Prehistoric Monolithic Monument Unearthed in France

Prehistoric Monolithic Monument Unearthed in France

Archaeologists in France have unearthed a series of monolithic stones and a cairn burial which most likely date back some 6000 years. These monuments known as ‘menhirs’ are the first to be found in this part of France. This discovery is one of the most important archaeological finds in the region in recent years and is expected to allow researchers to better understand our distant ancestors.

The monoliths were unearthed in “Veyre-Monton, between Clermont-Ferrand and Issoire, as part of the widening of the A75 motorway” reports They were found by experts from the archaeological research body l'Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (Inrap), who were amazed because the more they dug they more they found, and they eventually unearthed a huge ancient monolithic site, reports The Connexion .

So far archaeologists from Inrap have found 30 ancient monolithic stones that once were standing. They extend over an area of 1.6 hectares. The monoliths are certainly not huge, and range in size from 3 feet (1 m) to 5 feet 1.60 m, but there arrangement is what makes them interesting. These menhirs form a more or less straight line and they stretch for at least 450 feet (150 m) and are in a north-south formation according to The Connexion .

Alignment of monoliths next to a burial during excavation (Denis Gliksman, INRAP)

This alignment of stones is adjacent to five large stones that are set in a horseshoe shape. According to the Inrap website, there are “six blocks, regularly spaced, forming a circle of 15 meters in diameter”. The stones were once very prominent in the landscape and could be seen far and wide. The largest stones were placed on top of a slope and the smaller ones at the bottom.

The monoliths are close to what was once an important pass in the Stone Age, and which is now a major road. The uncovered menhirs have been compared to similar examples such as the world-renowned Carnac in Brittany, France. Indeed, this type of stone monument can be found all over much of Western Europe.

One of the monoliths is particularly interesting as it is the only one that is made out of limestone rock, while the rest are all basalt. Moreover, there is a relief of an anthropomorphic figure carved on the stone. reports the figure has “a rounded head, rough shoulders, and two small breasts”. This type of relief is very rare and its style is similar to northern, Breton or Swiss specimens, according to the Inrap website.

Menhir­ statue during its discovery in Veyre-Monton. (Nina Parisot , INRAP)

Also discovered was a cairn or a burial made of wedged stone slabs of great size. It is 52 ft (14 m) long and 20 ft (6.5 m) long and has four sides. The size of the stones may indicate that they came from fallen or destroyed menhirs. Inside the cairn was found the “remains of a tall man” reports Inrap. It is believed he was buried in something akin to a wooden coffin that has long since decayed.

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Burial in the center of the cairn in Veyre-Monton (Denis Gliksman, INRAP)

It is estimated that some 30 tonnes of stones were used in the construction of the site. Some of them weigh up to a tonne and they were transported a few miles or kilometers. This would indicate some central planning by a powerful leader or else several communities coming together to move and erect the stones. The monoliths may have had some religious or spiritual significance for the builders.

It appears that the standing stones were “deliberately removed from the landscape” according to the Inrap website. At some point in the past the monoliths were cast down, defaced and broken and some were even buried in pits . The cairn with the burial was also at some point in time attacked and partially destroyed.

Aerial view of the cairn burial and monolithic alignment. (Denis Gliksman, INRAP)

Why these stones and the cairn should have been damaged and destroyed is a mystery. However, there are other examples of prehistoric monuments being treated in a similar fashion. It is possible that a new religion led to the destruction of the monuments. Then there is the possibility that they were destroyed by raiders or invaders. The builders themselves may have demolished the monolithic arrangement as part of some ritual or ceremony. reports that few dating clues have been found at the site. However, the archaeologists believe that it could have been built up to 6000 years ago. Further tests are being conducted, especially on the skeleton found in the cairn and this is expected to accurately date when the site was in use.

The discovery of the 30 monolithic stones and the burial site is expected to offer a window into the prehistoric past in central France. This discovery is considered to be not only of national but international importance. Archaeologists are expected to continue to work at the location and more finds are expected.

Derinkuyu's underground city was discovered in the 1960s in Turkey, when a modern house above ground was being renovated. Much to the relief of everyone present, the 18-story underground city was abandoned and not swarming with mole people.

Hidden for centuries right under everyone's noses, Derinkuyu is just the largest of hundreds of underground complexes built by we're-not-sure-who-exactly around the eighth century B.C. To understand just what's so phenomenal about this feat of engineering, imagine someone handing you a hammer and chisel and telling you to go dig out a system of underground chambers capable of sustaining 20,000 people. And not one of those fancy modern chisels, either -- we're talking about something dug with whatever excavating tools they had 2,800 years ago.

The city was probably used as a giant bunker to protect its inhabitants from either war or natural disaster, but its architects were clearly determined to make it the most comfortable doomsday bunker ever. It had access to fresh flowing water -- the wells were not connected with the surface to prevent poisoning by crafty land dwellers. It also has individual quarters, shops, communal rooms, tombs, arsenals, livestock, and escape routes. There's even a school, complete with a study room.

Even now, the site hasn't been fully excavated, so we haven't found the golf course or the football stadium yet.

Related: 5 Mysteries of Ancient Religions (Easily Explained)

The History Blog

Preventative excavation in advance of highway construction near Veyre-Monton in Auvergne, central France, has unearthed dozens of prehistoric menhirs and a burial cairn containing a human skeleton. The findings could range anywhere from 6,000 B.C. (the Neolithic period) to 1,000 B.C. (the Bronze Age). It is the first time a standing stone complex has been discovered in Auvergne or in central France, for that matter.

There are 30 monoliths one to 1.6 meters high (ca. 3𔃽″-5𔃽″) arranged in an approximately rectilinear alignment over 500 feet. The largest of them are clustered at the top of a slope in north of the site the smaller ones are set closer to each other at the bottom of the slope. The curated layout along a north-south axis would have made the stones highly visible in the prehistoric landscape. The rectilinear menhirs are aligned with another group of five stone blocks forming an arc or horseshoe shape, and six regularly spaced stones formed into a circle 50 feet in diameter.

All of the monoliths were deliberately toppled, pushed over into pits. Some of them were damaged. Some were covered with earth. This appears to have been an established practice as it has been found at other monolithic monument sites. It’s possible the removal of the standing stones represented a shift in cultural beliefs.

/>One of the menhirs in the main alignment is unique among its fellows. It is a limestone rock (the others are basalt) and it has been carved. The carvings suggest an anthropomorphic female shape: rounded shoulders on the top, two round protuberances like two very small, close-together breasts. The shapes a were created by carving away at the entire surface of the limestone. Twenty inches below the “breasts” are highly eroded engraved lines forming a chevron that could have referred to arms placed on the belly. This kind of statue-menhir hybrid is very rare in France, and the newly discovered one is the only one ever discovered in Auvergne.

Like the standing stones, the cairn was deliberately flattened to remove it from its prominent place on the landscape. The vertical stones were pushed down into a large pit next to it. It is 46 feet long and 21 feet wide, a rectangle built around a central grave. It contained the skeletal remains of a tall man. His body had been interred in a wood coffin, now decayed, and surrounded with stone blocks. Their size indicates they may have been reused menhirs, perhaps even deliberately broken for reuse in the cairn. It total, 30 tons of stone were transported to this location to build the cairn.

The Veyre-Monton site is a challenging one to date because there were no artifacts found to help identify the period of occupation. The complexity of the construction, including the transport of stones from several different locations, and subsequent destruction indicates a long-term occupation by successive communities, but if they left anything behind other than the stones and burial, it has yet to be discovered. Archaeologists will attempt to determine the dates of occupation using radiocarbon dating of the skeletal remains and of the few traces of organic matter found in the dig.

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Significance and Interpretation

The true meaning behind the architecture, construction and decorative art of megalithic stone structures remains unknown. Whether polylithic or monolithic, it seems likely that many of them possessed great significance – not least because of the sheer effort involved in their construction, and because of the presence of so many carvings, and other types of megalithic art. It is also worth noting that the groups who built these monuments must have been working to a common design. Not only did they rely on similar architectural features, but also their rock engravings, carvings and incised images had a number of motifs in common.

For example, the Severn-Cotswold graves of southwest England, the Court Cairns of northern Ireland and southwest Scotland, and the Transepted gallery tombs of the Loire region in France, all have important internal features in common.


In the cases of smaller monoliths it may be possible to weigh them. However, in most cases monoliths are too large or they may be part of an ancient structure so this method cannot be used. The weight of a stone can be calculated by multiplying its volume and density. Each of these presents challenges.

Volume Edit

To obtain accurate estimates, one needs to survey the monolith, including realistic and explicit assessment of the shapes of inaccessible portions, and then calculate the volume and estimate volumetric errors, which vary crudely as the cube of linear uncertainties.

Density Edit

The density of most stone is between 2 and 3 tons per cubic meter. Basalt weighs about 2.8 to 3.0 tons per cubic meter granite averages about 2.75 metric tons per cubic meter limestone, 2.7 metric tons per cubic meter sandstone or marble, 2.5 tons per cubic meter. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Some softer stones may be lighter than 2 tons per cubic meter for example, volcanic tuff weighs about 1.9 tons per cubic meter. [6] [7] Since the density of most of these stones varies, it is necessary to know the source of the stone to obtain accurate measurements. [8] [9] Identifying the rock type alone is not sufficient, as this table [10] illustrates:

Densities of common rocks
in g/cm 3 or tons/m 3
Material Density
Sediments 1.7–2.3
Sandstone 2.0–2.6
Shale 2.0–2.7
Limestone 2.5–2.8
Granite 2.5–2.8
Metamorphic rock 2.6–3.0
Basalt 2.7–3.1

Simply identifying the monolith as sandstone would allow a ± 15% uncertainty in the weight estimate. In practice, one would measure the density of the monolith itself, and preferably document any variation in density within the monolith, as it may not be homogeneous. Non-destructive methods of density measurements are available (e.g., electron back-scatter) alternatively, the site may contain already-separated fragments of the monolith which can be used for laboratory measurements or on-site techniques. At the crudest, a weighing device and a bucket can obtain two significant figures for a density value.

This section lists monoliths that have been at least partially quarried but not moved.

This section lists monoliths that have been quarried and moved.

Weight Name/Site Type Location Builder Comment
1,250 t [19] Thunder Stone Boulder, Statue pedestal Saint Petersburg, Russia Russian Empire, 1770 Moved 6 km overland for shipment, [19] and cut from 1,500 t to current size in transport [20]
1,000 t [21] [22] Ramesseum Statue Thebes, Egypt Ancient Egypt Transported 170 miles (270 km) by ship from Aswan
800 t each [23] Trilithon (3×) Blocks Baalbek, Lebanon Roman Empire Plus about 24 blocks 300 tons each [24]
700 t each Colossi of Memnon (2×) Statues Thebes, Egypt Ancient Egypt Transported 420 miles (680 km) from el-Gabal el-Ahmar (near modern-day Cairo) over land without using the Nile. [21] [22] [25]
520 tons, 170 tons, and 160 tons Great Stele, King Ezana's Stele, Obelisk of Axum Stelae Axum, Ethiopia The stelae were moved about 2.6 miles (4.2 km). [21] King Ezana's stele and the "Obelisk" of Axum were among seven such monuments set up in Axum in the 4th century AD. The Great Stele was never successfully erected and broke into pieces at its present site.
400 t [26] Temple in complex for Khafre's Pyramid Giza, Egypt
300–500 t [27] Masuda no iwafune Asuka, Nara, Japan Large stone structure approximately 11 meters in length, 8 meters in width, and 4.7 meters In height
340 t [28] Levitated Mass Los Angeles, California, United States Sculpture by Michael Heizer, 2012 Moved 106 miles. [29]
330 t [21] The Broken Menhir of Er Grah Menhir Locmariaquer, Brittany, France Neolithic(4700 BC) Moved 10–20 km. It once stood but was later broken in 4
250–300 t [30] Western Stone, Temple Mount Block Jerusalem [31] Herod, King of Judea during the Second Temple period Weight is disputed a 2006 analysis estimated the depth of this stone at only 1.8–2.5 m, for a weight of 250–300 t. [30] Weight formerly claimed as 550 to 600 t. [32] [33]
230 t [34] Mausoleum of Theodoric Roof slab Ravenna, Italy Ostrogothic Kingdom
220 t [35] Menkaure's Pyramid Giza, Egypt Largest stones in mortuary temple
200 t [36] Sahure's pyramid Saqqara, Egypt Largest stones over king's chamber
200 t [37] Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites Korea Largest stone at the site
Weight Name/Site Type Location Builder Comment

  • Colossal statue of Tlaloc, in Coatlinchan. Made of basalt, weighing 168 tons. [38][39][40]
  • The Kerloas menhir, Brittany, France. Largest, 150 tons. [41] at Saqqara, Egypt. 150-ton, one-piece quartzite burial chamber. [42] , Bolivia. Several ashlars, 100 to 130 tons, were transported 6 miles (9.7 km). [43][44] , wall near Cusco, Peru. Largest stones over 125 tons. [45][46] at Mycenae, Greece. Largest lintel stone, 120 tons. [45]
  • The Pyramid of Amenemhet III, at Hawara, Egypt. 110-ton, one piece quartzite burial chamber. [47][48] , 100 metric tons. [49] , Rome, Italy. Granite columns close to 100 tons. [45]
  • Fortress of Mycenae, Greece. Largest stones close to 100 tons. [45] , Brittany, France. Menhir of about 100 tons. [50]
  • Pyramid of Nyuserre Ini. 12 megalithic limestone beams 10 meters long weighing 90 tons each, forming the roof of burial chamber and antechamber. [51] at Easter Island. Largest moai 70 to 86 tons. The tallest one, Paro, was moved 3.75 miles (6.04 km). [52] , Egypt. Largest slabs on burial chamber, 80 tons. The granite was transported 580 miles (930 km) from Aswan by barge on the Nile river. [45] , Egypt. Obelisk, 328 tons. Largest architraves, 70 tons. Sandstone transported from Gebel Silsila 100 miles (160 km). [53][54] , Rome, Italy. Pedestal blocks: 77 t [55] in Asuka, Nara, Japan. Largest stone, 75 tons. [56] , Italy. Granite columns, 39 feet (11.8 m) tall, five feet (1.5 m) in diameter, and 60 tons in weight were transported from Egypt by barge. [45][57] heads, Mexico, gulf coast. Largest Olmec head, almost 50 tons. Transported 37 to 62 miles (100 km). [45] , one of the Megalithic Temples of Malta. Its largest stone weighs 57 tons and measures approximately 19 feet (5.8 m) long by 9 feet (2.7 m) tall by 2 feet (0.61 m) thick. [58] The Maltese temples are the oldest free-standing structures on Earth. [59] , weighing up to about 50 tons, were transported throughout India to territory ruled by Ashoka. [60] , Turkey. Megaliths from 10 to a 50-ton pillar still in its quarry [61] transported up to a 1/4 mile. [62] , England. Largest stones over 40 tons were moved 18 miles (29 km) smaller bluestones up to 5 tons were moved 130 miles (210 km). [45] Rome, Italy. Forty-ton drums. The capital block of Trajan's Column weighs 53.3 tons. [63] reopened the stone quarries of Wadi Hammamat and had stones dragged 60 miles (97 km) across land to the Nile, then freighted on barges to temples and his tomb in Thebes. Some of these weighed over 40 tons. [64] , Iraq. Largest colossal bull, 40 tons. [65] , Iraq. Largest colossal bulls, 30 tons each, were transported 30 miles (48 km) from quarries at Balatai, then lifted 65 feet (20 m) once they arrived at the site. [45] , Iraq. Largest colossal bull, 30 tons. [66] Orkney Islands, Scotland. Largest flagstone, 30 tons. [67] , harbor of Caesarea, Israel. Largest stone 20 tons. [45] , Mexico. 22-ton water deity on top of the Pyramid of the Moon. [68] at Tenochtitlan, Mexico. 24 tons. [69] , Mexico. The largest stones weigh 12 to 15 tons. [45]
  • The Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Largest stones 10 tons. [45] . Sarcophagus, weighing 15.5 tons, and heavier granite statues up to at least 18 feet tall. [70] , Angkor Thom and other Angkor temples, Cambodia. Five million tons of sandstone were transported 25 miles (40 km) along the river for Angkor Wat. [45][71] , Ireland. Built in 3200 BC. [72]
  • Huge blocks, some weighing over 100 tons, at the Valley Temple. [73]
  • 45 Degrees, 90 Degrees, 180 Degrees at Rice University. [74]
  • Several monuments were moved to higher positions from Hasankeyf, Turkey, due to the flood caused by the completion of the Ilisu Dam. [75] in Istanbul, Turkey. Columns close to, if not more than, 100 tons. [76]
    , in Antequera, Spain. Dolmen made of megaliths, weighing up to 180 tons, built around 3750 BC. [citation needed] tombstone monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina. [citation needed] is part of a large temple complex or monument group that is part of the Tiwanaku site near Tiwanaku, Bolivia. [citation needed] or Pouget dolmen in Languedoc, France. Consists of a 12 metre long alley within a large tumulus. The main chamber is still covered by three large capstones, and entry is made through an "oven door" entrance stone. [citation needed] , Western Isles of Scotland. [citation needed] , Colombia. [citation needed] , pre-Columbian Muisca site. Colombia. [citation needed] , Turkey. [citation needed] . Largest sphere weighs 16 tons. [citation needed] . Over 400 monolithic jars weighing from 5 to 15 tons, ranging from the Khorat Plateau in Thailand in the south, through Laos and to the North Cachar Hills of Dima Hasao district, Northerneastern India. [citation needed] , India. [citation needed] in India. [citation needed] , India. [citation needed] . [citation needed] . [citation needed] . [citation needed] , Turkey. [citation needed] , in the Kingdom of Tonga. [citation needed] , Turkey. Largest stones, 20 tons. [citation needed] , Iran [citation needed] , Greece. [citation needed] , Turkey. Megalithic site. [citation needed] , England. Largest stone over 40 tons. [citation needed] , Guatemala. Largest stele, 65 tons. [citation needed] Abydos, Egypt. Columns and lintels, about 60 tons. [citation needed] , Egypt. Obelisk, 227 tons. The largest colossal statue of Ramses, well over 100 tons. [citation needed] , Peru. Perhaps 6 stones well over 100 tons. [citation needed] , also called Karahunj, Armenia. The heights of the stones range from 0.5 to 3 m (above ground) and weights up to 10 tons. [citation needed] , ancient Illyrian city near Stolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina, built around central acropolis and surrounded with Cyclopean walls made of large stone megaliths. [citation needed]

This section includes monoliths that were quarried, moved and lifted.

Erected in upright position Edit

Monoliths known to have been lifted into an upright position:

Weight Name/Site Type Location Builder Comment
600 t [77] Alexander Column Column Saint Petersburg, Russia Russian Empire Lifted in upright position in 1832
455 t [78] Lateran Obelisk and Obelisk of Theodosius Pair of Obelisks Rome, Italy & Istanbul, Turkey Thutmose III Lifted in upright position originally in 15th century BC as a pair outside the temple of Amun at Karnak, Thebes both subsequently shipped to Alexandria in the 4th century AD - one then shipped to Rome and erected in 357 AD by Constantius II and the other to Constantinople and installed in 390 AD by Theodosius I. Both partly broken, now 32.18m (Rome) and 19.6m (Istanbul) high.
361 t [79] Vatican Obelisk Obelisk St. Peter's Square, Vatican City Ancient Egypt Removed to Rome in ancient imperial times and re-erected. Relocated in an upright position by Domenico Fontana in 1586 for Pope Sixtus V.
285 t [80] Pompey's Pillar Column Alexandria, Egypt Diocletian Column shaft 20.75 m long, of pink granite (lapis syeneites) quarried in Aswan. Erected 298-303 AD and crowned with a grey granite Corinthian capital and 7 m-tall statue in porphyry.
250 t Luxor Obelisk Obelisk Paris, France Louis-Philippe I Relocated and lifted in upright position by Apollinaire Lebas in 1836
170 tons & 160 tons King Ezana's Stele the Obelisk of Axum Stelae Axum, Ethiopia Kingdom of Axum - Ezana of Axum and before. The stelae were moved about 2.6 miles (4.2 km) from their quarries. [21] They were the largest Axumite stelae to survive installation larger attempts failed. The "Obelisk" of Axum was removed from a standing position in 1937, cut into five pieces, and taken to Rome to be re-erected. It was again set up in Ethiopia at its original location in 2005.

Lifted clear off the ground Edit

Monoliths that have been placed on a towering structure:

Monoliths known or assumed to have been lifted clear off the ground by cranes into their position:

Roman column monuments like Trajan's Column, though not often themselves monolithic, were built using very large sculpted stone blocks, stacked atop one another using cranes and lewises. The capital block of the column was usually even larger and heavier than the column drums. The columns of Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus Pius, and Constantine, and the lost columns of Theodosius, Arcadius, and Leo were all constructed in this way, on monumental pedestals and crowned with colossal statues. A few were monoliths, including the Column of Diocletian in Alexandria, called "Pompey's Pillar", the "Column of the Goths" and the Column of Marcian in Constantinople, and the lost Column of Antoninus Pius in Rome.

These are listed with the largest experiments first for additional details of most experiments see related pages.


The following are amongst the oldest buildings in the world that have maintained the requirements to be such. Occupation sites with older human made structures such as those in Göbekli Tepe do exist, but the structures are monuments and do not meet the definition of building (which can be seen above). Many of the buildings within the list contain primarily bricks, but most importantly maintain their walls and roof. There are numerous extant structures that survive in the Orkney islands of Scotland, some of the best known of which are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. [2] The list also contains many large buildings from the Egyptian Age of the Pyramids.

The Indus Valley civilization had a possible writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system.

The world's earliest settlement with one and two storied brick houses, public baths, assembly halls, central marketplace and covered drains.

It has brick water reservoirs, with steps, circular graves and the ruins of a well planned town.

It is one of the most elaborate tombs in the Valley of the Thracian Rulers.

The following are amongst the oldest known surviving extant buildings on each of the major continents.

Building Image Country Continent First Built Use Notes
Göbekli Tepe Turkey Asia 10000 - 7500 BC Unknown, likely temple Located in southern Turkey. The tell includes two phases of use, believed to be of a social or ritual nature by site discoverer and excavator Klaus Schmidt, dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE. The structure is 300 m in diameter and 15 m high.
Barnenez France Europe 4850 BC Passage grave Located in northern Finistère and partially restored. According to André Malraux it would have been better named 'The Prehistoric Parthenon'. The structure is 72 m (236 ft) long, 25 m (82 ft) wide and over 8 m (26 ft) high. [3] [4]
Sechin Bajo Peru South America 3500 BC Plaza The oldest known building in the Americas. [18] [106]
Shunet El Zebib Egypt Africa 2700 BC Mortuary temple Built as a funerary enclosure, a place where the deceased king was worshipped and memorialised.
Cuicuilco Circular Pyramid Mexico North America 800–600 BC Ceremonial center One of the oldest standing structures of the Mesoamerican cultures. [99]
Wiebbe Hayes Stone Fort Australia Australia 1629 AD Defensive fort Oldest known building in Australia, a defensive fort used by the survivors of the Batavia shipwreck on West Wallabi Island. [107]
Cape Adare huts Ross Dependency Antarctica 1899 AD Explorers' huts Wooden buildings constructed by Carsten Borchgrevink in Victoria Land. [108]

The following are among the oldest buildings in their respective countries.

Building Image Country Continent First Built Use Notes
Weibbe Hayes Stone Fort Australia Australia 1629 AD Stone Fort Old stone fort built by the survivors of the Batavia shipwreck.
Tomb of Seuthes III Bulgaria Europe 450–400 BC Tomb The tomb was originally a monumental temple at Golyama Kosmatka Mound, built in the second half of the 5th century BC. After extended use as a temple, at the later part of the 3rd century BC the Thracian king Seuthes III was buried inside.
L'Anse aux Meadows Canada North America c. 1000 AD Settlement Located on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland, the Norse settlement is widely accepted as evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact.
St. George's Basilica, Prague Czech Republic Europe c. 920 AD Church Located within Prague Castle in the Czech Republic capital Prague. The building now houses the 19th century Bohemian Art Collection of National Gallery in Prague.
Hulbjerg Jættestue Denmark Europe 3000 BC Passage grave The Hulbjerg passage grave is concealed by a round barrow on the southern tip of the island of Langeland. One of the skulls found there showed traces of the world's earliest dentistry work. [43]
West Kennet Long Barrow United Kingdom (England) Europe 3650 BC Tomb Located near Silbury Hill and Avebury stone circle. [15]
Yeha Temple Ethiopia Africa 500 BC Temple Oldest standing structure in Ethiopia
Barnenez France Europe 4850 BC Passage grave Located in northern Finistère and partially restored. The structure is 72 m long, 25 m wide and over 8 m high. [3] [4] The oldest known building in Eurasia.
Porta Nigra Germany Europe 180 AD Roman city gate It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. [109]
Knossos Greece Europe 2000–1300 BC Palace Minoan structure on a Neolithic site. [87]
Dholavira India Asia 2600–2100 BC Reservoir A planned urban settlement comprising reservoirs, pottery artifacts, seals, ornaments, vessels, etc.
Chogha Zanbil Iran Asia 1250 BC Temple One of the few extant ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. [95]
The Ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu Iraq Asia 14th century BC Probably religious rituals Built by the Kassite King Kurigalzu I. [93]
Newgrange Ireland Europe 3200–2900 BC Burial Partially reconstructed around original passage grave. [32]
Monte d'Accoddi Italy (Sardinia) Europe 4000–3600 BC Possibly an open-air temple, a ziggurat, or a step pyramid, mastaba. "A trapezoidal platform on an artificial mound, reached by a sloped causeway." [9]
Ġgantija Malta Europe 3700 BC Temple Two structures on the island of Gozo. The second was built four centuries after the oldest. [13] [14]
Cuicuilco Circular Pyramid Mexico North America 800–600 BC Ceremonial center One of the oldest standing structures of the Mesoamerican cultures. [99]
Hunebed (Dolmen) Netherlands Europe 4000–3000 BC Burial Commen theory states Hunebedden of dolmen are prehistoric burial chambers.
Mission House New Zealand 1822 AD Religious Built by Māori and missionary carpenters. [110]
Mehrgarh Pakistan Asia c. 2600 BC Mud brick storage structures A complex of ruins with varying dates near Bolan Pass. [111] [112]
Sechin Bajo Peru South America 3500 BC Plaza The oldest known building in the Americas. [18]
Dolmens of North Caucasus Russia Europe 3000 BC Tomb There are numerous tombs, some perhaps originating in the Maikop culture, in the North Caucasus. [46] [47]
Knap of Howar United Kingdom (Scotland) Europe 3700 BC House Oldest preserved stone house in north west Europe. [10] [11] [12]
Naveta d'Es Tudons Spain Europe 1200–750 BC Ossuary The most famous megalithic chamber tomb in Menorca. [96]
The King's Grave Sweden Europe 1000 BC Tomb Near Kivik is the remains of an unusually grand Nordic Bronze Age double burial. [113]
Hattusa Turkey Asia c. 1600 BC Ramparts and ruined buildings Capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age located near modern Boğazkale. [114]
Ancestral Puebloan communities United States North America 750 AD Villages Pueblo construction began in 750 AD and continues to the present day. These buildings have been within the U.S. since 1848, when New Mexico was annexed.
Bryn Celli Ddu United Kingdom (Wales) Europe 2000 BC Tomb Located on the island of Anglesey. [83]
Great Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Africa 1000 AD Palace Capital of the medieval kingdom

Oldest of their type Edit

The following are probably the oldest buildings of their type.

Building Image Location First built Use Notes
Hōryū-ji Nara, Japan 670 AD Temple Oldest wooden building still standing. [115]
Pyramid of Djoser Saqqara, Egypt 2667–2648 BC Tomb Oldest large-scale cut stone construction [58]
Luxor Temple Luxor, Egypt 1400 BC Religious The oldest standing building partly in use. There is an active mosque within the main structure, visible in the picture, that stands on the ancient pillars of the Egyptian temple.
Jokhang Lhasa, China c. 639 AD Buddhist temple Perhaps the world's oldest timber frame building. [116]
Nanchan Temple Wutai, China 782 AD Buddhist Temple Its Great Buddha Hall is currently China's oldest extant timber building.
Ditherington Flax Mill United Kingdom (England, Shrewsbury) 1797 AD Industrial The oldest iron framed building in the world. [117]
Maison Carrée France 16 BC Temple The only completely preserved temple of the ancient world. [118]
Pantheon, Rome Italy 125 AD Religious Oldest standing building still in regular use. [119]
Aula Palatina Germany 306 AD Palace basilica Contains the largest extant hall from antiquity. [109]
Greensted Church United Kingdom (England) c. 1053 AD Church May be the oldest, extant wooden church in the world and the oldest, extant wooden building in Europe. [120] [121]
Roykstovan in Kirkjubø Faroe Islands No clear date, middle of 11th century AD Farmhouse May be the oldest continuously inhabited wooden building in the world [122]
Mundeshwari Temple Bihar, India conflicting accounts between 105–320 AD Hindu Temple May be the oldest surviving (non rebuilt) Hindu temple in the world [123] [124]

Other structures Edit

The following are very old human constructions that do not fit the above criteria for a building, typically because they are ruins that no longer fit the height requirement specified above or for which the only significant above-ground elements are single large stones.

The structure is a stone wall that blocked two-thirds of the entrance to the Theopetra cave near Kalambaka on the north edge of the Thessalian plain. It was constructed 23,000 years ago, probably as a barrier to cold winds. [125] [126]


There are three major groups of stone rows – Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan – which may have once formed a single group, but have been split up as stones were removed for other purposes.

The standing stones are made of weathered granite from local outcroppings that once extensively covered the area. [11]

Ménec alignments Edit

Eleven converging rows of menhirs stretching for 1,165 by 100 metres (3,822 by 328 feet). There are what Alexander Thom considered to be the remains of stone circles at either end. According to the tourist office there is a "cromlech containing 71 stone blocks" at the western end and a very ruined cromlech at the eastern end. The largest stones, around 4 metres (13 feet) high, are at the wider, western end the stones then become as small as 0.6 metres (2 feet 0 inches) high along the length of the alignment before growing in height again toward the extreme eastern end.

Kermario alignment Edit

This fan-like layout recurs a little further along to the east in the Kermario (House of the Dead) [12] alignment. It consists of 1029 stones [13] in ten columns, about 1,300 m (4,300 ft) in length. [ citation needed ] A stone circle to the east end, where the stones are shorter, was revealed by aerial photography. [14]

Kerlescan alignments Edit

A smaller group of 555 stones, further to the east of the other two sites. It is composed of 13 lines with a total length of about 800 metres (2,600 ft), ranging in height from 80 cm (2 ft 7 in) to 4 m (13 ft). [15] At the extreme west, where the stones are tallest, there is a stone circle which has 39 stones. There may also be another stone circle to the north. [ citation needed ]

Petit-Ménec alignments Edit

A much smaller group, further east again of Kerlescan, falling within the commune of La Trinité-sur-Mer. These are now set in woods, and most are covered with moss and ivy. [16]

There are several tumuli, mounds of earth built up over a grave. In this area, they generally feature a passage leading to a central chamber which once held neolithic artifacts.

Saint-Michel Edit

The tumulus of Saint-Michel was constructed between 5000 BC and 3400 BC. At its base it is 125 by 60 m (410 by 197 ft), and is 12 m (39 ft) high. It required 35,000 cubic metres (46,000 cu yd) of stone and earth. Its function was a tomb for the members of the ruling class. It contained various funerary objects, such as 15 stone chests, pottery, jewellery, most of which are currently held by the Museum of Prehistory of Carnac. [17] It was excavated in 1862 by René Galles with a series of vertical pits, digging down 8 m (26 ft). Le Rouzic also excavated it between 1900 and 1907, discovering the tomb and the stone chests. [18]

A chapel was built on top in 1663 and was rebuilt in 1813, before being destroyed in 1923. The current building is an identical reconstruction of the 1663 chapel, built in 1926.

Moustoir Edit

47°36′43″N 3°03′39″W  /  47.6119°N 3.0608°W  / 47.6119 -3.0608 [19] Also known as Er Mané, it is a chamber tomb 85 m (279 ft) long, 35 m (115 ft) wide, and 5 m (16 ft) high. It has a dolmen at the west end, and two tombs at the east end. [17] A small menhir, approximately 3 m (10 ft) high, is nearby.

There are several dolmens scattered around the area. These dolmens are generally considered to have been tombs however, the acidic soil of Brittany has eroded away the bones. They were constructed with several large stones supporting a capstone, then buried under a mound of earth. In many cases, the mound is no longer present, sometimes due to archeological excavation, and only the large stones remain, in various states of ruin.

Er-Roc'h-Feutet Edit

North, near the Chapelle de La Madeleine. Has a completely covered roof.

La Madeleine Edit

Kercado Edit

A rare dolmen still covered by its original cairn. South of the Kermario alignments, it is 25 to 30 metres (82–98 ft) wide, 5 m (16 ft) high, and has a small menhir on top. Previously surrounded by a circle of small menhirs 4 m (13 ft) out, [18] the main passage is 6.5 m (21 ft) long and leads to a large chamber where numerous artifacts were found, including axes, arrowheads, some animal and human teeth, some pearls and sherds, and 26 beads of a unique bluish Nephrite gem. It has some Megalithic art carved on its inner surfaces in the form of serpentines and a human-sized double-axe symbol carved in the underside of its main roof slab. In ancient cultures, the axe and more precisely the bi-pennis used to represent the lightning powers of divinity. It was constructed around 4600 BC and used for approximately 3,000 years. [18]

Mané Brizil Edit

Kerlescan Edit

A roughly rectangular mound, with only one capstone remaining. It is aligned east-to-west, with a passage entrance to the south. [21]

Kermarquer Edit

On a small hill, has two separate chambers.

Mané-Kerioned Edit

(Pixies' mound or Grotte de Grionnec [18] ):A group of three dolmens with layout unique in Brittany, [18] once covered by a tumulus. Whereas most groups of dolmens are parallel, these are arranged in a horseshoe. The largest of the three is at the east, 11 metres (36 ft). [17]

Crucuno Edit

A "classic" dolmen, with a 40-tonne (44-short-ton), 7.6-metre (24 ft 11 in) tablestone resting on pillars roughly 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) high. Prior to 1900, it was connected by a passage making it 24 m (79 ft) long. [18]

Crucuno stone rectangle Edit

There are some individual menhirs and at least one other formation which do not fit into the above categories.

Manio quadrilateral Edit

An arrangement of stones to form the perimeter of a large rectangle. Originally a "tertre tumulus" with a central mound, it is 37 m (121 ft) long, and aligned to east of northeast. The quadrilateral is 10 m (33 ft) wide to the east, but only 7 m (23 ft) wide at the west. [23]

Manio giant Edit

From the 1720s increasing interest was shown in these features. [26] In 1796, for example, La Tour d'Auvergne attributed them to druidic gatherings. [18] In 1805, A. Maudet de Penhoët claimed they represented stars in the sky. [18]

Englishmen Francis Ronalds and Alexander Blair made a detailed survey of the stones in 1834. [27] Ronalds created the first accurate drawings of many of them with his patented perspective tracing instrument, which were printed in a book Sketches at Carnac (Brittany) in 1834. [28]

Miln and Le Rouzic Edit

The first extensive excavation was performed in the 1860s by Scottish antiquary James Miln (1819–1881), who reported that by then fewer than 700 of the 3,000 stones were still standing. [29] Towards 1875, Miln engaged a local boy, Zacharie Le Rouzic [fr] (1864–1939), as his assistant, and Zacharie learnt archaeology on the job. After Miln's death, he left the results of his excavations to the town of Carnac, and the James Miln Museum was established there by his brother Robert to house the artifacts. Zacharie became the director of the Museum and, although self-taught, became an internationally recognised expert on megaliths in the region. He too left the results of his work to the town, and the museum is now named Le Musée de Préhistoire James Miln – Zacharie le Rouzic. [30] [31]

Other theories Edit

In 1887, H. de Cleuziou argued for a connection between the rows of stones and the directions of sunsets at the solstices. [18]

Among more recent studies, Alexander Thom worked with his son Archie from 1970 to 1974 to carry out a detailed survey of the Carnac alignments, and produced a series of papers on the astronomical alignments of the stones as well as statistical analysis supporting his concept of the megalithic yard. [30] [32] Thom's megalithic yard has been challenged. [33] [34]

There are also general theories on the use of the stones as astronomical observatories, as has been claimed for Stonehenge. According to one such theory, the massive menhir at nearby Locmariaquer was linked to the alignments for such a purpose. [15]

The Musée de Préhistoire James Miln – Zacharie le Rouzic is at the centre of conserving and displaying the artefacts from the area. [31] It also contains the "world's largest collection [of] prehistoric[al] exhibits" [17] with over 6,600 prehistoric objects from 136 different sites.

The monuments themselves were listed and purchased by the State at the start of the 20th century to protect them against quarrymen, and while this was successful at the time, in the middle of the century, redevelopment, changes to agricultural practices and increasing tourism bringing visitors to the stones led to rapid deterioration. The Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (Heritage Ministry) re-examined the issue starting in 1984, and subsequently set up the ‘Mission Carnac’ in 1991 with the aim of rehabilitating and developing the alignments. This involved restricting public access, launching a series of scientific and technical studies, and producing a plan for conservation and development in the area. [35]

As with the megalithic structure of Stonehenge in England, management of the stones can be controversial. Since 1991, the main groups of stone rows have been protected from the public by fences "to help vegetation growth", [17] preventing visits except by organised tours. They are open during winter, however. [36] When James Miln studied the stones in the 1860s, he reported that fewer than 700 of the 3,000 stones were still standing, and subsequent work during the 1930s and 1980s (using bulldozers) rearranged the stones, re-erecting some, to make way for roads or other structures. In 2002, protesters invaded the site, opening the padlocks and allowing tourists free entry. [29] In particular, the group Collectif Holl a gevred (French and Breton for "the everyone-together collective") occupied the visitor centre for the Kermario alignment, demanding an immediate stop to current management plans and local input into further plans. [37]

In recent years, management of the site has also experimented with allowing sheep to graze among the stones, in order to keep gorse and other weeds under control. [38]

Prehistoric Monolithic Monument Unearthed in France - History

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Map of France - Megaliths of FRANCE deciphered

This map shows an astronomical overview of megalithic sites in France.
First-time users please read the Index Page thoroughly for understanding.

France in the modern era is divided into 22 regions and 95 specifically numbered departments
(these are like counties and the number of the department appears, for example, on the license plates of automobiles).

The regions and their departments (plus number) are listed below, based on the France Michelin Atlas Routier et Touristique 2000 ( see also and CRWflags ).

Given below are also the nearly corresponding stellar constellations in the ancient Neolithic survey of France according to our decipherment of the megalithic sites of France. Brackets [. ] show the divergent English term or spelling. The decipherment of the megaliths of France is by Andis Kaulins.

(Bas-Rhin - 67, Haut-Rhin - 68) - The Bucket of Aquarius
In ancient days, Alsace and Lorraine clearly belonged to France
according to the megalithic astronomical survey.

(Dordogne - 24, Gironde - 33, Landes - 40, Lot-et-Garonne - 47, Pyrénées-Atlantiques - 64) - Leo, Hydra

(Allier - 03, Cantal - 15, Haute-Loire - 43, Puy-de-Dôme - 63) - Gemini

(Côte-d'Or - 21, Nièvre - 58, Saône-et-Loire - 71, Yonne - 89) - Perseus

(Côtes-d'Armor - 22, Finistère - 29, Ille-et-Vilaine - 35, Morbihan - 56) - Scorpio, Serpens Caput, Ophiuchus, Serpens Cauda
In Brittany, Carnac marks Libra (Menat, Menac)
and is a planisphere (sky map) unto itself

This is the Central Loire Valley
(Cher - 18, Eure-et-Loir - 28, Indre - 36, Indre-et-Loire - 37, Loir-et-Cher - 41, Loiret - 45) - North Celestial Pole (pole star)

(Ardennes - 08, Aube - 10, Marne - 51, Haute-Marne - 52)
Cepheus, Cassiopeia

(Corse-du-Sud - 2A, Haute-Corse - 2B)
In ancient days, Corsica clearly belonged to Italy according to the megalithic astronomical survey and there represented the North Ecliptic Pole for the survey of Italy, Corsica, Sardinia and Malta
see Italy Corsica Sardinia Malta

(Doubs - 25, Jura - 39, Haute-Saône - 70, Territoire-de-Belfort - 90)
Andromeda, Aries

(Ville de Paris - 75, Seine-et-Marne - 77, Yvelines - 78, Essonne - 91, Hauts-de-Seine - 92, Seine-Saint-Denis - 93, Val-de-Marne - 94,
Val-d'Oise - 95) - North Ecliptic Pole (center of precessional heaven)

(Aude - 11, Gard - 30, Hérault - 34, Lozère - 48,
Pyrénées-Orientales - 66) - Canis Major, Lepus, Columba

(Corrèze - 19, Creuse - 23, Haute-Vienne - 87) - Cancer, Leo Minor

(Meurthe-et-Moselle - 54, Meuse - 55, Moselle - 57, Vosges - 88)
Pegasus (the Great Square)

(Ariège - 09, Aveyron - 12, Haute-Garonne - 31, Gers - 32, Lot - 46, Hautes-Pyrénées - 65, Tarn - 81, Tarn-et-Garonne - 82)
Middle of the Milky Way at the Hole to the left of Canis Major

(Nord - 59, Pas-de-Calais - 62) - Aquila, Sagitta

(Calvados - 14, Manche - 50, Orne - 61) - Hercules

(Eure - 27, Seine-Maritime - 76) - Hercules

(Loire-Atlantique - 44, Maine-et-Loire - 49, Mayenne - 53,
Sarthe - 72, Vendée - 85) - Boötes, Corona Borealis, Virgo

(Aisne - 02, Oise - 60, Somme - 80) - Cygnus

(Charente - 16, Charente-Maritime - 17, Deux-Sèvres - 79, Vienne - 86)
Virgo, Coma Berenices, Ursa Major

(Alpes-de-Haute-Provence - 04, Hautes-Alpes - 05, Alpes-Maritimes - 06, Bouches-du-Rhône - 13, Var - 83, Vaucluse - 84) - Caelum, Eridanus

(Ain - 01, Ardèche - 07, Drôme - 26, Isère - 38, Loire - 42,
Rhône - 69, Savoie - 73, Haute-Savoie - 74)
Auriga, Orion, Taurus, Pleiades

In ancient megalithic days,
the Channel Islands belonged to France according to the astronomical survey.

(Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, Alderney) - Sagittarius

Below is a list of the main megalithic sites in France as listed on the decipherment map, together with their astronomical comparables:

Mount Bego - line of the Vernal Equinox ca. 3117 BC

Provence - French Riviera - Draguignan - Eridanus

Queyras - Taurus - Chateau-Ville-Vieille - red megalith - Aldebaran

Counozouls - Roussillon - Sirius - Canis Major

Clermont-L-'Hérault - Dolmen Pouget - Languedoc - Lepus - Columba

Aquitaine - Bordeaux - St. Emilion - Hydra - (Lascaux - Leo)

Midi Pyrenees - Tarn - Rouussayrolles - Middle of the Milky Way

Ardeche - Orion - Chauvet Pont-d'Arc (Planisphere, Milky Way)

Auvergne - Clermont-Ferrand - Riom - Gemini

Limousin - Limoges - Cancer - Leo Minor

Lyon - Lugdunum - Lugh - Auriga

Mont Blanc - Bourg St. Maurice - Simandre-sur-Suran - Pleiades

Western Loire - Vendée - Pierre-Qui-Vire - Virgo - Boötes - La Bretellière

Poitou Charentes - Poitiers - Saumur - Ursa Major

Central Loire Valley - Camelopardalis - Orleans - North Celestial Pole

Burgundy - Dijon - Couches - Perseus

Franche Comte - Besancon - Aries - Andromeda

Alsace - Strasbourg - Sainte-Odile (Mont) - Aquarius

Lorraine - Metz - Nancy - Pegasus

Chalons-sur-Marne - Champagne - Cassiopeia

Ardenne - Reims - Congy - Cepheus

Paris - Ile de France - North Ecliptic Pole

Chartres (site of the North Celestial Pole thousands of years previous to 3117 BC)

Carnac - Libra (part of the ancient constellation Menat with Boötes above it)

Brittany - Scorpio Serpens Cauda Caput Ophiuchus Libra Boötes

Channel Islands - Guernsey - Jersey - Sark - Sagittarius

Normandy - Neaufles-Auvergny - Hercules

Picardy - Amiens - Boubiers - Oise - Cygnus

Pas de Calais - Lille - Arras - Aquila

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The owner and webmaster of is Andis Kaulins
B.A. University of Nebraska J.D. Stanford University Law School
Former Lecturer in Anglo-American Law, FFA, Trier Law School
Author at Langenscheidt Fachverlag , Germany
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This website presents information only and no other relationship is established to the user.
This page was last updated on April 15, 2011.

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The Book
(by Andis Kaulins)

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(by Martha Walker)

at Wayland's Smithy
(what figure does this stone
in its entire size represent?)

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External Megalithic Links

Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France

Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.

Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.

Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.

The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.

During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.

The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.

From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.

The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.

Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.