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This magnificent book is a fascinating account of the prehistoric stone circles at Avebury, which not only II date from an earlier era but are also larger than the more famous sarsen stone circle of Stonehenge. Written by a leading archaeologist, the book considers every aspect of Avebury's history and construction and discusses the probable purpose of these massive structThis magnificent book is a fascinating account of the prehistoric stone circles at Avebury, which not only II date from an earlier era but are also larger than the more famous sarsen stone circle of Stonehenge. Written by a leading archaeologist, the book considers every aspect of Avebury's history and construction and discusses the probable purpose of these massive structures, in the process creating a vivid and moving picture of their creators -- a primitive people whose lives were brief, savage, and fearful....

Title : Prehistoric Avebury: New Fully Revised Edition
Author :
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ISBN : 9780300090871
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Prehistoric Avebury: New Fully Revised Edition Reviews

  • Jean
    2019-03-25 07:25

    Prehistoric Avebury is a large format book from 1979, about the history of the multiple prehistoric stone circles at Avebury, on the Marlborough Downs, in the South of England. They are, surprisingly, less well known than Stonehenge, 18 miles away, even though they are larger. There is also the famous Silbury Hill, a mile away, standing as high as the Egyptian pyramids. It is the largest man-made hill in Europe. Along with Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, the circles at Avebury form part of a complex which has fascinated both archaeologists and the general public for centuries. Why these structures and tombs were built is still unclear, the sites having been subject to countless centuries of deterioration, "Burial mounds, traces of old fields, circles lay around in ruined emptiness, most collapsing, mouldering and now utterly spoiled."However, there are some probable theories. It has been possible to do extensive research on earthworks, using carbon dating techniques for prehistoric relics and remains. Aubrey Burl uses the term B.C. when discussing actual known events, but when carbon dating of prehistoric relics has been used, he terms it b.c. He also tries to put archaeological finds into a social context, saying that the book contains,"new interpretations fashioned from a study of excavation reports and museum material, from my own researches into the more general problems of stone circles, and from the belief that to understand a place like Avebury, it is essential to know both the countryside, and, above all, the way of life of the people who raised the great stones."The author surveys all the relevant evidence, both archaeological and historical, over 9 chapters. It is a thorough study of the information which was available at the time of writing. He attempts to give a picture of the life of the people and communities who erected these structures nearly 5000 years ago. The book is very detailed, using knowledge of engineering methods as well as studies of early societies and anthroplogy. Aubrey Burl describes the earthworks and construction methods, illustrating both with precise diagrams and charts. He then sets this information within the context of the lifestyles of the communities, in order to to suggest possible purposes of the constructions. Aubrey Burl describes many parallels with other early cultures, both in Europe and Asia, and also Native American tribes, and comes to the conclusion that the main purpose of the constructions was ritualistic, for ceremonial gatherings to do with birth and death. Evidence suggest that the circles were temples used as charnel houses: tombs or vaults where human skeletal remains were stored. They were probably used for rites of sexual initiation, and harvest ceremonies, including ceremonial offerings of the Earth's fertility. "the difficulty is not that there has been a lack of speculation about the purpose of prehistoric stone circles, but that most of has been by people with only a superficial knowledge of pre-Roman societies."The author also explores the idea that the constructions are astronomically significant, but more work has probably been done on this since the book was published. Aubrey Burl considers any modern spiritual signifance to be outside his remit, and wisely does not attempt to investigate this aspect, letting it well alone. He says,"Theodolites wink towards every skyline notch, where the sun once set or moon rose, or where Arcturus for a brief year or two shimmered dimly down into the mists of a prehistoric evening. Ley-liners drew impossibly accurate alignments from Avebury through Silbury Hill to a random barrow or church or mile-wide hill that God happened to place in the correct position. There are even those who believe that the rings were landing bases for flying saucers." Interestingly, there seems to be even more speculation now about possibly supernatural or spiritual powers that stone circles may hold. How surprised the author would be, to learn that over 35 years later, these theories were still held by some people, and in fact had multiplied to an even greater preponderance of variety and weirdness. However, even though some of the science in the book may have been superseded by later research and technology, this is still quite a comprehensive look at Avebury, including many fascinating facts. The description of the area, and changes wrought about through the most recent Ice Age, how the sarsens (great blocks of sandstone) were formed and had split, proves an absorbing read for anyone interested in geology. The amount of technical specifications, detailed measurements, and information - both analytical and historical - about every single stone is impressive. The book is heavily illustrated with drawings, plan and photographs, mostly in black and white, but with some attractive full colour photographic spreads."This book is not meant to be an archaeological report or a catalogue of finds. It is meant to be read."And for a reader with a scientific bent, interested in ancient sites, it is still worth a look.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-03-23 04:41

    One of the few things I was rejected for during adolescence (rejections becoming common only in middle age) was in applying to join an archaeology project through Chicago's Field Museum. Despite the, now ancient, promise of a potentially weathy friend to be taken on a dig he hoped to sponsor in Giza, I've never actually been involved in such primary research and have had to content myself with the stories of others who have.The megalithic structures of northern Europe, dating, some of them, to almost three thousand years before the Roman conquests, have long intrigued many. Burl's survey of those of Avebury covers not only the structures themselves and the long history of their erection, but also the history of attempts to map and explain them. Along the way he makes ridicules some of the more fantastic (ancient astronauts to Phoenician adventurers) and mistaken (Druids, an island-wide protocivilization) theories about the site and similar ones in the British isles. Attacking idyllic notions of prehistoric life, he repeatedly emphasizes the evidences indicating the hard and uncertain lives led by the generations of builders.Although written with the general public in mind and well-illustrated, this probably would not be an easy read for most. The characteristics of postholes become boring when there are so many of them.

  • Chris
    2019-03-28 05:46

    Fascinating in parts but a bit slow in other parts. A lot of speculation about Neolithic religious practices plus as it’s 20 years old I wonder how up to date it is.

  • Derek Baldwin
    2019-03-30 03:44

    Updated study of the greatest megalithic marvel in Britain, with due respect paid to William Stukeley and John Aubrey, among the earliest to chronicle England's antiquities. Lots of details about the monument and its history, the cultural context in which it was built, and the community that has taken root there. Well-written, scholarly, well indexed, and also quite dryly witty at times which makes it an entertaining read. Some excellent illustrations too.

  • Derek Baldwin
    2019-03-23 04:46

    the new edition is not just fascinating but also rather wittily written

  • Alayne
    2019-04-09 05:47

    Somewhat boring and certainly out of date :(