A new book suggests that the Neolithic builders of these ancient monuments were more learned than previously thought.
At every great ancient monument visitors often marvel at the ingenuity of our early ancestors. The most common question when it comes to Stonehenge is how they raised such large pillars without modern tools. Those with engineering know-how, however, may ponder the precision of design achieved by its Neolithic builders.
A new book, Megalith, suggests that the builders of Stonehenge and other such Neolithic sites may have known more about construction than we ever could have guessed. In Megalith, Robin Heath, a megalithic expert, claims that the presence of Pythagorean triangles found in the sites are evidence that these builders had discovered the Pythagorean theorem 2,000 years before the birth of Pythagoras.
In the 6th century BC, Greek philosopher Pythagoras discovered that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
Megalith mentions one of the earliest incarnations of Stonehenge, dated 2750 BC, has one spot there is a rectangle formed out of four sarsen stones, which forms two perfect Pythagorean triangles (5:12:13). The eight lines that radiate from the rectangle and triangles were found to match with specific events of the Neolithic calendar, like the first day of spring, when to harvest wheat, and the solstices.
The National Post has editor John Martineau talking about the work:
“People often think of our ancestors as rough cavemen but they were also sophisticated astronomers. They were applying Pythagorean geometry over 2,000 years before Pythagoras was born. We think these people didn’t have scientific minds but first and foremost they were astronomers and cosmologists. They were studying long and difficult to understand cycles and they knew about these when they started planning sites like Stonehenge.”
Additionally, many of the stone circles found in Neolithic sites around the UK were found to not be circular, but rather their shapes were derived from Pythagorean triangles extending from the center.
There is not much to do with this information, apart from perhaps changing the name of the “Pythagorean” theorem to the “Neolithic builders’ union” theorem. It is important, however, from the perspective of preserving history and remembering that even those whom we consider “primitive” posses the same human intellect that we do.
“These days it’s seen as hippy dippy or New Age, but actually it’s a colossal omission to the history of science that we don’t see these monuments for what they are. People see the Neolithic builders of Stonehenge as howling barbarians, when they were very learned and it has been forgotten.”