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Great Civilizations And Stone

We as the human race can't stay away from stone. We have a long history (and pre-history) of manipulating and marking stones. There's a sense of permanence that cannot be denied that empowers us when we put our mark upon stone or arrange large stones (megaliths) for a purpose. The future connects to us when they behold our stones. We connect to the past when we see and experience their stones. Comment

Sumerian and Akkadian

Cuneiform The earliest form of writing that we know about developed into Cuneiform (writing that looks like cone shapes). It evolved out of pictographic writings and was used by early leaders of Sumer and Akkad to communicate and control their territory (other cities). In this earliest form, writing was not set upon stone, but upon clay tablets. Cuneiform is considered to have developed by 3000 BC.


Stonehenge Prehistory has a number of megalith monuments, including Stonehenge. These monuments do not contain any writing; their statement is the mere existence of these large stones. These peoples lived in very small communities with meager technology, and yet they were compelled to dream of large stone constructions. They were compelled to combine efforts of multiple communities. They were compelled to large projects over a long time to create their purposeful construction. This was around 2500 BC.


Hieroglyphys About the same time as Stonehenge, but much further south, the well organized Egyptians erected The Great Pyramid of Giza. Clearly, the Egyptians understood stone and how to quarry, work, and stack them. Further, the Egyptians had writing - hieroglyphs - and they marked it on their stone. Putting it simply, the pharaohs wrote on those stones, "I am pharaoh. I was here. I accomplished much." It is fascinating to see all the writing the Egyptians left on stone that we can still read and visit today. They certainly had a lot to say.


Parthenon A couple thousand years after The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Greeks were busy working with stone to create great structures, such as the Parthenon (432 BC). The Greeks, of course, also had writing, which they put on great buildings. Additionally, they put writing on clay or other tablets that contained stories or civic facts/edicts. The prosperous Greeks erected monuments to themselves, their victories and their gods. These stone monuments combined art with praiseful writing.


Pantheon A few centuries after the Parthenon was completed in Athens, the Romans carried on the penchant for stone monuments with writing. There are too many Roman monuments to list here; they created many in their home city of Rome as well as many around their extensive empire. Great statesmen such as Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Augustus Caesar commissioned many impressive stone works. Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD spent considerable time on monuments and stone construction. They made a staggering amount of stonework.


L'Arc de Triomphe While the great Roman Empire over the centuries shifted eastward to its new capitol at Constantinople, the Carolingian Empire arose in western Europe with its capital at Aachen where Charlemagne built the Aachen Cathedral. The capital shifted to Paris with the French carrying on the traditions of the Romans down the centuries. A notable recent monument is the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napolean Bonaparte, completed in 1836 AD.


Georgia Fieldstones Our story of great civilizations and stonework fizzles when we turn to the United States. There have been a few stone projects, including the Vietnam Memorial and Georgia Guidestones, but nothing close to the scale close to prior great civilizations. Today, mostly unmarked stone is used in building construction and marked stone is used in small sizes for individuals (tombstones). What great stone works do we leave for the future to connect to us? Without such great stone works, is the United States disqualified from the list of great civilizations? How much of today's story will be readable in 2,000 years?

Year 4000

How does our human story continue from here? In Year 4000, when people look back to the 21st century, what will they find has survived? Your PC, your thumbdrive, your CD-ROM and your hard disks will have long since disintegrated. Information will certainly be passed forward, but likely with the same track record of the Egyptians', Greeks', and Romans' papers: not much of it survives today (sometimes the current ruling power likes to destroy information of the last ruling power...)
There is good news: a project has started to carry on this great human tradition of recording messages on stone. MyMarkOnEarth.com is championing the Year 4000 project to let people across the Earth leave their permanent mark in stone, readable by generations of humans to come. And you don't need to be a pharaoh, emperor, or general to leave your mark. You can put "I am me. I was here. I did stuff." in your own words in permanent granite!
Credits: Photos on this page and many of the links' content credited by Wikipedia contributors.
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