The Human Impulse to Make Stone Spheres for Some Reason

A while back, I blogged about decorative, marble-sized clay spheres that were found at the Poverty Point archaeological site (“Poverty Point objects”), which turned out to have been used for cooking.

That’s what I thought I had stumbled upon when I first saw this headline about the larger, billiard-ball sized stone spheres that have been found in association with recumbent stone circles in Scotland.

But these spheres turn out to be, if possible, more sophisticated than the Poverty Point objects. In this and the follow-up article, there are a number of theories about the possible purpose of the spheres:

  • Projectiles for hunting or war. However, the spheres don’t appear to have taken any damage from being thrown.
  • Perhaps the small spheres were used to roll the megaliths, though again, if they are not damaged this seems unlikely (and for the record, I think this is a dumb theory).
  • Fishing weights
  • Weights and measures for other purposes, since some of them seem very standardized.
  • Divination, by rolling them on the ground.
  • The stones were used to roll around in a bowl of sand and produce interesting sand art. (Hmmm.)
  • Representations of pollen, or of atoms. (See my post that points out that the caduceus may be a representation of a DNA molecule.)
  • The spheres may have been a “portfolio” made by skilled stoneworkers in order to demonstrate what they were capable of. (Now we are getting somewhere!) In connection with this, the author of the article mentions that he has seen at least one stone sphere (and spirals) reminiscent of those in Scotland, while on a trip to a pyramid site in Bolivia. He asks, “Did the megalithic Scottish stonemasons really make their way to South America in prehistory?” That is certainly possible, but I think it could simply speak to a worldwide, pre-Flood or immediately post-Flood culture of megaliths, pyramids, and advanced knowledge of astronomy.
  • The spheres could be models of the Platonic Solids. “What we have are objects clearly indicative of a degree of mathematical ability so far denied to Neolithic man by any archaeologist or mathematical historian.”
  • Given their sophisticated geometry, the author of the article favors the idea that these spheres were used in the study of spherical geometry. This leads on to the suggestion that they could have been models used to study the geometry of the earth, perhaps for navigation, astronomy, or detecting ley lines. Regarding navigation, see the Out of Babel posts on the Antikythera Mechanism, and possible ancient maps. Regarding astronomy, recall that in the more recent ancient world, the celestial equator, equinoxes, and the procession of the stars were conceived of as a structure of intersecting hoops surrounding the earth.
  • Finally, there’s a theory that the spheres were used as “energy channels” to focus magnetic properties either into fields for increased soil fertility, or into human bodies for healing. This one seems to me a little weird and unnecessary because I like the spherical geometry thought … but I hesitate to mock it too hard, because quite a few very weird ideas that I would at first dismiss, have turned out to have been at least widely accepted in the ancient world, if not actually functional in the ancient world though not in the modern world.

Long story short, add one more tick mark to the column “ancient people were not only much smarter than we think, but also much smarter than we are now” … which has been a constant drum beat on this blog.

I started out studying the ancient world so that I could write fiction about it. I still enjoy doing that, but the more I learn, the more I realize that my fiction is going to be very inaccurate because I truly have no idea what those people were getting up to back then, and it seems that even if I had been present, I would hardly have been capable of understanding it.

But buy my books anyway.

5 thoughts on “The Human Impulse to Make Stone Spheres for Some Reason

  1. Not inaccurate (your portrayal of your fiction)–a best effort to extrapolate from facts available, to share these ancient ancestors with those who came after. That is a worthy endeavor I share with you.

    I’m researching Neanderthals right now. It’s shocking what I thought I knew and didn’t have a clue!.

    Liked by 1 person

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