Review By KEN KORCZAK
Although I have long patience for the kind of alternative archaeology theories that give mainstream scientists spasms of outrage, I fully expected this latest Stonehenge re-boot to be so ridiculous that even I would balk.
However, after reading through Robert John Langdon’s total thesis, I have to say I am more than intrigued by his bold suggestions. By the time I got to the end of the book, his theories started to sound more like logical common sense than the ravings of another fringe New Ager.
In short, Langdon argues that Stonehenge was originally constructed in the Neolithic around 8,500 B.C. instead of the widely accepted mainstream archaeology dating of about 2,400 B.C., in the Bronze Age. But his more amazing assertion is that the monument was located on a peninsula, closely surrounded on three sides by water at a time when Britain was mostly covered by the seas left over from the melting of the glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago.
This made it possible for the massive stones of Stonehenge to be floated or boated to the sight, where mooring posts made it relatively easy to leverage the gigantic sarsen and smaller blue stones into position. A Britain covered with water — and populated by a water-faring culture well-adapted to living in such an environment — also explains how it would have been more tenable to bring the blue stones to the Salisbury plains from Wales. By way of the water, the journey would have been just 82 miles, Langdon says, and the stones could have been just sailed into place.
About those blue stones — Langdon proposes that they were primarily a source of healing, and that this was the original purpose of Stonehenge. He says the blue stones were believed to interact with water to produce a medicinal effect. The ancients soaked in pools infused with blue stone flakes to induce healing.
Langdon’s scenario makes a lot of other odd things fall into place — such as the strange bend in the “processional avenue” that leads from Stonehenge to the River Avon. If the ancients wanted to make a walkway between Stonehenge and the Avon, why not a direct route? Why does the Stonehenge Avenue go north-northwest for about 1 km, then swing abruptly and turn sharply west? The answer, Langdon says, is that the bend and the latter part of the path originally led to a shoreline, and was subsequently altered when it needed to keep going to get to water — the River Avon.
I won’t go into the many other details and particulars of Langdon’s full thesis, only to say that it’s almost beautiful in its simplicity. Albert Einstein said, the “best theories are simple — but not too simple.” Langdon’s theory is simple, but not too simple. It relies on a painstaking analysis of the hydrogeological data of the past 10,000 years. This is presented in the first part of the book which might make a lot of people yawn and give up before they reach the more juicy stuff later in the book.
So I give The Stonehenge Enigma five stars — but I must add — I would be well justified in knocking off at least two stars because of the truly reprehensible editing of this document. Also, portions of the book features rather clumsy writing and seems to have been rushed. Typos, grammar snafus and glitches abound. It’s an absolute shame that an author who put so much time and effort into his research should allow a version of his book released when it appears to be not just unedited, but not even proofread.
(Certainly, Langdon means that Greek culture was at its height in 400 B.C. not 4,000 B.C.!)
That said, I’ll say that Langdon’s vision of an ancient British culture who were masters of the sea and thrived with complex technologies adapted to a warm, watery world. Was it the real Atlantis? That’s what Langdon asserts. He makes an interesting case.
Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
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