Death is the only guarantee in life. It is the creation of a new begging, to remove the old to make way for the new. We are inherently fascinated with death, but it is completely out of our control. This simple truth is so toxic to our behavior, we become obsessed in trying to understand it, embrace it, or attempts to escape it. In doing so we try to make connections, form relations, and create significance.
Nowadays, we do not embrace death as our ancestors once did. We are too busy with day-to-day responsibilities to consider the inevitable, and we become surprised when death occurs to someone we may know. The fact that many do not embrace life strictly because we know it is limited removes any potential we have to build connections or relations of any real importance. We no longer, as a society, dedicate unfathomable fortunes, resources and manpower to embrace death.
This was not always the case. Even our relatively recent relatives, in relation to the entire length of human history, did embrace, fear, or attempt to escape death.
For example, lets start with the Egyptians – specifically at the great pyramids of Giza Plateau. My first blog post, “It’s Just A Burial Site,” talks about my reasoning at the time and why the Egyptians built these ridiculously enormous monuments that were essentially an oversized tombstone. I state, “They are simply apart of a glorified cemetery whose owners were hell-bent to build the largest representation of [themselves]… relative to the importance, riches, or ego of the individual who lies beneath.
However, as I have grown to understand more about ancient culture, and analyzed their actions from a systems viewpoint with a focus on behavioral and cultural influence, I realize these monuments were not just representations of an individual, but how the civilization viewed death. The Egyptians did not embrace or fear death; their culture was one that believed they could escape it. Their medium of escape was the mummification process and the pyramid was their vessel. Its magnitude and significance increase the chances of a safe arrival to another life. As the Pharos, Priests, and other important individuals gained or loss power or significance, we observe the civilization’s approach to death through their dedication in building these monuments.
The second example of archeological significance I want to address is Stonehenge. As I analyze Stonehenge, its development over thousands of years, the way it was built, and theories of its use, I can hypothesize the civilization(s) in occupation did not try to escape death like the Egyptians, but they embraced it. They saw it as a new beginning. I’m not saying I have discovered the exact purpose of the structure, but I can define with confidence where every theory of its purpose over laps. (see my second blog post, “You Don’t Know What you Don’t Know… Or do you?.”
Stonehenge went through a series of developmental phases over roughly 7,000 years, each generation adding a significant addition. Each theory, or reason for these additions spoke of new begins and celebrating a new phase of life, in many forms. For example: When the ditch and embankments were being created, they were filled with deer and oxen bone, as well as flit tools at the bottom of the pit representing a sacrifice to the monument. In the same time period, Aubry Holes were created surrounding the monument. At the bottom of these holes over 5,000 pieces of cremated human and animal bones were found under tombstone type rock pillars. This finding reveals that the civilization dedicated life to the monument. Not much can be rendered from this, except only when this information is applied to later events. Next, we can observe the Durrington Walls, huge embankments that were used for festivals in December and January, during the winter solstice. At the festivals, enormous volumes of wild game were sacrificed and consumed in celebration of a new beginning – a new year. Many more theories suggest monument for death and life, a calendar to map the winter and summer solstice, and so on. All have over lapping cultural relations with embracing death as a renewal of life.
Today, although we do not see these actions on a grand scale, some individuals realize the significance of death. We view these individuals as different from the rest of us. They embrace life and live it to the fullest. Some choose to party until it literally kills them, while others choose to make a name for themselves. I believe if you do not fully embrace the inevitable, you can never really live in the present. It is those who realize their time is finite that make a lasting impression.