When we visit historical and archaeological sites around the world we often see them for what they are when we are looking at them. We learn of their age, who built them and for what purpose. But what we don’t often realize of how each of these ancient monuments fit into the human journey through time. We think of them in our time, not in their time.
My “Ah- Ha” moment came when I visited the Acropolis in Athens. When moving to get a better photo of the Parthenon I slipped. Looking down I saw the shiny and polished stone of the hill top. At that instant it occurred to me just how many other feet had walked on that very spot over the millennia. It kind of humbles you, don’t you think.
That got me to thinking how other ancient monuments fit into the human journey through time. I stopped looking at them in my time, but rather in the time of each in relationship to each other. When one was built compared to when the others were. The sites that I chose are: Stonehenge in England, the Parthenon in Greece and the Colosseum in Rome.
Stonehenge is believed by archaeologists to have been constructed by prehistoric tribes somewhere between 3000 and 2000 BC, with the first bluestones being raised at around 3000 BC. The Parthenon was built by Pericles beginning in 449 BC, with its construction completed in 438 BC. The final sculptures were completed in 432 BC. Looking at these two sites in time Stonehenge was already one thousand five hundred and eighty six year old when Pericles completed the Parthenon. That makes the Parthenon a relatively new construction.
The Colosseum in Rome was known in its day as the Flavian Amphitheater. Its construction was started in 70 AD, by the Emperor Vespasian on the site where Nero had a lake in his gardens of Domus Aurea. Construction of the amphitheater was completed by Emperor Titus in 80 AD. The Parthenon is five hundred and twelve years older than the colosseum, and Stonehenge at two thousand and eighty years older was likely a deserted site.
Think of it this way, when the Romans were conquering Britain in 43 BC, and they came upon the ruins of Stonehenge its history of who built it and what it was used for was already lost to time. Oh, and those same Romans had no idea that a huge amphitheater would be built in their capital city thirty years later.
So, if you want history to be really exciting don’t just look at it from one perspective, look at it with the wider scope of time.
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