Pietro Gaietto

Bicephalic anthropomorphic menhir. It depicts the head of two Homo sapiens joined for the nape, on the left the modern Eurasian type, on the right the European type of Neanderthal.
Height: 4 m approx
Dating: 60,000-30,000 years old.
Location: Carnac, Morbihan, Brittany, France.

The aligned megaliths of Carnac are constituted by menhir and dolmen.

The menhir were monuments erected for the memory, the dolmen instead were architectures for funerary use, that have rendered burials also with rich equipments and are all of protohistoric ages.

The menhir of Carnac (department of Morbihan, Brittany, France) are stones transported from far away, of small and big dimensions, planted in the ground, that extend in various alignments for three kilometers in east-west direction. In Carnac there are 2,730 of them divided into three groups: le Ménec, west of Carnac, which includes 1,099 menhirs aligned on 11 rows; Kermario, 1029 menhirs on 10 alignments and Kerlescan, 555 on 13 rows.

To set the speech on the concept of religiosity, I will use a menhir aligned in the group of Ménec, where the majority of menhirs are attributed to protohistoric eras, and in small part, I would say rare, have been attributed to the Paleolithic and are of larger dimensions.

This menhir (see photo) is an authentic anthropomorphic bicephalic sculpture about four meters high. It represents two different types of Homo sapiens joined for the nape. To the left is the head of a modern Man of Euroasiatic type; to the right, the head of a Man of Neanderthal, that has the look in horizontal direction, while the modern Man is looking the sky.


The artistic style of this great work is the abolition of the details of the face, a style that makes it very expressive. We find this style also in extra-European historical epochs and especially in the modern art of the twentieth century, as the heads by Henry Moore, that however are less proportioned than the real.

The modern Man has forehead and chin like in the skeletal finds of Chancelade, while the Man of Neanderthal is lacking in forehead and chin like in the skull of the old Neanderthal of La-Chapelle-aux-Saints.

This great sculpture has been work of well organized teamwork, both in order to transport the monolith from a far place, and to realize the work of art, certainly under the direction of a master artist.

The work is consequent to a religion of that time, as the sculpture represents a deity. In fact two human heads joined for the nape do not exist in nature, but are invention of the man. Bifrontism and bicephaly are present in the art of religious type in the historical times all over the world, with the exclusion of Australia. Therefore, this type of anthropomorphic bicephaly, present in the European Paleolithic also in small sculptures of silex, is at the origin, according to the evolutionistic conception, of the two-faced and bicephalic religious art of all the post-paleolithic ages.

The religion at the base of these anthropomorphic bicephalic menhirs is consequent to unquestionable logical deduction, while the religion of the dolmen burials could be integrated with rituals, or even be limited to simple affectiveness and to the memory of the deceased relative.

These paleolithic bicephalic menhirs, considered as sculptures of deities, were located in a place of worship, which still amazes for austere solemnity and also, I would say, for a whole of beauty. Grouped neatly, they come to constitute a place of prayer or meditation for these ancient peoples who visited it. But still today this enormous grouping of menhirs constitutes a great tourist attraction shared also with an archaeological and scientific interest.

The bicephalic menhirs of this type at Carnac, like the small bicephalic sculptures of the same type in other parts of Europe, have been dated from 60,000 to 30,000 years ago. An absolute dating has not been possible for the menhirs and not even for the small sculptures, in how much found in surface stations, and therefore in not datable sites. This dating has been obtained from the affinities of working (chipping for removal of material from the stone) between small bicephalic sculptures in silex, mainly collected in Puglia (Italy) and musterian lithic tools in silex of the same localities, dated and classified for typology by the French palethnologist François Bordes, and generally obtained with absolute datings.

In addition, there are other controls of different types, in other parts of Europe, on different types of stone, which reinforce this method of investigation.

Finally, who among the two Homo sapiens of different species, Neanderthal Man or modern Eurasian Man, built the anthropomorphic bicephalic menhirs?

Perhaps it would be possible to circumscribe this question by studying the skeletal remains of Neanderthal-Modern Eurasian Man hybrids found in Europe in the last 150 years.



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