Bringing yourself in touch with the art & culture of a time period can be achieved easily by narrowing your focus of concentration to a type of art or specific culture. Breaking down art history into its five distinct categories in a recent post, I’ve decided to dive deeply into each era individually, exploring the intricacies of what made ancient art ancient, or what makes modern art modern.
Each month I will choose a new era or specific culture’s art, and dive into the history and intricacies of what made their artform unique and noteworthy.
Last month I wrote about the cave paintings of the Stone Age. This month, I’ll write a bit more about The Stone Age and the various forms of art that existed within it.
The Stone Age Part II: Stonehenge
Let’s jump forward to near the end of the Stone Age–somewhere around 2000-3000 BCE and examine one of the most enduring figures in art history: Stonehenge.
The enormous and well-known arrangement of massive rocks was assembled quite some time ago, of course, and so no written records of its purpose exist. There was no functional language at the time, and artwork left behind was not able to convey any message to us today about the intended purpose of StoneHenge.
Here are a few of the theories:
It was a Burial Ground
There have been thousands of bone fragments uncovered at the site, leading some to believe that Stonehenge could have served as a burial site for mass grave for some of the “elite” of the Stone Age.
Rituals, Worship & Healing
Many of those who were found in the gravesites showed evidence of trauma deformity, indicating that the site could have been used as a sacred healing ground that the ill and needy could flock to. The bluestones arranged in a oval pattern that make up Stonehenge are said to serve as evidence of the potential healing and worship functions of the great stone monument.
Regardless of what the purpose of Stonehenge was, a potentially larger question remains to be answered: how was it built? Many people doubt the abilities of the Neolithic people to drag such enormous stones over such long distances, let alone erect them the way they’re seen today. Without wheels, some have suggested primitive log-rolling methods have have been undertaken to more fluidly move the stones across the long distances.
For more on the mysteries of Stonehenge, check out the video below from Discovery.