Archaeoastronomy is the study of astronomical practices of ancient cultures and celestial lore, mythologies, religions and worldviews of these cultures that are in any way connected to astronomy and astronomical objects (The Center for Archaeoastronomy, 2002)…
Thus, careful study of the accurate cardinal orientation of the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt, and the Venus alignment of the Maya Palace of the Governor at Uxmal in Yucatan can reveal to what extent associated ancient cultures were advanced in their knowledge of astronomy and possibly provide scope for amazement at such achievements of monumental precision ((The Center for Archaeoastronomy, 2002).
Stonehenge (Figures 4 & 5) has special significance to archaeoastronomy. It is certainly not the largest ancient stone circle in the world but it is certainly the only one with lintels on the upright stones (English Heritage Website, FAQs on Stonehenge). "Stonehenge, the word, is believed to have originated from the Anglo-Saxon period, from the old English word "henge' meaning 'hanging' or 'gibbet'. Thus, Stonehenge literally means the 'hanging stones' and may have been derived from the lintels that seem to hang above the uprights (English Heritage, Historical Background, Stonehenge, 2006). Today 'henge' has a special significance in archaeology meaning a circular construction of either stone or timber (English Heritage, Historical Background, Stonehenge, 2006).
The discoveries at Stonehenge in the 60s have made the interdisciplinary fields of archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy (the study of contemporary native astronomies) active fields wherefrom scholars derive knowledge of our species' continuous interaction with the cosmos (The Center for Archaeoastronomy, 2002).
The report seeks to find clearly why Stonehenge was built, when it was built and by whom. It shall explore available literature with research findings in recent years to attempt to do so.
2 Stonehenge - The English Heritage Monument:
English Heritage and the National Trust look after Stonehenge jointly. Though curious visitors have been coming to the ancient site to gawk at the monumental constructions for over 5000 years it has only recently in 1986 been declared a World Heritage Site (English Heritage, Historical Background, 2006). Researchers from the English Heritage Scientific Dating Service used a variety of dating techniques to assess dates when the monument was built. The researchers assert that Stonehenge was built in three phases - the oldest construction was the Mesolithic activity in the present car park attached to the site. It must be noted here that the team ...
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