Thursday, 27 August 2009

Neolithic temple found on Orkney

'Neolithic cathedral built to amaze’ unearthed in Orkney dig - The Times
A huge Neolithic cathedral, unlike anything else which can be seen in Britain, has been found in Orkney.

Archaeologists said that the building would have dwarfed the island’s landmarks from the Stone Age — the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. Nick Card, who is leading the dig at the Ness of Brodgar, said that the cathedral, which would have served the whole of the north of Scotland, would have been constructed to "amaze" and "create a sense of awe" among those who saw it.

It is about 65ft in length and width and would have dominated the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness which stand on either side. These important sites, dating back about 5,000 years, might have actually been peripheral features of Orkney’s Stone Age landscape. Mr Card said: “In effect it is a Neolithic cathedral for the whole of the north of Scotland.”
It seems wrong to call this a "cathedral" which is a specifically Christian word meaning the building that houses a bishop's throne; but nevertheless it is a magnificent and and fascinating discovery. I wonder what could be reconstructed of Neolithic religious practice, if anything.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Mound Builders

The Sinnissippi Mounds were made by a mysterious culture or group of cultures known only as "the Mound-Builders", or the Hopewell tradition, or the Adena Culture.

In his new book about the mounds, Fritz Zimmerman argues that the the Hopewell were Sioux (Dakota and Lakota) along with the kindred tribes of Cherokee and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee). The author explores over 700 mound and earthwork sites in 5 states; it took him eleven winters to complete the project. The book includes photographs of 222 sites and gives directions to the sites.

The Criel Mound in South Charleston, West Virginia, USA.The Criel Mound in South Charleston,
West Virginia, USA.

A Photographic Essay And Guide To The Adena, Hopewell Sioux And Iroquois Mounds And Earthworks, 1000 B.C. to 500 A.D.
By Fritz Zimmerman
ISBN 978-1-934690-14-7
History / Native American Studies

Tasora Books · August 2009

The book also argues that the mound-builders had complex mathematical knowledge which enabled them to build the mounds, and hypothesises that we can work out the purpose of the mounds by linking them with the mythology of the Sioux, Iroquois and Cherokee Nations. Whether or not that is the case (I'm a little bit sceptical), this book is still a valuable gazetteer of the mounds, and will doubtless fascinate anyone who is interested in Native American culture.