It seems that ancient builders were using Pythagoras’ theorem to piece together the famous Stonehenge monument two millennia before the birth of the acclaimed Greek philosopher, reports the National Post.
The discovery is presented in a new book, published today to coincide with the June 21 solstice.
Titled Megalith, the book argues that the builders of Britain’s ancient stone circles were not the “howling barbarians” we imagine. In fact, these people were gifted astronomers with a knowledge of complex geometry notions, that modern man only thought of 2,000 after Stonehenge was erected.
“People see the Neolithic builders of Stonehenge as howling barbarians, when they were very learned and it has been forgotten,” says Robin Heath, one of the book’s contributors and a megalithic expert.
John Martineau, contributor and editor of the new book published by Wooden Books, agrees. As he points out, the people who built the iconic megalithic structure were nothing short of “sophisticated astronomers.”
“People often think of our ancestors as rough cavemen but they were also sophisticated astronomers. They were applying Pythagorean geometry over 2,000 years before Pythagoras was born.”
The Megalith book takes an in-depth look at the geometry of Neolithic monuments and claims that their builders were knowledgeable in the intricate cycles of the sun, the moon, and of eclipses.
The authors advocate that these ancient builders used complicated mathematical formulae to construct stone calendars based on the lunar and solar cycles, revealing that Pythagoras’ theorem has actually been used for millennia by builders looking to obtain the perfect right-angles in their construction work.
According to the authors, a simple version of Pythagoras’ theorem — which states that in a right triangle the sum of the hypotenuse, or the side opposite the right angle, is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides — has been discovered in one of the earliest incarnations of Stonehenge, dated back to 2750 BC.
Meanwhile, the Greek philosopher wasn’t born until the 5th century BC, some 2,000 years after the ancient Neolithic monument near Amesbury in Wiltshire, England, was built, notes the British media outlet Express.
The book shows that the earlier version of Stonehenge contained a rectangle made out of four sarsen stones which form a perfect Pythagorean 5:12:13 triangle when split in half diagonally.
In addition, each of the eight lines diverging from the rectangle and the triangles were perfectly aligned with important dates in the Neolithic calendar, such as the two solstices and the two equinoxes.
“We see triangles and double squares used which are simple versions of Pythagorean geometry. And then we have this synthesis on different sites of solar and lunar numbers,” says Martineau.
The same Pythagorean 5:12:13 triangle can be observed in the nearby Neolithic site of Woodhenge, located just two miles north-east of Stonehenge, reports the Deccan Herald.
As for the ancient builders’ deep understanding of the solar and lunar cycles, the researchers note that this is reflected in the famous horseshoe arrangement at the heart of Stonehenge, which is believed to incorporate 19 stones that mirror the 19-year metonic solar and lunar cycle.
At the same time, the book authors advocate that the 56 wooden posts that once encircled the Stonehenge monument could have been used to predict eclipses and pinpoint the lunar phases and the position of the sun and the moon.
“I do feel very sad that visitors to Stonehenge are not told anything about the astronomical alignments, even when they are very simple to explain,” says Martineau.
Chiming in on the revelations presented in the new book, the researcher noted that our ancestors were just as preoccupied with astronomy and cosmology as we are.
“We think these people didn’t have scientific minds but first and foremost they were astronomers and cosmologists. They were studying long and difficult to understand cycles and they knew about these when they started planning sites like Stonehenge.”