The site that I think was the most important/exciting that we discussed was Stonehenge. Prior to the class I knew of the site, but truly knew none of the details or anything. The only thing I knew was that it was a bunch of stones in a circle. However to much more than that.
I learned that they werent just any stone most of them were blue stones while some were made out of sandstone. The most the important thing was that it just wasnt the stones that made Stonehenge magnificent. The 56 Avebury holes that surround the site. Along with the huge embankments that go around the Avebury holes. There is also an amazing cursus that is approximately 3 kilometers long.
Off to the northeast of Stonehenge is a place called Woodhenge. Woodhenge is a place where wood post create circles. It was said that Woodhenge was the land of the living while Stonehenge was the land of the Dead. Barrows were a major feature to the sight as well with 100’s of them within the near area. Some barrows were unique by being so close together naturally called barrow groups.
Avebury is a small little town not far from Stonehenge that has an enormous stone circle with earthworks embankment. The large circle has ditches bigger than the site of Stonehenge does. The immediate area of Stonehenge is the most spectacular in all of Europe.
The actual creation of Stonehenge is mostly a mystery with some abstract guesses. It is most likely that it was built by the Druids members of the priestly class. The construction of the site started way back in 800 B.C. This was the first stage in construction called preconstruction lasting from 8,000 to 3,000 B.C. During this time the post hole were dug, Robinhoods ball was created and the Stonehenge Cursus was formed.
Second stage of Construction around 3100 B.C. there was some ditch construction. By phase 4 Stonehenge look the way we know it as. Had all the large blue stones and the horseshoe like center ring. After this phase little construction was done to the site.
The purpose of the magnificent structure is that it served as an astronomical observatory at some point in time. It aligned with the summer solstice. To this day many people still visit the site on the summer solstice and its the only day it is open to the public. In the winter it served as a religious center. Stonehenge mostly has seasonal importance.
Professor Watrall explained to us that Stonehenge itself is part of a much larger landscape which are all apart of a system.
The Great Lakes Archaeology started the first museum for the Great Lakes division. This division is responsible for all the archaeological findings within the Great Lakes area, Michigan, and Canada. The creator of the Division is Wilbert B. Hinsdale, a prominent authority for Michigan archaeology in the early 20th century. From his own personal collection and many findings created the Great Lakes Division.
The Great Lakes Division hold more than 1 million cataloged objects collected from over 2300 sites in the area. These findings including many lithic stone tools, ceramics, shells, copper, and also wood. The collection is the largest in the state that include most of the objects found within Michigan. They have found artifacts in 80 out of the 83 counties in Michigan. In addition to the museum subsidized field projects the Division has benefited from the donations of personal collections. The major areas of focus are the Saginaw Bay area along with southeast and southwest Michigan.
The Great Lakes Division is also active in preservation of archaeological sites within Ann Arbor and all throughout Washtenaw county. Collaborating with the City of Ann Arbor Planning Department they initiated “Archaeology in the Urban Setting” program. The program is now entering its second decade in action in the city of Ann Arbor. The chief duty for the program is to study the area in order to determine an area that has archaeological significance. This process in done before any construction is permitted on the land for any purpose. The Great Lakes Division has also partnered up with the Lower Huron Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeology Society to pursue the same common goal of land preservation. The Lower Huron Valley Chapter has most of its concerns with the vanishing of farmland in Michigan due to the numerous growth in suburb areas. This being an all to common issue this day in age and both the Great Lakes Division and the Lower Huron Valley Charter are working to resolve the issue.
Overall the Great Lakes Division has a well-rounded reputation that is much deserved for their cultural and archaeological approach and preservation of Michigan prehistory. Another focus of research is on the character of Native Culture and ecology in the period immediately following before the European contact in the Great Lakes region.
More recently, the Division’s interest has expanded under current curator, John O’Shea, into the historic era of the Lake Huron area, with the development of expertise in coastal and underwater archaeology, with a particular focus on nineteenth-century shipwrecks.
Today at the end of class professor Watrall said that we would be looking at the Mayans next. I am personally am quite interested in this topic therefore will be talking about them in this blog post. Probably wouldn’t have been posting about the Mayans if I knew that the blog post were due today.
The Mayan culture was centralized in the tropical lowlands of what is now Guatemala. They were one of the most dominant cultures of Mesoamerica. The Mayans were different from the rest of the indigenous populations of Mesoamerica, Maya was a centered in one geological block covering the Yucatan Peninsula and present day Guatemala. Having control of this secure area made it difficult for other indigenous populations to invade the Mayans.
The Mayans lived within three separate sub-areas with very distinct environmental and cultural differences. the northern Maya lowlands on the Yucatan Peninsula; the southern lowlands in the Peten district of northern Guatemala and adjacent portions of Mexico, Belize and western Honduras; and the southern Maya highlands, in the mountainous region of southern Guatemala. Most famously, the Maya of the southern lowland region reached their peak during the Classic Period of Maya civilization (A.D. 250 to 900).
The first of the Mayans settlements was called the Early Maya years ranging from 1800 B.C. to 250A.D. The first sub period during this time was called the Preclassic period or the Formative period. Much of the population during the Preclassic period were farmers. It was a very agricultural period where they grew many crops including corn, beans, squash, and cassava. Following the Preclassic period was the Middle Preclassic period which lasted until 300 B.C. In this time period many farmers expand their agriculture to both the lowlands and the highlands. The Middle Preclassic period saw the rise of the first major Mesoamerican civilization. Also during the Preclassic era Maya also displayed more advanced cultural traits and city construction.
The next era is called Classic Maya years ranging from 250 A.D. to 900 A.D. This was considered the golden ages of the Mayan Empire. Within the golden ages the Empire grew to 40 cities where the total population reached up to approximately to 2 million people. Many large structure were constructed during this time. These structures being amazing and majestic features of the Empire. The Classic Mayans worshiped many gods all based on nature. These including gods of sun, moon, rain, and corn.
From the late eighth century to the ninth century an unknown epidemic caused a shake in the Great Mayan Empire. One after another stone cities were abandoned in the southern lowlands. This reasoning behind why the Empire collapsed is truly unknown though scholars have their thoughts.
The Mississippian Culture was a dominant culture during the years 900 AD to 1,700 AD. Remnants of this culture were around when the first French explorers had been to the Americas in the late 7th century. The culture was centered around the Lower Mississippi River. These people were called the Mound Builders.
Along the Mississippi’s Natchez Trace Parkway sits an enormous flat-topped platform 35 feet tall and covering over 8 acres of land. This is called the Emerald Mound. The Emerald Mound is the second largest ceremonial earthwork in the United States and was built by the Mississippians over 2 centuries before Columbus set foot in the Caribbean. The Mississippians also erected hundreds or maybe even thousands of earthworks across the southeast while Europe was living through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
As the Mississippians prospered, the mounds began to evolve from mounds into urban centers and cities. Along with these urban centers came normal problems such as overcrowding and the removal of waste from the center. In some cases one large mound would dominate a village or ceremonial center. However, a majority of the time, like at the Emerald, several mounds would surround a plaza and the village would be at its edge.
Periodically the Mississippians would raise one of the wood and mud structures,just to bury the remains of a deceased leader under a layer of fresh earth. After they did this they would erect a new building on top of this site. Normally, the leaders were buried in specially built burial mounds, conical or round.
Mississippian crews would typically labor over generations and generations, and sometimes over more than a century before one of their creations reached its final product. You could have potentially work on the same earthwork as your great-grandfather. It seems unreal to work on a project for that long. A mound could start as a slight rise with an important building resting on the top. Within time the structure would accidentally or purposely burned down to practice a cleansing ceremony. After the burning crews would bring basket after basket of dirt to form a new foundation for a new mound.
Many of the crew workers would carry 60lbs of dirt a piece and these crew workers would stay on the job until the stage was complete.Archaeologist say that the culture survival depended on a steady flow of immigrants to compensate for the high death rates that the Mississippians had in their culture. So, when the flow ceased the cities collapsed.
As we watched the Pyramids movie in class I grew more interested in the Great Pyramids of Giza. The grand structures are phenomenal with their shapes and sizes. Not only was I interested in the pyramids themselves, but also in the ways that they were constructed and how they were constructed.
The first of the ancient wonders was started by the pyramids of Snerfru. He built two pyramids at Dahshur the more popular of the two was the Bent Pyramid. It was called the Bent Pyramid due to the upper part had a shallower angle than the bottom part. The pyramid was originally planned to be an ordinary pyramid but the angle was changed from 51 degrees to 43 degrees. The next pyramid is the Pyramid of Kufu. This pyramid is the largest of the three its base is 755 feet and is 481 feet tall. The pyramid is constructed of 2,300,000 limestone blocks with each one weighing an average of 2.5 tons. It has been said that this pyramid was constructed by many slaves, however this is not true. What actually happened was that one hundred thousand people worked on the structure three months of the year. This was the time when the Nile’s annual flood which made it impossible to farm the land. This left all the farmers and workers of the farm unemployed. Kufu provided the workers with good food and clothing on top of providing then with a job during their unemployment. Kufu was remembered in many folk tales for centuries because of his acts during the constructing of the Great Pyramid.
Each of the pyramids had an adjoining mortuary temple. Attached to the temples would have been a covered causeway that descended down the temple valley near the Nile River. Along with the mortuary temples was Mastabas tombs, and smaller subsidiary pyramids in which the royal family members were buried.
Where the question lies is that is it possible for all of these people to come together with one common goal and complete the momumental task. Did all of these people join together to build this National identity? If so, it took a great deal of Nationalism throughout the entire nation. The work that it took these people is unprecedented to create such a majestic empire.
After doing a little research I was glad to find out that the workers that constructed the pyramids were not slaves. I have always thought that the Pharaohs had forced their people into slavery to complete their final resting place. This is what I found most interesting in my research.