ARCHITECTURAL PARTICULARS OF STONE-DOOR CAVES AND EXAMPLES OF THEIR USE IN PREHISTORIC IRELAND

Abstract

Circular, large size burial constructions –  tombs stand out among numerous prehistoric archaeological monuments on the isles of Great Britain by the perfection of their architectural plan, polyfunctionality, firmness and longevity of constructions. Irish Tara is the only one of its kind and stands out advantageously against a backgound of other monuments of the isles.


We have observed a great number of similarities between Tara and ornaments and symbols of petroglyphs and cave anthropogenic constractions spread in Armenia. Conceptual likeness and structural generalities among their architectural disigns make us think that we deal with architectural, building and spiritual phenomena preserved in archaeological and  material testimonies springing from the same source and belonging to one general civilization.

Introduction.

After the last glaciation of Quarternari the British Isles, which before that period were joined with Eastern Europe, again separated. The glaciers’ thaw gave a chance for emergence of a new biocenose with moderate climate, which was formed during rather long period of time, because the soil stratum after 2000 years of glaciation was also in the process of formation. Only in the middle of the 4th millenium were formed favorouble living conditions for human beings in Great Britain. Human groups came  there from the east, wave after wave conquering firstly the south of Eastern Europe, then the territories of modern Austria, Czechia, Slovakia. To the end of the 5th millenium they started to occupy the territory of France and then migrated to the British Isles . For the Armenian Highland last glaciations of Quarternari resulted in a continious drought in the south. Consequently the creators of the Umbilical Hill (Gobekli Tepe) civilization retreated as far south as the eastern shores of the Persian Gulf, the Near East and Northern Egypt.

Notwithstanding the powerful mountainous glaciation the oases of life were preserved in the northern section of the Armenian Highland as a result of intensive volcanic activity and existence of unmelting numerous lakes in the Ararat valley and at the foot of the Gegam mountains. After glaciation, biocenose recovering rapidly, gave impetus to the growth of cave population who multiplying began to look for new territories of living. They had taken with them domesticated Bezoar Goat, customs and traditions (the most characteristic feature of which was the carving of the symbols on hard rocks) and the knowledge and mastership of architectural and building technologies used for the safty of the anthropogenetic caves and living purposes. The traits of such large-scale and continuous migration are spread from the Armenian Highland to the Balkans, Middle and Western Europe, Ireland, and the east, including the Penjab’s present territory of

Fig  1, Fig 2, Fig 3  The  petroglyphs from Geghama  mountains
Their testimonies are presented by numerous megaliths, cromlechs and dolmens with symbols of the goats’ images, the encircled “Tree of Life”, as well as the remnants of domestic goat, fragments of osidian weapons along the entire road of the great migration.  
     Newgrange and Hill of Tara. The arehitecture and construction.
This tomb consists of a circular mound inside of which is an artificial cave. The Irish sanctuaries-tombs are circular constractions built by a general project. Their interior chamber is connected with the outside world by a cromlech-type passage built of massive rectangular slabs. According to a reconstruction exposed in the “Bru na Boinne” Irish museum, first of all was built a ritual chamber, with a corbelled roof (according  to principles of the domed roof of the Armenian “hazarashen”), ritual items made of large blocks of stone as in different corners of the chamber as well as upright standing under vertical walls. Then was constructed the passage-grave laid with the walls of rectangular slabs of the same hight and a roof covered with large rectangular slabs without mortar. The walls of the passage are laid mainly of large one-piece slabs, but in the case of lack of material, ancient builders replaced them by the layers of several fragments of stones not destorting general conception of the architectural design.  
Fig  4, Fig 5
 Hill of Tara. The detals
    Then future boundaries of the tomb were designed. The holes 20-25 centimetrs deep were dug for that purpose. There were fixed rough polished fragments of stones about  200x40x70 centimetrs high carved with symbols and pictures.  
Fig  6, Fig 7

 The  construction.   Exposed in the “Bru na Boinne” Irish museum
In the end, the space of the Circle was covered with small boulders and macadam. Thus, an artifical mound was built. The base of the cairn was surrounded by large kerbstones carved with symbols, as if ancient builders constructed artifically a model of a cave dug in a mountain which probably was their conception about the sacred place.    
    
     The principle of construction of the stone door caves in Armenia.

The stone door caves are rock-dug constructions in the contacts of the volcanic layers which had polyfunctional usage. They are located mainly in inclined parts of the landscape, in the layers’ denuded sections and more often in ravines, in the contacts of the andesinite and basalt volcanic and undervolcanic layers.
1.  2.
3.Fig  8,  Fig  9,  Fig  10

 The  3 phase construct of Stone Doors caves in Armenian volcanic region of Aragats
  The stone door caves are composed of a chamber or chambers, connected with outer world by a passage. Such name was given to this type of caves because of the stone doors set in the tonnel and passages connecting chambers.  
  For building such caves old caves had been used which originally were denuded cavities in  “lithochines” (the term is used according to Balyan, 1969).
  First of all the surface of the hillside was cleaned of liandslides, caves were dug and their floors and walls were evened, then slightly hanging fragments of stone were torn from ceilings. Then the passage was constructed, the stone doors were fixed and the whole construction was covered with local fragments of stone and so, comprising the entity with the landscape, it was disguised harmonically with the elements of the landscape.
Common features and differences between the stone door caves of Armenian and Hill of Tara.
   Common features between architectural conceptions of the 4th mullenium the Irish tombs-sanctuaries and the Armenian stone door caves are obvious. Both have chambers and passages with identical laying and entrances connecting with the outer world. Meanwhile, there is an esential difference in regard to the site of constructions – the pecularities of landscape.
Fig  11,  Fig  12, Fig  13, Fig  14
The detals  of  Armenian Stone Doors caves construction
Natural landscape was used in the case of the stone door caves in Armenia,  but, while constructing the Irish Hill of Tara an artifical “mountainous” landscape was made.
  The identity of the symbols occuring in Rock art  petroglyphes of Hill of Tara and Armenia
      The Armenian petroglyphs are spread along the road of the migration of the post-glacial period, meanwhile their density is the highest in the Gegham and Artsakh (Karabakh) mountains. These petroglyphs differ from the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic rock art and petroglyphs of almost all other places in the world by their symbolic and pictographic meaning.
Fig  15,  Fig  16, 

 The stone «Space Calendar» in the mountain Geghama (Armenia)
Fig  17,  Fig  18

 The Irish Stonе Cross from the beginning of Christian era (Ireland) and «Life Tree» 3th millennium  B.C. in the  Highland of Kharabakh (Armenia)
 Petroglyphs discovered in Africa, America and on the islands of Pacific and Arctic Ocean are simply attempts to depct accurately animals and plants. All petroglyphs occuring in Ireland and the isles of Great Britain may be found in the Gegham and Artsakh (Karabakh) mountains in petroglyphic compositions of various contexts. Not only the likness, but the identity  of the Irish and Armenian petroglyphs is obvious and indisputable. Moreover, one of these symbols – “the Tree of Life” later on became  the prototype of the Armenian cross-stones (khachkar) and Irish  high crosses.
Fig  19, Fig 20, Fig 21  3200  B.C. The examples  of Irish   petroglyphs. 
 Conclusion

The analysis of a rather large amount of the archeological material  testifies about the similarity between the Irish tombs and petroglyphs and the Armenian stone door caves and petroglyphs. Moreover, it is possible to say with certainty that we deal with the same cultural field. According to the available archaeological material, part of the first settlers in Great Britain migrated from the Armenian Highland. The authors of the Irish circular, large-size tomb-sanctuaries tried to preserve the traditions of their ancestors. Through lack of the volcanic-mountainous extreme terrain irregularity and the suitable mountainous landscape and geological stratigraphic profile characteristic to Armenia for diging cave-sanctuary, they made the tomb and built boulder cap above the chamber roof of the cairn imitating their ancestors mountains.

 

 

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