PALEOLITHIC ART MAGAZINE


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RELIGION AND MEGALITHIC PREHISTORIC WORKS

Pietro Gaietto




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




The aligned megaliths of Carnac consist of menhirs and dolmens.

The menhirs were monuments erected to the memory, the dolmens were instead funerary architecture, which have made even burials with rich sets; all are of proto-historic eras.

The menhirs of Carnac (department of Morbihan, Brittany, France) are big stones transported from far away, small and large, embedded in the ground, which extend in various alignments for three kilometers from east to west. At Carnac there are 2,730 menhirs divided into three groups: Ménec, west of Carnac, which includes 1,099 menhirs aligned in 11 files; Kermario 1029 menhirs in 10 alignments and Kerlescan 555 in 13 files.

To set the discussion on the concept of religiosity, I will use a menhir aligned in Ménec group, where the majority of menhirs is attributed to early historical times, and in a small part, I would say rare, they have been attributed to the Paleolithic and are larger in size.

This menhir (see photo) is an authentic two-headed anthropomorphic sculpture about 4 meters high. It represents two different types of Homo sapiens joined by the nape. To the left is the head of a Modern man of Eurasian type; on the right, is the head of a Neanderthal Man, who has his eyes in the horizontal direction, while the Modern man is looking to the sky.

The artistic style of this great work is the abolition of details of the face, a style that makes it very expressive. We find this style even in extra-european historical times and especially in modern art of the twentieth century, as the Henry Moore heads, although these are less proportionate to the real.

The Modern man has forehead and chin as in skeletal remains of Chancelade, while the Neanderthal Man has no forehead nor chin as in the old Neanderthal skull of La-Chapelle-aux-Saints.This great sculpture was a well-organized teamwork work, both to transport the monolith from a far place and to create the work of art, of course under the direction of a master artist.

The work is due to a religion of that time, because the sculpture depicts a deity. In fact, two human heads joined for the nape does not exist in nature, but they are human invention. Bifrontism and bicephaly are present in the art of religious type in historical times around the world, with the exception of Australia. So, this type of anthropomorphic bicephaly, present in the European Paleolithic even in small flint sculptures, according to the evolutionary conception, is at the originof the religious two-faced and bicephalous art of all the post-paleolithic ages.

The religion which is at the basis of these two-headed anthropomorphic menhirs is due to a indisputable logical deduction, instead religion of the dolmen burials could be integrated with rituals, as well as being limited to the simple affection and remembrance of the deceased relative.

These two-headed palaeolithic menhirs, understood as sculptures of deities, were placed in a worship place, which still today amazes for austere solemnity and, I would say, also for a beauty complex. Grouped in an orderly fashion, they will constitute a place of prayer or meditation for these ancient people who visited them. But even today this huge group of menhir is a great touristic attraction also shared with an archaeological and scientific interest.

The two-headed menhirs of this type in Carnac, such as small two-headed sculptures of the same type in other parts of Europe, have been dated from 60,000 to 30,000 years ago. It was not possible to establish an absolute dating for the standing stones and even for the small sculptures, as they have been found in surface stations, and therefore in not datable sites. This dating has been obtained by processing affinity (chipping to remove material by stone) between small two-headed flint sculptures, mainly collected in Puglia (Italy) and mousterian flint lithic tools from the same locations, dated and classified by type by the French palaeontologist François Bordes, and generally obtained with absolute dates.

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

Finally, who between two Homo sapiens of different species, the Neanderthal Man, or Modern Eurasian Man built the two-headed anthropomorphic menhirs?

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



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