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Author Topic: (L21) Why does not anyone talk about the megaliths?  (Read 2825 times)
jerome72
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« on: November 05, 2010, 04:38:21 AM »

If L21 seems more common along the Atlantic coast, we can think of the bell beaker but why not megaliths?
A map interresting, below,  showing in orange the most ancient megaliths and in yellow the expansion.
And why not that these megalithic people would not predominantly L21?
Too old? But, are we sure of the age of L21?


http://www.hist-europe.fr/assets/megalithes.jpg
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A.D.
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 06:03:14 AM »

The first thing I notice about the map is the Boyne Valley  (New Grange, Knowth  etc) is in white. I 've spent all this summer looking at Irish megaliths. The most memorable thing is the state of health of the people who built them. The skeletal evidence is shocking. Heres a few facts given out at the New Grange centre.
the average male lived to 40 women 25.
Ae most the population of the entire Boyne Valley was 2,000 people (maybe less than 10,000 in ehe whole of Ireland.
The infante mortality rate was over 50 % (I'm can,t rember the exact number but every one was shocked.
These people could have disappeared entirly every last one with 1 or 2 bad harvests.
You read about populations being wiped out and think end of a culture after seeing  the Boyne Valley skelatons (the elite) total replacement ij very possable.
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alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 09:19:04 AM »

I think one of the most persistant but outdated and wrong themes among amateurs on the internet and elsewhere is the idea of a 'megalthic culture' usually backed up by a distribution map.  Megaliths have been extensively excavated across Europe and basically it has been proven that the material culture is largely unconnected and of course megaliths were being built in some form or another across Europe from (very roughly) 5000BC to 1000BC.  Even if we restrict it to tombs, even off the top of my head I can think of building going on from c. 5000 to 2500BC in a wide variety of different periods and cultures.  

Even in Ireland megalithic structures of various types were built from 4000BC to 1000BC and certainly even tombs were built from 4000 to nearly 2000BC.  I think you have to look at each megalithic structure type on its own merits and look for parallels rather than simply look at 'megaliths'. For example, Irish Court Tombs are very similar to Clyde and Cotswold Severern tombs in western Britain and also to some degree to earthen long barrows in southern Britain.  There are enough features in common to suggest the probability that the Irish ones have some link with the British ones and either spread with the first farmers or spread as ideas a little later (radiocarbon dates are under much review and ideas are in flux). However, there are differences too and it is not easy to absolutely make a call on this.  Passage tombs are another much debated subject. Some simple ones may be very early but the large ones like Newgrange were  built well after the migrations of the first farmers.  The materail culture is pretty well Irish so no major migrations is implied but there are features and some artifacts that do show clear links with Atlantic Britain (including, perhaps especiially, the Orkneys) and more vaguely down to the Atlantic facade on the continent.  However, the burial traditions, pottery and other aspects of finds and detail of the structures are quite different and more suggestive of the spread of ideas by contact and trade (stone axe trade etc) than major migration.  Wedge Tombs have now been closely dated using only the best radiocarbon samples to what is essentially the Irish beaker period c. 2400-2100BC (roughly). They were built after a long hiatus in megalithic building in Ireland so arguably owe nothing to earlier traditions.  I suspect (this idea goes in and out of fashion) that there is a link between the Wedge Tombs and the Breton Allees Couverte (pardon my French) and similar tombs in NW France.  

I could go on and on and talk about stone circles etc which seem to owe very little to earlier Neolithic megalithic traditions.  SO, in short beware simple sweeping interpretations that pool megalithic structures and treat the as a group.  Its far more complex and you probably need to be prepared to do many weeks reading into the subject using up to date books and journals to really get a handle on European megaliths.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 09:20:00 AM by alan trowel hands. » Logged
A.D.
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 09:52:17 AM »

Yeah New grange and Stone henge roughly contenary both allign with the Sun and Moon but vastly differant. At the moment it seems like an international ┬Čkeeping up with the Joneses' There is no evidence of roaming around leaving a trail of megaliths behind them.Recent finds (JeanM put one up somewhere)show that people of the bronze age moved about more than was preiviously thought, so the spreading of ideas technology etc seems the most lightly by far.
Unless of course the were landing pad for various differnt space craft LOL
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jerome72
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2010, 02:44:07 AM »

Thank you for your answers,
I understand that there are different style between the megalithic in different areas of Europe.
However, the erection of these stones was a lot of energy, people ect ... You can not compare the different style megalithic the same way than you compare different types of pottery!
These people must have, originally, a common religion that led them to use these  stones.
The oldest being on the Atlantic coast: is it a mere coincidence? Roughly the same time: Is it a coincidence? (Although it is difficult to date this type of monument)

Then, each area developing specifics styles, and making them evolve over several centuries, as in France where the small Romanesque chapel became the big Gothic cathedrals

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Mike Walsh
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2010, 09:40:02 AM »

If L21 seems more common along the Atlantic coast, we can think of the bell beaker but why not megaliths? ...
When the Bell Beaker culture and folks are discussed it should be in light of the whole Bell Beaker package. I don't think a particular decoration on pots is highly indicative of something in and of itself, it is just an easily visible artifact. There really is a full package of items related to the Bell Beakers.

To put the shoe on the other foot, is there a full package cultural artifacts and practices that are common to where megaliths are found?
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alan trowel hands.
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2010, 02:11:59 PM »

If L21 seems more common along the Atlantic coast, we can think of the bell beaker but why not megaliths? ...
When the Bell Beaker culture and folks are discussed it should be in light of the whole Bell Beaker package. I don't think a particular decoration on pots is highly indicative of something in and of itself, it is just an easily visible artifact. There really is a full package of items related to the Bell Beakers.

To put the shoe on the other foot, is there a full package cultural artifacts and practices that are common to where megaliths are found?

The short answer is no.  Even people using similar types of megalithic tomb used different burial practices (i.e. some used cremation and others used inhumation), different orientations,  different pottery types etc.  I think the level of similarity is fairly general rather than specific although there is the odd feature or artifact that shows specific contacts i.e. Ireland and Orkney.  Some people think that megaliths seems to predominate where farming spread late and perhaps was a reflection of some of the Mesolithic peoples beliefs.  Certainly I dont think (I could be mistaken) that the Linearbandkeramik used collective burial in megalithic tombs.  THere is a strong suggestion in north-west France that collective megalithic burial may owe as much to Mesolithic collective burial in shell middens as it does to the beliefs of the incoming farmers. 
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A.D.
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2010, 04:26:04 PM »

If you compared the time scale if the Magalithic era to that of the judaic religions christian, muslim etc and look at the variations in the space of 1,500 yrs eg coptic, catholic, protestant its alot. add to that geographical consideration eg praying for rain would be far less frequent in Ireland than S.Spain. or even more extreme (hypothetical) comparison. If the megalith builders saw and tried to build a pyramid Egyptian fashion in Ireland they'd still be waiting for the bricks to dry.n So plan B use big stones. I really think it was more of a case of If we build something big to the gods (ancestors or what ever) like them ones over there may be the gods will be good to us too. The Megaliths were also thought to be statements of Power,Prestige and claim to the land so it is also possible that they wanted them to be different from every one else. As JeanM said about people travelling about  the pros are looking again recent finds has shown greater than expected movement by individuals.I think the argument kinda boils down to 1 a Megalith culture going in different directions 2 a regional variations on `trends' as for religion /beliefs I don't know if anyone can say it was the same or just had similar `looking' gods or practices, or evei if it/they were the same throught the megalithic era. 
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