When I first heard that we were going to study the Megaliths of Morbihan, I did not have the slightest idea of what that meant or what megaliths or menhirs were. Even after the first time I read about them, I was not quite sure what I was reading or what they meant. People today still do not know what they mean or the true stories behind this vast collection of menhirs. We do know that most were used as tombs or burial sites. It is astonishing to think that so many people went out of their way to move over hundreds of rocks and align them in meaningful ways, whether it is to build a mound or a row of standing stones at Carnac.
People would go through the strenuous task of moving over a hundred-ton stone across tens to hundreds of kilometer stretch from its original source, as they did with the “Grand-Menhir,” which weighed 270 tons. Today, I could not imagine someone carrying a coffin across a city to be able to put his or her loved one’s in it. It is truly amazing to see a group of people so in tune with each other and their loved ones, that they are willing to go to the ends of the earth to be able to find a rock to bring back to honor death.
Honoring death has always been significant even in our early modern era and modern era. Greek soldiers’ deaths were honored by placing gold coins over the eyes, and the noble were placed on high alters with coins on their eyes then burned. The ancient Greeks believed that in order to get to Hades, they had to cross the Styx River. The gold coins were to allow the deceased to pay the boatman, Charon, to ferry them across the river so they could get to paradise, Elisyum. Numerous cultures and countries honor their death in diverse ways. In high school, we learned and somewhat honored “Dia de los muertos.” The Aztecs and natives of Mexico for centuries have honored their dead in festive ways. The Aztecs believed life to be a dream and death to be when they were really awake. They used skulls to symbolize death and rebirth.
It amazes me that even in the Neolithic Age, people honored their death so vividly, that they created the Megaliths of Morbihan. It had to have taken thousands of people to be able to finish the entire site. I still wonder if honoring death is just a tradition passed down through the thousands of years, or if we, as humans, are psychologically programmed to feel the need and desire to honor the death those whom we love.