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Megaliths on Islay, Scotland: an island divided

AuthorsHigginbottom, Gail; Mom, Vincent
Issue DateAug-2020
Citation26th Virtual Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (2020)
AbstractIn Higginbottom 2020, it was shown that the interplay between the astronomy and the topographical choices of the builders of megalithic monuments highlighted possible cosmological ideologies that could be observed and seemed to be shared across western Scotland. More focused studies showed how prehistoric people in Scotland used the differences in natural light to illuminate the World around them and demonstrated how Time was ‘staged’ by prehistoric people at particular periods during the solar and lunar years (Higginbottom & Mom 2020). Nevertheless, one of the most curious set of results to come out of the earliest landscape research on Islay was the complete lack of interest in orienting any of its monuments to the winter Sun, which had not been the case for the other islands of the Hebrides, nor the coastal mainland. Further, for this island, there was significant statistical support for a disinterest in orienting the standing stones to any solar target. More recently, on closer examination, not one site in the initial group of monuments studied on Islay was aligned to the Sun, again unlike other places in the region regardless of the statistical emphasis. What had been seen was statistical support for alignments to the Moon´s rising and setting at the time of the minor lunar standstill (p=0.005 when seen on the northern horizon and p=0.05 for southern phenomena) as well as a focus on horizon areas that flank the points where the Sun rises and sets at the Equinox (p<0.1). Using our usual integrative, immersive technologies, Horizon and Stellarium, we will present images of past skies at individual monuments to re-investigate the raw data of these statistical analyses, along with data from new sites, to uncover more clearly whether or not Islay is truly a place apart in the Bronze Age of Western Scotland.
DescriptionTrabajo presentado en la 26th Virtual Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EEA), celebrada del 24 al 30 de agosto de 2020.
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