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Stonehenge

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The Stonehenge is located in the county Wilshire, which is about an hour and forty minutes drive, east of London. Long before the first construction of the monument was built, the Stonehenge landscape already used to contain long barrows, communal burial mounds of people from the Early Neolithic Period, around 4000 BC. The Stonehenge cursus, a 3 kilometer long and 100 meters wide strip of land outlined by two earthern banks found near Stonehenge also comes from about the same time (Ruggles et al). It is important to note that the Stonehenge is built in stages. The circular earthen ditch and bank is the earliest known development in Stonehenge, probably built using the antler of a red deer. It was developed during the Middle Neolithic period, around 2950 BC (Ruggles et al). The monument originally comprised of a ring made of 56 pits, known as the Aubrey holes, named after the antiquarian and scholar, John Aubrey who first discovered and recorded the holes in 1666 (Jack). These holes erected Bluestones that came from the Preseli Mountain in South wales, about 250 kilometers away (Pearson). These Bluestones were around 2 meters long and weigh several tons each (Ruggles et al). It took a lot of effort for prehistoric people to transport the heavy Bluestones from Whales to England; this suggests that the people who first created the monument placed significant importance on the Bluestones. The Station Stones and Heelstone (with a missing companion) were also put at about the same time. The Station stone is a rectangular arrangement of four stones found near the Aubrey Holes and the Heelstones are located outside the northeast entrance (Ruggles et al). The sarsens were then brought to the Stonehenge around 2450BC, these are the huge sandstone blocks that are up to 7 meters tall that we see today. The sarsens are topped with lintels that are linked together forming a circle in an arc that faces northeast and surround five trilithon archways (Ruggles et al). In around 2550 BC, the Bluestones were removed from the Aubrey holes and rearranged among the sarsens; it was placed into a partial circle with an “altar” stone facing the southwest (Ruggles et al).
Another part of the Stonehenge, known as the Stonehenge Avenue was built some time after the sarsens were placed. The Stonehenge is connected to the River Avon by this avenue. The Stonehenge Avenue is 3 kilometers and has an outline of two parallel lines that are 18.1 meters apart (“Bluestonehenge: Landscape of Ancestors”). Environmental archeologists said that the ditches are natural gullies that date back to the ice-age period. The avenue may have been the reason why prehistoric people chose the site for the monument; looking at the horizon, it is coincidentally perfectly aligned with the sunset during the winter solstice (Booth), a part of several astronomical connections found in the monument. The alignment of the avenue with the solstice is a natural occurrence that might have lead prehistoric people to believe that it was a sacred place.
The end of the Stonehenge’s Avenue lead archeologists to the discovery of a “mini” Stonehenge, called Bluestonehenge. It was found 150 miles away from the monument and have nine out of 25 stone holes that form a circle. The sizes of the holes show that Bluestones, similar to the ones found in Stonehenge, stood on these holes (Owen). Bluestonehenge was formed the same time the Stonehenge was built. The “mini” formation was dismantled and the Bluestones were transferred to the Stonehenge around 2200 BC, during the second stage of the monument’s creation. This was proven when a stone that’s shaped like a kidney bean at its base was found inside Stonehenge. The stone’s based matched an impression of one of the holes in Bluestonehenge almost perfectly (Booth). The discovery of Bluestonehenge suggests that the Stonehenge might have been a part of something bigger. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the monument is its true purpose. Speculations have been made about it and several studies have shown that it used to be a burial ground at one point. Cremated bones that were buried under the Aubrey holes suggest that the monument may have been a cemetery. These bones were first discovered in 1921 and were excavated until 1923. Almost 60 human cremated bones were found inside the holes (Pearson). Technologies to study cremated bones were still unavailable back then, inhibiting scientists to make further analysis resulting to bones being reburied. In 2008, archeologists retrieved the bones from the pit and scientists were finally able to examine them. What scientists discovered about the bones implied that it was a burial ground from the beginning of the monument’s first and second stages. The monument may have been the biggest cemetery in its time (Pearson et al). It is relatively bigger than 14 other prehistoric cemeteries around Britain and remained a cemetery for over 500 years. The bones belonged to 240 people, with bones from women, men and children. The slow rate of burials made, around one person every two years suggests that the Stonehenge may have been a cemetery for a select few, probably people of status or members of a royal family (Pearson et al) This current discovery rejects notions made in the 12th century by Geoffrey Monmouth in his “History of the Kings of Britain” book that described the monument as a burial ground for casualties of battle (“Stonehenge”). Stones were greatly associated with the dead in prehistoric times, while its counterpart, wood, due to its perishable nature was associate with the living (Pearson). The discovery of Durrington Walls strengthens this point; Durrington walls are postholes of a timber circle discovered in the northeast of Stonehenge, partially discovered in 1967. Further excavation in 2006 lead to the discovery of two special characteristics of the site: like the Stonehenge, the Durrington Walls also has an avenue that connects it to the River Avon and unlike the Stonehenge, evidence of human settlement were found in the area (Pearson). The avenue leading to the river is 30 meters wide, running directly to the river with a distance of 170 meters. Its width is almost the same as the avenue found in the Stonehenge but its distance is much shorter. A special feature of the Durrington Avenue is its astronomical alignment with the sunset during the summer solstice (Pearson). Well-preserved house floors were found around the Durrington Avenue and Southern Circle that suggests Durrington Walls used to be a very large prehistoric village. In 2004-2006, eight houses were found that lead to the assumption that it used to be a valley filled with hundreds of tiny square or sub-rectangular houses, around 2.5 x 3 to 5 x 5 meters in size with timber facades that were covered with chalk plaster that have traces of slots from the footings of wooden beds and furniture (Pearson). Evidence suggests that Durrington Walls may have been a village set for special occasions. Archeologists found huge piles of pig and cattle bones that were still intact. This indicates that soft tissues held the bones in place at the time of disposal, most likely consumed by people who were feasting. Also, huge amounts of pottery, arrowheads made of flint and lithic debris shows intense activity. Apart from arrowheads, little stone tools were found and a lack of grinding querns and carbonized grain suggest that the area is a place of great consumption (Pearson). What could’ve been the special occasion?
The discovery of Durrington Walls, its avenue, and Bluestonehenge may prove that the Stonehenge is not a monument that stands on its own but a part of a vast landscape that is composed of the Stonehenge and its avenue, Bluestonehenge, the River Avon, Durrington walls and its avenue. According to Mike Parker Pearson, “Durrington is almost a mirror image of its stone counterpart at Stonehenge” (Owen). It is therefore undeniable that the two structures are related to each other. Mr. Pearson’s theory of the landscape is that Prehistoric people travelled from Southern Britain and places even as far as the foothills of the European Alps to the Stonehenge area. This is demonstrated by isotope analysis of human teeth from the human remains recovered from the village (Owen). Mr. Pearson’s belief is that prehistoric people would throw cremated ashes, human bones and at times whole bodies to the River Avon, where it carries the remains to Stonehenge. Primeval pyres were found by the river’s course that implies prehistoric people went to Stonehenge, either by foot or by boat, to burry the dead. “We think the river is acting like a conduit to the underworld”, he says. This might have been done after big feasts were held at Durrington Walls. The use of stones to represent the dead and wood to represent the living may play a big role in understanding the purpose of the Stonehenge. The Stonehenge’s megaliths could’ve been the prehistoric people’s symbol of death and Durrington Wall’s timber circle a symbol of life and the theory is that “the Stonehenge could be some kind of spirit home to the ancestors”, according to Mr. Pearson (Owen). Although this theory may be correct or not, we should deeply consider the strong relationship between the Stonehenge and Durrington Walls. I personally believe that Mr. Pearson presented a good argument but it is still a speculation nonetheless. The Stonehenge is also greatly associated with Astronomy. Archaeoastronomy is the study of ancient astronomy combined with the study of archeological sites and artifacts. Archaeoastronomy allows us to examine the beliefs of prehistoric people in relation to the moon, the sun and the stars (Ruggles et al). The Stonehenge landscape has been greatly tied with Archaeoastronomy due to several astronomical alignments that have been observed in the monument. Perhaps the most famous astronomical occurrence in the monument is its alignment with the summer and winter solstices. In the 18th century, antiquarian William Stukely noticed the “midsummer sunrise” alignment at Stonehenge. The summer solstice happens around June 21st. It is the longest day of the year, wherein the sun rises and sets furthest north and reaches its highest point during midday. During the summer solstice, the sun rises along the axis of the sarsen monument to its left. It has been recognized since then that there were two Heelstones as well as upright pillars that had existed between the pair and the sarsen circle. The Heelstones were located at one on each side of the axis and the stones would’ve looked like it had formed a corridor for the sunlight to pass through and shine straight down the avenue into the center of the monument (Ruggles et al). Another alignment occurs during the winter solstice. The winter solstice happens around December 21st. It is the shortest day of the year where in sun rises and sets furthest south and reaches its lowest point during midday. The sun passes through the Bluestone setting (opposite the Heelstone) and cuts through the center of the monument once again and exits through its avenue. What an extraordinary thing to see! Ceremonies would have come from the northeast headed to southwest; this implies that the monument actually faces the other way where it aligns with the winter solstice. The feasts that occurred in Durrington Walls were also held during the winter, rather than summer, which further strengthens this point (Ruggles et al). To make the Stonehenge’s astronomical alignments more interesting, these alignments respectively occurred in Durrington Walls as well, the monument’s other half. During the summer solstice, an alignment occurs at Stonehenge at sunrise while another alignment occurs through the avenue of Durington Walls when the sun sets. Half a year later, the opposite occurs during the winter solstice. On this day, the timber circle of Durrington Walls point at the rising sun while the Stonehenge frames the setting sun at the end of the day (Pearson). The Stonehenge is argued to also have astronomical relations with the moon. Evidence show that there is an orientation between the longer axis of the station Stone rectangle and rising moonrise. The longer axis is positioned “close to the most southerly possible rising of the moon” (Ruggles et al). The Aubrey Holes most filled by human cremations, archeological artifacts and animal offerings are said to be directed to the most northerly and most southerly moonrise. This may show that Prehistoric people might have place significant importance to the positions of the moon. For these people the lunar phase cycle may have been a known cycle in the sky averaging 29.5 days. The position of the moon during its rising and setting, moves up and down the eastern and western horizon respectively during the “tropical month”, which is a period of 27.3 days (Ruggles et al). Around the winter solstice, the phase of the most southerly moon is full; during the summer solstice, the phase of the moon is new. The opposite is true when the most northerly moon is seen (Ruggles et al). The idea that the Stonehenge may have been an astronomical observatory began in 1961 when Gerald Hawkins, a Boston University astronomer recognized several other alignments that existed between the monument and the sun and the moon. He used a mainframe IBM computer that helped him map out 24 alignments, orienting the pairs of stones to the sun’s and moon’s risings and settings (Levin). To advance his argument, he also claimed the monument was used to predict eclipses, and he published a book called “Stonehenge Decoded”. However, Richard Atkinson, chief archeologist of the British archeological establishment at that time, who had also excavated the Stonehenge during the 1950s, rejected Hawkin’s theories. Richard Atkinson argued that prehistoric people wouldn’t be able to make such advanced astronomical observations because writing and numbers systems that could have been used for mathematics have not been discovered today (Levin).
Fred Hoyle, another British astronomer also claimed that the Stonehenge’s Aubrey Holes could have been used to predict eclipses. This could have been done by “moving marker posts around according to certain rules” (Ruggles et al). The theory was scrutinized because Hoyle’s idea is ineffective in predicting actual eclipses and could only predict eclipse danger periods (Ruggles et al).
Another controversial theory about the Stonehenge was put forward by Alexander Thom, an engineering professor in Oxford University and author of the 1967 book ‘Megalithic Sites in Britain’. Alexander Thom surveyed ancient monuments and stone circles in Britain, Ireland and Northern France. According to his observations, the people from the Stone Age used complicated mathematical systems that were applied in the construction of such monuments (Ruggles and Hoskin). He also claimed that prehistoric people were able to forestall astronomical occurrences that Galileo discovered three millenniums later. He also believed that primeval priests knew the dates of significant astronomical events and thus, were able to predict eclipses allowing them to achieve a higher status in society (Ruggles and Hoskin). Alexander Thom’s theories are weakened due to the slight changes that have happened between the positions of the earth with respect to its heavenly bodies in the course of over 5000 years (Ruggles and Hoskin).
It is easy to misconceive the Stonehenge as an ancient calendar due to the accuracy of its alignments with the summer and winter solstices. However, the positional changes of the Sun’s risings and settings are very small and difficult to gauge. This makes it unlikely for prehistoric people to know when exactly the solstices would occur (Ruggles et al). Prehistoric people may have disregarded the much with equinoxes too since there are no evidence that leads us to believe that they were interested with the equinoxes’ midpoints in either space nor time (Ruggles et al).
When it comes to stars, modern day people need to remember that it has been thousands and thousands of years since the Stonehenge was first built. The slow precession of the rotation of the Earth’s axis has caused slight changes between the locations of our planet in relation to its background stars. Over time, precession could greatly shift the rising and setting positions of the stars, keeping us from seeing some of the same stars that were seen before (Ruggles et al).
My research about the monument have brought to light many fascinating facts that helped me enjoy and appreciate my visit to the site more. I have learned that Stonehenge was made in different stages and that the circular earthen ditch and bank were first made, as well as the cursus that is placed near the monument. I found out that the Bluestones were placed to the monument years before that sarsens and that the Bluestones were originally located in the Aubrey Holes and was eventually moved along with the sarsens. I also learned about the different parts of the Stonehenge and that is not a monument that stands in isolation but a part of larger landscape that includes the Durrington Walls. I also found out that Stonehenge has an avenue that connects it to the River Avon, and that this avenue was a natural occurrence but was later enhanced by the prehistoric people. The avenue lead arcehologists to discover Bluestonehenge, a “mini” Stonehenge near the river, wherein the Bluestones were eventually removed and transferred within the Stonehenge. Because of this research, I have discovered that Durrington Walls exists, and that it too has an avenue like the Stonehenge. In fact, scientists have said that it was a “mirror-image” of Stonehenge which makes the link between the two monuments undeniable.
I was also enlightened with what the purpose of the Stonehenge may have been. I learned that it used to be a cemetery, and the largest one during the Neolithic era. It could have been a burial place of people with power or status due its slow burial rate. It could have been built as a monument to represent the dead and Durrington Walls was made to represent the living. There is a historical belief that prehistoric people used to associate the stone with the dead and timber, due to its perishable nature, to the living. Furthermore, evidence show that prehistoric people were feasting in Durrington Walls. Houses were excavated, as well as huge piles of pig and cattle bones. The prehistoric people could have been celebrating in Durrington Walls and used its avenue as a processional route to the River Avon where they could have thrown cremated human bodies. The River Avon was probably seen as a place where spirits could travel to the Stonehenge, the realm of the living, as Mr. Pearson described (Pitts). The feasts could have been held during the winter and summer solstice, which explains its astronomical alignments with the two monuments and its avenues.
Different scientists during the 1900s have discovered other alignments during that lead some people to believe that the Stonehenge used to be a Neolithic calendar or observatory. These theories were disproved due to the Earth’s positional shifts in relation with the sun, moon and stars throughout thousand of years, no matter how minimal these changes are. Researching about the Stonehenge helped me enjoy and appreciate my visit to the site more. Too bad the weather wasn’t that nice when I went there. You couldn’t clearly see the sun because it was slightly raining that day and it was very, very cold. The pathway going around the monument was muddy too. The weather made my visit somewhat inconvenient because I couldn’t wait to go back to the bus, away from the cold. It would’ve been nice to visit the site on a sunny day wherein I could see the sun and imagine how prehistoric people would look at it from that very location 3000 years ago. I also wanted to picture the axis during the solstices but had a difficult time without the sun’s presence, also after thousands of years, the solstices might not be the same, due to the axis shifting once in awhile.

Bibliography:
Morgan, James. "Dig Pinpoints Stonehenge Origins." BBC News. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.
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"Stonehenge @ Nationalgeographic.com." National Geographic. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
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National STEM Centre. Web. Dec.-Jan. 2012. .
Ruggles, Clive, Bill Burton, David Hughes, Andrew Lawson, and Derek McNally.
"Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy." Royal Astronomical Society. Web. .
"Bluestonehenge: Landscape of Ancestors." Current Archaeology. Web. 5 Jan. 2012. .
Owen, James. "Mini-Stonehenge Found: Crematorium on Stonehenge Road?" National Geographic News. Web. 6 Jan. 2012.
Ruggles, Clive, and Michael Hoskin. "Astronomy Before History." Cambridge University Press. Web. .
Booth, Charlotte. "Mike Parker-Pearson on Bluestonehenge and Other Recent Results from The Stonehenge Riverside Project." Heritage Key. Web. 17 Feb. 2012. .
Jack, Malcolm. "What Did Stonehenge Look Like?." Heritage Key. Web. 4 Jan. 2012. .
Levin, David. "Astronomy at Stonehenge?" PBS. 30 Sept. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2012 .
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"Stonehenge." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained.
2003. Encyclopedia.com. 13 Feb. 2012 .
Pitts, Mike. "The Henge Builders." Archaeology Magazine. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.
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Quitania, Charles. Fig. 1. Photo of the Stonehenge and me. 14 Dec. 2012

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...acres and has had only one owner. Through my research to determine whether or not this house was the most appropriate purchase for me and my family, I investigated 3 similar 2-acre properties that were recently sold within the neighborhood—162 Woodridge Circle (1958), 124 Woodridge Circle (2013), and 67 Stonehenge Drive (1964). 162 Woodridge Circle boasts 5B, 4.5Ba on 4,300 Sq ft and is listed at a price of $1.725 Million. 124 Woodridge Circle boasts 6B, 5.5Ba on 7,000 Sq ft and is listed at $4.2 Million. 67 Stonehenge Drive boasts 6B, 5.5Ba on 5,800 Sq ft along with a pool & pool house, and is listed at $2.35 Million. With the research I did, it is easy to discern the differentiating qualities in all these homes that represent the disparity in property value. The subject house at 163 Woodridge is listed at $3.75 Million while boasting a pool and hot tub with the second greatest square footage of the 4 properties. The house was also the 2nd most recently built, which would contribute to its greater price. In comparison, the properties at 162 Woodridge and 67 Stonehenge were built in 1958 and 1964, respectively, thus representing their lower market values. However, 67 Stonehenge does have a pool and accompanying pool house, which creates an uptick in value, as well as about 1,500 additional square footage. 124 Woodridge, built this past summer, is the most recently constructed. It is also the largest in terms of house square footage and is listed at $4.2 Million. The......

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The Uk Essay

...and 26 bishops; and the House of Commons, which has 651 popularly elected members. Because ocean waters surround the UK, it has a mild, rainy climate.  The United Kingdom is located just west of the mainland of Europe. Its capital is London. It has a country size of 244, 820 km², and population of 61.7 million. The country’s gdp total, as of 2012, was $2.434 trillion and per capita was $38,591. About 25% of the UK’s land is arable and the chief agricultural products are wheat, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, livestock and dairy products. As we know culture can influence many factors within a country. Four famous dishes are fish and chips (a popular fast food), roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and curry. One of the four is the Stonehenge. The Stonehenge is an example of prehistoric culture and what remain of the earliest inhabitants of Britain. Others are the palace of Westminster, tower of London, and St. Paul’s cathedral. Many famous people we know today are from the United Kingdom. These include the Beatles (popular band in the 1960’s), one direction (winners of the xfactor), Amy Winehouse (Successful singer), and Adele (Grammy award winning singer). The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom decreased to 7.80 percent in September of 2012....

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Art History

...paintings at Lascaux. Some say that these paintings were a part of some ritualistic way of paying respects or hommage to the animals that they hunted. Maybe it was a record of some of the earliest forms of sacrifice, or maybe even records of actual events of the time. 2) Stonehenge is one of the most impressive wonders of the world. Located in Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, and created on or around ca. 2550-1600 BC. The unique thing about this structure is It’s made entirely from a stone called sarsen stone. Found in the Preseli Mountains. The stones always warm to the touch and glows blue when wet. The Circular structure is 97' in diameter and approximately 24' high. The structure was so big it was worked on in 5 different stages. Some theories about stonehenge is that it is oriented around solstice, it was possibly a huge calendar, possible religious structure because pointed to east, Possible association of death. One of the biggest controversies about stonehenge is that it was possibly not even made by human hand, because the stone they used to build the structure weighed over 50 tons and came from miles and miles away from the site of Stonehenge, across water and land. Stonehenge was abandoned around 1500 BC. 3) The Venus of Willendorf and the Cycladic Idol both represent the female figure. Neither works of art are specific in facial structure or realistic representations of the body with the exception of the female reproduction areas. The Venus......

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Visitor Attractions

...and is still today a famous icon for London. The tower of London is also a famous visitor attraction with over a million visitors in 2008 and 2009. (Source: visitor attractions trends in England 2009 published by visit England august 2010) Lake District: the Lake District is a mountainous region located in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its wildlife, mountain and lakes. It is a popular holiday destination and ideal for short term breaks and also a popular tourist resort. The Lake District is also one of the largest national parks in the whole of the UK. Stonehenge: Located in Great Britain in the county of Wiltshire, near Salisbury, Stonehenge is one of the most famous monuments in the world. It is considered a prehistoric site. Stonehenge is owned and managed by the English heritage and the National trust owns the surrounding areas. Stonehenge has also proved to be one of the UK most famous visitor attractions. Cornwall: Located in the far west of Great Britain on a peninsula tumbling into the vast Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is the only county in England bordered by just one other county, its neighbour Devon. Cornwall is a popular visit destination for tourists and also a popular holiday destination. Cornwall is famous for its stunning landscape and sea which is ideal for surfing for tourists who visit Cornwall. Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal is one of the famous and......

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Blue Moon

...tangible form to the unknown." The unknown, in this case, is the physical form of the deity Correct Answer: Correct Shiva. The famous Neolithic structure in England, made of megaliths that once formed several concentric circles, is called Correct Answer: Correct Stonehenge. Which are methods used by prehistoric painters? Correct Answer: Correct All of these: animal fats and pigments mixed together, the use of reed brushes, and powdered pigments blown through hollow reeds We owe our access to Vincent van Gogh's thoughts and feelings about many of his paintings to Correct Answer: Correct the many letters he wrote to friends and relatives. The function of artists to give tangible form to the unknown is evident in the 10th-century sculpture Shiva Nataraja through images that represent the following concepts EXCEPT: Correct Answer: Correct The sculpture reports a story about a Hindu dancer. Wheel of Fortune was created by Correct Answer: Correct Audrey Flack. Which is NOT a task for artists, according to the text? Correct Answer: Correct to help us see the world in the same way that we see it Theories regarding the purpose of Stonehenge include all listed EXCEPT: Correct Answer: Correct The megalith configuration represented an astrological calendar. No society that we know of has lived without some form of art. The impulse to make and respond to art appears to be as deeply ingrained as the......

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Free Essay

Humanities

...Midwest with puritan values (The Art Institute of Chicago, 2012). 2. Sculptures Lady Justice or Blind Justice, the Scales of Justice or Themis Statue all are named for this famous work of art. I have not found who actually sculptured this work of art, but we find it in just about every courthouse in America. Dating back to the Greek and Roman times, Themis represented Justice and Law and was well known for her keen sightedness. She stands with a sword in one hand and scales in the other, where balance is just and consequence in the other (Statue.com, 2012). 3. Architecture Another work of art without a known creator would be Stonehenge. A famous Neolithic monument is said to have been built in several phases (Trachtenberg, 2012). One design that has baffled noted scientist and historians, would be how did at the time Stonehenge was created, did the creators construct the monument so accurate? 4. Photography When life finds its way into our hearts, we sometimes smile, laugh, morn and cry, we see life for what it is and it is always amazing. No matter how much time goes by, there are some pictures that will always makes us cry, give us hope and remind us of humanity. This picture by Charles Porter won him a Nobel Prize. As Firefighter Chris Fields held this dying baby in his arms, brought forth what this first terror to our land and how it will affect us as a nation for all time (World's famous photos.com, 2007). 5. Printmaking Japanese......

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