February 23, 2007

Ancients were just like us

Stonehenges all around us

Architectural relics and modern structures show that we may not be much different than our ancestors.My personal favorite Stonehenge look-alike—at least in concept—is in northern New Mexico, where in the 11th century, the Chaco culture built hundreds of miles of processional "roads." Rather than rings of giant standing stones, the Chacoans erected enormous masonry temples known as great houses. Many of these great houses are aligned to view celestial events through portals and windows.

Looking at the way ancient people assembled themselves, archeologists see cults and primitive, celestial religions. But how primitive were these people's beliefs, and how different from them are we?

I once ambled around the Colorado Capitol in Denver with a compass and notebook in hand. I had come to a modern landmark to apply the same questions we had been asking at ancient sites. I found that every aspect of the building's neoclassical architecture has alignments you see at many Neolithic ceremonial centers. Every bench is symmetrically arranged around the cruciform building, which is, in turn, set to cardinal directions. It lies within an array of other government buildings and open processionals, each holding to the same cardinal patterns.

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