The Stonehenge complex was not a solar calendar, but a religious structure built to celebrate the links between the afterlife and the winter solstice: these are the conclusions of the study carried out by Giulio Magli, of the Milan Polytechnic, and Juan Antonio Belmonte, of the Canary Institute of Astrophysics and La Laguna University of Tenerife, published in the journal Antiquity.
The new research knocks out a recent theory that the site was an astronomical calendar.
More than 4 thousand years after its construction, the enigmatic megalithic complex of Stonehenge continues to be talked about and there are many studies that try to understand the reasons that led to its construction.
According to a recent and popular theory, the monument would represent a calendar based on 365 days a year, divided into 12 months of 30 days plus five epagomenal days (the days that are added to bring the length of the calendar year closer to that of the calendar year), with the insertion of a leap year every four.
A calendar identical to the Alexandrian one, introduced more than two millennia later, at the end of the 1st century BC, as a combination of the Julian calendar,
In this new study, Magli and Belmonte have however put this hypothesis under stress, arriving at the conclusion that Stonehenge could not really be a calendar of this type.
While the solstice alignment is accurate, the two researchers show that the slow movement of the sun across the horizon in the days around the solstices makes it impossible to check that the supposed calendar is working properly;
secondly, I add, no key number is recognizable in the monument, let alone 12.
"All in all, the alleged Neolithic solar calendar of Stonehenge has proved to be a purely modern construct, whose archaeoastronomical and calendrical basis are scarce", Magli and Belmonte affirm.
"The monument - they add - returns to its role of silent witness of the sacred landscape of its builders, a role that does not detract from its extraordinary charm".