Extra Blog Post

After taking the Final Exam today under the complete exhaustion in which finals week always brings over every student year in and out. I reflected upon some of the points in which I found of great significance after adhering to lecture taught by Professor Watrall. I thought in depth about the possibilities of the increasing seemingless technological barrier. Technologically the innovations being made today are intriguing seeing as we can uncover more archaeological knowledge simply from using a telescope or taking a geomagnetic survey of the land. The possibilities in which technology can go in the future will lead to even more great archaeological finds.

When we learned about the Stonehenge I found it simply amazing that the builders, construction date, and how it was constructed are all relatively unknown. The questions that linger around the archaeological findings upon the site are mind boggling and truly captures the imagination of scientists of every facet. Were we as a human race guided by an extraterrestrial being like some theorists have proposed or was the culture that resided amongst the Stonehenge are just more technologically advanced for their time compared to their surrounding constituents. We honestly will never know until it can be proven so through archaeological findings or other accurate depictions of its construction.

Another intriguing aspect of the class was upon the topic of Atlantis. The possibility of once having a great sunken land known as Atlantis, seen to be generations ahead of its time, and eventually collapsed sinking to the bottom of the sea. After watching all of the Disney movies and hearing all of the stories growing up it only further pushed me to investigate more into the credibility of the topic. Only to find that most accounts were misinterpretations of prestigious work taken into the wrong context to fulfill a fantasy belief. I found this upsetting but still of great interest, for it is estimated that something of the same nature is in line to happen to New York. The endless possibilities that we encounter in this world are things that will forever challenge us and push us to our scientific limits of knowledge.

This class has taught me to question the beliefs of others and the only way to truly find the source of the facts is to observe excavate, and ultimately research yourself. For there are some things we may never be able to prove archaeologically but, there are also many things in which others have lacked to observe. Simply put I have learned to investigate the cultural pasts of our ancestors not by speculation from past written works which coud be biased, but instead to expand our knowledge in grasping the concepts of culture as a whole and the role in which Archaeological findings factor in. Ultimately, this class was one of the most interesting classes I have take at Michigan State and further led me to look more into the archaeological aspect of the world and observe the cultural differentiations that occur time in and out and is ever changing.

Maya City

A Maya City is defined as the centre of pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. The Maya cities had a tendency to be more dispersed than cities in other societies found across the world. The primary aim of settlement was upon a lowland tropical environment that allowed for food production. The cities also tended to be located in places that would allow for them to control trade routes or that could support the supply of essential products, in turn the elites were able to control trade and increase their wealth. The architectural significance of these early Mayan Cities which were blessed with the ability to construct public temples for ceremonies, thus attracting inhabitants to the city. With all of these attributes it allowed for the Mayan Cities to eventually develop into the capital cities of the Early Maya states.

Going into deeper context of the architectural organization of Maya cities I wanted to further examine the development of these settlements. I found that most Maya cities had the tendency to expand outwards from the cities, along with growing upwards. As buildings collapsed, new structures were built above the pre-existing structures making the city rise vertically as the city expanded over time. All Mayan city centres featured sacred precincts, surrounded by residential areas and often times walls. The sacred precincts contained pyramidal temples, they supported administrative and elite complexes. These complexes were built to record and contain the deeds of the ruling dynasty. The centres of these cities were found to contain plazas, sacred ball courts were found nearly everywhere resembling modern day recreational parks, along with buildings used for marketplaces and schools. The organizational significance of the Maya cities were advanced for the time period in which they originated, in turn making them the Mesoamerican power that still to this day is recognized as some of the greatest civilizations of their time period. They incorporated outlying roads used for trade purposes and travel, linking cities to one another. The routes linking Mayan powers enabled them to control smaller settlements expanding their empire across the Mesoamerica. Through excavations over the past centuries art has been extracted from these elite residential complexes varying in quality according to the rank of the lineage that resided there. With the largest and richest of these compounds possessed sculptures and craftsmanship of art equal to that of royal art. These early Mesocamerican civilizations still to this day remain amongst the most powerful strcutral forces amongst any of their time. The power that each Mayan ruler held was what I found to be most intriguing, and pushed me to want to learn more of the organizational structure and prestige of these early Mesoamerican civilizations.

 

Stonehenge: The Ancient Alien Theory

After reading the construction of stonehenge, I was hung up, wondering how the prehistoric monument was built without advanced engineering knowledge nor sophisticated tools. This same question has been baffling historians and archaeologists alike for centuries. Stonehenge took nearly 1,500 years to build and was believed to be constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC. The construction of Stonehenge begins with the outer ring consisting of sarsen sandstone slabs excavated from local quarries in England’s Salisbury Plain, while the inner ring being built with smaller bluestone rocks that scientists have tracked back to Preseli Hills in Wales, nearly 200 miles away from the construction site of Stonehenge. How were these neolithic peoples able to transport boulders weighing 4-tons over such a vast distance? While also taking into consideration that it’s construction was nearly 5000 years ago.

Seeing as there is no definitive answer to how Stonehenge was engineered by these neolithic peoples, I wondered were they really solely responsible for it’s creation. Discerning that anything is possible I took into account the possibility of Ancient Aliens, proponents such as author Erich von Daniken among others developed a modern take on the Merlin hypothesis. This modernized hypothesis was developed by advocates of the ancient alien theory, other known as the ancient astronaut theory, considering that extraterrestrial beings with superior knowledge of science and engineering arrived on Earth thousands of years ago, sharing their expertise with early neolithic civilizations. Author Erich von Daniken, considered the primary proponent of the ancient alien theory, suggested the creation of stonehenge in the neolithic period was a model of our solar system, serving as the solar and lunar calendar. Bear in mind supporting evidence has found upon observing the circularly positioned surrounding trench of Stonehenge, connecting at a point, that then extends hundreds of meters away from the site, with an extending pathway pointing directly upon the position the sun would lie during the summer solstice. In turn representing a believed model of the neolithic Solar System, they believed consisted of 9 planets. From this early representation of our Solar System, Daniken purposed that the stone circle served as a landing pad for spaceships or as an observatory for extraterrestrial activity amongst the skies. It was also believed that the excavation of the trenches directed outward pointed towards ancient historic sites, another stretch of this belief advocates the idea that they served as identifiers for extraterrestrial beings acknowledging that the planet is inhabited with advanced life. Daniken further claimed that ancient art and iconography throughout the world depicted air and space vehicles, non-human intelligent creatures, along with artifacts of advanced technology that weren’t seen to fit amongst the neolithic period. The question then appears as to how these anachronistically objects found amongst periods preceding the technology of the period. Were ancient aliens the helping hand that guided civilizations to advance technologically and intellectually, pushing the development of our known world slowly over thousands of years? Modern scientific explanations cannot yet give an explanation as to how boulders weighing nearly 4-tons were transported over such great distance to Stonehenge without adequate technology. Therefore, until proven wrong the speculation around Stonehenge is to be consumed with endless possibilities of it’s mystifying construction along with the role it played in the neolithic period in which it arose.

The Temple of Luxor

Looking back on previous lectures I came to find that my interest lied with that of the unknown. That being said I looked upon the Temple of Luxor as I were a peasant. The wonder, not knowing what were to lie behind the ever stretching columns, and the gate, lined with sphinxes that led the way to Karnak beings. These monumental features surrounding the Temple of Luxor intrigued me to want to know more of the historical and sacred aspects it withheld.

The name Luxor represents both the present-day metropolis that was ancient Thebes. Luxor derives from the Arabic al-uksur, meaning “fortifications.” Since it’s creation the Temple of Luxor has been a sacred site known as the “southern sanctuary,” which referred to the holy of the holies where the principal god. Amun the god of fertility, was a creator god often fused with the sun-god Ra into Amun-Ra, resided within these walls and held strong connections to both Karnak and West Thebes. The Temple was constructed under the reign of Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC. Following the construction Horemheb and Tutankhamun added columns, statues, and freizes. These columns built surrounding the courts were filled with inscriptions of hieroglyphics and symbols, depicting heroic scenes from the pharaoh’s lives. The columns also were coated in paintings along the undersides of the lintels that link the top of the columns.

In Luxor there are six great temples, the four located on the west bank are known to travelers and readers of travels as Goornah, Deir-el-Bahri, the Ramesseum, and Medinet Habu. The two temples on the right bank are known as the Karnak and Luxor. The Luxor Temple was built with sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila area, located in south-western Egypt, commonly known as Nubian Sandstone. There were six shrines stations of barque that were built upon the avenue connecting Karnak and Luxor Temple. Along the avenue the stations were created for ceremonies, for instance, the Feast of Opet which held significance to the temple, dedicated to the Thebian Triad, Amun the god of fertility, his wife Mut the goddess of war, and their son Khonsu the moon god. With each staion having an individual purpose for its creation. The fourth station was that of Kamare, which cooled the oar of Amun. The fifth station served the purpose of receiving the beauty of Amun, and lastly the sixth station of Kamare was a shrine for Amun known as the Holy of Steps.

Peering inside the Temple of Luxor, you would be led into a peristyle courtyard, built by Ramesses II, this area and the pylon were built at an oblique angle to the rest of the temple. This was believed to be an attempt to accommodate the three pre-existing barque shrines located in the northwest corner. Leading into the inner sanctums they begin with a dark antechamber, with particular emphasis on the Roman stuccoes that can still be seen atop the Egyptian carvings that rest below. As you go further into the temple stands a Barque Shrine for use by Amun, which was built by Alexander, with the final area being the private quarters of the gods, along with the Birth Shrine of Amenhotep III. The features were detailed with wall paintings which depicted the pharoa’s claim to have been fathered by Amun, and ultimately arose from divine descent.

 

 

The History of Menkaure

After lecture today covering the Pyramids of Giza I instantly knew what the topic of my blog post was going to consist of. The Pyramid of Menkaure caught my attention and guided me towards wanting to learn more about it. Located in the Giza Plateau in the southwestern area of Cairo, Egypt. The reason for which it was built being to house the mummified remains of the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure.

The smallest of the three pyramids, Menkaure, stands at 215 feet tall. Slow deterioration has lead it to shrink 11 feet. Constructed of granite, the upper portion cased in Tura limestone with the bottom granite portion being left exposed to the environment. The pyramids date of construction is unknown due to Menkaure’s reign never being able to accurately be depicted. The relative date it was believed to be completed was the 26th century BC.

Looking deeper into the history of Menkaure’s pyramid, I found this the most intriguing aspect. At the end of the 12th century al-Malek al-Aziz Othman ben Yusuf attempted to demolish the Pyramids of Giza beginning with Menkaure’s pyramid. Their attempt was found to be extremely difficulty, the workers they recruited were unable to remove more than one or two stones each day of work. They used wedges and levers while others used ropes to pull them down. The wedges were used to split the stones into pieces making them easier to remove. The efforts to take it down merely left it with a large vertical crease spoiling the face of the pyramid. I found this as insulting to the reign of Menkaure and a defiling of one of the greatest architectural constructions of the world.