I’m going to set aside the what-if’s, why’s, awe at old things, and speculation for a bit to pat a few millennia of Frenchmen on the back.
As I was reading through the descriptions of the vast arrays of menhirs in the Carnac area, I marveled at two things. Firstly, the obvious wonder that somebody at sometime was willing and able to transport and arrange so many giant stones. But secondly, I was quite struck by the fact that they are still around. And in such mass. These menhirs survived the Bronze Age (l’Âge du Bronze), the Iron Age (l’Âge du Fer), the Roman era (l’epoque romaine), the Middle Ages (le Moyen-Âge), all the way to the present day. Despite many megalithic monuments being Christianized in the Middle Ages, and others being destroyed or dramatically altered, the amount of menhirs, dolmens, and tumuli that are preserved is still an impressive showing.
This says something for the French people. The desire to preserve what may seem like an excessive and repetitive showing of rocks is not relegated to the dusty archaeologists and academics. The people want to preserve their archeological heritage. Legislation has been passed to this regard, but in comparison to the age of the megaliths, it is quite recent. The desire to preserve these monuments has not arisen because of archeological interest, however. Rather, archeological interest has been able to occur because these monuments were preserved.
So way to go, the French (whom I count as all who have inhabited that region in the last few millennia). But I wonder, is this a French attribute, or a human one (loaded question)? That the basic awe and the efforts and struggles of those who have come before us are for some reason worth preserving. There’s a sense of otherness endowed even in rocks that make them worth preserving.