Thursday, July 8, 2010

Who built Stonehenge? Part.II

The first builders of Stonehenge were probably members of a prosperous, warlike group of people called Beaker Folk, known for their use of pottery drinking vessels. Even so, one can sympathize with the archeologists who remained incredulous that a primitive Stone Age people, lacking initially both metal tools and system of writing, could build such a complex structure. The ultimate success of the builders depended on a combination of ingenuity and sweat. Stonehenge contains some marvelous, delicate touches; the upright stones, for example, were fashioned with a central bulge (as in the column of many classical Greek temples), so that a circular perspective was preserved when viewed from below. But much of its grandeur is due to the blue stones’ sheer size- and that, of course, translates into back breaking labor.

The bluestones used in the second ring came from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, some 240 miles away, transported by water with rafts and on land in wooden sleighs. (A team from the BBC demonstrated that this was possible; a group of able –bodied young men moved stones of similar size using a sleigh tied to log rollers.) The larger sarsen stones, weighing as much as 50 tons apiece, were found loose in a region 20 miles away.  They were dragged, one by one, by teams of up to 1,000 men. These stones, pounded into shape with smaller rocks, were placed into deep pits on the site, sloping to one side and later raised by using a primitive rope operated lever.

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