The notion or recollection of cyclical ages affecting Earth and Mankind was not confined to the Old World. When Hernando Cortes was welcomed by the Aztec king Montezuma as a returning god, he was presented with an immense golden disk on which were carved the symbols of the cyclical ages in which the Aztecs and their predecessors in Mexico believed.
That precious artifact has been lost forever, having been quickly melted down by the Spaniards; but replicas thereof, in stone, have been found (Fig. 6).
The glyphs represented the cycle of "Suns" or ages of which the present is the fifth. The previous four all ended in one or another natural calamity - water, wind, quakes and storms, and wild animals.
All the way south in pre-Columbian Peru, the Andean peoples also spoke of five "Suns" or ages.
The durations of these ages were measured in thousands rather than in tens or hundreds of thousands of years. Mayan monuments and tombs were decorated with "sky bands" whose glyphs have been found to represent the zodiacal division of the heavens; artifacts found in Mayan ruins and in the Inca capital Cuzco have been identified as zodiacal calendars.
The city of Cuzco itself, it appears, was (in the words of S. Hagar in a paper delivered at the 14th Congress of Americanists) "a testimonial in stone" to the South American familiarity with the twelve-house zodiac. The unavoidable conclusion is that knowledge of the zodiacal division of the ecliptic was somehow known in the New World millennia ago, and that the Ages were measured in the 2,160-year units of Celestial Time.
The idea that calendars could be made of stone might seem strange to us, but was evidently quite logical in antiquity. One such calendar, posing many puzzles, is called Stonehenge. It consists nowadays of gigantic stone blocks that stand silently on a windswept plain in England, north of the city of Salisbury and about eighty miles southwest of London.
The remains pose an enigma that has titillated the curiosity and imagination of generations, challenging historians, archaeologists, and astronomers. The mystery these megaliths bespeak is lost in the mists of earlier times; and Time, we believe, is the key to its secrets. Stonehenge has been called "the most important prehistoric monument in the whole of Britain," and that alone justifies the attention it has been given over the centuries and especially in recent times.
It has been described - at least by its British relators - as unique, for "there is nothing else like it anywhere in the world" (R.J.C. Atkinson, Stonehenge and Neighbouring Monuments); and that may explain why an eighteenth-century manuscript listed more than six hundred works on Stonehenge in its catalogue of ancient monuments in Western Europe. Stonehenge is indeed the largest and most elaborate of more than nine hundred ancient stone, wood, and earthen circles in the British Isles, as well as the largest and most complicated one in Europe.
Yet, in our view, it is not only what makes Stonehenge unique that is its most important aspect. It is also what reveals its similarity to certain monuments elsewhere, and its purpose at the specific time of its construction, that make it part of the tale we have called The Earth Chronicles. It is within such a wider framework, we believe, that one can offer a plausible solution to its enigma.
Even those who have not visited Stonehenge must have seen, in print or on the screen, the most striking features of this ancient complex: the pairs of huge upright stone blocks, each about thirteen feet high, connected at the top by an equally massive lintel stone to form freestanding Trilithons; and these, erected in a semicircle, surrounded in turn by a massive circle of similar giant stones connected at the top by lintels that were carefully carved to form a continuous ring around the paired uprights.
Though some of the stone blocks in what are called the sarsen trilithons and the Sarsen Circle (after the type of stone, a kind of sandstone, to which these boulders belong) are missing and some have toppled, it is they that create the view that the word "Stonehenge" conjures (Fig. 7).
Inside this massive stone ring other, smaller stones called bluestones were placed so as to form the Bluestone Circle outside the Trilithons and a bluestone semicircle (some refer to it as the Bluestone Horseshoe) inside the Trilithon half-circle. As is the case regarding the sarsen stones, not all of the bluestones that together formed these circles and half-circles (or "horseshoes") are still in place. Some are missing altogether; some lie about as fallen giants.
Adding to the site's haunting aura are other gigantic stones that lie about and whose nicknames (of uncertain origin) compound the mystery; they include the Altar Stone, a sixteen-foot long dressed block of blue-gray sandstone that remains half-buried under an upright and the lintel of one of the Trilithons. In spite of considerable restoration work, much of the structure's past glory is either gone or fallen. Still, archaeologists have been able to reconstruct from all the available evidence how this remarkable stone monument looked in its prime.
They have concluded that the outer ring, of uprights connected by curved lintels, consisted of thirty upright stones of which seventeen remain. Within this Sarsen Circle there stood the Bluestone Circle of smaller stones (of which twenty-nine are still extant). Within this second ring stood five pairs of Trilithons, making up the Sarsen Horseshoe often massive sarsen blocks; they are usually numbered 51 through 60 on charts (lintel stones are numbered separately in a series that adds 100 to their related uprights; thus the lintel connecting the uprights 51-52 is number 152).
The innermost semicircle consisted of nineteen bluestones (some numbered 61-72), forming the so-called Bluestone Horseshoe; and within this innermost compound, precisely on the axis of the whole Stonehenge complex, stood the so called Altar Stone, giving these circles within circles of stone the layout envisioned in Fig. 8a. As if to emphasize the importance of the circular shape already evident, the rings of stones are in turn centered within a large framing circle. It is a deep and wide ditch whose excavated soil was used to raise its banks; it forms a perfect encompassing ring around the whole Stonehenge complex, a ring with a diameter in excess of three hundred feet.
Approximately half the circuit of the ditch was excavated earlier this century and then partly refilled; the other portions of the ditch and its raised banks bear the marks of being weathered down by nature and man over the millennia. These circles within circles have been repeated in yet other ways. A few feet away from the inner bank of the ditch there exists a circle made up of fifty-six pits, deep and perfectly dug into the ground, called the Aubrey Holes after their seventeenth-century discoverer, John Aubrey.
Archaeologists have excavated these holes for whatever clues the accumulation of debris might disclose about the site and its builders, and have thereafter plugged up the holes with white cement discs; the result is that the perfect circle that these holes form stands out - especially from the air. In addition, cruder and more irregular holes were dug at some unknown time in two circles around the sarsen and bluestone circles, now known as the Y and Z holes.
Two stones, unlike all the others, have been found positioned on opposite sides of the ditch's inner embankment; and somewhat farther down the line of the Aubrey Holes (but evidently not part of them), two circular mounds, equidistant from the two stones, have been found with holes in them. Researchers are convinced that the holes also held stones akin to the first two, and that the four - called Station Stones (now numbered 91-94) - served a distinct purpose, especially since, when connected by lines, the four stones outline a perfect rectangle with probable astronomical connotations.
Yet another massive stone block, nicknamed the Slaughter Stone, lies fallen where the embanked ditch has a wide gap that clearly served as the opening into (or from) the concentric rings of stones, holes, and earthworks. It probably lies not exactly where it once stood, and was probably not alone, as holes in the ground suggest. The opening in the ditch is oriented exactly to the northeast. It leads to (or allows arrival from) a causeway, called the Avenue.
Two parallel embanked ditches outline this avenue, leaving a clear passage over thirty feet wide. It runs straight for more than a third of a mile where it branches northward toward a vast elongated earthwork known as the Cursus, whose orientation is at an angle to that of the Avenue; the other branch of the Avenue curves toward the River Avon. The concentric circles of Stonehenge with the Avenue leading to the northeast (Fig. 8b) provide a major clue regarding the purpose for which Stonehenge was constructed.
Figures 8a and 8b
That the direction of the Avenue - its precise northeastern orientation - was not accidental becomes clear when it is realized that a line drawn through the center of the Avenue passes through the center of the circles of stones and holes to form the structure's axis (see Fig. 8a).
That the axis was deliberately oriented is suggested by a series of holes indicating that the marker stones had once been placed along this axis. One of them, called the Heel Stone, still stands as a mute witness to the builders' intentions and the site's purpose; it was undoubtedly astronomical. The idea that Stonehenge was a carefully planned astronomical observatory rather than a heathen cult or occult site (a notion expressed, for example, by calling a fallen stone "Slaughter Stone," implying human sacrifices), was not easily accepted. In fact, the difficulty grew rather than diminished the more the site was investigated and its date of construction kept shifting backward.
A twelfth-century account (Historia regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth) related that the "Giants' Ring" was "a stone cluster which no man of the period could ever erect and was first built in Ireland from stones brought by the giants from Africa." It was then on the advice of the sorcerer Merlin (whom Arthurian legends also connected with the Holy Grail) that the King of Vortigen moved the stones and "re-erected them in a circle round a sepulchre, in exactly the same way as they had been arranged on Mount Killaraus" in Ireland.
(That this medieval legend had a factual core was given confirmation by the modem discovery that the bluestones originated from the Prescelly Mountains in southwestern Wales and were somehow transported by land and water over a distance of two hundred fifty miles - first to a site some twelve miles northwest of Stonehenge, where they might have been erected in an earlier circle, and then on to Stonehenge proper).
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the stone temple was attributed to the Romans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians, or the Druids. The common aspect of these various notions is that they all shifted the time attributed to Stonehenge from the Middle Ages back to the beginning of the Christian era and earlier, thus substantially increasing the site's antiquity.
Of these various theories, the one concerning the Druids gained the most favor at the time, not least of all because of the research and writings of William Stukeley, especially his 1740 work Stonehenge, A Temple Restored To The British Druids.
The Druids were the learned class or sect of teacher-priests among the ancient Celts. According to Julius Caesar, who is the prime source of information regarding the Druids, they assembled once a year at a sacred place for secret rites; they offered human sacrifices; and among the subjects they taught the Celt noblemen were "the powers of the gods," the sciences of nature, and astronomy.
While nothing that has been uncovered by archaeologists at the site reveals any connection with pre-Christian era Druids, the Celts had arrived in the area by that time and there is no proof the other way either, namely that the Druids did not gather at this "Sun Temple" even if they had nothing to do with its much earlier builders.
Although Roman legions encamped near the site, no evidence was found to connect Stonehenge with the Romans. A Greek and Phoenician connection, however, shows more promise. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (first century BC.) - a contemporary of Julius Caesar - who had traveled to Egypt, wrote a multivolume history of the ancient world.
In the first volumes he dealt with the prehistory of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Ethiopians, and Greeks, the so-called "mythic times." Drawing on the writings of earlier historians, he quotes from a (by now lost) book by Hecataeus of Abdera in which the latter had stated, circa 300 BC., that on an island inhabited by the Hyperboreans "there is a magnificent sacred precinct of Apollo and a notable temple which is spherical in shape."
The name in Greek signified a people from the distant north, whence the north wind ("Boreas") comes. They were worshipers of the Greek (later Roman) god Apollo, and the legends regarding the Hyperboreans were thus mingled with the myths concerning Apollo and his twin sister, the goddess Artemis.
As the ancients told it, the twins were the children of the great god Zeus and their mother Leto, a Titaness. Impregnated by Zeus, Leto wandered over the face of the Earth seeking a place to give birth to her children in peace, away from the wrath of Hera, the official wife of Zeus; Apollo was thus associated with the distant north.
The Greeks and the Ro-mans considered him a god of divination and prophecy; he circled the zodiac in his chariot. Though not attributing any scientific value to such a legendary or mythological connection with Greece, archaeologists have nevertheless seemed to find such a connection through archaeological discoveries in the area of Stonehenge, which is replete with prehistoric earthworks, structures, and graves.
These man-made ancient remains include the great Avebury Circle, which schematically drawn resembles the works of a modern watch (Fig. 9a, as sketched by William Stukeley) or even the meshing wheels of the ancient Mayan calendar (Fig. 9b).
Figures 9a and 9b
They also include the miles-long trench called the Cursus; a kind of wooden-pegged rather than stone-made circle called Woodhenge; and the outstanding Silbury Hill - an artificial conical hill which is precisely circular and 520 feet in diameter, the largest of its kind in Europe (some see significance in the fact that it is situated an exact six purported "megalithic miles" from Stonehenge).
The most important finds, archaeologically speaking, have been made in this area (as often elsewhere) in tombs, which are scattered all over the Stonehenge area. In them archaeologists have found bronze daggers, axes and maces, golden ornaments, decorated pottery, and polished stones. Many of those finds reinforced archaeological opinion that the manner in which stones at Stonehenge were smoothly dressed and carefully shaped indicated "influences" from Minoan Crete (the Mediterranean island) and Mycenaean (mainland) Greece.
It was also noted that some of the peg-into-socket joints used at Stonehenge to hold together stone blocks were similar to the joints used in the stone gateways of Mycenae. All this, many archaeologists held, pointed to a connection with ancient Greece. A leading representative of this school has been Jacquetta Hawkes, who in her book Dawn of the Gods, about the Minoan and Mycenaean origins of Greek civilization, could not help devoting a good portion of the chapter on "Graves and Kingdoms" to Stonehenge.
Mycenae is situated in the southwestern part of mainland Greece that is called the Peloponnesus (and now separated from the rest of Greece by a man-made Corinth Canal) and acted as a bridge between the earlier Minoan civilization on the island of Crete and the later classical Greek one. It flowered in the sixteenth century BC. and the treasures uncovered in the tombs of its kings revealed foreign contacts that undoubtedly included Britain.
Such things, she added, were not of great moment and could just be the fruits of trade or imitation, were it not for "the unique event - the building of the great sarsen-stone circle and trilithons of Stonehenge." Not all archaeological finds, however, showed such early Greek "influences."
The finds in tombs around Stonehenge included, for example, decorated beads and amber disks bound with gold in a method developed in Egypt and not at all in Greece. Such finds raised the possibility that all those artifacts were somehow imported to southeast England, neither by Greeks nor Egyptians but perhaps by trading people from the eastern Mediterranean.
The obvious candidates were the Phoenicians, the renowned sailors-cumtraders of antiquity. It is a recorded fact that the Phoenicians, sailing from their Mediterranean ports, reached Cornwall in the south-west corner of England, quite close to Stonehenge, in the search for tin, with which hardened bronze was made from soft copper. But were any of these peoples, whose trade links flourished in the millennium between 1500 BC. and 500 BC., responsible for the planning and construction of Stonehenge? Did they even visit it?
A partial answer would depend, of course, on when Stonehenge itself was conceived and built, or who else was there to build it. In the absence of written records or carved images of the Mediterranean gods (artifacts found elsewhere among Minoan, Mycenaean, and Phoenician ruins) no one can answer the question with any certainty. But the question itself became moot when various remains of organic origin, such as carved antlers, were dug up by archaeologists at Stonehenge.
Subjected to radiocarbon dating, remains found in the Ditch produced a date of between 2900 to 2600 BC. - at least a thousand years and probably much more before the sailors from the Mediterranean may have arrived. A charcoal piece found in one of the Aubrey Holes provided a carbon date of 2200 BC.; an antler pick found near one of the trilithons gave a reading of between 2280 and 2060 BC; radiocarbon datings of finds in the Avenue gave dates between 2245 and 2085 BC.
Who was there at such an early time to plan and execute the marvelous stone complex? Scholars hold that until about 3000 BC. the area was sparsely populated by small groups of early farmers and herders who used stone for their tools. Some time after 2500 BC. new groups arrived from the European continent; they brought with them knowledge of metals (copper and gold), used clay utensils, and buried their dead in round mounds; they have been nicknamed the Beaker People, after the shape of their drinking vessels.
At about 2000 BC. bronze made its appearance in the area and a wealthier and more numerous population, known as the Wessex People, engaged in cattle ranching, metal crafts, and trade with western and central Europe and the Mediterranean. By 1500 BC. this era of prosperity suffered an abrupt decline that lasted the better part of a millennium; and Stonehenge must have shared in this decline.
Even an outspoken proponent of the Mycenaean connection, Jacquetta Hawkes, had to admit that Stonehenge,
To allow for the Mycenaean connection and to link it with the early Englanders, she proceeded to offer the theory that,
But what was that "more civilized tradition" that gave rise to this structure that was beyond compare to anything in prehistoric Europe?
The answer must depend on an accurate dating of Stonehenge; and if, as scientific data suggests, it is a thousand to two thousand years older than the Mycenaeans and the Phoenicians, then an earlier source of the "civilized tradition" must be sought. If Stonehenge belongs to the third millennium BC., then the only candidates are those of Sumer and Egypt.
When Stonehenge was first conceived, the Sumerian civilization, with its cities, high-rise temples-cum-observatories, writing, and scientific knowledge, was already a thousand years old, and kingship had already flourished in Egypt for many centuries. For a better answer, we have to put together the knowledge accumulated by now regarding the several phases by which Stonehenge, according to the latest research, came to be.
Stonehenge began with hardly any stones. It began, all are agreed, with the Ditch and its embankment, a great earthen circle with a circumference of 1,050 feet at its bottom; it is about twelve feet wide and up to six feet deep, and thus required digging up a considerable quantity of soil (chalky earth) and arranging it to form the two raised banks. Within this outer ring the circle of 56 Aubrey Holes was made.
The northeastern section of the earthen ring was left un-dug, to provide an entranceway into the midst of the circle. There, two "gateway stones," now missing, flanked this entry to the enclosure; they also served as focusing aides for the Heel Stone, which was erected on the resultant axis. This massive natural boulder stands sixteen feet above the ground and cuts four feet into the earth; it has been set up inclined at an angle of 24°.
A series of holes at the entrance gap may have been intended to hold movable wooden markers, and are thus called Post Holes. Finally, the four rounded Station Stones were positioned to form a perfect rectangle; and this completed Stonehenge I - the earthen ring, the Aubrey Holes, an entranceway axis, seven stones, and some wooden pegs.
Organic remains and stone tools associated with this phase suggest to scholars that Stonehenge I was constructed sometime between 2900 and 2600 BC.; the date selected by the British authorities is 2800 BC. Whoever constructed Stonehenge I, and for whatever purpose, found it satisfactory for several centuries. Throughout the occupation of the area by the Beaker People, no need to change or improve the arrangement of earthwork and stones was indicated.
Then, at about 2100 BC., just before the arrival of the Wessex People (or perhaps coinciding with it) a spate of extraordinary activity burst upon the scene. The main event was the introduction of the bluestones into the makeup of Stonehenge, making Stonehenge II a stone "henge" for the first time. It was no mean feat to haul the bluestones, weighing up to four tons each, across land and over sea and river for a total distance of some two hundred fifty miles.
To this day it is not known why these particular dolerite stones were chosen and why such a great effort was made to bring them to the site, directly or with a short interval at a temporary way station. Whatever the precise route was, it is believed that in the end they were brought to the site's proximity up the River Avon, which explains why the Avenue was ex tended by some two miles at this phase to connect Stonehenge with the river.
At least eighty (some estimate eighty-two) bluestones were brought over. It is believed that seventy-six of them were intended for the holes that made up the two concentric Q and R holes, thirty-eight per circle; the circles appear to have had openings on their west-facing sides. At the same time a separate larger stone, the so-called Altar Stone, was erected within the circles exactly on the Stonehenge axis, facing the Heel Stone to the northeast.
But as the researchers checked the alignment and the position of the outer stones, they discovered to their surprise that the Heel Stone was shifted in this Phase II somewhat eastward (to the right, as one looks from the enclosure's center); simultaneously, two other stones were erected in a row in front of the Heel Stone, so as to emphasize the new line of sight. To accommodate these changes, the entrance to the enclosure was widened on its right (eastern side) by filling up part of the Ditch, and the Avenue too was widened there.
Unexpectedly the researchers realized that the main innovation of Stonehenge II was not the introduction of the bluestones, but the introduction of a new axis, an axis somewhat more to the east than the previous one. Unlike the seven or so centuries of dormancy for Stonehenge I, Stonehenge III followed Phase II within decades. Whoever was in charge decided to give the complex a monumental scope and permanence. It was then that the huge sarsen stones, weighing forty to fifty tons each, were hauled to Stonehenge from Marlboro Downs, some twenty miles away.
It is generally assumed that seventy-seven stones were brought. As laborious as the transporting of these boulders with an aggregate weight of thousands of tons was, even more daunting must have been the task of setting them up. The stones were carefully dressed to the desired shapes. The lintels were given a precise curvature, given (somehow) protruding pegs exactly where they had to fit into carved-out sockets where stone joined stone; and then all those prepared stones had to be erected in a precise circle or in pairs, and the holding lintels hauled up to be placed on top.
How the task, made more difficult by the site's slope, was achieved, no one really knows. At this time the realigned axis was also given permanence by the erection of two new massive Gateway Stones, replacing the earlier ones. It is believed that the fallen Slaughter Stone could have been one of the two new Gateway Stones. In order to make room for the Sarsen Circle and the Trilithon Horseshoe or oval, the two circles of bluestones from Phase II had to be completely dismantled.
Nineteen of them were used to form the inner Bluestone Horseshoe (now recognized as an open-ended oval) and fifty-nine, it is believed, were intended to be placed in two new circles of holes (Y and Z), surrounding the Sarsen Circle. The Y circle was meant to hold thirty stones and the Z circle twenty-nine. Some of the other stones of the original eighty-two may have been intended to serve as lintels or (as John E. Wood, Sun, Moon and Standing Stones, believes) to complete the oval.
The Y and Z circles, however, were never erected; instead the bluestones were arranged in one large circle, the Bluestone Circle, with an undetermined number of stones (some believe sixty). Also uncertain is the time when this circle was erected - right away, or a century or two later. Some also think that additional work, mainly on the Avenue, was done about 1100 BC. But for all intents and purposes, the Stonehenge we see was planned in 2100 BC., executed during the following century, and given its final touches circa 1900 BC.
Modern scientific research methods have thus corroborated the findings - astounding at the time, 1880 - of the renowned Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie, that Stonehenge dated to circa 2000 BC. (It was Petrie who devised the stones' numbering system still in use). In the usual course of scientific studies of ancient sites, archaeologists are the first to be on the scene, and others - anthropologists, metallurgists, historians, linguists, and other experts - follow.
In the case of Stonehenge, astronomers led the way. This was not only because the ruins were visible above the surface and required no excavation to reveal them, but also because from the very beginning it seemed almost self-evident that the axis line from the center toward the Heel Stone through the Avenue pointed "to the northeast, whereabouts the Sun rises when the days are longest" (to use the words of William Stukeley, 1740) - toward the point in the sky where the Sun rises at the summer solstice (about June 21).
Stonehenge was an instrument to measure the passage of time! After two and a half centuries of scientific progress, this conclusion is still valid. All are agreed that Stonehenge was not a place of residence; nor was it a burial place. Neither palace nor tomb, it was in essence a temple-cum observatory, as the ziggurats (step-pyramids) of Mesopotamia and ancient America were. And being oriented toward the Sun when it rises in midsummer, it could be called a Temple of the Sun. With this basic fact undisputable, it is no wonder that astronomers continue to lead the research concerning Stonehenge.
among them, at the very beginning of this century, was Sir Norman Lockyer, who conducted a comprehensive survey of Stonehenge in 1901
and confirmed the summer solstice orientation in his master work
Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments. Since this
orientation is satisfied by the axis alone, subsequent researchers
began in time to wonder whether the additional complexity of
Stonehenge - the diverse circles, ovals, rectangle, markers - might
signify that other celestial phenomena besides sunrise at summer
solstice and other time cycles have been observed at Stonehenge.
There have been suggestions to that effect in earlier treatises on
Stonehenge. But it was only in 1963, when Cecil
He based this conclusion on examination of the four Station Stones and the rectangle that they form (Fig. 10); he also showed that whoever had intended to give Stonehenge this capability knew where to erect it, for the rectangle and its alignments had to be sited exactly where Stonehenge is. All this was at first received with extreme doubt and disdain, because lunar observations are considerably more complex than solar ones.
The Moon's motions (around the Earth and together with the Earth around the Sun) are not repeated on an annual basis, because, among other reasons, the Moon orbits the Earth at a slight inclination to the Earth's orbit around the Sun. The complete cycle, which is repeated only once in about nineteen years, includes eight points of "Moon Standstill" as the astronomers call them, four major and four minor. The suggestion that Stonehenge I - which already possessed the alignments highlighted by Newham - was built to enable the determination, or even prediction, of these eight points seemed preposterous in view of the fact that Britain's inhabitants at the time were just emerging from the Stone Age.
This is clearly a valid argument; and those who have nevertheless found more evidence for the astronomical marvels at Stonehenge are yet to provide an answer to the paradox of a complex lunar observatory amidst Stone Age people! Prominent among the astronomers whose investigations confirmed the incredible capabilities of Stonehenge was Gerald S. Hawkins of Boston University.
Writing in prestigious scientific
journals in 1963, 1964, and 1965, he announced his far-reaching
conclusions by entitling his studies "Stonehenge Decoded,"
"Stonehenge: A Neolithic Computer," and "Sun, Moon, Men and Stones,"
followed by his books Stonehenge Decoded and Beyond Stonehenge.
Together with the four points of the Sun's movements, Stonehenge, according to Hawkins, enables observation and prediction of all the twelve points marking the Sun's and the Moon's movements. Above all he was fascinated by the number 19 expressed by stones and holes in the various circles: the two circles of 38 bluestones of Stonehenge II "can be regarded as two semi-circles of 19" (Stonehenge Decoded) and the oval "horseshoe" of Stonehenge III had the exact 19.
This was an unmistakable lunar relationship, for 19 was the Moon's cycle which governs intercalation. Professor Hawkins went even farther: he concluded that the numbers expressed by stones and holes in the various circles bespoke an ability to predict eclipses. Because the Moon's orbit is not exactly in the same plane as the Earth's orbit around the Sun (the former is inclined to the latter by just over 5°), the Moon's orbit crosses the path of the Earth around the Sun at two points each year.
The two points of intersection ("nodes") are commonly marked on astronomical charts N and N'; this is when eclipses occur. But because of the irregularities in the shape and lag of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, these nodal intersections do not recur precisely at the same celestial positions year after year; rather, they recur in a cycle of 18.61 years.
Hawkins postulated that the operating principle for this cycle was, therefore, "cycle end/cycle start" in the nineteenth year, and Hawkins reasoned that the purpose of the 56 Aubrey Holes was to attain an adjustment by moving three markers at a time within the Aubrey circle, since 18 2/3 x 3 = 56. This, he held, made possible the foretelling of eclipses of the Moon as well as of the Sun, and his conclusion was that such a prediction of eclipses was the main purpose of the construction and design of Stonehenge.
Stonehenge, he announced, was nothing short of a brilliant astronomical computer made of stone. The proposition that Stonehenge was not only a "Sun temple" but also a lunar observatory was met at first with fierce resistance. Prominent among the dissenters, who considered many of the Moon alignments to be coincidental, was Richard J.C. Atkinson of the University College in Cardiff, who had led some of the most extensive archaeological excavations at the site.
The archaeological evidence for the great antiquity of Stonehenge was the very reason for his disdain for the observatory/lunar-alignments/Neolithic computer theories, for he asserted that Neolithic Man in Britain was simply incapable of such achievements. His disdain and even ridicule, expressed in such titles for his articles in Antiquity as "Moonshine on Stonehenge" and in his book Stonehenge, turned to grudging support as a result of studies conducted at Stonehenge by Alexander Thorn (Megalithic Lunar Observations).
Thorn, an engineering professor at Oxford University, conducted the most accurate measurements at Stonehenge, and pointed out that the "horseshoe" arrangement of the sarsen stones in fact rep-resented an oval (Fig. 11), an elliptical shape that represents planetary orbits more accurately than a circle.
He agreed with Newham that Stonehenge 1 was primarily a lunar, and not just a solar, observatory, and confirmed that Stonehenge was erected where it is because it is only there that the eight lunar observations could be made precisely along the lines formed by the rectangle connecting the four Station Stones.
The fierce debate, conducted on the pages of leading scientific magazines and in confrontational conferences, was summed up by C.A. Newham (Supplement to the Enigma of Stonehenge and its Astronomical and Geometric Significance) in the following words:
He agreed that the "56 Aubrey Holes rotate to the eight main alignments of the Moon setting and rising." Thereafter, even Atkinson admitted that he "has become sufficiently persuaded that conventional archaeological thinking is in need of drastic revision" in regard to the purpose and functions of Stonehenge.
These conclusions were to no small measure the result of the research by a notable participant who had joined the growing list of involved scientists in the late 1960s and the decade of the 1970s. He was Sir Fred Hoyle, astronomer and mathematician. He held that the alignments listed by Hawkins to various stars and constellations were rather random than deliberate, but fully agreed with the lunar aspects of Stonehenge I - and especially the role of the fifty-six Aubrey Holes and the rectangular arrangement of the Station Stones ("Stonehenge - An Eclipse Predictor" in Nature and On Stonehenge).
But concurring that the Aubrey Circle could act as a "calculator" for predicting eclipses (in his opinion it was done by moving four markers around), Hoyle stirred up another issue. Whoever had designed this calculator - Hawkins called it a "computer" - must have known in advance the precise length of the solar year, the Moon's orbital period, and the cycle of 18.61 years; and Neolithic Man in Britain simply did not possess such knowledge.
Struggling to explain how the advanced knowledge of astronomy and mathematics had appeared in Neolithic Britain, Hawkins resorted to ancient records of the Mediterranean peoples. In addition to the Diodorus/Hecataeus reference he also mentioned Plutarch's quote (in Isis and Osiris) of Eudoxus of Cnidus, the fourth century BC. astronomer-mathematician from Asia Minor, who had associated the ''demon god of eclipses" with the number fifty-six.
In the absence of answers from Man, a glance at the superhuman?
Hoyle, on his part, arrived at the conviction that Stonehenge was not a mere observatory, a place to see what goes on in the skies. He called it a Predictor, an instrument for foretelling celestial events and a facility for noting them on the predetermined dates. Agreeing that "such an intellectual achievement was beyond the capacity of the local Neolithic farmers and herdsmen," he felt that the Station Stones rectangle and all it implied indicate "that the builders of Stonehenge I might have come to the British Isles from the outside, purposely looking for this rectangular alignment" (which is possible just where Stonehenge is located, in the northern hemisphere), "just as the modern astronomer often searches far from home for places to build his telescopes.
"A veritable Newton or Einstein must have been at work at Stonehenge," Hoyle mused; but even so, where was the university where he had learned mathematics and astronomy, where were the writings without which accumulated knowledge could not be passed on and taught, and how could a sole genius plan, execute, and supervise such a celestial predictor when, for Phase II alone, a whole century was needed?
"There have only been about 200 generations of history; there were upward of 10,000 generations of prehistory," Hoyle observed. Was it all part of the "eclipse of the gods," he wondered - the transition from a time when people worshiped an actual Sun god and a Moon god, "to become the invisible God of Isaiah?"
Without explicitly divulging his thoughts, Hoyle gave an answer by quoting the full section in Diodorus from Hecataeus regarding the Hyperboreans; it states toward its end that after the Greeks and Hyperboreans exchanged visits "in the most ancient times." They also say that the Moon, as viewed from this island, appears to be but a little distance from the Earth, and to have upon it prominences, like those of the Earth, which are visible to the eye.
The account is also given that the god visits the island every nineteen years, the period in which the return of the stars to the same place in the heavens is accomplished; and for this reason the nineteen-year period is called by the Greeks the "year of Meton." The familiarity in such distant times not only with the nineteen-year cycle of the Moon but also with "prominences, like those of the Earth" - surface features such as mountains and plains - is unquestionably amazing.
The attribution by Greek historians of the circular structure in Hyperborea to the lunar cycle first described in Greece by the Athenian Meton tosses the problem of Who Built Stonehenge to the ancient Near East; so do the soul-searching conclusions and musings of the above mentioned astronomers.
But more than two centuries earlier, William Stukeley had already pointed for answers in the same direction, toward the ancient Near East. To his sketch of Stonehenge, as he understood it to have been, he appended the design he had seen on an eastern Mediterranean ancient coin (Fig. 12a) which depicts a temple on an elevated platform.
This depiction, more explicit, also appears on another ancient coin from the city of Byblos in the same area, one that we have reproduced in the very first volume of The Earth Chronicles. It shows that the ancient temple had an enclosure in which there stood a rocket upon a launch pad (Fig. 12b). We have identified the place as The Landing Place of Sumerian lore, the place where the Sumerian king Gilgamesh witnessed a rocket ship rise. The place still exists; it is now the vast platform in the mountains of Lebanon, at Baalbek, upon which there still stand the ruins of the greatest Roman temple ever built.
Figures 12a and 12b
Supporting the massive platform are three colossal stone blocks that have been known since antiquity as the Trilithon. The answers to the Stonehenge enigma should thus be sought in places far away from it, but in a time frame quite close to it. The When holds the key, we believe, not only to the Who of Stonehenge I, but also to the Why of Stonehenge II and III.
For, as we shall see, the hurried remaking of Stonehenge in 2100-2000 BC. had to do with the coming of a New Age - Mankind's first historically recorded New Age.