Join us in the quest for some of the most fascinating megalithic structures! But first let’s clear out some stuff. The term megalith has two meanings. One refers to a large stone or group of stones representing a structure. No cement or mortar is used as an interlocking system. The second meaning refers to the prehistoric period when these constructions were erected. Let’s focus on ‘large stone’. In some cases, we are talking about stones weighing dozens of metric tones. When Ethiopia received the monolith Obelisk of Axum, a 79 feet and 160 tonnes, back from Italy in 2005, massive problems were encountered during transportation, which ended up costing $7.7 million.
So how did the prehistoric people assemble these massive structures? This is the question on the minds of researchers. As for why, many of them are considered to be ritualistic sites. However, we still have no clear idea about how they managed to achieve impressive levels of precision in some complex cases.
1. Callanish Stones, Scotland
These stones are not quite in the way, as they are positioned in the northern part of Lewis and Harris Island in Northern Scotland. A rough estimation regarding the time of construction would be 2900 BC to 2600 BC. Thirteen stones are positioned in a circle with a 13 meters diameter. The tallest stone is 5 m high, while the average height is 4 m. One theory says that they constitute a lunar observatory.
2. Ale’s Stones, Sweden
Archeologists are still not sure when this boat-shaped megalith structure was created. Some samples were 5.500 years old, but most data suggests that it was erected around the year 600 AD. The 59 boulders, each up to 1.8 t shape a 67 m long structure right next to the sea, but 30 m above its level, offering a stunning view.
3. Carnac Stones, France
With more than 3.000 standing stones, the site found in Brittany is the largest collection of its kind in the world. They were allegedly assembled between 3.300 BC and 4.500 BC. The local saying is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin.
4. Atlit Yam, Israel
This site is so old that the sea level rose up due after it was constructed. The ending of the Ice Age rose the sea level by 8 to 12 m in the area, but researchers believe that a 40 m high tsunami caused by Mount Etna’s volcanic event 8.500 years ago was the migration trigger. Besides the 7 megaliths pictured under, researchers have discovered numerous other rich details of how people lived at the time.
5. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey
Göbekli Tepe is located in the southern part of Anatolia, one of the richest archeological regions of the world, although this megalith structure is a staggering example. The earliest signs of usage date back to the 10th century BC, but the structure seemed to have been abandoned 2.000 years later. Six meters with heights up to 6 m and weights up to 20 t have been assembled in the pre-agricultural period. The site was first discovered in 1963, but only in the 1990s researchers understood the importance of the site. When excavations are over, history may have to be rewritten.
6. Gunung Padang Megalithic Site, Indonesia.
South East Asia and Oceania are two other major areas containing megalithic sites, but Gunung Padang, located in West Java, is the largest site in the region. The deeper levels of the site were constructed around 4.500 BC, while other layers were added in 500 BC. The volcanic origin megaliths are spread over a hill and form terraces. The total surface? Around 25 hectares.
7. Almendres Cromlech, Portugal
The large megalithic complex is considered to be around 8.000 years old. The site contains cromlechs (old word for ‘dolmen’ – portal tomb), as well as menhir (large vertical stones). The discovery of this complex structure spanning an area of 2.800 sq m is quite recent – 1966. Probably the site had a dual function, ritualistic, as well as astronomical.
9. Stonehenge, England
Just a couple of days after President Obama visited Stonehenge, the 4-5.000 years old structure, archeologists announced they discovered “a completely theatrical arrangement” lying underground. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Joke aside, seventeen ritual monuments have been discovered after the widest and most complex geographic survey to date. Researchers are certain that soon enough, we will have access to all of Stonehenge secrets.