Portasar – Gobekli tepe – Noahs (Nakh) ark
Megalithic culture (8th to 2nd millennia)
Dolmens = tombs resembling “houses of the dead,” the walls are upright stones and the roof is a single giant slab
Cromlechs = a circle of large upright stones, or Dolmens
Menhirs = simplest megalithic form, unpright slabs that served as grave markers
Corbeling = rows or layers of stone laid with the end of each row projecting beyond the row beneath, progressing until layers almost meet and can be capped with a stone that rests on both layers
A megalith is a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The word “megalithic” describes structures made of such large stones, utilizing an interlocking system without the use of mortar or cement, as well as representing periods of prehistory characterised by such constructions. For later periods the term monolith, with an overlapping meaning, is more likely to be used.
The word “megalith” comes from the Ancient Greek “μέγας” (megas) meaning “great” and “λίθος” (lithos) meaning “stone.” Megalith also denotes an item consisting of rock(s) hewn in definite shapes for special purposes. It has been used to describe buildings built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods.
A variety of large stones are seen as megaliths, with the most widely known megaliths not being sepulchral. The construction of these structures took place mainly in the Neolithic (though earlier Mesolithic examples are known) and continued into the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age.
At a number of sites in eastern Turkey, large ceremonial complexes from the 9th millennium BC have been discovered. They belong to the incipient phases of agriculture and animal husbandry. Large circular structures involving carved megalithic orthostats are a typical feature, e.g. at Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe.
Although these structures are the most ancient megalithic structures known so far, it is not clear that any of the European Megalithic traditions (see below) are actually derived from them. At Göbekli Tepe four stone circles have been excavated from an estimated 20. Some measure up to 30 metres across. The stones carry carved reliefs of boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes and scorpions.
Dolmens and standing stones have been found in large areas of the Middle East starting at the Turkish border in the north of Syria close to Aleppo, southwards down to Yemen. They can be encountered in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Megaliths have also been found on Kharg Island in Iran and at Barda Balka in Iraq.
The most concentrated occurrence of dolmen in particular is in a large area on both sides of the Jordan Rift Valley, with greater predominance on the eastern side. They occur first and foremost on the Golan Heights, the Hauran, and in Jordan, which probably has the largest concentration of dolmen in the Middle East.
In Saudi Arabia, only very few dolmen have been identified so far in the Hejaz. They seem, however, to re-emerge in Yemen in small numbers, and thus could indicate a continuous tradition related to those of Somalia and Ethiopia.
The standing stone has a very ancient tradition in the Middle East, dating back from Mesopotamian times. Although not always ‘megalithic’ in the true sense, they occur throughout the Orient, and can reach 5 metres or more in some cases (such as Ader in Jordan).
This phenomenon can also be traced through many passages from the Old Testament, such as those related to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, who poured oil over a stone that he erected after his famous dream in which angels climbed to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22).
Jacob is also described as putting up stones at other occasions, whereas Moses erected twelve pillars symbolizing the tribes of Israel. The tradition of venerating (standing) stones continued in Nabatean times and is reflected in, e.g., the Islamic rituals surrounding the Kaaba and nearby pillars. Related phenomena, such as cupholes, rock-cut tombs and circles also occur in the Middle East.
In Western Europe and the Mediterranean, megaliths are, in general, constructions erected during the Neolithic or late stone age and Chalcolithic or Copper Age (4500-1500 BC). Perhaps the most famous megalithic structure is Stonehenge in England, although many others are known throughout the world.
The French Comte de Caylus was the first to describe the Carnac stones. Pierre Jean-Baptiste Legrand d’Aussy introduced the terms menhir and dolmen, both taken from the Breton language, into antiquarian terminology. He interpreted megaliths as gallic tombs. In Britain, the antiquarians Aubrey and Stukeley conducted early research into megaliths.
In 1805, Jacques Cambry published a book called Monuments celtiques, ou recherches sur le culte des Pierres, précédées d’une notice sur les Celtes et sur les Druides, et suivies d’Etymologie celtiques, where he proposed a Celtic stone cult. This completely unfounded connection between druids and megaliths has haunted the public imagination ever since.
In Belgium, there is a megalithic site at Wéris, a little town situated in the Ardennes. In the Netherlands, megalithic structures can be found in the northeast of the country, mostly in the province of Drenthe. Knowth is a passage grave of the Brú na Bóinne neolithic complex in Ireland, dating from c.3500-3000 BC. It contains more than a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in all Western Europe, with over 200 decorated stones found during excavations.
Nabta Playa at the southwest corner of the western Egyptian desert was once a large lake in the Nubian Desert, located 500 miles south of modern-day Cairo. By the 5th millennium BC, the peoples in Nabta Playa had fashioned the world’s earliest known astronomical device, 1,000 years older than, but comparable to, Stonehenge.
Research shows it to be a prehistoric calendar that accurately marks the summer solstice. Findings indicate that the region was occupied only seasonally, likely only in the summer when the local lake filled with water for grazing cattle. There are other megalithic stone circles in the southwestern desert.
Excavation of some Megalithic monuments (in Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and France) has revealed evidence of ritual activity, sometimes involving architecture, from the Mesolithic, i.e., predating the Neolithic monuments by centuries or millennia. Caveats apply: In some cases, they are so far removed in time from their successors that continuity is unlikely; in other cases, the early dates, or the exact character of activity, are controversial.
- 5000 BC: Constructions in Portugal (Évora). Emergence of the Atlantic Neolithic period, the age of agriculture along the western shores of Europe during the sixth millennium B.C. culture of La Almagra, Spain near by, perhaps precedent from Africa.
- 4400 BC: Constructions in Malta (Skorba temples).
- 4000 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Carnac), Portugal (Lisbon), France (central and southern), Corsica, England and Wales.
- 3700 BC: Constructions in Ireland (Knockiveagh and elsewhere).
- 3600 BC: Constructions in England (Maumbury Rings and Godmanchester), and Malta (Ġgantija and Mnajdra temples).
- 3500 BC: Constructions in Spain (Málaga and Guadiana), Ireland (south-west), France (Arles and the north), Sardinia, Sicily, Malta (and elsewhere in the Mediterranean), Belgium (north-east) and Germany (central and south-west).
- 3400 BC: Constructions in Ireland (Newgrange), Netherlands (north-east), Germany (northern and central) Sweden and Denmark.
- 3300 BC: Constructions in France (Carnac stones)
- 3000 BC: Constructions in France (Saumur, Dordogne, Languedoc, Biscay, and the Mediterranean coast), Spain (Los Millares), Sicily, Belgium (Ardennes), and Orkney, as well as the first henges (circular earthworks) in Britain.
- 2500 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Le Menec, Kermario and elsewhere), Italy (Otranto), Sardinia, and Scotland (northeast), plus the climax of the megalithic Bell-beaker culture in Iberia, Germany, and the British Isles (stone circle at Stonehenge). With the bell-beakers, the Neolithic period gave way to the Chalcolithic, the age of copper.
- 2400 BC: The Bell-beaker culture was dominant in Britain, and hundreds of smaller stone circles were built in the British Isles at this time.
- 2000 BC: Constructions in Brittany (Er Grah), Italy (Bari), Sicily (Cava dei Servi, Cava Lazzaro), Sardinia (northern), and Scotland (Callanish). The Chalcolithic period gave way to the Bronze Age in western and northern Europe.
- 1800 BC: Constructions in Italy (Giovinazzo).
- 1400 BC: Burial of the Egtved Girl in Denmark, whose body is today one of the best-preserved examples of its kind.
- 1200 BC: Last vestiges of the megalithic tradition in the Mediterranean and elsewhere come to an end during the general population upheaval known to ancient history as the Invasions of the Sea Peoples.
Construction of a megalith grave
Portasar – Gobekli tepe – Noahs (Nakh) ark:
Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”) is a Neolithic hilltop sanctuary erected at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, some 15 kilometers (9 mi) northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa (formerly Urfa / Edessa). It is the oldest known human-made religious structure. The site was most likely erected in the 10th millennium BCE and has been under excavation since 1994 by German and Turkish archaeologists. Together with Nevalı Çori, it has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic.
Zorats Karer, also called Karahunj or Carahunge) is an ancient archaeological site near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia.
Nabta Playa was once a large basin in the Nubian Desert, located approximately 800 kilometers south of modern day Cairo or about 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt, 22° 32′ north, 30° 42′ east. Today the region is characterized by numerous archaeological sites.
Although at present the western Egyptian desert is totally dry, this was not the case in the past. There is good evidence that there were several humid periods in the past (when up to 500 mm of rain would fall per year) the most recent one during the last interglacial and early last glaciation periods which stretched between 130,000 and 70,000 years ago. During this time, the area was a savanna and supported numerous animals such as extinct buffalo and large giraffes, varieties of antelope and gazelle. Beginning around the 10th millennium BC, this region of the Nubian Desert began to receive more rainfall, filling a lake. Early people may have been attracted to the region due to the source of water.
Archaeological findings may indicate human occupation in the region dating to at least somewhere around the 10th and 8th millennia BC. Fred Wendorf and Christopher Ehret have suggested that the people who occupied this region at that time were early pastoralists, or like the Saami practiced semi-pastoralism (although this is disputed by other sources because the cattle remains found at Nabta have been shown to be morphologically wild in several studies, and nearby Saharan sites such as Uan Afada in Libya were penning wild Barbary sheep, an animal that was never domesticated). The people of that time consumed and stored wild sorghum, and used ceramics adorned by complicated painted patterns created perhaps by using combs made from fish bone and which belong to a general pottery tradition strongly associated with the southern parts of the sahara (e.g., of the Khartoum mesolithic and various contemporary sites in Chad) of that period.
Analysis of human remains by archaeologist Fred Wendorf and reported in “Holocene settlement of the Egyptian Sahara”, based on osteological data suggests a subsaharan origin for the site’s inhabitants. Several scholars also support a Nilo-Saharan linguistic affinity for the Nabta people; including the site’s discoverer, archaeologist Fred Wendorf and the linguist, Christopher Ehret.
By the 7th millennium BC, exceedingly large and organized settlements were found in the region, relying on deep wells for sources of water. Huts were constructed in straight rows. Sustenance included fruit, legumes, millets, sorghum and tubers.
Also in the late 7th millennium BC, but a little later than the time referred to above, imported goats and sheep, apparently from Southwest Asia, appear. Many large hearths also appear.
By the 6th millennium BC, evidence of a prehistoric religion or cult appears, with a number of sacrificed cattle buried in stone-roofed chambers lined with clay. It has been suggested that the associated cattle cult indicated in Nabta Playa marks an early evolution of Ancient Egypt’s Hathor cult.
By the 5th millennium BC these peoples had fashioned one of the world’s earliest known archeoastronomical devices (roughly contemporary to the Goseck circle in Germany and the Mnajdra megalithic temple complex in Malta). Research suggests that it may have been a prehistoric “calendar” marking the summer solstice.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in the English county of Wiltshire, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.
Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC, as described in the chronology below. Radiocarbon dating in 2008 suggested that the first stones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, whilst another theory suggests that bluestones may have been raised at the site as early as 3000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.
Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. The dating of cremated remains found on the site indicate that deposits contain human bone from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug. Such deposits continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years. The site is a place of religious significance and pilgrimage in Neo-Druidry.
Knowth (Irish: Cnoghbha) is a Neolithic passage grave and an ancient monument of Brú na Bóinne in the valley of the River Boyne in Ireland.
Knowth is the largest of all passage graves situated within the Brú na Bóinne complex. The site consists of one large mound (known as Site 1) and 17 smaller satellite tombs. The large mound has been esitimated to date from between 2500 and 2000 BC.
Essentially Knowth (Site 1) is a large mound (about 12 metres (40 ft) high and 67 metres (220 ft) in diameter, covering roughly a hectare) and contains two passages, placed along an east-west line. It is encircled by 127 kerbstones (three of which are missing and four of which are badly damaged).
Funnelbeaker Culture (4100–2800 f.vt.):
The Funnel (-neck-) beaker culture, short TRB or TBK from (German) Trichter (-rand-) becherkultur (ca 4100 BC–ca 2800 BC) was an archaeological culture in north-central Europe.
It developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.
Preceded by Lengyel-influenced STK groups/Late Lengyel in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the TRB techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered around the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged.
In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.
33 fot høy, Frankrike, 6500 f.vt.
Granitz dolmen, Germany. Neolithic period
Cromlech. c. 5000 BCE. Anglessey, Wales
Poulnabrone portal tomb, Ireland
Cup and ring marks, England