Tag Archives: Stonehenge

A reflection on Stonehenge & Machu Picchu

I remember that during our trip to Peru in 2009, we used to hear a great many positive things from tourist guides about the Incas, or better the people of the Tawantinsuyu Empire (the Inca being just the king of the empire).

The guides used to praise their mastery in agriculture, astronomy, architecture, engineering and many other disciplines. While that civilization reached certain degree of advancement and the wonder in Machu Picchu site gives account of that, I had the parallel thought while being there that at the same time in Europe big cathedrals were being built full of arcs, domes, Leonardo da Vinci was diving into all kind of sciences, etc. The roofs in buildings at Machu Picchu were made of wood, there were not stone arcs or domes, and that is why today you cannot see trace of them.

During our last trip to England, I had a similar experience while visiting Stonehenge. The guides praised this site as being the most important prehistoric construction in Europe, which may be true, but then again I couldn’t avoid thinking of the pyramids at Giza, which we visited about a year ago.

I am no historian, thus take my next reflection as what it is: a reflection of a tourist :-).

I guess this can be seen as positive outcome of globalization understood as “global relationships of culture, people and economic activity”. I guess that by the year 2,500 B.C. the trade between different regions was much smaller than today and less exchanges of cultural and architecture best practices took place: thus you could have about at the same time the pyramids being built in Egypt while the stones at Stonehenge being put up, both being the state of the art in each place.

About 4,000 years later, the state of the art in construction building we can say that was harmonized between Middle East, Northern Africa and the whole of Europe, including the islands, and you had for example the Cathedral of Salisbury just few miles from Stonehenge being built around 1,250 A.D. , two centuries before Machu Picchu was built in a continent not yet affected by such globalization.

This reflection just related to architecture. Think of all other types of exchanges that take place from agriculture to medicine, sciences and arts… so much for the goodness of globalization.

Some pictures taken in those four sites:

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The British Museum

During the last trip to the United Kingdom I visited for the first time The British Museum (free). The museum itself is without any doubt amazing.

However I had conflicting ideas of whether the breadth of pieces mostly coming from other countries should have been better displayed at a museum in the country of origin or there in London.

I found it curious that the museum has a dedicated brochure explaining why the collection of Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon is hosted in London instead of Athens as the Greek Ministry of Culture claims they should be. The British Museum claims that the pieces were taken with permission of the then authority of those territories: the Ottoman Empire. It also gives account of an internal investigation carried by the Parliament. And even points at other 6 museums around the world hosting sculptures from the Parthenon as if trying to divert the attention.

The museum’s brochure concludes that the taking of the pieces was legal and its location in London is good as it believes the museum is a unique resource for the world, but offers the reader to check the counter opinion at the Greek ministry’s site.

I still haven’t made my mind yet: is it the World’s looting museum or most of the pieces are better off being conserved there that they would be in Greece, Egypt, Syria or elsewhere?

To end the discussion I found it comical that in order to introduce Stonehenge to the museum’s visitors a poster of it was deemed enough. In this case it wasn’t necessary to bring one or two stones from the site, as has been the case with pieces from many other places.

Besides that discussion I enjoyed seeing some items missing in previous trips. Find some pictures of some of the museum highlights below:

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