Pömmelte Ring Sanctuary Finds May Eclipse Stonehenge

Pömmelte Ring Sanctuary Finds May Eclipse Stonehenge

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Ancient astronomical observatory in Pömmelte, Germany, is to be excavated and scientists think it will overshadow England’s famous Stonehenge in terms of archaeological data and number of human burials.

Over 4,000-years-old, an Early Bronze Age German settlement near the town of Pömmelte is known to be vastly more expansive than contemporary structures like Stonehenge in the British Isles. A team of archaeologists from Germany’s state office for Monument Conservation and Archaeology and the University of Halle , have already conducted two rounds of excavations at the ancient settlement and the next dig is planned to begin this summer, including British students from the University of Southampton, depending on restrictions concerning the coronavirus pandemic.

The ring sanctuary at Pömmelte excavation. ( georgfotoart / Adobe stock)

A Vast Agri-Ritualistic Centre

Pömmelte is a village and a former municipality in the Salzlandkreis district of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, which was first settled by Sorbian settlers and is first documented in 1292 AD. During the Bronze Age , around the late third millennium BC, an enormous wooden astronomical observatory that functioned similarly to England’s Stonehenge had become a ritualistic center within a thriving agricultural environment, and radiocarbon dating determines it was used by the Unetice culture between 2300 and 1600 BC.

In 2018, Science Mag published a research article by archaeologist and Stonehenge expert Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, who claimed rituals performed at this “German Stonehenge” may link the mysterious monument with its UK counterpart.

A full shot of the German Stonehenge at night in Pömmelte. ( Uwe Graf / Adobe stock)

Dr. Franziska Knoll, an archaeologist at the Institute for Art History and Archaeology of Europe at the University of Halle, recently explained to German daily newspaper Deutsche Welle , that the new excavation beginning in April will cover an area of around “29,000 square meters (34,684 square yards).” Knoll added that “thirty-seven ancient longhouses” have already been found in the area and the team of archaeologists are sure the next planned dig will identify more longhouses “in the jumble” of the ancient observatories wooden pillars.

Investigating Satellite Astronomical Sites

The new excavation aims to reveal unknown truths about the social and religious environment of the Early Bronze Age “ Unetice culture ” whose priestly astronomers designed, created and used the famous astronomical Nebra Sky Disk depicting gold representations of the Sun, Moon and stars.

The Nebra Sky Disk. (Dbachmann, Theway / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

And to broaden their cultural understanding of the Pömmelte sanctuary, archaeologists will also investigate an ancient circular moat located about a kilometer (0.6 mi) away from the ring shrine, and a 6,000-year-old grave complex from the so-called Baalberge culture south of Pömmelte will also be investigated near the town of Schonebeck.

The Pömmelte settlement was built at the end of the Neolithic Age and enhanced up to the Early Bronze Age and it was occupied by different cultural groups for more than 300 years. The oldest longhouse foundations are associated with the Bell Beaker culture (ca. 2500-2050 B.C.) who emerged at the end of the Neolithic Age and Dr. Knoll says these longhouses and the ceramics discovered inside them show how the Unetice culture developed from the Bell Beaker culture.

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Excavating an Army of Dead Astronomers Priests

British researchers are helping their German counterparts by contributing decades of accumulated experience in interdisciplinary landscape archaeology, and already it has been noted that the astronomical observatories at both Stonehenge in England and Pömmelte in Germany were “built near rivers.” This, according to Dr. Knoll, highlights the importance of waterways in prehistoric times, which were social arteries used to transport foods, tools, animals and people through the ancient geographies.

During the 20th century, archaeologists in England discovered 60 cremation burials at Stonehenge and according to an entry on Ancient History Encyclopedia , it is estimated that somewhere in the region of two hundred more remain unexcavated around the famous stone monument. The latest cremations radiocarbon dated to c. 2300 BC, which reveal the practice of cremation was still practiced at Stonehenge long after the first bluestones and sarsens had been erected at the stone circle.

Bell cup burial found near the Pömmelte site. ( Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt / Matthias Zirm)

Pömmelte also dates to c. 2300 BC, however, contrasting greatly with Stonehenge, large areas of Pömmelte are already uncovered, which Dr. Knoll says allows for “completely different archaeological insights.” And furthermore, according to the archaeologist, while many graves have been discovered near and around Stonehenge, they will be overshadowed by the quantity of those expected to be excavated in Pömmelte.

Giant prehistoric circle of passageways discovered beneath Stonehenge

Stonehenge has long been one of history’s great mysteries — and the world heritage site has just revealed yet another layer to its story.

Archaeologists have discovered a network of underground shafts which span 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) near Stonehenge, presumed to have been built by the same Neolithic peoples who erected Stonehenge 4,500 years ago. It is believed that they served as guideposts leading to Durrington Walls, another one of Britain’s henge monuments, located 1.9 miles northeast of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain.

“This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK,” said University of Bradford’s Vincent Gaffney, lead researcher on the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape project. He told The Guardian, “Key researchers on Stonehenge and its landscape have been taken aback by the scale of the structure and the fact that it hadn’t been discovered until now so close to Stonehenge.”

So far, 20 of these vertical passageways have been found, each placed at a radius of more than nine football fields (864 meters) from Durrington Walls at its center. Each hole is more than 5 yards (5 meters) deep and almost 11 yards (10 meters) in diameter. Radiocarbon evidence proves the dirt in the shafts are contemporary with Stonehenge and Durrington Walls. The shaft’s perimeter also includes the Larkhill causewayed enclosure, which was built another 1,500 years prior.

Now dubbed the Durrington Shafts, scientists say the discovery proves that Britain’s first inhabitants may have been more advanced than previously thought — evidenced by their clear use of numbers and mathematics to build the henge network.

Archaeologists discovered a network of vertical shafts near Stonehenge, presumed to have been built by the same Neolithic peoples who erected Stonehenge 4,500 years ago. Getty Images

“The size of the shafts and circuit surrounding Durrington Walls is currently unique,” Gaffney explained in a statement. “It demonstrates the significance of Durrington Walls Henge, the complexity of the monumental structures within the Stonehenge landscape, and the capacity and desire of Neolithic communities to record their cosmological belief systems in ways, and at a scale, that we had never previously anticipated.”

He added, “I can’t emphasize enough the effort that would have gone in to digging such large shafts with tools of stone, wood and bone.”

In fact, the construction of Stonehenge itself was initiated only after ancient peoples dragged giant bluestones for 150 miles, from southwest Wales to the site in Amesbury, Wiltshire. It was then built in relation to the solstices.

German ‘Stonehenge’ site reveals 10 dismembered bodies of women, children

Sites such as Stonehenge are older than memory itself. Stories of Druids and magical rites arose long after the standing stones true purpose was forgotten.

Little can be inferred about the role such monuments played in Neolithic cultures. We know many were aligned to the Sun and stars. There are traces of ceremonial pathways. Now, human sacrifice has entered the picture.

But new excavations near the German town of Pömmelte are raising some disturbing possibilities.

It’s the site of an ancient Stone Age sanctuary, contemporary to Stonehenge itself.

It’s a complex of concentric-ring mounds, ditches and deeply sunken wooden posts.

It’s just one of several sites in Central Europe, Portugal and Spain that indicates circular henge monuments are not uniquely British.

Ghastly ceremonies

Archaeologists say the German site appears to have been a gathering place for community events and rituals.

A series of pits have been uncovered containing evidence these activities. This includes fragments of ceramic pots and cups, stone axes and animal bones.

They reveal the Pömmelte henge was active for some 300 years, starting from 2,300 B.C.

But among the Pömmelte scraps were some disturbing finds — the dismembered bodies of 10 women and children.

Lead researcher André Spatzier says it appears the victims had been pushed into the pit. At least one of the teenagers had their hands bound together.

While the archaeologists say they cannot yet be certain of the purpose of their deaths, the idea of ritual sacrifice was a strong possibility. No adult males were found in the pits, and the items they were buried with showed signs of having been ritualistically smashed.

A handful of male bodies were unearthed away from the pits, on the eastern side of the henge. These men, aged 17 to 30, had been interred with great care, in their own graves.

Like Stonehenge, the site itself was not permanently inhabited. There bodies were undamaged.

“The henge monuments of the British Isles are generally considered to represent a uniquely British phenomenon, unrelated to Continental Europe this position should now be reconsidered,” the researchers write in the journal Antiquity. “The uniqueness of Stonehenge lies, strictly speaking, with its monumental megalithic architecture.”

German henge

The Pömmelte henge is a 115 meter-wide series of concentric mounds. Many have evidence of “wood-henge” style post holes sunk within them.

It was discovered from the air in 1991, but excavations only began recently.

Excavations show it was built during the transition between the Neolithic Stone Age to the early Bronze Age. This is the same era as Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is positioned in such a way as to mark the arrival of the summer solstice.

Pömmelte henge, however, has its four entrances aligned with dates half way between the equinoxes and solstices. Spatzier says these were key agricultural planting and harvesting dates.

English Heritage

Begun in about 3000 BC, the Sanctuary was originally a complex circular arrangement of timber posts, which were later replaced by stones. These components are now indicated by concrete slabs.

Its function remains a mystery: possibly it enshrined the dwelling place of some revered person, and certainly huge numbers of human bones were found here, accompanied by food remains suggesting elaborate death rites and ceremonies. Later, West Kennet Avenue was constructed to connect it with newly-built Avebury, reinforcing the status of this enigmatic but clearly very important site.

The Sanctuary is in DCMS ownership and in English Heritage guardianship. It is managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage, and the two organisations share the cost of managing and maintaining the property.

Before You Go

Parking: We recommend parking in the layby next to the site, to avoid crossing the busy road. There is also parking on the opposite side of the road.

Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome.

Please be aware: English Heritage does not permit drone flying from or over sites in our care, except by contractors or partners undertaking flights for a specific purpose, who satisfy stringent CAA criteria, have the correct insurances and permissions, and are operating under controlled conditions.

The Copenhagen “Homeland” interactive map

Brought to you by the Copenhagen fantasy map series, Indo-Europeans after (no, really, after) the expansion of Yamna settlers in Hungary ca. 2700 BC: Yamna settlers have magically disappeared. Yamna-related Balkan EBA cultures and the hundreds of Yamna kurgans around the Lower Danube and in Hungary up to Saxony-Anhalt do not exist. Dat huge mythical Middle Dnieper territory lasting (unchanged) for a thousand years, in sooo close contact with Yamna territory (so beautifully ‘linked’ together that they must have been BFFs and admixed!). Uralic Mesolithic hunter-gatherers resisting IE invasions in Volosovo for 1,500 years like Asterix’ Gaulish village against the Romans. Tiny pockets of Bell Beakers will eventually emerge from (surprise!) Corded Ware territories beautifully scattered over Central and Northern Europe (unlike those eastern CWC mega-regions). And, of course, you can almost see Kroonen & Iversen’s Kurgan Pre-Germanic mixing already with their agricultural substrate TRB precisely in full-IE Denmark (quite appropriate for the Danish school). And sheep symbols representing wool finds, for no reason. A great map to mock for years to come, with each new genetic paper.

The new propaganda tool GIS timeline map of the Copenhagen group:

  • consciously ignores Yamna settlers along the Danube, in the Balkans, and in Hungary, and initial East Bell Beakers, i.e. the obvious origin and expansion of North-West Indo-Europeans, but in contrast magnifies (and expands in time) regions for Sredni Stog / Corded Ware cultures (which suggests that this is yet another absurd attempt to revive the theories of the Danish school…)
  • substitutes arrows for Kron-like colors (where danger red = Indo-European) with the same end result of many other late 20 th century whole-Europe Kurgan maps, linking Sredni Stog and Corded Ware with Yamna, but obviating the precise origin of Corded Ware peoples (is it Sredni Stog, or is it that immutable Middle Dnieper group? is it West Yamna, or Yamna Hungary? is it wool, or is it wheels?)
  • relegates Uralic speakers to a tiny corner, a ‘Volosovo’ cultural region, thus near Khvalynsk/Yamna (but not too much), that miraculously survives surrounded by all-early-splitting, all-Northern Eneolithic Indo-Europeans, thus considering Uralic languages irrelevant not only to locate the PIE Urheimat, but also to locate their own homeland also, cultures identified in color with Uralic speakers expand until the Iron Age with enough care not to even touch in the map one of the known R1a samples published to date (because, for some people, apparently R1a must be Indo-European) and of course N1c or Siberian ancestry are irrelevant, too
  • and adds findings of wheels and wool probably in support of some new ideas based on yet another correlation = causation argument (that I cannot then properly criticize without access to its reasoning beyond cute SmartArt-like symbols) similar to their model – already becoming a classic example of wrong use of statistical methods – based on the infamously named Yamnaya ancestral component™, which is obviously still used here, too.

The end result is thus similar to any other simplistic 1990s Gimbutas (or rather the recently radicalized IE Sredni Stog -> Corded Ware -> BBC version by the Danish workgroup) + 2000s R1a-map + 2010s Yamnaya ancestry™ but, hard to believe, it is published in mid-2018. A lot of hours of senseless effort, because after its publication it becomes ipso facto outdated.

For comparison of Yamna and Bell Beaker expansions, here is a recent simplistic, static (and yet more accurate) pair of maps, from the Reich Lab:

Cultural maps from Eneolithic and Chalcolithic cultures in Wang et al. (2018).

If the Copenhagen group keeps on pushing Gimbutas’ long ago outdated IE Sredni Stog -> Corded Ware theory as modified by Kristiansen, with their recently invented Corded Ware -> Bell Beaker model in genetics, at some point they are bound to clash with the Reich-Jena team, which seems to have less attachment to the classic Kurgan model and the wrong interpretations of the 2015 papers, and that would be something to behold. Because, as Cersei would say: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” And when you play the game of credibility, after so many, so wrong publications, well…

NOTE. I have been working on a similar GIS tool for quite some time, using my own maps and compiled genetic data, which I currently only use for my 2018 revision of the Indo-European demic diffusion model. Maybe within some weeks or months I will be able to publish the maps properly, after the revised papers. It’s a pitty that so much work on GIS and analysis with genetic data and cultural regions has to be duplicated, but I intend to keep some decent neutrality in my revised cultural maps, and this seems impossible at this point with some workgroups who have put all their eggs in one broken basket…

Stonehenge dig finds 6,000-year-old encampment

David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, made the discovery at Blick Mead in October, and said the carbon dating results had just been confirmed.

But he also raised concerns about possible damage to the site over plans to build a road tunnel past Stonehenge.

The Department of Transport said it would "consult before any building".

The Blick Mead site is about 1.5 miles (2.4km) from Stonehenge and archaeologists said "scientifically tested charcoal" dug up from the site had "revealed that it dated from around 4000 BC".

David Jacques said the dig had also found "evidence of feasting" including burnt flints, tools and remains of giant cattle, known as aurochs, which were eaten by early hunter gatherers.

Mr Jacques said: "British pre-history may have to be rewritten. This is the latest dated Mesolithic encampment ever found in the UK.

"Blick Mead site connects the early hunter gatherer groups returning to Britain after the Ice Age to the Stonehenge area, all the way through to the Neolithic in the late 5th Millennium BC.

"But our only chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain's history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead."

Andy Rhind-Tutt, a former mayor and current chairman of Amesbury Museum, which part-funded the dig, said the discovery could "provide what archaeologists have been searching for centuries - the answer to the story of the pre-history of Stonehenge."

Earlier this month, the government announced funding for a 1.8-mile (2.9km) tunnel to remove congestion from the main road past Stonehenge.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "As with any road scheme, we will consult with interested parties before any building begins on the A303.

"English Heritage and National Trust are supportive of our plans, and we will ensure sites of cultural or historical significance are safeguarded as we progress with the upgrade."


In 54 BC Cicero wrote that he "did not fancy" there were any musically educated people on the British isle. [1] Independent of the validity of Cicero's remark, the situation was different for the Gallic regions. By the time of Augustus, musical education had widely gained ground in Gaul, as Iulius Sacrovir used the erudite Gauls as a decoy, after Sacrovir and Iulius Florus had occupied the city of Augustodonum during the Gallic insurrection in 21 AD. [2] The Gauls took great pride in their musical culture, which is shown by the remark of Gaius Iulius Vindex, the Gallic rebel and later senator under Claudius, who shortly before the arrival in Rome called emperor Nero a malus citharodeus ("bad cithara player") and reproached him with inscitia […] artis ("ignorance of the arts"). [3] However, Celtic music culture was spread inhomogeneously over Europe: Maximinus Thrax, the Thracian-Roman emperor of Gothic descent, annoyed his fellow Romans because he was unable to appreciate a mimic stage song. [4]

The carnyx (plural: carnyces Greek: κάρνυξ—"karnyx"—or rarely: καρνον—"karnon") was a Celtic-Dacian variant of the Etruscan-Roman lituus and belongs to the family of brass instruments. [5] It was an ſ-shaped valveless horn made of beaten bronze and consisted of a tube between one and two meters long, whereas the diameter of the tube is unknown. [6] Archaeological finds date back to the Bronze Age, and the instrument itself is attested for in contemporary sources between ca. 300 BC and 200 AD. The carnyx was in widespread use in Britain, France, parts of Germany, eastward to Romania and beyond, even as far as India, where bands of Celtic mercenaries took it on their travels. [7]

Gallic coins show the carnyx behind the head of the goddess Gallia or held by a chieftain, a charioteer or a Gallic Victoria. On British coins the instrument is seen swung by mounted Celtic warriors or chiefs. Roman coins, e.g. those heralding Caesar's victory over Gaul, depict the carnyx on Roman Tropaion as spoils of war. Other depictions are known from the Augustus statue of Prima Porta. [8] In addition several instruments are illustrated on Trajan's Column, carried by Dacian warriors. The carnyx's most prominent feature is the bell, which was constructed as an animal head, either as one of a serpent, a fish, a bird, a wolf, a horse, an ass or a wild boar. The earliest depiction shows the head of a dragon and was found on Aetolian victory coins from the 3rd century BC, which commemorate the expulsion of the Gallic warriors, who had marauded the Delphi sanctum. [9] Behn (1912) interpreted the many bell types as distinguishing features of the various Celtic clans and chiefdoms. [10] Others have suggested a mythological component, [11] which is the most logical explanation, since the Deskford Carnyx in Scotland was a sacrificial offering, of which the possibly dismantled head could have been the key element. [12] Based on this independent development of the bell an attempt was made to derive the Etruscan lituus from the carnyx, but without success. [13]

Playing techniques and features Edit

The sound of the carnyx was described as lugubrious and harsh, perhaps due to the loosened tongue of the bell, [14] which shows that the instrument must have been a discrete enhancement of the Etruscan lituus, the sound of which was mostly described as bright and piercing. [15] The carnyx was held vertically so that the sound would travel from more than three meters above the ground. Reconstructions have shown that the instrument's embouchure must have been cut diagonally as an oval opening, so the carnyx could be played in a similar fashion as a modern-day trumpet, i.e. with vibrating lips, however blown from the side. [16] Due to the absence of valves and crooks, melodies were created by producing harmonics with overblowing techniques, as the reconstructional work by John Kenny has convincingly shown (see External links for a recording sample). [17] The fairly wide bell guaranteed a very high playing volume, and the instrument itself must have had a considerable dynamic range. The best surviving bell of a carnyx was found in North East Scotland as part of the so-called Deskford Carnyx and featured a movable tongue. In addition the bronze jaw of the animal head may have been loosened as well in order to produce a jarring sound that would surely have been most dreadful when combined with the sound of a few dozen more carnyces in battle. [18] The demoralizing effect of the Gallic battle music must have been enormous: When the Celts advanced on Delphi under Brennus in 279 BC, the unusual echoing effects of the blaring horns completely overawed the Greeks, before even a single fight could commence. [19]

Use of the carnyx Edit

Since most ancient Roman sources are based on bellicose encounters with the Celtic chiefdoms, the carnyx is today mostly seen as an instrument used during warfare, as Polybius e.g. reports for the battle of Telemon, Gallia Cisalpina, in 225 BC, where the Gauls used the instrument together with other brass instruments to frighten the Roman enemy. [20] The limitation to acoustic or psychological warfare is however erroneous. Brass instruments were regularly used as a means of communication during battle, relaying orders for troop positioning, movement and tactics, also by the Gauls. [21] Other sources confirm that the Gauls kept their military order even in situations of military mishaps. The musicians of their army camps played their horns to ensure a cohesive and controlled retreat. [22] After the victory of Marius near Vercellae, his Roman rival Catulus Caesar reserved a Cimbrian signaling horn from the loot for himself. [23] Music, musicians and instruments were strategically important elements for the Roman and Celtic armies alike.

Furthermore, the instrument can be seen in action on the famous Gundestrup cauldron in the depiction of a warrior initiation ritual (2nd or 1st century BC), a clear evidence for the use of the instrument outside of the purely military realm. [24] The ritual use of the instrument is further supported by the Deskford Carnyx, which was shown to have been a sacrificial offering to an unknown god.

Archaeological finds Edit

Apart from the Scottish Deskford Carnyx found in 1816 on the shores of Moray Firth in Aberdeenshire, fragments of only four other carnyces had been found (e.g. the Glanum Carnyx in the Bouches-du-Rhône region), until in 2004 archaeologists discovered a foundation deposit of five well preserved carnyces from the first or second century AD under a Gallo-Roman fanum at Tintignac (Corrèze, France), four of which feature boar heads, while the fifth exemplar appears to have a serpent bell. [25] The fact that the carnyces were deposited on a holy site underlines the sacrificial importance of the instrument in Gallic culture. [26] The archaeologists responsible for the Tintignac excavation assume that the carnyces were offered to a deity identified with the Roman god Mars. There is still debate on the dating, because parts of other finds discovered in the deposit seem to be older than the first century, possibly dating to the first century BC, which means that some of the musical instruments may have been stored inside the sanctuary long before being buried.

Brass instruments Edit

In his accounts of the battle of Telemon, Polybius clearly distinguishes between horn- and trumpet-like instruments played by the Gallic warriors. [27] In general the Celtic peoples had a variety of instruments at their disposal. Aside from the carnyx, at least two other brass instrument types are known from Roman and Greek depictions.

The Celtic horn Edit

The Celtic horn was a large, oval-curved horn with a thin tube and a modestly large bell, not unlike the Roman cornu, especially since it also had a crossbar as a means of supporting the instrument's weight on the player's shoulder. Like the carnyx it is therefore and in all probability an instrument of Etruscan origin from the first period of hellenization. [28] On a Pompeian fresco, the horn is carried by a female dancer, [29] and a Gallic warrior carries a broken exemplar, fastened together by a (leather?) band, on a Capitoline sculpture. [30] Like the Roman cornu, the Celtic horn will have been held horizontally to ensure a more comfortable playing position.

The Celtic trumpet Edit

The Celtic trumpet was similar to the straight Roman tuba and probably came in different lengths. A Celtic musician is depicted playing the instrument on a late Greek vase. [29] A related instrument could be the early mediaeval Loch Erne horn that was found in Ireland.

Other brass instruments Edit

Many regional variants of the Celtic horns are known and came in different shapes, sizes and diameters, like the Loughnashade Trumpa from Ireland and similar horns from Scandinavia and other regions. Couissin (1927) documented a third Celtic wind instrument type with a bent horn, similar to the Caledonian Caprington Horn [31] or the infamous prehistoric Sussex horn that was however lost and of which only drawings and reproductions survive. It is not known whether the horn mentioned by Couissin was a fragment of another Celtic horn or a simple cow horn of the rural population, a bowed horn-instrument known all across Europe.

Woodwinds and similar instruments Edit

Bone flutes, mostly made from birds, are known since the Stone Age. [32] Wooden flutes were introduced later and corresponded to the Roman fistula (shepherd's flute). But terracotta and bone whistles remained in use throughout antiquity. [33] In addition woodwinds made of tubes and pipes, similar to the Greek syrinx (pan flute), were in use. [34]

Percussion and dance Edit

Crotales (hand bells) made of bronze or wood as well as terracotta rattles are known since the Bronze Age, some of which came in the shape of birds. [35] Closed bells were sometimes built with a ring and could be strapped to the player's apparel. Weapons and shields—apart from their use for rhythmic noises on the battlefields—must have been widely adopted as percussion instruments, but the only sources in this respect are on the Gallaecian and Celtiberian culture: In his epic on the second Punic war Silius mentions the exotic songs of the Gallaecian military allies, to which they beat the rhythm on their shields. [36] Celtiberian weapon dances are reported for the funeral of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. [37] The most famous dances of Hispania however were performed by the Gaditanae, the women of Gades in Hispania Baetica, [38] which were so popular in Rome that special teachers from Spain were hired for Roman music education. [39] The dancers used hand clappers as an accompanying instrument, creating a lascivious dance similar to modern-day castanet performances. If the Celts used drumming instruments like the Roman tympanum is unknown, but very likely, because other forms of hand drums like the ceramic German Honsommern Drum, which was similar to the African djembe, are known since the Neolithic. A later Iron Age drum is the Malemort Drum found in the central French Corrèze region. [40]

Crwth — the ancient Celtic lyre Edit

Not much is known about the ancient Celtic lyre, only that it was used by Celtic bards since the 8th century BC and that it was later well known in Rome, where it was called lyra. [41] Its resonator was made from wood, while only few components were made from bones. The instrument's strings were made from animal intestine. The Gauls and other Celtic peoples regarded the crwth [42] as a symbol of their independent musical culture, [43] although they had probably received it from the Ancient Greeks. The Goths invoked their tribal gods with prayers and chants, which they accompanied by lyre play. [44] By the time of the Barbarian Invasions in the 5th century AD the lyre had become the most important stringed instrument of the Germanic tribes [45] and was a six-stringed wooden lyre with hollow ledger arms and wooden vortices in the ledger rod. The original Celtic lyre however came with different numbers of strings, as the Lyre of Paule, [46] which is depicted on a statue from Côtes d'Armor in Brittany, apparently had seven strings. [47]

Celtic use of Roman instruments Edit

Since many Celts like the Gauls and Germans became part of the Roman army, they must have also used Roman instruments, especially during battle. However, only one source seems to have been passed down: At the time of emperor Claudius' inauguration, the troops stationed in Germania and Pannonia mutinied. When an unexpected lunar eclipse commenced, the insurgent Pannonians feared the wrath of the gods and ordered their musicians to play against their perdition aeris sono, tubarum cornuumque concentu, i.e. with their tubae and cornua. [48]

The Romans have left us a variety of sources on chants from various regions. Sallust mentions the Spanish custom of ancestral songs honoring their military deeds. [49] The recital of "barbaric songs" is reported for a member of the Celtiberian infantry during the battle of Cannae in 216 BC, as he was attacked by the Roman consul. [36] National songs are already attested by Tacitus for the Caledonians. [50] Livius reports Gallic war songs that were heard at the river Allia. [51] After the Gallic victory (ca. 387 BC) the city's inhabitants had to endure the dissonant battle chants. [52] A sole Gallic warrior is reported to have gone into a fight singing. [53] Livius on the other hand only describes the Roman Titus Manlius, who would defeat him in 361 BC, as remaining in defiant silence to concentrate all his anger on the impending fight. [54] In 218 BC the Gauls resisted the enemy commander Hannibal and his troops during his crossing of the Rhône with furious battle cries and the demonstrative clashing of their swords and armor. [55]

Since many of the Gauls and Germans joined Caesar's army after his victory over Gaul, their war chants were added to the Roman oeuvre of army songs: When 2000 soldiers from the Gallic cavalry defected to Octavian before the battle of Actium, they didn't only cheer for Caesar but presented genuine Gallic war songs. [56] Probably the most popular vocal performers were the Celtic bards, whose national heroic songs were known in Rome throughout antiquity. [57]

Germanic chants Edit

The Roman sources on Germanic chants are not based on ethnographical topica, but originate from actual experiences. The primary attributes of Germanic singing can be derived from the accounts on the Germanic tribes by Publius Cornelius Tacitus. As scant and recapitulatory Tacitus' observations might be, it is possible to deduce two discrete music genres: the war chant (barditus/barritus/baritus), and the heroic songs.

Barditus — the battle song Edit

According to Tacitus, among other heroes and gods, the Germans especially worshipped Heracles as their god of war with their battle songs, [58] which may have inspired Hecataeus of Miletus to use the name Κελτοί (Keltoi) for the Celtic Hallstatt tribes of Western and South-Western Germany, [59] since Celtus was the son of Heracles and Keltine in Greek mythology. [60] The warriors "sung under their shields" and inferred the outcome of the battle from the character of the so-called barditus [61] and also accompanied their cries with the beating and rattling of their weapons and armour. The most important aspect was namely the intonation before the battle, [62] and the abrupt start of the barditi doesn't speak for music with words. The characterization as an acoustic crescendo rather points at noisy battle clamor than a normal song with lyrics.

The Germans fighting for Aulus Vitellius Germanicus went into battle singing, after they had been surround by Othonian enemy forces. [63] In his account of the Batavian rebellion led by Gaius Iulius Civilis the author Tacitus contrasts the hesitant attitude of the Roman soldiers with the sullen Batavian chants. [64] The writings of Ammianus specify that the descriptions of the raw, dull and thundering battle songs, which were also given by Tacitus, allude to the music of the Germans fighting on the Roman side. [65] The fact that he actually mentions "Romans" intoning Germanic songs clearly shows how extensively the Roman army had been enforced with Germanic troops. [66]

Heroic songs Edit

Although Tacitus doesn't distinguish between the barditus and the heroic songs, his choice of words implies a second genre. Tacitus' cumulation of alliterations [67] is probably the first mention of rhyme in Europe, an early form of the German Stabreim, which became widely popular in the Mediaeval Ages. [68]

The Romans were acquainted with Germanic heroic songs, e.g. from the poetic and musical Nachleben of Arminius. [69] The Tacitus source can be seen as the first testimony of early Germanic heroic songs. [70] Festive singing is also attested for the night of the Roman advance in the Ems region in 15 AD. [71] In 26 AD the insurgent Thracians were surprised by the attack of the Roman consul and general Poppaeus Sabinus during a feast with dance and singing. The Sicambri, who fought for the Roman side, countered the situation with defiant songs of their own, [72] which could be evidence that the Celts knew improvisation as well as the ancient tradition of singing contests, which are e.g. reported by Virgil. [73] The Goths sang heroic songs to worship their ancestors, [74] and their tradition of tribal songs is well attested. [75] After the battle of Campus Mauriacus the Goths were heard singing dirges for their fallen king. [76]

This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "Ancient Celtic music", which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.

They continued this into the modern day:

The most famous iron maiden that popularized the design was that of Nuremberg , first displayed possibly as far back as 1802 . The original was lost in the Allied bombing of Nuremberg in 1945. A copy “from the Royal Castle of Nuremberg “, crafted for public display, was sold through J. Ichenhauser of London to the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1890 along with other torture devices , and, after being displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, was taken on an American tour. [15] This copy was auctioned in the early 1960s and is now on display at the Medieval Crime Museum, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. [16]

Historians have ascertained that Johann Philipp Siebenkees made up the history of the device. [citation needed] According to Siebenkees’ colportage, it was first used on August 14, 1515 , to execute a coin forger . [17]

News Roundup: Limited Hajj Ends, Stonehenge Mystery Solved

Every year, Muslims from around the world travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to complete the hajj. The hajj is a special religious trip that every Muslim person is supposed to make once in their lifetime. It’s one of the most important parts of the Islamic religion.

The timing for the hajj changes every year. This year it started on July 29 and ends today.

Saudi Arabia has worked hard to protect its religious locations and make sure Muslims from around the world can visit. Usually, over 2.5 million people take part in the hajj. In the 90 years since Saudi Arabia was formed, it has never canceled the hajj.

Usually, over two million people take part in the hajj. Above, visitors in 2009 surround the Kaaba, Islam’s most important religious building. This year, because of the coronavirus, only a few thousand Muslims from inside the country are allowed to take part.
(Source: Al Jazeera English, via

This year, because of the coronavirus, Saudi Arabia decided not to allow visitors from outside the country. Instead, the country has limited the hajj to a few thousand Muslims already in the country.

The news came as a serious disappointment to many, who had saved all of their lives to make the trip. Instead, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest Islamic holidays, at home.

But Saudi Arabia has one of the most serious outbreaks of coronavirus in the region, with over 275,000 cases reported.

Large crowds are usually the biggest danger of the hajj. This year, it’s the coronavirus. Saudi Arabia has made special rules to make sure everyone stays safe.

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Saudi Arabia has made special rules to make sure everyone stays safe during the hajj this year. The kingdom is tightly controlling everything about the hajj. Above, cleaning around the Kaaba, where social distancing lines have been marked.

Only healthy people between the ages of 20 and 50 were allowed to take part this year. The country is paying for all the costs of the people making the hajj. By tightly controlling where they eat and sleep, and how they travel, the kingdom hopes to make sure the virus does not spread.

The country says that there have been no cases of coronavirus among the people making the hajj.

Scientists Find Source For Stonehenge Stones

Stonehenge is an ancient structure in Wiltshire, England, built out of earth and decorated with massive stones. Stonehenge was built in stages for over 1,500 years. The oldest parts are more than 5,000 years old.

Scientists don’t know exactly who built Stonehenge or why. It could have been a special area for burying people. Based on the way it lines up with the Sun’s position, it may have also worked like a calendar.

Stonehenge is an ancient structure in Wiltshire, England, built out of earth and decorated with massive stones. Stonehenge was built in stages for over 1,500 years. The oldest parts are more than 5,000 years old.
(Source: garethwiscombe via Wikimedia Commons.)

Stonehenge is most famous for its ring of huge, standing stones, known as sarsens (a kind of sandstone). Until recently, scientists have been uncertain where these stones came from. Now they have the answer.

By using special tools that use light to identify and measure the chemicals in the rocks, scientists learned that 50 of the 52 sarsens were extremely similar. They then compared the chemicals in the sarsens to rocks found in 20 other locations.

Using special tools that use light to identify and measure the chemicals in the rocks, scientists were able to prove that the sarsens (above) came from the West Woods, about 16 miles (25 kilometers) away. Above, a view from inside Stonehenge.
(Source: Resk [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

The sarsens clearly matched stones found in the West Woods, about 16 miles (25 kilometers) away from Stonehenge. It’s still not clear how ancient people moved the sarsens, which are up to 30 feet (9 meters) high and weigh as much as 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilograms).

Göbekli Tepe – The Oldest Known Mesolithic Temple Complex

Göbekli Tepe is an archaeological site and multi-phase tell, believed to be the oldest known Mesolithic temple complex, located in the South-eastern Anatolia Region of Turkey.

Occupation at the site attests to centuries of activity, with the earliest period dating from around the beginning of the Epipalaeolithic period (after the Upper Palaeolithic and before the Neolithic, defined by the appearance of microliths in the prehistory of the Near East).

The main structures identified have been dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) from around the 10th millennium BC, with further remains of smaller buildings from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), dated to the 9th millennium BC.

The tell first caught the attention of Istanbul University and the University of Chicago in 1963, which initially interpreted the T-shaped pillars to be grave markers dating from the Aceramic Neolithic period.

Archaeologists have since determined that the tell contains three distinct layers, with Layer III consisting of circular compounds or temene, and nearly 200 T-shaped limestone pillars (detected through geophysical surveys). The layout of Göbekli Tepe follows a geometric pattern, in the form of an equilateral triangle that connects enclosures, suggesting that the early builders had a rudimentary knowledge of geometry.

Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, who led the excavations at Göbekli Tepe from 1996 to 2014 has interpreted the site to be a stone-age mountain sanctuary, whilst Dragos Gheorghiu, an anthropologist and experimental archaeologist proposes that the monument was a cosmogonic map, relating the community to the surrounding landscape and the cosmos.

Many of the pillars are decorated with pictograms and carved animal reliefs, such as lions, foxes, snakes, insects, birds, and bulls, suggesting that at the time of Layer III the surrounding landscape was most likely forested and contained a variety of animal life (in contrast to the dry, arid conditions of today). A few pillars are also believed to represent stylised humans, or possibly a deity, that has loincloths on the lower half of the pillar and arms.

By Layer II during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the circular compounds gave way to rectangular buildings with doorless and windowless rooms. The tradition of constructing T-shaped pillars continued into this period, with the most notable being a pair decorated with fierce-looking lions and a pillar that depicts three different figures, reminiscent of the much later totem poles from North America.

The final layer of Göbekli Tepe sees the site change in function from a ceremonial centre, to one of agriculture and farming. The stone monuments were deliberately backfilled sometime after 8000 BC under flint gravel and debris, remaining in situ until their rediscovery many thousands of years later.

Watch the video: Super Strawberry Moon 21 (June 2022).


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