- Sep 2022
In 1991, the earliest known roundel was found in Germany, also corresponding to the Stroked Pottery culture. Called the Goseck Circle, it is 246 feet (75 m) in diameter and had a double wooden palisade and three entrances. Because two of the entrances correspond with sunrise and sunset during the winter and summer solstices, one interpretation of the Goseck Circle is that it functioned as an observatory or calendar of sorts, according to a 2012 study in the journal Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (opens in new tab).
Sounds like this shares many of the potential features of Stonehenge, stone and timber circles, and menhirs that fit into Lynne Kelly's thesis on mnemonic devices.
- Jul 2022
At the same time, like Harold, I’ve realised that it is important to do things, to keep blogging and writing in this space. Not because of its sheer brilliance, but because most of it will be crap, and brilliance will only occur once in a while. You need to produce lots of stuff to increase the likelihood of hitting on something worthwile. Of course that very much feeds the imposter cycle, but it’s the only way. Getting back into a more intensive blogging habit 18 months ago, has helped me explore more and better. Because most of what I blog here isn’t very meaningful, but needs to be gotten out of the way, or helps build towards, scaffolding towards something with more meaning.
Many people treat their blogging practice as an experimental thought space. They try out new ideas, explore a small space, attempt to come to understanding, connect new ideas to their existing ideas.
Ton Zylstra coins/uses the phrase "metablogging" to think about his blogging practice as an evolving thought space.
How can we better distill down these sorts of longer ideas and use them to create more collisions between ideas to create new an innovative ideas? What forms might this take?
The personal zettelkasten is a more concentrated form of this and blogging is certainly within the space as are the somewhat more nascent digital gardens. What would some intermediary "idea crucible" between these forms look like in public that has a simple but compelling interface. How much storytelling and contextualization is needed or not needed to make such points?
Is there a better space for progressive summarization here so that an idea can be more fully laid out and explored? Then once the actual structure is built, the scaffolding can be pulled down and only the idea remains.
Reminiscences of scaffolding can be helpful for creating context.
Consider the pyramids of Giza and the need to reverse engineer how they were built. Once the scaffolding has been taken down and history forgets the methods, it's not always obvious what the original context for objects were, how they were made, what they were used for. Progressive summarization may potentially fall prey to these effects as well.
How might we create a "contextual medium" which is more permanently attached to ideas or objects to help prevent context collapse?
How would this be applied in reverse to better understand sites like Stonehenge or the hundreds of other stone circles, wood circles, and standing stones we see throughout history.
- digital gardens
- knowledge scaffolding
- context collapse
- thought spaces
- contextual medium
- progressive summarization
- writing for understanding
- pyramids at Giza
- reverse engineering
- Dec 2021
They claim that recent evidence suggests how the people who built Stonehenge had abandoned the cultivation of many important crops, and reverted back to gathering for significant aspects of their diet (I think they put a lot of emphasis on hazelnuts if I remember correctly – so they were not 100% hunter-gatherers, no; but they had decided to revert back to more hunting and gathering and to scale down their commitment to agriculture. But they also claim that many scholars staunchly ignore this research/evidence. Why, are they wrong?
Note to self: Watch out closely in this section. One of the other things happening at this time is the lifeway of moving from a mobile society to a sedentary one and this may have had dramatic influence on their orality and memory, particularly as they developed new technology for being sedentary: namely Stonehenge itself as a mnemonic library of sorts as argued by Lynne Kelly.
The diameter of the Folkton Drums and the Lavant Drum seem to be based on the "long foot" (1.056 ft) discovered by Andrew Chamberlain and Mike Parker Pearson. The drums ratios are 1:7:8:9 to the long foot respective (the Lavant Drum last).
What was the origin of the stone used to manufacture these? Do the designs on the drums have a potential mnemonic use for the builders which may have used them as measuring devices?
These are held by the British Museum: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1893-1228-15
Their round nature may have made them easy to roll out measurements. the grooved "tops" may have allowed them to roll on wooden beams of some sort.
What relationship, if any, is the bone pin that was found with them?
<small><cite class='h-cite via'>ᔥ <span class='p-author h-card'>Alison Fisk </span> in "The Folkton Drums. Three cylinders carved from chalk about 5,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period. Decorated with geometric designs and stylised faces. Discovered, along with a bone pin, in a child’s round barrow (burial) in Yorkshire in 1889. #FindsFriday #Archaeology https://t.co/6IyUTN9bCt" (<time class='dt-published'>12/11/2021 09:11:48</time>)</cite></small>
- Apr 2021
Local file Local file
It seems more likely, however, that Waun Mawn contributed only a small pro-portion of Stonehenge’s 80 or so bluestones. This raises the question of whether multiplemonuments in Wales contributed monoliths to Stonehenge and Bluestonehenge
geologist Herbert Thomas,who established that the spotted dolerite bluestones at Stonehenge originated in the PreseliHills of west Wales, where, he suspected, they had originally formed a“venerated stone-circle”(Thomas1923: 258).
In the oldest story of Stonehenge’s origins, theHistory of the Kings of Britain(c. AD 1136),Geoffrey of Monmouth
I imagine this would be some interesting reading.
<small><cite class='h-cite via'>ᔥ <span class='p-author h-card'>Wikipedia</span> in Waun Mawn - Wikipedia (<time class='dt-published'>04/02/2021 15:33:08</time>)</cite></small>
Firstly, an entire tribe moving from Wales to the Salisbury Plain took their encyclopaedia with them. This would require the circle to be erected in the same order as in Wales and oriented in the same direction. In effect, these people were taking their database of knowledge with them, the structure in the stones, and the data in their memories. Secondly, a different tribe conquering those in Wales might identify just how effective this memory technique is and steal only the technology. Essentially, they stole the database structure and filled it with their own data. The bluestones are particularly suited to a mnemonic purpose due to the blotches and blobs in their material makeup.
Perhaps there's a third possibility not mentioned here?
Perhaps the group at Waun Mawn, traded a portion of their knowledge and database to a more powerful and potentially more central nearby group of people? The evidence indicates that many of the people buried at Stonehenge were originally from the area of Wales where some of the stones originated. The fact that some stones remained behind may mean that some of the needed local encyclopedia stayed behind.
- Oct 2020
Archaeologists said Monday that they have discovered a major prehistoric monument under the earth near Stonehenge that could shed new light on the origins of the mystical stone circle in southwestern England.
Why in God's name are they using the word "mystical" in a science article about this? It's use only serves to muddy the water and encourage fanciful speculation and further myths.
I ran across this 5 year old article courtesy of a few recent tweets:
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This took me back to a time and something I’d forgotten writing, that has made me rethink where we are now: https://t.co/COgNQnutZr— Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) April 25, 2020
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“power is distributed very unevenly throughout the global network of higherEd institutions. If digital innovation is left to the market, we will continue to see scale and standardisation dressed up as personalisation and differentiation.” @KateMfD https://t.co/pqskuKPbQj— Robin DeRosa (@actualham) April 25, 2020
What surprises me is that it's about education and pedagogy that starts off with a vignette in which Kate Bowles talks about the unknown purpose of Stonehenge.
But I've been doing some serious reading on the humanities relating to memory, history, and indigenous cultures over the last few years. It dawns on me:
I know what those stones are for!
A serious answer provided by Australian science and memory researcher Dr. Lynne Kelly indicates that Stonehenge and similar monolithic sites built by indigenous cultures across the world are--in fact--pedagogic tools!!
We've largely lost a lot of the roots of our ancient mnemonic devices through gradual mis- and dis-use as well as significant pedagogic changes by Petrus Ramus, an influential French dialectician, humanist, logician, and educational reformer. Scholar Frances Yates indicated in The Art of Memory that his influential changes in the mid-1500's disassociated memory methods including the method of loci, which dated back to ancient Greece, from the practice of rhetoric as a field of study. As a result we've lost a fantastic tradition that made teaching and the problem of memory far worse.
Fortunately Lynne Kelly gives a fairly comprehensive overview of indigenous cultures across human history and their use of these methods along with evidence in her book Memory Code which is based on her Ph.D. thesis. Even better, she didn't stop there and she wrote a follow up book that explores the use of these methods and places them into a modern pedagogy setting and provides some prescriptive uses.
I might suggest that instead of looking forward to technology as the basis of solutions in education, that instead we look back---not just to our past or even our pre-industrial past, but back to our pre-agrarian past.
Let's look back to the tremendous wealth of indigenous tribes the world over that modern society has eschewed as "superstitious" and "simple". In reality, they had incredibly sophisticated oral stories and systems that they stored in even more sophisticated memory techniques. Let's relearn and reuse those techniques to make ourselves better teachers and improve our student's ability to learn and retain the material with which they're working.
Once we've learned to better tap our own memories, we'll realize how horribly wrong we've been for not just decades but centuries.
This has been hard earned knowledge for me, but now that I've got it, I feel compelled to share it. I'm happy to chat with people about these ideas to accelerate their growth, but I'd recommend getting them from the source and reading Dr. Kelly's work directly. (Particularly her work with indigenous peoples of Australia, who helped to unlock a large piece of the puzzle for her.) Then let's work together to rebuild the ancient edifices that our ancestors tried so desperately to hand down, but we've managed to completely forget.
The historical and archaeological record: The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments by Dr. Lynne Kelly
A variety of methods and teaching examples: Memory Craft: Improve Your Memory with the Most Powerful Methods in History by Dr. Lynne Kelly
- Feb 2017
After conducting radiocarbon testing and carrying out measurements during the winter solstice, scholars in the field of archaeoastronomy determined that an indigenous culture arranged the megaliths into an astronomical observatory about 1,000 years ago, or five centuries before the European conquest of the Americas began.
I'm amazed that I never heard about this!