Reaching to the Heavens

The Megaliths of Morbihan are yet another example of prehistoric attempts at interconnecting the living world with that of the spiritual. It is interesting and important to note that magnificent structures with particular mystery are found outside of Egypt and Stonehenge. Yet, I cannot claim that I was knowledgeable about the existence of these megaliths before taking this class and therefore, I can’t hold it against other people for not discovering these magnificent architectural wonders.

When analyzing architecture as an art, especially ancient structures such as tombs and mounds, it is important to note the careful and purposeful intent that the builders had when “piling rocks on top of more rocks”. Though the majority of the megaliths are merely vast spaces and volume, their funerary purposes allow for more intricate inner architecture with the building of chambers and tombs. I found it to be similar to the Egyptian pyramids in that these tombs were shut off from the living world and never visited to preserve that connection to the world beyond our own. Because of this limitation, however, art or wall paintings do not appear inside these chambers. However, the menhir structures which were part of the megaliths but exposed as carefully arranged rock formations did allow for some surface upon which to paint.

Menhirs are very mysterious because it is not really known for what purpose they were put up and if there location has any particular order just as one still wonders the same about Stonehenge. We do know, however, that Menhir or stone enclosings tended to close off a “sacred area” from a secular background. It is interesting to contemplate whether their purpose is actually one of landmark for humans in marking water sources or rather a way to connect once again to the spiritual world above by either commemorating a death or sacred event or even trying to reach literally toward heaven.

The Neolithic Age is very much characterized by its shift to agriculture and one can see how advanced the people became over time with the resources available to them in developing more efficient methods of farming. These technological advances could be ultimately what allowed for these megaliths to be built in the first place as the material used were not only acquired locally but also transported by unknown ways to their current sites.

It is remarkable just how heavy some of these materials must have been and yet were transported large distances to be set up in such a precise and durable manner that they have endured the test of time. It is still unknown exactly what tools they used to carry these heavy materials but it is interesting to see the kind of resources they must have discovered and creatively put to use to create such sophisticated structures. Therefore, once again, the study of art throughout time shows us the capabilities of ancient civilizations that were actually more advanced than we give them credit for with far fewer resources available to them than we have today.

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