Ancient Mystery: The Megaliths World Wide

When most people think of megaliths, the first image that likely pops into their mind is of Stonehenge, and perhaps, if they are slightly more interested in the subject, the Moai of Easter Island. While these represent two of the most popular and well-known megalithic structures in the world, they are far from the only ones. In fact, hundreds of large stone structures dating back thousands of years dot the landscape of the entire world.

Megaliths are generally divided into two basic types. First there are the dolmens, which are sometimes known as "chamber tombs". Dolmens typically consist of one large stone, acting as a sort of roof, placed on top of other large stones in order to create a room-like structure. Menhirs, on the other hand, are simply large standing stones, usually arranged in a group.

Dolmens and other megalithic burial sites were a common structure in the ancient world, and they have been found all over the Middle East, Northeast and Southeast Asia, and Europe. Most of these dolmens have been dated to the early Neolithic period, and are thought to have been built between 6000 to 5000 years ago. Some of the oldest known dolmens, found in Western Europe, may have been built as far back as 7000 years ago.

The ancient people of Britain and Ireland constructed dolmens as well, but they are much more well-known for the construction of megalithic stone circles. Stonehenge is both the quintessential example of these circles, as well as of the menhir megalithic structure type. It was built around 3000 BC by some estimates, though the site where the megaliths were eventually put up may have been in use as far back as 8000 BC. Even before this time, as early as the 10th millennium BC, a tradition of megalithic temple complexes also characterized by large standing stones had already begun in the area of modern-day Turkey.

Impressive Engineering

No matter which type of megalithic structure one is talking about, it is impossible to overlook the masterful engineering that must have gone into its construction. Both dolmens and menhirs were constructed using stone blocks that often weighed several tons and had to have been transported over extremely long distances.

Even more astounding is the precision with which many of these blocks seem to have been cut and placed, precision that, some argue, modern construction techniques would have a hard time emulating. These facts have intrigued many minds throughout the centuries, leading to an astonishing number of theories about how and why megalithic sites were built.

Use and Construction: Mainstream Theories

Most archaeologists and other researchers who study these megalithic sites are in agreement that they were generally used for religious and ceremonies purposes. Some may have acted as burial sites, gathering places, or even astronomical observatories. Keep in mind, of course, that thousands of years ago astronomical observations would have been closely tied in with religious and mythological beliefs.

There is much less consensus among researchers as to how these stones could have been moved across such vast distances and put up with such precision. Compounding this problem is the fact that the various civilizations who built megaliths likely employed many different methods. Nevertheless, most researchers agree that these feats of engineering, astounding as they seen, could have been undertaken using the tools of the day, with simple pulley systems, wooden tracks, and a good amount of manpower.

There has been much speculation and research into how Stonehenge in particular may have been constructed. One recent theory proposes that the stones were perhaps submerged in a large vessel, making them lighter and thereby easier to tow to the intended area.

Use and Construction: Unconventional Theories

Some of the more unconventional theories about why these megalithic structures appear all around the world center on the idea that they were built over top of areas of energy on the earth’s surface, perhaps in order to harness this power in some way. These spots of increased power are often referred to as ley lines, and certain researchers have even gone to great lengths to show how the world’s megaliths line up along these proposed meridians.

Some people also think that the engineering it took to build the megaliths was beyond what we think we know of the capabilities of the world’s ancient people. For this reason, it is sometimes proposed that the megaliths were built either by advanced alien beings who visited humanity in the past, or that ancient humans were much more technologically advanced than we give them credit for.

Researchers such as Graham Hancock, a popular author on ancient mysteries, argue that the presence of megalithic structures around the world suggests the existence of a highly advanced, worldwide culture that was wiped out in a cataclysmic event, leaving only their masterful engineering behind as evidence.

Myths, Legends, and Reports of Paranormal Activity

Many myths and legends surround the megalithic structures of the world. Some ancient people believed that the megaliths of their homelands were put up by giants, or by other powerful beings or gods that dominated their cultural mythology.

These beliefs have been reinforced over the centuries by stories of paranormal activity at numerous megalithic sites, particularly at Stonehenge. Megaliths, and especially megaliths which are located along ley lines, are thought to be areas where the walls between the spiritual and physical planes become much thinner, making it easier to communicate with spirits and peek into the spirit world. Stories of encountering spirits, feeling a strange energy in the air, and even becoming healed of certain physical ailments are not uncommon from people who have visited megalithic sites. Another curios phenomenon is the often reported sightings of UFOs around the world’s megaliths.

There is no consensus about what these strange happenings mean and why they seem to occur with greater frequency at megalithic sites. Nevertheless, many who have been witness to some of these events can’t shake the feeling that the megaliths are a mystery yet to be cracked, one that we will likely puzzle over for a long time to come.

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