavations. Some ceramics of Protohelladic II period (2800–2500 BC) were attributed by S. Wienberg, a member of the team. Their location and distribution however is not described clearly,. There are also room foundations and mortars from later uses of the building, as well as mixture disturbed sediments with ceramics of classical period (lamps, house ware), and some few coarse sherds of doubtful age, and some Roman lamps. The infill at the floor varies between 20–60 cm. There is considerable controversy about the dates of these structures, with conflict between dating based on archeological excavations and dating through what was at the time the new technique of thermoluminescence dating , Ioannis Liritzis and his team argue for an early date through five sub-projects: 1) geophysical prospection inside and around the two pyramidals at Hellenikon and Ligourio, where buried monuments were discovered, 2) these results directed the archaeological excavations carried out by archaeologist A.Sampson and archaeologists of the Archaeological Museum of Nauplion. Amongst the new finds were foundations of rooms, ceramics of Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Protochristian periods, and protohelladic II in the exterior foundations of Hellenikon above the bedrock. A comparative study of masonries was also made, 3) astronomical orientation of the long entrance corridor was found related to the rise of Orion’s belt occurring in c. 2000-2400 BC,  4) the dating of some parts of the overlying large megalithic blocks in the wall, with the novel thermoluminescence dating method of rock surfaces. Sampling was chosen for their firmness and lack of sun exposure of internal contact surfaces, by removing a few milligrams of powder from pieces in firm contact. Seven pieces gave an age range of c. 2000–2500 BC, while two ceramic sherds of non-diagnostic typology one from Hellenikon and one from Ligourio dated by TL and OSL gave concordant ages of 3000±250 BC and 660±200 BC respectively. This time frame would place construction of these structures at a time overlapping the construction of the pyramids in Egypt. Mary Lefkowitz has criticised this research. She suggests that some of the research was done not to determine the reliability of the dating method, as was suggested, but to back up an assumption of age and to make certain points about pyramids and Greek civilization. She notes that not only are the results not very precise, but that other structures mentioned in the research are not in fact pyramids, e.g. a tomb alleged to be the tomb of Amphion and Zethus near Thebes, a structure at Stylidha (Thessaly) which is just a long wall, etc. She also notes the possibility that the stones that were dated might have been recycled from earlier constructions. She also notes that earlier research from the 1930s, confirmed in the 1980s by Fracchia, was ignored. She argues that they undertook their research using a novel, previously untested methodology in order to confirm a predetermined theory about the age of these structures. Liritzis responded in a journal article published in 2011, stating that Lefkowitz failed to understand and misinterpreted the methodology. A. Sampson wrote that it was "already proved that the monument stood on Protohelladic constructions, therefore it was built in a later time. Besides, the masonry of the pyramid, similar to that of Ligourio, leads us to the Classic or Late Classic years. A new method for dating the stone, recently applied to the pyramids, indicated a too early dating in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, which of course cannot be accepted."The dimensions of the rectangular building surrounding the pyramid of Hellinikon are 7.03 meters by 9.07 metres. The external walls rise at a 60 degree angle up to 3.5 metres. The walls then become vertical in order to support the floor of the building. The entire monument is built from grey limestone from the district in the form of large blocks used in a trapezoidal/partially polygonal system.A rchaeoastronomy (also spelled archeoastronomy ) is the study of how people in the past "have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role the sky played in their cultures." Clive Ruggles argues it is misleading to consider archaeoastronomy to be the study of ancient astronomy , as modern astronomy is a scientific discipline, while archaeoastronomy considers symbolically rich cultural interpretations of phenomena in the sky by other cultures. It is often twinned with ethnoastronomy , the anthropological study of skywatching in contemporary societies. Archaeoastronomy is also closely associated with historical astronomy , the use of historical records of heavenly events to answer astronomical problems and the history of astronomy , which uses written records to evaluate past astronomical practice. Archaeoastronomy uses a variety of methods to uncover evidence of past practices including archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, statistics and probability, and history. Because these methods are diverse and use data from such different sources, integrating them into a coherent argument has been a long-term difficulty for archaeoastronomers. Archaeoastronomy fills complementary niches in landscape archaeology and cognitive archaeology. Material evidence and its connection to the sky can reveal how a wider landscape can be integrated into beliefs about the cycles of nature , such as Mayan astronomy and its relationship with agriculture. Other examples which have brought together ideas of cognition and landscape include studies of the cosmic order embedded in the roads of settlements. Archaeoastronomy can be applied to all cultures and all time periods. The meanings of the sky vary from culture to culture; nevertheless there are scientific methods which can be applied across cultures when examining ancient beliefs. It is perhaps the need to balance the social and scientific aspects of archaeoastronomy which led Clive Ruggles to describe it as: "...[A] field with academic work of high quality at one end but uncontrolled speculation bordering on lunacy at the other." A common source of data for archaeoastronomy is the study of alignments. This is based on the assumption that the axis of alignment of an archaeological site is meaningfully oriented towards an astronomical target. Brown archaeoastronomers may justify this assumption through reading historical or ethnographic sources, while Green archaeoastronomers tend to prove that alignments are unlikely to be selected by chance, usually by demonstrating common patterns of alignment at multiple sites. An alignment is calculated by measuring the azimuth, the angle from north, of the structure and the altitude of the horizon it faces The azimuth is usually measured using a theodolite or a compass . A compass is easier to use, though the deviation of the Earth's magnetic field from true north, known as its magnetic declination must be taken into account. Compasses are also unreliable in areas prone to magnetic interference, such as sites being supported by scaffolding. Additionally a compass can only measure the azimuth to a precision of a half a degree. A theodolite can be considerably more accurate if used correctly, but it is also considerably more difficult to use correctly. There is no inherent way to align a theodolite with North and so the scale has to be calibrated using astronomical observation, usually the position of the Sun. Because the position of celestial bodies changes with the time of day due to the Earth's rotation, the time of these calibration observations must be accurately known, or else there will be a systematic error in the measurements. Horizon altitudes can be measured with a theodolite or a clinometer.

Πηγή: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalith




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