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Stonehenge and Minoan Navigation
Richard de Grasse
I discovered there were thousands of Bronze Age copper mines along with the accompanied copper culture on Isle Royale in Lake Superior following my review of the amazing 4300-year-old Bronze Age wreck off Uluburun, Turkey. The Uluburun wreck was in about 125 feet of water and in a condition worthy of painstaking recovery considering its age. It has been very carefully explored, documented and the artifacts preserved ashore in a special museum at Bodrum, Turkey. The Bronze Age vessel carried a very diverse cargo including 10 tons of ox hide shaped copper ingots. The extraordinary diversity of the cargo revealed that trade was very wide spread in the Mediterranean during the Bronze Age and that the historic demand for bronze goods was nearly insatiable. Sample copper ingots from the wreck were analyzed and found 99.5% pure and were generally believed to have originated from Isle Royal copper mines in Lake Superior. Lake Superior! That was an ocean away from the Mediterranean 4300 years ago- 2000 BC!
Gavin Menzies was, to my knowledge, the first and only one to link Minoan navigation and stone circles. Several stone circles appeared not to have any significant purpose at that time in history other than as an aid to navigation. Roger Jewell and G.F. Bass also considered Minoan ocean crossings but they did not specifically link navigation and trade to European stone circles. I considered the question what about the hundreds of other stone circles around the North Atlantic particularly Stonehenge in Britain? Did they have an ocean navigation use besides the well documented ceremonial, funerary and celestial observation purposes? I also considered the needs of Bronze Age ocean navigators given my understanding of the celestial, astro-science of the times. My thesis is that ocean navigators used stone circles, particularly Stonehenge, and that the stone circles played an important role in the advancement of the science of Bronze Age ocean navigation and trade.
I’ve always had a technical and celestial observation interest in the stone circles in the United Kingdom particularly Stonehenge. I researched the literature of celestial and earth science attributes of Stonehenge and other stone circles used during the Bronze Age. Literature contributed by noted authors: Alexander Thom, Gavin Menzies, Roger Jewell, Robin Heath and Gerald Hawkins and others. I discovered that they agreed stone circle designers, builders and users had a working knowledge of geometry and trigonometry and that they routinely made celestial observations. Gavin Menzies and several others noted that stone circles both in Europe and America were used for celestial astronomy in addition to the well documented ceremonial and funerary purposes. As an ocean navigator I expanded on the idea that the stone circles played a very important part in providing the tools and information necessary for successful ocean navigation to the American copper mines and back. The Minoans worked the Lake Superior mines from about 2500 BC to 1250 BC until Thera (Crete) was devastated by an eruption of the island volcano. My quest, therefore, was to examine the needs and tools of Bronze Age sailors and navigators and how Stonehenge and other stone circles were used.
I discarded all current means of navigation and concentrated on only what navigational techniques could be made available during the Bronze Age. Most important, they needed to be able to determine their latitude at sea and know the latitude of their destinations without compass or charts. Accurate clocks and longitude determination were 3000years in the future. Stonehenge could provide several things essential for celestial ocean navigation: annual universal calendar, prime meridian (0˚ longitude), a daily table of sun’s noon declination, known latitude of Stonehenge and a site where navigators could work with Stonehenge astronomers and test and perfect their sight taking capability. The solstice megalithic alignments showed Stonehenge designers knew about the 23.75˚ tilt of the earth on its axis and, therefore, the sun’s changing daily declination. The noon sun sight began with our ancient brethren. They could determine latitude from a boat at sea if they knew how to calculate latitude, had an annual table of daily sun’s peak declination and devices to measure the sun’s altitude. Polaris was used to confirm the noon sight when a decent horizon was visible.
My book is complete and nearly ready for the publisher. I thank OCC for providing me an extraordinary forum for finally help making our ancient mariner brethren a part of history. I look forward to comments from fellow members.