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Journal of Lithic Prehistory

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Neolithic stone skills [May. 20th, 2008|03:09 am]
Journal of Lithic Prehistory


I've recently gotten interested in the stone age again. I've been reading lately about Orkney, where there is a neolithic site founded by the Grooved Ware People. This site was made of at least 7 apartments with locks on the doors, a full plumbing system, stone beds, stone chairs, even stone storage containers. These people used stone like we use wood, metal, and plastic. They were excellent at this. The most notable part of Orkney, though, is the nearby henge with standing stones.

I've also been reading about some interesting oddities. A site in the Czech Republic (in the village of Dolni Vestonice), had a factory for making clay figures. This factory was dated at 26,000 years old! Oddest thing is, all the evidence indicates that these people were going out of their way to make these figures explode in the kiln.

Oh, and the stones of Stenness! I have a quote about those:

"The Stones of Stenness are remarkable because of the deep-cut ditch which surrounds them. It has been cut two metres down into a single giant rock. To build it required the careful removal of 18,000 cubic metres of solid rock - apparently all done using tools made of flint, wood, and bone. Whoever cut through that lot really wanted a ditch in that exact spot! Why did they go to so much trouble to build it?"
-from "Uriel's Machine" by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, page 172.

The authors of that book agree with the hypothesis that is gaining more popularity, that these places (like Orkney and Stonehenge) were naked-eye astronomical observatories. Which makes a lot of sense to me: being able to figure out the movements of the heavens is a great way to ensure a good crop, and there is lots of evidence, from Orkney and other sites, that the Grooved Ware People had agriculture and domesticated animals. It also seems that these people lived throughout Europe, even down into Africa.

Can anyone recommend any good books about Orkney, neolithic astronomy, and/or the Grooved Ware People? I am utterly fascinated by all this stuff!

(Also, I highly recommend "Uriel's Machine" by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. I first found it in the "Conspiracy Theories and quackpot pseudo-science section," picked it up for some laughs, and found that it did not deserve to be in that section at all. I think the only reason it's in that section is because they pose the hypothesis that the world really did experience a massive flood in the past, but the scale isn't *quite* as huge as the Noah story, and their evidence is astonishing. They cite reliable academic sources and, while I don't agree with everything they say, I'd say it's very well written piece of scientific writing.)

[User Picture]From: shaunotd
2008-05-31 09:32 am (UTC)
It was probably the bit about angels breeding with human women that flagged it as quackery.
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[User Picture]From: alex_antonin
2008-06-01 12:46 pm (UTC)
Nowhere in the book does it say they actually did, the authors just are trying to find the bits that are true out of the legend. So they were just quoting. All myths and legends have a kernel of truth, after all. The authors suspect that the "angels" were actually just wise people, since "angel" used to be a title akin to priest.
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