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Historical Monuments

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Historical Monuments

When thinking about architecture, many visual images come to mind. The works of many are seen everywhere we go, from the average home to a New York skyscraper. As these buildings are fairly common to most of us, we forget to incorporate the work of our prehistoric man that gave us the foundation of early architecture. Pre-historic monuments provide us with numerous amounts information about our past and how life existed in these prehistoric times. When comparing two great works from ancient times, we will determine the main reason for these buildings as well as rituals that were held and there excavations and discoveries.

The passage-tomb at New Grange was constructed around 3200BC, according to archeologist. This makes it older than Egyptian pyramids. New Grange was built only by stones, no metals or other foreign objects were used. This site was rediscovered in 1699. Charles Campbell, landlord at time, instructed his workers to gather some stones and soon enough, the entrance of the chamber was found. Excavations of the passage-tombs began on 1962-1975 by Professor Michael J. O'Kelly and his wife Claire O'Kelly. Each year, on winter solstice, a spectacular occurrence is witnessed as New Grange is illuminated by the sun. At sunrise, around nine o'clock in the morning, the suns strikes the front of New Grange creating a beam of light that stretches into the passage way and into its central chamber. This sun beam illuminates the chamber for a period of around seventeen minutes. It is remarkable how man constructed this tomb precisely to capture the sun every year with merely just stone technology and no other equipment. According to O'Kelly, he felt the workforce of three hundred was used to create the tomb that took around thirty years to build. The total length of the passage stretches around seventy-nine feet, and is composed of three separate chambers. There is also a great deal of Megalithic Art inside New Grange as well as its sister sites Knowth and Dowth. In fact, in Knowth, nearly every stone is decorated, and the site has been hailed as having the largest collection of megalithic art in all of Europe. Over a quarter of all known megalithic art in Western Europe is at Knowth and its surrounding mounds (http:// The most common categories of art at New Grange are lozenge (diamond shaped), spirals, and zigzag patterned designs. These designs have been interpreted by many as representing a face, or a god or deity of some sort. There were also artifacts and findings that were discovered in the excavating period of New Grange. There were bones of three dogs along the chamber, which are uncertain if these dogs are from ancient times or just strays that got caught within the chamber. Approximately seven-hundred and fifty bones were found by archeologist mostly animal bones. Gold objects were also found, a gold chain and two gold rings, as well as, twenty-one roman coins, most in mint condition.

The Great Stupa at Sanchi, India is another example of great monumental architecture. Ashoka Maurya (273 - 236 BC) was the most famous of the Buddhist rulers of India. Emperor Ashoka built a total of eight stupas on the hilltop of Sanchi including the Great Stupa. A great number of stupas and other religious structures were added over the succeeding centuries. The Great Stupa has a bell shaped hemispheric design made up of bricks. The interior of these stupas were mainly filled with ruble and relics of Buddha and his followers. These stupas became forgotten and started to decay with the decline of Buddhism. Yet, between 1912 and 1919 the stupas were carefully reconditioned and restored. The stupas included four gateways, or toranas, which are one of the finest arts of the Sanchi. The north torana consist of two rectangular posts which have four elephants with riders that supports three architraves. At the very top are two Dharma chakra, which symbolize the wheel of law, and it supports the three jewels of Buddhism. The art left behind didn't represent the Buddha directly. Instead his presence was suggested through all the symbols such as the wheel of the law, the bodhi tree or his footprints. The stupa also became a symbol of the Buddha. It was a tale of some sort that cited the final release of the cycle of birth and rebirth. Stupas also became known as the dome of heaven, it was a link between heaven and earth.

These two distinct man made monuments were made for similar functions. They both were used for ceremonial purposes which were great importance to those cultures. They both were tombs that preserved people to be remembered. New Grange is one of the earliest examples of tombs in which the dead were placed to rest. Being built somewhere along 3200 BC, you can assume that these people had some sort religious notion that there was a life after death. By the way the tomb was aligned directly towards the sun at each and every winter solstice suggested that they were quite the astronomers who had a strong relationship with the sun and its surrounding stars. On the other hand, stupas were rest areas where Buddha and sometimes his followers would rest and finalize their material and physical life here on earth. These stupas were built in a way to remind the world of their life on earth, their life cycle and its conclusion. Toranas symbolized one



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