This is the age that saw the communion of individuals, the age in which one no longer had to be nomadic to survive; the age where most of the awe-inspiring structures come from. This is the Megalithic age, where individuals came together, combining strength and ingenuity to construct massive superstructures that would be in existence for centuries. Even with seemingly limited building materials, the peoples of the Megalithic era certainly devised long last architecture. Turning our gaze to the modern world, are the buildings and undertakings of today as durable and awe-inspiring in proportion to the Megaliths?
One of the characteristics of the Megalithic age is that people began putting down roots, growing and flourishing into communities and cities. For people to be making the decision to have a more steadfast and reliable living situation, there must have been a shift in the ability to find resources. There was such a shift. In the preceding era, agriculture was discovered as well as the domestication of goats, dogs, and sheep. Added to this solid foundation, the Megalithic age contributed the domestication of larger herd animals such as cattle and camels. Leaving nomadism behind, the Megalithic peoples now had much more security, so what could they devout their time and energies to? This is the age where structures such as Stonehenge, Moundville, the Dolmens of North Caucasus, Taulas Stone circle and many other such structures emerged.
The structure of this period that readily 0springs to mind is Stonehenge. The mighty, awe-inspiring circle has boggled many a historian’s mind as to how it came to be. The stones range from four tons to twenty-five tons, and with the wheel still undiscovered, it leaves many scratching their heads in wonderment. “Recent experiments show that it is possible for a one-ton stone to be moved by a dozen people on a wooden trackway, but whether this technique was actually used by the ancient builders is uncertain” (Owen, Jarus). Many researchers are still trying to understand just how these people of antiquity created Stonehenge and the purposes behind it. Stonehenge is merely a part of a larger religious setting that holds many other similar structures as well as burial grounds. “Dozens of burial mounds have been discovered near Stonehenge indicating that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were buried there in ancient times. At least 17 shrines, some in the shape of a circle, have also been discovered near Stonehenge” (Owen, Jarus). Stonehenge could be considered a monument of gratitude for the abundance of game in that area; a shrine to deities.
Megalithic structures that are found in North America are the Indian Mounds. These mounds, unlike many of their contemporary buildings, were not created with stones, but with soil, shells, ash, and rocks. These mounds were often added to through the years; the “Mound People,” as they were called, often added separate levels. (Crystalinks) The purpose of these mounds varies depending on the tribe that created them, but mostly these structures were for religious, political and/or communal purposes. They had flat tops and platforms for celebrations and festivities. Other mounds were used as a kind of burial ground, and these offer information about the peoples of the time. “The mound builders included many different tribal groups and chiefdoms, probably involving a bewildering array of beliefs and unique cultures, united only by the shared architectural practice of mound construction. This practice, believed to be associated with a cosmology that had a cross-cultural appeal, may indicate common cultural antecedents.” (Crystalinks)
Moving across the waters to Europe, we find the Dolmens of Caucasus in North Russia. There are many such Dolmens dotting the European countryside. These Dolmens can be divided into four different categories: Plate Dolmens, Compound Dolmens, Trough-shaped Dolmens, and Monolithic Dolmens. (Ancient-wisdom) The stones that were used for the construction in the Plate Dolmens of Caucasus were precisely measured and cut cycloptic stones, shaped into ninety-degree angles. (Holloway, April) How did these “primitive” people create such precise buildings with such simplistic tools? Although not in all the Dolmens, there were several Dolmens that contained human remains and artifacts including bronze earrings, a bone belt buckle, and a sand-disk the size of a dinner plate; these items were found in the Kolikho Dolmen and were dated to around 1800-1300 BCE. (Ancient-wisdom)
Looking in Spain, on the Menorca Island, one will find the Taulas, the Megalithic structures of the period. Combining the appearance of Stonehenge with table-top structures as well as the stone wall encircling the Dolmens of Caucasus, gives a good description of the appearance of the Taulas. Who were these peoples? “Some experts suggest the first seafaring people to arrive were of the eastern Mediterranean, such as the Minoans in Crete” (Historic Mysteries). These structures were buried underground, and because of this burial, they have been kept in nearly pristine condition. As with the running theme of the previous megaliths, the reason for the Taulas construction is largely speculated. Waldemar Fenn, a German archeologist in the 1930s was so fascinated by these structures, that he devoted his life to studying them. Revising some of his earlier theories, he concluded that the twelve table-top structures and the half size table-top structure in the different Taulas locations represented the moon’s average 12.5 cycles:
“What Fenn learned was if somebody looked at the entrance of the taula in December, the full moon would be located on the left corner of the top of the taula. The following year the moon would be 1.5 degrees to the right of its position from the year before. After 9 years, the moon would be on the exact opposite side of the top of the Taula. This 9-year travel would equate to 13.5 degrees of movement and essentially create a semi-circle over the top of taula. After 18 years, the moon would have reversed that semi-circle and be located on the left corner of the taula as it was 18 years before.”
These megalithic buildings speak well for the Homo Sapien Sapiens. These people came together and combined strength, ingenuity, and blended in communal spirits to create these amazing structures. These megaliths have survived for centuries despite the fact that its builders are largely unknown.