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.

20180511_143219
Stonehenge
20180511_144111
Aubrey Hole along the path of Stonehenge
20180511_151058
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.

ziggurat
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.

zig 3
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.

zig 2
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