When I first learned that the Megaliths of Morbihan were ancient funeral sites and resting places of the dead, I was immediately reminded of the above ground cemeteries that I had first seen in France and then again on a trip to New Orleans. While the explanation I was given for the above ground cemeteries in New Orleans had to do with geography – it got me thinking about the ways different societies honor the dead and how our practices have evolved from ancient times. When I think of the amount of man power it took to create the funerary at Morbihan, I am not only astonished by the sheer strength of that feat, but also by the collective belief the people of that time must have had.
In today’s society, we honor the dead in our own way. We mark their resting spot with a stone and maybe a nice quote. We hold a small service to provide closure for loved ones. However, I am hard pressed to think of anything that our society as a whole would collectively put as much effort into as these ancient people put into honoring their loved ones. Analyzing where we put our energy and passion is something that I believe everyone needs to do every once in a while. Sure, in today’s day and age it isn’t practical to build huge stone monuments to mark the passing of a loved one, but for the people of ancient Morbihan, making these structures encompassed loss, love, and the possibility of an afterlife.
As I was reading about the transition of human cultures and societies from the Mesolithic time period to the Neolithic, I was struck by how the peoples’ relationship to nature changed. If we have a culture developing during the Ice Age, they are going to have a harder time reaping the benefits of the land as well as finding time to things other than hunt. However, we see in the Neolithic period that the cultures became much more aware of man’s relation to nature and how he could benefit from it. The people of the Neolithic era were farmers, domesticated animals, and were able to have longer life spans – thus, populating the area much more quickly than previous generations.