Stonehenge

Stonehenge:
* New geological research is currently being carried out to identify the sites of origin more accurately. How the stones were transported for over 250km (156 miles) to Stonehenge remains unknown, but it is probable that a combination of transport via water networks and hauling over land brought them to the site. The larger sarsen stones are a type of sandstone, a stone found scattered across southern England. Most archaeologists believe that these stones were brought from the Marlborough Downs, where great quantities of sarsens still lie scattered in the landscape, although the exact location of their origin is unknown. * Existing evidence suggests that the ‘bluestones’ were the first stones to be erected at Stonehenge, in a double circle. From the stones that remain on site today, it can be seen that some were shaped to enable them to fit together with others. This suggests that either in this first arrangement or perhaps at another site altogether, these bluestones formed a lintelled arrangement.

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* The stones were erected in two arrangements – an inner horseshoe of five trilithons (two vertical stones capped by a third horizontal lintel) and an outer circle of 30 uprights with continuous lintels. * The stones weigh on average 25 tonnes and were transported to the site, dressed, erected and secured together with sophisticated joints – a remarkable achievement. The sarsen stones were worked using hammer-stones and mauls. * At the same time or earlier, the unshaped stones close to the entrance were raised, along with the four Station Stones on the periphery of the monument. These stones may relate to the setting out of the monument, or to solstitial and lunar alignments. * Near the centre of Stonehenge was the Altar Stone, now fallen, which may have stood upright. Once the stone settings were erect, the Avenue was built to connect Stonehenge with the River Avon. The main axis of Stonehenge is aligned upon the solstitial axis. At midsummer, the sun rises over the horizon to the north-east, to the west of the Heel Stone. * At midwinter, the sun sets in the south-west, in the gap between the two tallest trilithons. These times in the seasonal cycle were important to the prehistoric people who built and used Stonehenge.
* Standing at the centre of Stonehenge, one would look through the Heel Stones towards the northeast horizon where the sun rose above the horizon on a midsummer morning, c.3100 BC. Neolithic people would not have viewed this as an astronomical event, there was no science- This midsummer sunrise was a mythic experience. * Round barrows are often complex funerary monuments, perhaps starting with a foundation burial and pits or post rings, before a mound is erected, which might later be modified in shape or have secondary burials added. The barrows around Stonehenge are particularly unusual due to the varied types.
* Stonehenge workers removed their brown and grey surface crust to show a bright, grey-white surface that would glisten at sunset on the shortest day of the year and in the dawn light on the longest day. * Perhaps a ceremonial site of great importance for the people of the late Neolithic, a temple where they marked the passing of time, seasons and cycles of life and death. * Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world. It shows enormous organisation and engineering ability.
Pantheon:
* Probably one of the most fascinating features of the Pantheon is the Architecture. They dug a circular trench 26 feet (8 m) wide and 15 feet (4.5 m) deep for the rotunda’s foundation and rectangular trenches for the Pronaos and the connector. They lined the trenches with timber forms and layered those with cement. Constructed in steps that are thickest at the base (20 feet) and thinnest at the oculus (7.5 feet). To create the dome’s oculus, the Romans built two circles of handmade bricks that were 23.4 inches (60 cm) square and 1.56 inches (4 cm) thick. They laid the bricks edgewise in three vertical courses, then circled the oculus with a bronze cornice. * Hadrian had the original roof bronze-tiled and the Latin lettering on the entablature inscribed in bronze. It read: M AGRIPPA L F COS TERTIUM FECIT, which translates to “Built by Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, third counsul.”
* The Romans were aware of the heavy building materials, so they used lighter materials toward the top of the dome. On the lowest level travertine, the heaviest material was used -mostly basalt- then a mixture of travertine and tufa, then tufa and brick, then all brick was used around the drum section of the dome, and finally pumice, the lightest and most porous of materials on the ceiling of the dome. This use of lighter materials on top alleviated the immense weight of the dome. The Roman Pantheon was probably constructed by using an elaborate setup of wooden scaffolding, which in itself would have been costly. * During its two centuries as a functioning temple, statues of gods filled the niches. Animals were sacrificed and burned in the center; the smoke escaped through the only means of light, the oculus.
* Ancient temple in Rome that was later converted into the church of Santa Maria ad Martyres. Dating from 125 AD, this is the most complete ancient building in Rome and one of the city’s most spectacular sights. Until the 20th century, the Pantheon was the largest concrete structure in the world. Michelangelo studied its great dome before starting work on the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pantheon was dedicated to pan theos, “all the gods.” When it became a church, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. It remains an active church.
* The oculus, the only source of natural light in the Pantheon, is a round opening in the center of the dome. It is 27 feet in diameter and open to the sky. It was an engineering gem of the Roman world. No oculus had even dared come close in size to the one in the Pantheon. It is still lined with the original Roman bronze and is the main source of light for the whole building. As the earth turns the light flows in to circle the interior making the viewer aware of the magnificence of the cosmos. The oculus was never covered and rain falls into the interior and runs off the slightly convex floor to the still functioning Roman drainpipes underneath.
* The apse is decorated with a golden mosaic featuring crosses. Some 2nd-century decoration from the temple can be seen in the niche just to the right of the apse. The pediment is blank today, but there would have been a sculpture that acted out the battle of the Titans. Great bronze doors guard the entrance to the cella and would have been covered in gold. * The Pantheon is the burial place of several important Italians, including the artist Raphael. Monumental tombs are set into the walls.
Basics:
Similarities:
* Both of the structures were used for ceremonial purposes by the people of their times, and beyond. * Their constructs amazed the people of their times with their sheer size and the awe felt when looking upon them. * Their blueprints were of magnificent design, each with mathematical strategies, placing them in ideal locations and building them to exact proportions. * The feat of engineering to build such monuments is astounding, and would have taken generations. * Both were built with materials that outlasted time, and which were also heavier at the bottom and lighter on top to ensure they lasted forever. * Both monuments have tombs embedded into their structures. * One could watch the cosmos from both constructs – from designated positions at Stonehenge, or from the oculus of the Pantheon.
Differences:
* Used for different ceremonies – Stonehenge for solstices and astronomy, which were mythical experiences for the people of the time, Pantheon was for religious worshipping of various gods. * Stonehenge is much older, and construct is a mystery. Pantheon was more of a test of architectural skills. * Stonehenge was possibly built as a burial site as well as a place for watching the solstices, seasons, and observing life and death. Pantheon was mainly used for god worshipping, even with the different owners. * The materials used were much different – Pantheon used many layers of separate materials, while Stonehenge was built with huge stones. * Pantheon was elaborately decorated with gold, bronze and carvings, Stonehenge was simplistic.
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