Starlore: Monuments

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Around 5,000 years ago, people in Southern England built a monument that was designed to align with the rising sun at the time of the summer solstice. Although Stonehenge is now widely known, it’s not the only structure of this kind. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Edwin Krupp is the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

“It has been argued that some prehistoric monuments were built with the sky in mind. Stonehenge is of course one of the most famous of these monuments that’s brought up.

We can go even earlier, to New Grange in Ireland where we find these chambered passage tombs where they’re oriented to the winter solstice sunrise. And in fact it’s contrived to have a little window up above the door that allows that light of that rising sun to penetrate into the very depths of this chamber. It couldn’t do it otherwise. If it came in the front door it hit the floor. But they built this window up above to allow that beam of light to go to the back of that cave like structure – all artificial. And we ask ourselves, ‘well, what was going on here?’ Well, it’s not an observatory, it’s a story. And we don’t even know the details of the story. Is this death? Is this life? Is this rebirth? Yeah, it’s probably all those things. It’s the winter sun, the dying sun. But it’s the dying sun reborn at winter solstice, revivifying the earth with this sunlight in this cold dark internal body of mother earth, where, in fact, we have the womb of life that emerges each spring. That’s very likely the tale, in its broad outline. I’m sure it was much more colorful, much more interesting, much more detailed for those people that actually built the place.”

In future programs we’ll hear about another set of sky-oriented structures — the pyramids of Giza. Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

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Starlore: Monuments

Air Date:05/15/2002
Scientist:
Transcript:


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Around 5,000 years ago, people in Southern England built a monument that was designed to align with the rising sun at the time of the summer solstice. Although Stonehenge is now widely known, it's not the only structure of this kind. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Edwin Krupp is the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

"It has been argued that some prehistoric monuments were built with the sky in mind. Stonehenge is of course one of the most famous of these monuments that’s brought up.

We can go even earlier, to New Grange in Ireland where we find these chambered passage tombs where they’re oriented to the winter solstice sunrise. And in fact it's contrived to have a little window up above the door that allows that light of that rising sun to penetrate into the very depths of this chamber. It couldn’t do it otherwise. If it came in the front door it hit the floor. But they built this window up above to allow that beam of light to go to the back of that cave like structure - all artificial. And we ask ourselves, 'well, what was going on here?' Well, it’s not an observatory, it’s a story. And we don’t even know the details of the story. Is this death? Is this life? Is this rebirth? Yeah, it’s probably all those things. It’s the winter sun, the dying sun. But it’s the dying sun reborn at winter solstice, revivifying the earth with this sunlight in this cold dark internal body of mother earth, where, in fact, we have the womb of life that emerges each spring. That’s very likely the tale, in its broad outline. I’m sure it was much more colorful, much more interesting, much more detailed for those people that actually built the place."

In future programs we'll hear about another set of sky-oriented structures -- the pyramids of Giza. Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music