Week 2 (Asteria)

On my junior’s abroad trip, one of the places I got to visit was Stonehenge. Prior to being there, however, I didn’t have the historical background of why Stonehenge was made. The time I spent at the actual Stonehenge was also quite short, so I never really got to learn the full history of it.

Below are a few pictures I took while at Stonehenge.

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Stonehenge
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Aubrey Hole along the path of Stonehenge
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Post-and-Lintel structures

Reading about Stonehenge, it seemed like this architecture really resonated with the living, dead, and nature. It seems like Stonehenge was a burial site for the dead, especially with the Aubrey holes (as seen above), for burying cremated bones. The megaliths seem like a common use for a burial ritual, similar to modern day tombstones. The stones during the Neolithic age, however, seem to place a lot of emphasis on the alignment of the sun. Not knowing what comes after death, the stones were positioned based on the patterns of celestial objects such as the sun and moon.

I think that the theme of celestial bodies was due to the fact that the sun provided life for the people in the Neolithic era. With the decline of nomadic life, agriculture and livestock heavily relied on the sun and rain. While Stonehenge functions as a burial site, it also incorporates important values such as astronomical observatories and a time keeper.

In modern day, these megaliths aren’t prevalent; instead, tombstones are a parallel to the megaliths. The tombstones are engraved with the name of the deceased and usually a special trait/tribute to them. There are other great works, such as buildings, music, or even park benches that are a memorial for the dead.  Despite the cultural and time difference, it seems like a memorial of dead incorporate mementos from the living.

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A view of the restored Ziggurat of Ur

Source

I chose to do more research on Ziggurat of Ur, because the seals and impressions from Uruk caught my attention (located on page 35). With the numerous Mesopotamian Gods, the Ziggurat of Ur was built as a place of worship for the moon goddess, Nanna (Petricevic). I find this interesting, that in so many different cultures and locations, the sun and the moon were heavily worshiped. The pyramid structure is also oriented to true North (“Ziggurat”). This “pyramid” does not have smooth sides, but three different tiers, in which a shrine/temple is located at the highest point.

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Early image of Ziggurat of Ur from 1920

Source

I think it’s amazing that the lower tiers of the pyramid were crafted in such a way that it would survive varying seasons. Drains were even created to remove winter rains (“Ur”). It’s amazing how the ziggurat was created with such ingenuity, with the little technology they had.

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Staircase at Ziggurat of Ur which aligns to the summer solstice sunrise

Source

From the importance of the sun and the moon, it seems like many cultures heavily see the sun as the provider of life. With the end to nomadic life, a stable vegetation was heavily relied on for life support. It is clear that the sun was of importance to numerous cultures, as seen from Stonehenge, the Ziggurat of Ur, Pyramids in Aztec, and many more. The important dates, such as the summer solstice are relevant to the building’s orientation as well.

I really enjoyed reading through these two chapters and seeing the gradual change in forms. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading more about Stonehenge and seeing different things/artifacts I have seen in the museums I’ve been to.

 

References

Petricevic, Ivan. “The Great Ziggurat Of Ur, An Ancient Temple Honoring The Anunnaki.”
Ancient Code, 5 Dec. 2017

“Ur. The Ziggurat.” Odyssey Adventures in Archaology, 17 Feb. 2017

“Ziggurat of Ur.” Khan Academy, Khan Academy

7 thoughts on “Week 2 (Asteria)”

  1. SO AWESOME that you got to visit Stonehenge. What exactly are the Aubrey Holes? You said they are for cremated bones, but do all cremated bones go in one hole, or are there multiple holes? Also, I haven’t studied Stonehenge before this class and didn’t know that it also serves as a time-keeper. The sun definitely powers life on Earth; it helps/helped us keep time, is a food source to our food sources, and never expires, even when we do. No wonder some religions and cultures worship it. I also really enjoyed reading about the research you did on Ziggurat of Ur 🙂

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  2. The Aubrey holes consist of 56 holes that surround the stones. There’s a topical picture of the holes on page 29 that shows them. Although the Aubrey holes contain cremated human bones, there are some people who think that the Aubrey holes have an astronomical purpose.

    I think it’s amazing that people can predict when lunar/solar eclipses will happen, and when the winter/summer solstices will occur and build amazing structures that reflect those events with no technology.

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  3. I think it’s awesome that you got to visit Stonehenge! It is so interesting that so many cultures put such a large emphasis on the moon, stars, and sun. It makes me want to explore that knowledge even more. Our culture doesn’t really put much emphasis on astrology unless it is a race to the moon. For as much money as we invest in space discovery, we don’t usually let it effect our lives.

    I love how you put your photos throughout your post! It made what you were saying really come to life through images.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I tried to put the pictures that related to what I was talking about so it gives more of a context. 🙂

      I think a lot of these beliefs of a higher power stems from the lack of knowledge. We now know that the earth’s rotation causes the sun to rise, and eclipses are because the sun, moon, and earth are aligned. Back then, a lot of the unknown and mysteries are believed to be the works of god. But without technology, the sun and moon do seem mysterious and always changing.

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      1. That’s a really good point. We often revere the things that we cannot explain. But technology nowadays leaves little to the imagination.

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  4. Wow I love the pictures you took of the Stonehenge! I am so jealous that you got to see it in person! Did you guys learn about these sites in your jr’s class before going? I remember seeing images of the Aubrey holes, but never knew what they were used for. The placement of the stones to the sun and moon is very interesting. It makes sense that they would pay close attention to the sun because it is the source of natural power. I also thought about researching about the Ziggurat of Ur. The seals and impressions are beautiful! I agree that it is very interesting that the sun, moon, and stars are common in multiple cultures. Learning about cultural traditions like these reminds me of how amazing God’s creation is.

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    1. Most of our class was going through the history of Ireland/England and the different kings. We really didn’t learn about the places we went, unfortunately, so reading and learning about the Stonehenge was really cool! There were audio guides (at Stonehenge), but we didn’t have time to listen to all of them while we walked around the stones. The only reason why the Aubrey holes caught my attention was because one of them was directly in the middle of the path we were walking on.

      I agree on how great God’s creation is! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the sun and the moon look the same size because the sun is 400x bigger than the moon, but is 400x further.

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