Stonehenge

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Stonehenge

On the British Isles more than nine hundred stone rings exist. Most people prefer to call them rings rather than circles for the reason that only two percent of them are true circles. The other ninety eight percent of these structures are constructed in an elliptical shape. Stonehenge in itself is roughly circular. Most of these rings cannot be dated exactly, but it is known that they are from the Neolithic period.
In southern England the Neolithic period begins around the time of the first farming communities in 4000 B.C. to the time of the development of bronze technology around 2000 B.C., by that time the construction of major monuments was mostly over.
Because of the scarcity of the archaeological record at the stone rings, any attempts to explain the functions of the structures are guesses. Most attempts tend to reflect the cultural relatedness of their times. Most people believe that these rings were constructed by a group of people called Druids.
This idea of Stonehenge being constructed by Druids has become deeply implanted in the uneducated minds of popular culture from tie seventeenth century to the present. It is common knowledge that the druids had nothing to do with these rings. The Druids flourished after about 300 B.C., more than 1500 years after the last stone rings were constructed. Even more, there is no evidence that suggests that the Druids even used these stone rings for ritual purposes. Any Druidic connection with the stone rings is purely hypothetical.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, prehistorians attributed
Stonehenge and other stone rings to Egyptian and Mycenean travelers who were thought to have infused Europe and Bronze age culture. With the development of carbon 14 dating methods, the infusion-diffusion of British Neolithic history was abandoned and the megalithic monuments of Britain were shown to predate those in most other countries.
While the carbon 14 method provided approximate dates for the stone rings it was no use explaining their function. Research by scholars outside the discipline of archaeology suggested a use different to that of rituals.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Oxford University engineer Alexander Thom and the astronomer Gerald Hawkins pioneered the new field of archaeoastronomy-the study of the astronomies of ancient civilizations. Conducting precise surveys at various stone rings and other megalithic structures, Thom and Hawkins discovered many significant astronomical alignments among the stones. This evidence suggested that the stone rings were used as astronomical observatories. Moreover, the archaeoastronomers revealed the extraordinary mathematical sophistication and engineering abilities that the native British developed before either Egyptian or Mesopotamian cultures.

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