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Amanda Crum writing in WebProNews reports that –

News out of France concerning Prehistoric cave drawings that were animated by torch-light is taking the art history world by storm, and has overwhelmed this artist to the point of awe.

The cave drawings were found by archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere, who suggest that Palaeolithic artists who lived as long as 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls, which explains the multiple heads and limbs on animals in the drawings. The images look superimposed until flickering torch-light is passed over them, giving them movement and creating a brief animation.

“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,” Azéma said.

Full article here. See also our earlier feature on the bowl discovered in a grave at the 5,200 year-old Burnt City in Iran.


A guest feature by Littlestone.
Reporting in The Guardian on the 15 August last year, Mike Pitts writes that, “With its crumbling pillars and fading frescoes, the British Museum isn’t the first place you’d associate with Japanese graphic novels. So it’s a slight surprise to learn that the museum will soon publish its own manga-based book.”
It’s uncertain which crumbling pillars and fading frescoes Mike’s referring to as the structure of the Museum itself is sound and any light-sensitive objects are kept and exhibited in controlled environments. That aside, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the British Museum is associated with Japanese graphic novels (in this case with the publication of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure). Japanese graphic novels (manga) have been around for nearly 140 years, but their origins (outlined in Part I of this series) stretch back some two millennia in the form of handscrolls and, since the beginning of the 17th century, in the form of woodblock prints of the Ukiyo-e tradition. The British Museum’s collection of Japanese prints is world famous, but perhaps less famous is its collection of Chinese prints – ranging from early Buddhist texts to Communist revolutionary posters, and later still of prints by modern Chinese artists. With this in mind it’s again to the Chinese pictorial tradition that we look for more recent links to the phenomena of manga, cartoons and graphic novels.
Walk into any craft or artist materials shop today and you’ll be confronted with at least half a dozen ‘How to Draw Manga’ books. Before how to draw manga there were books on how to draw cartoons, but long before either of those there was the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (Jieziyuan Huazhuan  芥子園畫傳). The manual was first published in Jinling between 1679-1701 and became a well-known teaching aid for painters throughout the Far East
How to draw figures from the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. Author’s collection
Chinese calligraphy and ink painting are very closely linked; the same brushes, ink and paper (or silk) are used, and the same surety of execution is required for both. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a good calligrapher will also be a good painter (though not necessarily a good artist) as they are working within the same graphic tradition. The ink painting below is an outstanding example of an ancient graphic art tradition brought to fruition in the hands of a consummate artist, and it’s that same tradition that gave birth to the art of manga in Japan.
Woman with a saké cup. Attributed to Hokusai. Private collection
Hokusai was only five years old when William Stukeley died in 1765. Many readers here will be familiar with Stukeley’s accurate illustrations of Avebury and its surrounding area, so what to make of his 1759 sketch below – surely slightly tongue-in-cheek but if not definitely winning first prize in the oldest megalithic cartoon category!
The Druid Sacrifice of Yule-Tide by William Stukeley (inset). Note Avebury and Silbury in the background
Putting aside the strict definition of the word cartoon (ie a draft for a painting) and focusing on Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, we have in the cartoon, “…a piece of art, usually humorous in intent. This usage dates from 1843 when Punch magazine applied the term to satirical drawings in its pages, particularly sketches by John Leech. The first of these parodied the preparatory cartoons for grand historical frescoes in the then-new Palace of Westminster. The original title for these drawings was Mr Punch’s face is the letter Q and the new title “cartoon” was intended to be ironic, a reference to the self-aggrandizing posturing of Westminster politicians.”*
In Part I of this series we featured an 1879 cartoon from Punch of Stonehenge by Edward Tennyson Reed. Japan’s first manga magazine, the Eshinbun Nipponchi, appeared in 1874. The Eshinbun Nipponchi was heavily influenced by Japan Punch, founded in 1862 by the British cartoonist Charles Wirgman. In other words, it seems there might have been a cross fertilization of Japanese/Far Eastern graphic art traditions and Western satirical cartoons at play during this period, leading eventually to the Western cartoon and Japanese manga traditions we’re familiar with today. That cross fertilization is still at play. The British Archaeology magazine usually has a cartoon in each of its editions and, bringing the megalithic cartoon phenomenon up-to-date, this brilliant cartoon by Bill Brown in a Guardian Money supplement illustrates the on-going creativity of the manga tradition and the role that megaliths continue to play in it.
Illustration by Bill Brown
Links and further reading.
The Tao of Painting – A study of the ritual disposition of Chinese painting by Mai-mai Sze. This is an English translation of the Jieziyuan Huazhuan (Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting). Bollingen Foundation, Series XLIX. Princeton University Press, New York, 1956.

Chimney Rock Archaeological Site: Image credit US National Forest Service

Writing in The Examiner on Friday, 21 September, Stacey Witting reports that –

Today, President Obama exercised his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate a new national monument at Chimney Rock Archaeological Area in Colorado. The president’s decision provides this irreplaceable site — sometimes called “America’s Stonehenge” — with permanent protection and a designation equal to its historic and cultural importance. The 4,726-acre Chimney Rock Archaeological area located in San Juan National Forest which is a mecca for hikers.

President Obama’s decision—only the third time he has exercised his authority [in this way] — comes in response to a grassroots campaign conceived and led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which engaged a diverse coalition including a bipartisan group of local and statewide elected officials, Puebloan and tribal leaders and private citizens. In May, the National Trust named Chimney Rock a National Treasure, one of the irreplaceable places that epitomize the American story but face distinct threats.

The history and cultural significance of Chimney Rock predate the exploration and settlement of North America. Between A.D. 925 and 1125, the Chacoans built a residential and ceremonial village and inhabited the Chimney Rock mesa, establishing the most northeastern and highest known Chacoan site.

The ancient Chacoans were great engineers, architects and astronomers. Among their ceremonial and residential structures on the mesa is the Great House Pueblo which was likely used as an observatory for the rare Northern Lunar Standstill. During the standstill the moon aligns between Chimney Rock’s double spires. This extraordinary lunar alignment has earned Chimney Rock the nickname “America’s Stonehenge.”

Full article here.

A British Druid by William Stukeley
In the BBC Radio 4 programme The Druids
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Druids, the priests of ancient Europe. Active in Ireland, Britain and Gaul, the Druids were first written about by Roman authors including Julius Caesar and Pliny, who described them as wearing white robes and cutting mistletoe with golden sickles. They were suspected of leading resistance to the Romans, a fact which eventually led to their eradication from ancient Britain. In the early modern era, however, interest in the Druids revived, and later writers reinvented and romanticised their activities. Little is known for certain about their rituals and beliefs, but modern archaeological discoveries have shed new light on them.


Barry Cunliffe Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford

Miranda Aldhouse-Green Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University

Justin Champion Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London

Producer: Thomas Morris.

The equinox sun rising between two menhirs at Punkri Burwadih, India
Subhashis Das

For a full report on the restoration of the fallen menhir of Punkri Burwadih see our earlier report by Subhashis Das here.


Today is the first day of the 2012 edition of ICCROM’s course on First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict. “This course provides practical skills and strategies for initial response and the prevention of further damage to cultural heritage in the event of conflict.”
More here.
The Avebury World Heritage Site looking west from the south-east quadrant
The Heritage Trust
UNESCO reports that –
Created in 2003 within the framework of the Global Strategy for the balanced, representative and credible World Heritage List, as a pilot activity for the identification of the sites connected with astronomy, the Thematic Initiative on Astronomy and World Heritage, aims to establish a link between Science and Culture towards recognition of the monuments and sites connected with astronomical observations dispersed throughout all the geographical regions, not only scientific but also the testimonies of traditional community knowledge.

This Initiative offers to the States Parties a possibility to evaluate and recognize the importance of this specific heritage, in terms of enrichment of the history of humanity, the promotion of cultural diversity and the development of international exchanges.

It provides an opportunity not only to identify the sites connected with astronomy but also of keeping their memory alive and preserving them from progressive deterioration, through the inscription on the World Heritage List of the most representative properties.

Why “Astronomy” and World Heritage”

The sky, our common and universal heritage, forms an integral part of the total environment that is perceived by mankind. Including the interpretation of the sky as a theme in World Heritage is a logical step towards taking into consideration the relationship between mankind and its environment. This step is necessary for the recognition and safeguarding of cultural properties and of cultural or natural landscapes that transcribe the relationship between mankind and the sky.

More here. See also the Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy website which offers a, “…new integrated web portal for the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative, launched on August 24, 2012…”
Valley of the Kings
The Heritage Trust
From the British Museum’s website –
This exhibition features highlights from the British Museum’s superb collection of ancient Egyptian objects. The exhibition is the largest UK loan of Egyptian artefacts ever undertaken by the British Museum and includes wonderful examples of sculpture, jewellery, palace ornamentation, papyri and funerary objects.

This touring exhibition has been developed in a partnership between Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums and the British Museum. More than 130 objects, some never before seen outside London, have been chosen by the venues to explore the myths and realities of kingship in ancient Egypt.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
14 July – 14 October 2012

Tour dates

Great North Museum: Hancock
Newcastle upon Tyne
16 July – 25 September 2011

Dorset County Museum, Dorchester
17 October 2011 – 22 January 2012

Leeds City Museum
10 February – 17 June 2012

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
7 July – 14 October 2012

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
3 November 2012 – 24 February 2013

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
15 March – 9 June 2013

Supported through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation. More here.


The Jonoyama Tomb excavation trench in Tainai, Niigata Prefecture where burial accessories including a bow and lacquered quiver from the 4th century CE were found.

Image credit The Mainichi Shinbun


The Mainich Shinbun reports that –

Burial accessories including a bow and lacquered quiver held as signs of influence from Japan’s Kinki [western] region have been unearthed from the fourth century Jonoyama tomb in Tainai, Niigata Prefecture — a sign that the authority of the Yamato government had extended to northern Niigata some 300 years earlier than originally thought.

The “Nihon Shoki” (Chronicles of Japan), a book of Japanese history completed in 720, states that the Nutari stockade, a symbol of the sphere of influence of the Yamato government, was built in 647 for the subjugation of the Emishi people from northern Japan. This is the oldest reference to the Yamato government’s influence along the Sea of Japan side of the country. The stockade is believed to have been erected in what is now northern Niigata city.

The latest discovery, however, suggests that influence of the Yamato government had spread north some 300 years earlier than thought. Previously, the furthest north such burial accessories had been found was in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, at the Kokubu Amazuka No. 1 and 2 tombs sites.



Full article here.


THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP website reports that –
At the heart of one of the world’s most iconic structures, Stonehenge, are stones of a very special quality. They are The Preseli Bluestones from Pembrokeshire in West Wales. A stone from this magical place has been selected to celebrate our ancient British culture. Stonehenge in its construction, honoured man’s sensitivity to elemental things like our relationship with the sun, the moon and the stars and the builders used special geometry to create this harmonic space.
The Circle of Friendship honours similar powers on its journey. Some of the places our Bluestone will visit display those special geometries in greenhouse architecture and gardens. Before it leaves Britain it will be placed on a very special line at Waltham Abbey in Essex, the Greenwich Meridian, a key longitude.

It will then travel to Canada where it will be placed on another important line the 49th parallel, at The International Peace Garden on the Manitoba, North Dakota border. The 49th parallel connects with the city of Paris so those who installed this border in 1866 were celebrating the link between Europe and the North American continent.

How can you share in this project? You have the opportunity to share by simply sending best wishes or you may even have the opportunity to touch the Bluestone at a place near where you live. (Itinerary coming soon).

Other rocks travelling round the USA and Canada at the same time will be placed either side of the British Rock and eventually rocks from all over the world will join them.

These rocks will then be placed in a special shape called a Catenary. This is the “angle of the dangle” as in a necklace and there are two reasons why we have chosen this shape. On its journey it will touch upon places where sacred geometry has been used including The International Peace Garden itself. Some of those geometries go back thousands of years but the Catenary was only discovered in the 18th Century, so we celebrate the ongoing development of such things.

The second reason is to honour the Native Indians, the First People of this special region, as part of their symbolic apparel was the necklace.

The Circle of Friendship asks you to join with them in this celebration of International Friendship
The badly damaged outer gate of Aleppo’s Citadel after government opponents try to blast their way into the ancient fortress. Aleppo, Syria. Image credit Nelofer Pazira
Writing in Time World on 12 September, Aryn Baker reports that –
Abu Khaled knows the worth of things. As a small-time smuggler living along the porous border between Syria and Lebanon, he has dabbled in antiquities as much as the cigarettes, stolen goods and weapons that make up the bulk of his trade. So when a smuggler from Syria brought him a small, alabaster statue of a seated man a few weeks ago, he figured that the carving, most likely looted from one of Syria’s two dozen heritage museums or one of its hundreds of archaeological sites, could be worth a couple thousand dollars in Lebanon’s antiquities black market. So he called his contacts in Beirut. But instead of asking for cash, he asked for something even more valuable: weapons.

“War is good for us,” he says of the community of smugglers that regularly transit the nearby border. “We buy antiquities cheap, and then sell weapons expensively.” That business, he says, is about to get better. Fighters allied with the Free Syrian Army units battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad have told him that they are developing an association of diggers dedicated to finding antiquities in order to fund the revolution. “The rebels need weapons, and antiquities are an easy way to buy them,” says Abu Khaled, who goes by his nickname in order to protect his identity.

More here.


Carwynnen Quoit circa 1900 after its first restoration
The Sustainable Trust reports this week that work has begun on the restoration of Carwynnen Quoit (Scheduled Ancient Monument) in Cornwall. The quoit dates from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. The structure collapsed in 1834 (possibly due to an earth tremor) was re-erected but collapsed again some 130 years later. Now, thanks to local fundraising and help from the National Lottery Fund, work has started on its long overdue restoration.
A Sustainable Trust spokesperson reports that –
Preparations for our big dig at Carwynnen Quoit went into full swing on Monday September 10th when a large crane arrived on site to dismantle the pile of stones and temporarily remove them to a safe place. This was an exciting although potentially nerve wracking exercise! The stones have lain in a disorganised pile for more than 40 years when the monument collapsed in 1966. Since then a large number of other stones have been added to the pile, many of them very large, and these had been heaped up, over and upon the ancient capstone and its companion uprights.
A BBC News Cornwall video on the first stage of the quoit’s restoration can be found here.

A guest feature by Subhashis Das.

Subhashis Das is well known for his work recording and publicising the rich megalithic heritage of Indian. In this feature he describes how, with the help of local officials, friends and villagers, the fallen megalith of Punkri Burwadih was restored to its original position.

The Punkri Burwadih in all her glory

Punkri Burwadih is perhaps the most eminent megalith of India, yet it is not protected by the government. Here people gather to view the Equinox sunrises twice every year during the vernal and the autumnal equinoxes thereby making it the only megalith in India for this purpose.

The fallen menhir. Aloke Rana stands by (a depressed) me

The Equinox sun rising from between the two menhirs. The menhir M1 is a major stone as along with its partner M2 the Equinox and the Summer Solstice sunrises are visible through the “V” notch procured due to their positioning

7th August 11:30am.

On the morning of 7th August one of the Hindi National Dailies reported the falling of one of the menhirs at Punkri Burwadih. The news was also conveyed to me on Facebook. This was heart-wrecking. I, along with one of my co-workers Aloke Rana, dashed to the site some 23 kms from my hometown of Hazaribagh. What I saw there could not stop my tears from gushing out. One of the main menhirs, M1, which along with the other menhir, M2, enabled the creation of the “V” form, had fallen. Seeing me the villagers immediately gathered. I was told by Krishna Sao, my local help, that village children every day would climb or dash upon it after a race… this being done everyday, and with the earth around it becoming loose due to the heavy rains, were the factors which caused the menhir to fall.

We immediately rushed to the Block Office to meet the local Block Development Officer. He, being absent, the Circle Officer in charge had already read of the catastrophe in the papers and was expecting me. He assured me of immediate help and whatever else I needed. I requested the local administration to immediately have the menhir restored to her original position. The CO agreed to do this under my supervision and the date that was fixed for the job was the next day.

To have the menhir M1 to her earlier place, I was to keep a few things in mind:

1) The azimuth of the stone as it was oriented towards the Winter solstice sunrise.
2) Her incline towards the Summer Solstice sunset so much so that the peak of the Mahudi Hills in the southern horizon was perfectly viewed between the M1 and M2 menhirs.
3) The correct tilt to her left (North) so as to regain the “V” window to view the Summer Solstice and the Equinox sunrises once again.

Would I be able to do it?

8th August 10:00am.

The local administration in response to my plea of yesterday had sent a man named Chotu with a few helping hands. They had shovels, ropes, iron rods and a few other implements.

The villagers help in the digging

I was nervous but even felt blessed to be able to restore this menhir of the ancestors. Aloke kept cheering me saying that the endeavour would be successful. The digging began and soon the broken part of the menhir was exposed. A few more stones which were used to hold the stones at the desired angle too were visible. A small cinerary urn which housed two rusted “singhis” was exposed. These singhis contain the ashes and the bones of the dead. This artefact wasn’t old as it formed a part of the local “satbharwan” ritual.

One of the two singhis found in a broken cinerary pitcher. This was replaced during the cementing of the broken menhir

Aloke supervises while Chotu looks worried

Discussing the tilt and the incline of the megalith according to old photographs

The setting up of the megalith

The villagers too leant a hand hauling the heavy menhir, with Aloke supervising the entire process. Rope and logs of wood were used to restore the stone to its original position. I too meticulously ensured all the alignments I had earlier mentioned and attained the desired positions, only thereafter mortar was put in the pit to secure the stone and finally, by 3:30, she was set. Prior to the pouring of the cement, the broken urn and its contents along, with the excavated stones, were replaced.

The menhir finally stands on the broken segment of the megalith… and there you are… the fallen stone again sits pretty next to her lifelong partner

Part of the triumphant team

Everyone was exhausted after the ordeal but were happy and satisfied seeing the stone once again in her original position… a difficult job satisfactorily done with everyone’s assistance. I wondered how long it will remain safe but I knew I would have a good night’s sleep that night!

A full report on the restoration of the fallen menhir of Punkri Burwadih by Subhashis Das can be found on his Megaliths of India website. See also his Megaliths of India: Part I. Save Rola megaliths from destruction feature here, Megaliths of India: Part II, and Megaliths of India: Part III. The Enormous Megalithic Site of Chokahatu, the Land of Mourning.


A guest feature by Littlestone.
The Ryōan-ji (竜安寺) Rock Garden, Kyoto Japan
“What’s so special about the garden at Ryoanji?” I asked him, naming the famous rock and sand garden in Kyoto’s most brochured and pamphleted Zen temple. “The spaces between the rocks,” he replied, with his mouth full of toothpaste.””*
The above made me wonder if there are any similarities between the rock gardens of the Far East and the megalithic structures of Western Europe? At first sight there doesn’t seem to be – the timeframe between the two, and their use, seem to set them far apart. The oldest Far Eastern rock gardens are probably no more than 1,000 years old and they are, basically, just that – gardens. Megalithic structures are, well, ‘structures’ of one sort or another. So are there any similarities between the two? Obviously there’s a shared interest in rocks – their shape and texture, maybe the place where they came from. The way the rocks are placed is important to both ‘traditions’, though the reasons for placing them in a certain way seem to have little in common.
Avebury in 1722. From William Stukeley’s Abury – A Temple of the British Druids

We don’t really know why megaliths were arranged in a certain way but it seems likely that one reason had something to do with an interest in astronomy; another reason perhaps was to do with ceremony – a place were people gathered at certain times. As far as we know the rock gardens of the Far East have nothing to do with astronomical observations, nor were they places where large numbers of people gathered; they were used for quiet contemplation by individuals, or a place where a small group of individuals might gather for the same reason.
Perhaps the one thing megalithic structures and rock gardens do have in common (today) is a place where people can meditate (in the widest sense of the word) and as such they may not be that far apart in the function they now serve.

* Alan Booth. Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan. ISBN 1568361483.

A guest feature by Moss.
Section of the Wheeldale Roman Road today
Travelling over our favourite bit of the North York Moors, past the little beck that tumbles down over the rocks, a dark brown colour (this due to the peat on the moors), we find the Roman road about a mile on from the beck. It is just off the moor road, stretching down to another little beck, and having at its other end a cairn so the map says.  There is some dispute over this road, it seems to march towards Pickering and a small Roman fort outside, but only has some of the characteristics of a Roman road.  For a start there is no gravel over the large flagstones, but it is ditched on either side with large stone forming curbing along both sides. And every now and then there is a retaining curb going horizontally across.  The theory mooted is that it might have been earlier, or even later Saxon, who knows?  Photos around the 60s decade show a road cleared of vegetation but now it is very overgrown.
Section of the Wheeldale Roman Road in the 1960s


September 2012
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