THE megaliths most famous are those that some of us have perhaps been able to admire from life in Neolithic site of Stonehenge, therefore large stones in an upright position that create architectures that are today very fascinating but also cryptic. There are other similar examples, less known, but at least in others 35 thousand locations in Europe among which we also find that of our Sardinia.
Even if someone could trivially define them as stones, they have a particular meaning and can be of various kinds. It is also interesting to understand how this trend of megaliths was born and what they tell us about our origins. There are recent findings on this that we are going to unveil.
Megaliths: what they are
These are very large and very ancient monuments, all in stone and dating back to prehistoric times. Their existence seems to have a link with religion and, in particular, with the cult of the dead. They can be of different shapes and structures, depending on the type of use that was made of them.
The biggest distinction that is made is between Menhirs and Dolmen. The meaning of the term "Dolmen" is "stone table". This construction is made up of a series of stone blocks that support another placed horizontally. Most likely this structure was intended as a tomb for individuals or groups. Menhir instead means "long stone" and in fact it is a single stone placed vertically, very high and with a slightly pointed upper part. Megaliths of this type can also arise isolated, but often they are in a group, and would not have a strong connection with the theme of death. More generally, they would represent man's desire to get closer to heaven, to rise up.
Let's see two examples of megaliths, one more famous and one less. The best known is that of Stonhenge, a site in southern England dating back to approximately 3000 BC. We have already mentioned it and it is what made these buildings famous all over the world. The name of this site can be translated into "suspended stone". If you have understood the difference between Dolmens and Menhirs, you will notice that it is a set of Dolmens arranged in a circular fashion quite neatly even though they are very different in size. Looking at the stones thus arranged, one can think of a sort of ancient astronomical observatory built to accurately predict the equinoxes and solstices and also a location where any religious rites can be celebrated on special occasions.
A second, less well-known example is that of Dolmen of Motorra, in Dorgali, in the province of Nuoro. We are in Sardinia and we are facing one of the rare examples of "corridor" dolmens. In this case, in fact, the stones seem to form a sort of circular access corridor to the chamber of the dead.
Megaliths: their origins
Recently, some scholars ofUniversity of Gothenburg, in Sweden, they focused on megaliths to investigate their origins and the most striking results of this research appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Net of the many data from experts, what emerged is that all the megaliths scattered throughout Europe would be attributable to a trend launched by gods navigators of Brittany. The origin, therefore, would be in the north-west of France.
The idea that these scholars have made is that the idea of building the megaliths came from a group of hunter-gatherers who lived about 7,000 years ago. The study was based on radiocarbon analyzes carried out in 2,410 European megalithic sites which were used to reconstruct a chronological scale of diffusion of this type of construction in order to identify the first example and the various "copies". By analyzing the megaliths, other types of tombs were also studied and it was thus possible to collect an enormous wealth of information also on technological knowledge and funeral customs which were also imported throughout the continent.
Those of Carnac turned out to be the oldest megaliths. These are stones located in the north-west of France that were placed there around 4700 BC. C. from the people who lived there at that time. It is in fact a civilization of hunter-gatherers who knew a lot about navigation and had a rather advanced state of knowledge, including scientific knowledge in general and social structures. There are also engravings still in that area that tell us about glimpses of their life, with sperm whales and other marine animals that actually exist.
From France these megaliths spread throughout Europe, not immediately and not in a short time but in three different phases. After their first appearance in France, we then saw them pop up in Spain and Portugal and in general in the Mediterranean areas. Only in a third moment, these stone structures began to be built even further north, first in Great Britain and then in the north of Scandinavia and Germany. Beyond the geographical area in which they are located, we can see that they are always located near the sea or the ocean. This fact confirms the thesis of scholars, namely that the concept of megalith has spread by sea
For those who have been fascinated by these constructions and by the recent discoveries, to which we hope others will follow, here is a DIY set to rebuild Stonehenge at home. It is also the way to learn its layout and imagine who built it