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Author Topic: Do the celtic gods and their myths reflect the beaker origins of the Celts?  (Read 8367 times)
alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #125 on: October 09, 2012, 06:15:08 PM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot).  
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened.  

The BA axial stone circles are orientated towards the south -south west but with no obvious  
 preference for  any particular dates and none are aligned on any of the four cross quarter days . None of  the Cork and Kerry stone rows which tend to a SW-NE  alignment stone rows are aligned on the cross quater days  either . I don't have the details of the declinations of the 460 wedge tombs , and would like to see them ,they certainly fit into the  Chalcolithic /BA  period  but what it looks we have in Ireland in the period  are  general orientations to to the west or south west but nothing to suggest anything calendrical . Not only do the monuments not supply the declinations  necessary to suggest this in the west and south west confirmation would be be useful at other orientations e.g. Lughnasa sun rise to the NE  ,Imbolc sun rise to SE  ,  Samhain to the NW etc . Yes “solar worship is simplistic and “ belongs to the “druidical sacrificial altars  “ and “R1b is  Cro Magnon “ bin .

That contradicts a fairly recent study that said wedge tombs clearly had a sunset orientations and that there was a strong trend to those of the months around Samhain.  

 http://wings.buffalo.edu/research/anthrogis/JWA/V2N1/springs-art.pdf

This emphasis on autumn sunsets seems to contrast with the previous Neolithic solstice and equinox interest.  In general pre-beaker Neolithic tombs tend to be orientated east to south while in the Bronze Age there is a strong interest in the SW orientation.  I am not really interested in it being of astronomical type accuracy but it does seem to show a general interest in the sunsets in Autumn which does imply a change in ideas and as the paper hints, could be echoing in the main the Samhain festival which was the most important of the Celtic quarter days.  It is interesting that where this orientation is not present imporatant lunar cycle correlations of a fairly consistent type have been noted.  

This is getting a little dippy but it has been suggested old Neolithic idea of a solar solstic or equinox event (usually a sunrise but not always) entering a passage tomb and the light acting as some sort of spirit transporter beam to the other world.  I wonder if the interest in the sunsetting to the west is suggesting a new belief in an afterlife to the west over the sea such as we see in Celtic mythology.  It has often been said that Samhain was a time when the spirit and ordinary world touched.  Regardless of interpretation, in Irish megalithic tombs there was a profound change in orientation that coincided with the beaker period.  I understand too that a number of Scottish Bronze Age momuments also followed this reorientation.  

 An interesting paper ,  as I said I have not seen the details of the declinations of wedge tombs and as it only included 75 of the approx 500 (15%  ) it is a start .
 I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days .Of the wedge tombs in the study approx 14 % are aligned on the setting sun at Samhain  which in itself is noteworthy but the description of Oct/Nov as used in the paper is quite a bit wider than Samhain itself , some examples e.g. nos 2&58 were three weeks away from the the actual date plus when considered from a lunar perspective two standstill achieve 6% . As the spike in the study is only of one cross quarter day and also only on the setting sun of that day it doesn't strike me that this suggests anything calendrical ,you would expect some of  the other six  rising or setting suns to be included for this to be case .
I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days and were generally aligned to the west and south west , that does not contradict the findings of  this small study of  a different monument type and actually supports it as seen from the summary  on p190 “there appears to be no definitive time of year the wedge tombs were oriented on ,and the main focus of a wedge tombs (sic) is in autumn ,winter or spring sunsets .”

The recumbent stone circles and other scottish circles , which we now recognise as being BA  ,also have an orientation to the SW but this can be shown to related to summer full moon and rarely anything solar . It is worth mentioning that the Neolithic dolmens of Provence and Languedoc share similar orientations to those of BA Ireland , but there is no doubt as you say that there was a general shift of interest from east in the Neolithic to west in the  BA .


I found a paper noting that observation.

http://www.academia.edu/325394/Statistical_Analysis_of_Megalithic_Tomb_Orientations_In_the_Iberian_Peninsula_and_Neighbouring_Regions


The most relevant passage was:

The first division separates the group formed by the megaliths in southern France(Languedoc and Provence) together with those in the Balearic Islands (BALE, BRLA,LLAN). It also includes the dolmens in the Golan Heights (GLAN). This situationarises because these are the only groups that include dolmens with a predominantlywest-facing custom; although this could be expected, it is reassuring to find thatour technique seems to work reasonably well. The dolmens of the Golan Heights,in the Levant, have been included in our analysis in order to test the consistency of our results. Since this is a case of a clear geographic outlier in our sample, it shouldprovide information on the robustness of our analysis technique. This cluster of dol-mens presents orientations towards the western part of the horizon (see Figure 2), acustom that is alien to most clusters in the Iberian Peninsula
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 06:16:45 PM by alan trowel hands. » Logged
alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #126 on: October 09, 2012, 07:52:26 PM »

A number of papers note southern France as a place where the unusual sunset facing orientations (such as noted at Irish Wedge Tombs) are known while most other areas of western Europe were sunrise orientated
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dodelo
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« Reply #127 on: October 10, 2012, 04:46:35 AM »

Just a thought but if the Wedge tombs had an orientation that coincided with the sunset at the general period of the return from the upland to lowland pasture (which ancient Irish records note was linked to Samhain) then there is a simple explanation for why the it dominates out of the quarter days.  IF Samhain represented the return of families to their specific main winter homesteads then the celebrations would be carried out at a point when they dispersed from the commonly held uplands.  So the festival would have been localised.  Beltaine or May Day appears to represent the opposite end of the cycle when people returned to the uplands.  If that was the case then you would expect Beltaine to have been more of a communal gathering in the uplands and that could be why it does not seem to be the focus for the wedge tomb orientations.  The main orientation of Samhain also appears to double up as an orientaton of the Imbolc period around 1st February which seems to celebrate the (potentially life saving) availability of yews milk towards the end of winter.  As for Lugnasad around the start of August, it does not appear to have a specific pastoral role.  It seems to have some associations with uplands and cairns which is not surprising as that is where people would have been living around the time of that festival in a transhumance system.  

I think too much is made of orientations , at all periods there are examples of monuments that are relatively accurately aligned on extreme solar and lunar events but the vast majority of monuments are not aligned on these events but  are  oriented towards a part of the horizon where the sun or moon can be seen . In the Neolithic the general direction was towards the east and in the Bronze Age it changed to the west reflecting a possible change in cosmology .However , in both periods monuments are to be found contrary to those norms .
 Transhumance would have been practiced in both periods but it was not necessarily the entire family that would have been involved . In historical cultures in Britain it was the adolescents and old who went to the higher pasture but I can't see these movements resulting in the choice of orientation  of monuments like stones rows ,wedge tombs or stone circles .

I agree that accurate astronomical observation does not seem to be typical at megaliths.  Instread a more rough and ready generalised orientation may be what we are seeing.  However, a near reversal of the most common orientations took place in Ireland and the change is first seen in the Wedge Tombs whose period of contruction is a very close fit to the Irish beaker period.  As you note this may represent a significant change in cosmology/religion.  The fact that , in Ireland anyway, this change occurs at the exact same period as the appearance of beaker c. 2500BC is significant IMO.  It shows that changes greater than pots, archers equiptment and metal did arrive at this time.  What I would be interested in knowing is whether there is anywhere on the continent that similar changes happened earlier.  I believe someone mentioned southern France?  I also mentioned the SW-NE axis in Sion. 

I mentioned the Provence and Languedoc dolmens , which are anomalous in European orientations  in that they point to the SW but they are pre Beaker . Aosta also has a similar alignment to Sion , but they are  “open “ and it could be argued that the alignment runs SW -NE  there is also the “rising sun” symbol which might suggest the direction is towards the NE . Furthermore other linear cemeteries from the period , and later , tend not to have any particular favoured orientation  but are more concerned with referencing earlier or more prominent contemporary monuments and accepting landscape constraints by keeping to level or gently sloping terraces .
 Orientation of  Beaker inhumations also shows some local homogeneity  but differs throughout the continent and even within Britain .
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dodelo
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« Reply #128 on: October 10, 2012, 05:04:39 AM »

Actually there is no doubt at all that some sort of solar element was important in the developed passage tombs like Newgrange, Maes Howe, Knowth etc which clearly had solar solstice/equinox type alignments.  It seems to me that this is becomes much more clear in the later Neolithic but still well pre-beaker in isles terms.   There was a burst of new cermonial ideas in the isles in the pre-beaker late Neolithic including very developed passage tombs, henge enclosures, timber circles, stone circles, grooved ware etc.  A lot of these things have been connected to solar/seasonal aspects.  This all predates beaker.  In fact, it has alwaus struck me that the Germanic peoples seem to reflect this Neolithic solar aspect in their traditions but the Celts seem to have developed a more pastoral calendar (Bronze Age?) and their  festivals which do not link to the traditional solar festivals.  Also starting in the beaker period and continuing through the Bronze Age is a strange move in megaltithic monuments (Wedge tombs, stone circles, stone rows) to a NE-SW axis in which the SW orientation seems to be the important one.  This has been argued by some to indicate a lunar approach to observations (but they do change their minds on this a lot).  
Neolithic Passage graves like Newgrange , Knowth ,Loughcrew,  are aligned on solar events but the vast majority of similar monuments including their European counterparts are not . This does not indicate "sun worship " and is of course pre BB . When we look at astronomically aligned monumnets from that period we find an obvious lunar interst eg recumben tstone circles which with one exception avoid extreme solar orientations but have a clear interest in orientations on the moon , although this does not imply " moon worship " any more than orientations to soalr extremes or mid points indicate sun worship . The vast majority of stone rows ,stone circles etc are not aligned on either solar or lunar extremes .

The orientation of Wedge tombs, many Irish stone circles and stone rows (all dated to the copper and Bronze Age) are very different to the Neolithic megalithic orientations and do show some major change in beliefs did happen around the beaker era.  The most recent study I have seen on this suggested that it is clear that they are interested in sunsets (especially those around October/November but also Feb/March and a few at other dates) and also sometimes lunar cycle aspects  Many people see in this the beginnings of what is seen as the Celtic calendar with its biggest event being Samain (what we now call Halloween) but also Imbolg (1st Feb), Beltaine (May day) and Lugnasad (1st August).   This does seem to contrast with the pre-beaker Neolithic alignments where these are clear.  Even when they arent precise it is fair to say that you can see that there is a general strong preference to orientate towards sunrise in Neolithic monuments but sunset in those Irish Bronze Age megalithic monuments (possibly with lunar aspects too).  It seems too much of a coincidence that this change appears earliest in Ireland in Wedge tombs, the most recent analysis of the dating of which is almost perfectly coincidental with the beaker phase in Ireland (although they were reused).  Some sort of change in belief happened in the beaker period in Ireland.  I agree by the way that 'sun worship' is not the way I would put it.  It seems that the IE's religion was well beyond the stage where simple element worship happened.  

The BA axial stone circles are orientated towards the south -south west but with no obvious  
 preference for  any particular dates and none are aligned on any of the four cross quarter days . None of  the Cork and Kerry stone rows which tend to a SW-NE  alignment stone rows are aligned on the cross quater days  either . I don't have the details of the declinations of the 460 wedge tombs , and would like to see them ,they certainly fit into the  Chalcolithic /BA  period  but what it looks we have in Ireland in the period  are  general orientations to to the west or south west but nothing to suggest anything calendrical . Not only do the monuments not supply the declinations  necessary to suggest this in the west and south west confirmation would be be useful at other orientations e.g. Lughnasa sun rise to the NE  ,Imbolc sun rise to SE  ,  Samhain to the NW etc . Yes “solar worship is simplistic and “ belongs to the “druidical sacrificial altars  “ and “R1b is  Cro Magnon “ bin .

That contradicts a fairly recent study that said wedge tombs clearly had a sunset orientations and that there was a strong trend to those of the months around Samhain.  

 http://wings.buffalo.edu/research/anthrogis/JWA/V2N1/springs-art.pdf

This emphasis on autumn sunsets seems to contrast with the previous Neolithic solstice and equinox interest.  In general pre-beaker Neolithic tombs tend to be orientated east to south while in the Bronze Age there is a strong interest in the SW orientation.  I am not really interested in it being of astronomical type accuracy but it does seem to show a general interest in the sunsets in Autumn which does imply a change in ideas and as the paper hints, could be echoing in the main the Samhain festival which was the most important of the Celtic quarter days.  It is interesting that where this orientation is not present imporatant lunar cycle correlations of a fairly consistent type have been noted.  

This is getting a little dippy but it has been suggested old Neolithic idea of a solar solstic or equinox event (usually a sunrise but not always) entering a passage tomb and the light acting as some sort of spirit transporter beam to the other world.  I wonder if the interest in the sunsetting to the west is suggesting a new belief in an afterlife to the west over the sea such as we see in Celtic mythology.  It has often been said that Samhain was a time when the spirit and ordinary world touched.  Regardless of interpretation, in Irish megalithic tombs there was a profound change in orientation that coincided with the beaker period.  I understand too that a number of Scottish Bronze Age momuments also followed this reorientation.  

 An interesting paper ,  as I said I have not seen the details of the declinations of wedge tombs and as it only included 75 of the approx 500 (15%  ) it is a start .
 I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days .Of the wedge tombs in the study approx 14 % are aligned on the setting sun at Samhain  which in itself is noteworthy but the description of Oct/Nov as used in the paper is quite a bit wider than Samhain itself , some examples e.g. nos 2&58 were three weeks away from the the actual date plus when considered from a lunar perspective two standstill achieve 6% . As the spike in the study is only of one cross quarter day and also only on the setting sun of that day it doesn't strike me that this suggests anything calendrical ,you would expect some of  the other six  rising or setting suns to be included for this to be case .
I pointed out that the both axial stone circles and stones rows were clearly not aligned on any of the cross quarter days and were generally aligned to the west and south west , that does not contradict the findings of  this small study of  a different monument type and actually supports it as seen from the summary  on p190 “there appears to be no definitive time of year the wedge tombs were oriented on ,and the main focus of a wedge tombs (sic) is in autumn ,winter or spring sunsets .”

The recumbent stone circles and other scottish circles , which we now recognise as being BA  ,also have an orientation to the SW but this can be shown to related to summer full moon and rarely anything solar . It is worth mentioning that the Neolithic dolmens of Provence and Languedoc share similar orientations to those of BA Ireland , but there is no doubt as you say that there was a general shift of interest from east in the Neolithic to west in the  BA .


I found a paper noting that observation.

http://www.academia.edu/325394/Statistical_Analysis_of_Megalithic_Tomb_Orientations_In_the_Iberian_Peninsula_and_Neighbouring_Regions


The most relevant passage was:

The first division separates the group formed by the megaliths in southern France(Languedoc and Provence) together with those in the Balearic Islands (BALE, BRLA,LLAN). It also includes the dolmens in the Golan Heights (GLAN). This situationarises because these are the only groups that include dolmens with a predominantlywest-facing custom; although this could be expected, it is reassuring to find thatour technique seems to work reasonably well. The dolmens of the Golan Heights,in the Levant, have been included in our analysis in order to test the consistency of our results. Since this is a case of a clear geographic outlier in our sample, it shouldprovide information on the robustness of our analysis technique. This cluster of dol-mens presents orientations towards the western part of the horizon (see Figure 2), acustom that is alien to most clusters in the Iberian Peninsula

 I was unaware of the Golan heights monument orientations , thanks .Hoskin who had covered much of the southern European monuments  didn't cover ther levant as far as I know . Can you suggest how I could download the paper without rejoining facebook ?
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dodelo
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« Reply #129 on: October 10, 2012, 05:22:38 AM »

Orkney is thought by some to be a focal point in the Isles.

"5,000 years ago, Orkney was the centre for innovation for the British isles"

"Alexander Thom believed that the Ring of Brodgar was an observatory designed for studying the movement of the Moon"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/oct/06/orkney-temple-centre-ancient-britain?newsfeed=true
Thom's archaeoastronomy at Brodgar is underwhelming he found no solar relationship at the monument (strange in itself considering his ability to find  “alignments “ anywhere ) but true to form he did find some lunar “alignments “ to notches one of which is a  relatively prominent  feature at Hellia the rest are featureless hill slopes . Sadly , his calculations were based on a date for the obliquity of the ecliptic that would place the monument midway between the Early - Middle Bronze Age probably out by at least 500 years . No doubt about the importance of the area though .
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A.D.
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« Reply #130 on: October 10, 2012, 11:57:04 AM »

Theres a lot going on with digs like the Orkney temple complex and Doggerland that could through new light on the subject. Schmidt digging at Gobele tepe surgested that the was a common belief system through meso. Europe and beyond and it came out of the Ice age. Its also been put that some of the 'figures ' at Gobele tepe are in groups of 12 and there maybe conneted with the same idea as the 12 Olympians.
Theres also a load of whacky super-race and alien 'bouvine excrement'.
Another intresting thing is that some Greek myths place the underworld in the far West. So when you died you really did 'head off into the sunset'.
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OConnor
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« Reply #131 on: October 14, 2012, 12:54:49 PM »

I noticed some similarity in megaliths in the Urals such as wedge type tomb. Is this coincidental? Or perhaps a wide-spread common practice?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaliths_in_the_Urals
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dodelo
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« Reply #132 on: October 14, 2012, 01:55:12 PM »

I noticed some similarity in megaliths in the Urals such as wedge type tomb. Is this coincidental? Or perhaps a wide-spread common practice?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megaliths_in_the_Urals

Tha familiar dolmen style with variations like holed portals are  found all the way east to at least Korea .
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« Reply #133 on: April 08, 2013, 05:08:22 AM »

She is beautiful, on her duck boat. Thanks for posting. What does the duck signify?

I have the guide book from that museum (of archaeology, in Dijon).  The curators seem reasonably confident that she is Sequana (there is no inscription, but she was found in the remains of a busy Sequana temple at the source of the Seine).  The extensive caption with a good photo of this statue is more concerned with what she might have been holding, the nature of her clothing, and whether the statue actually stood on the pedestal but the boat is a separate artifact (they were found together, but not assembled as one unit).  The shrine also contained close to a thousand ex voto tokens, many representing body parts in need of healing, and coins.  Their period (Gallo-Romain) is stated as 52 BC to 476 AD.

If you want to see some of the material under copyright that I don't want to post, give me an email address via PM and I can zap you photos of it, to study or post as you see fit.  The captioning and discussion is all in French, btw.  

Razyn,

Here is a nice image and analysis from the University of Lyon.

"In the representation of Sequana, the duck obviously symbolizes the water of the river.1831 Deyts argues that this statue must have been offered by merchants, traders or boatmen, who wanted to honour the protectress and benefactress of water-borne trade on the River Seine."

" Indo-European peoples named major rivers after Danu, Sinann, and other goddesses. The Marne in northern France was named Matrona in the first century BCE. The eastern Gauls built some twenty monuments to the goddess Nantosuelta, whose name meant “winding river.” [Thevenot, 167; Ross, 219-20] Shrines grew up along the shores of the Severn (named after the goddess Sabrina) in Wales and at the source of the Seine, named after the goddess Sequana. [Ross, 22] The Gauls made pilgrimages there to pray to Sequana for healing, casting votive tablets and oaken images of humans, animals, and afflicted body parts into her spring. A bronze from Sequana's temple shows a Romanized goddess standing in a boat, spinning. Her vessel is shaped like a duck with a berry in its bill. "


http://theses.univ-lyon2.fr/documents/getpart.php?id=lyon2.2009.beck_n&part=159219

http://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/tag/ducks/

http://tribes.tribe.net/animalguides/photos/7f7226fc-e309-4d13-8598-399a49a18146

http://www.dijon.fr/recherche!0-79/musée+!7-0/musee-archeologique!1-38/





It is always good for the city to have this kind of facility and people can choose their right option.
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