Gavrinis: On Crossing the Three Thresholds and Entering The Room

following on within an article by M Guillaume found in AAK Etudes et Travaux No. 1, 1977

These half-circles facing upwards – do we not find them repeated a thousand times in the “necklaces” of the Goddess?

Fig. 12 Stones 4 and 5

Then also, but upside down, the half-circle of the sun’s path above the horizon and the entry of a cave, above the arches of which are found the central doors of a church.

The inversion of the placing of these semicircles, of a receiving aspect at the top and generative aspect at the bottom, reminds us of the phrase found in the Emerald Tablet [of Hermes] namely “As above so below” (see stone 4).

Wouldn’t these two semi-circles represent well the cave  in the mountain ∩ of the tumulus?

The junction between these opposing semi-circles is not presented in these stones. Instead this first part of the corridor contains right-hand stones that include undifferentiated areas of parallel ripples (stones 4 and 5), both vertical and horizontal, and these appear to represent an unstructured situation.

The Lake

Undulations of this type are represented within a hieroglyph of Egypt that stands for the primordial waters, the lake. The part of the hallway animating this first step has, on the left, a stone engraving with two levels, No. 26 below.

Stone 26

One must cross this first threshold, beyond this stone and nos. 4 & 5, to penetrate further inside. This second part of the hall has an orientation parallel to the solstice axis of the monument. It seems that when the spiral (Stone 6) which meets semi-circles in a perpetual movement of creation. The axe above stone 6 announces the genesis of new differentiated forms (Fig. 15).

In stone No. 25 on the left, three forms with well defined contours stand out, then restructured in the next stone, No. 24.

Fig. 15 Stones 25 and 6, to left and right

The quartz stone [after stone 6, and numbered 7 by AAK] is not engraved, underlining that the break on the right side has a new structure as has the left side of the hall. We had thought that this stone could have been a bridge of light that, midway, marked the way to the central chamber. (The reflective properties of Quartz was widely used in the facade of Newgrange  – see the second part of this newsletter).

We then noted the importance of the central semi-circles that appear, above the “ground”, to draw this missing part. This impression is reinforced by the presence of snakes below and axes above, in the upper part [of stone 8] (see panel 15 below). On the other hand, two similar structures are shown opposite this: the verticality of stone 24 on the left complementing the horizontal structure of stone 8 on the right side (see Fig. 16).

Fig. 16 Stones 24 and 8 to left and right
Stone 8 in detail 

Following this phase of restructuring into four levels, we were very intrigued by the missing slab in the pavement underfoot.

The Missing Pavement at the Second Threshold

We wondered if this absence of paving did not signal the absence of something, hindering access to the third part of the walkway, and the changed direction of the right wall that causes an enlargement in the width of the gallery. What led us to this hypothesis was that left of stone No. 9, the most structured stone of the whole edifice, stone 23  is largely sketched (in an anthropomorphic manner) in just its upper part and this fact accentuates the difference appearing on the pavement. The engraving of the upper stone 23 appears to complement the structure of two levels found in stone No. 26 located left of the entrance. It is this latter stone that leads to the more complete development on three levels found in stone No. 9  (see Fig. 17).

Fig. 17 Stones 26, 9 and 23
Stone 23 in detail

Dynamics of the Third Section

We have now entered the upper and ultimate part of the corridor. Most of the movement seems now transferred to the left as shown.

We found something new, but left open at the top of the engraved hemispheres. They then come into relation with the lower ones through complex pathways.

Concentric spheres are central to the stone No. 22, but these are broken by a kind of “folding” natural to the granite of this stone. (Fig. 20).

Fig. 20 Stones 22, 21 and 20

The stone 20 also includes two semi-circles juxtaposed, though separated by a natural step.

The stone 21 located between stones 20 and 22 reinforces the idea of joining the contact between two opposite trends: a kind of “rain” of triangles, also called “votive axes” is headed for a trapezoidal area in dominated by amplified undulations, the opposite direction of these axes being represented by their  points.

On the other hand, what is central on the left [of stone 20?], on [stone 22?]  is to the right . This median movement [in stone 21] , within the left side’s lateral development, connects to stone 9, “the Tree of Jesse”, see Fig. 21.

Fig. 21 Stones 10 and 9

It seems that in this phase, the left and right originally meant the currents set in motion, and announced a final alignment of the dual serpentine pathways [in stone 18, within the chamber].

Stone 18

Yet it is as if the impressions on the right hand side [of the corridor] gradually faded: in effect stone No. 11 offers no apparent engraving and only very special lighting reveals a graphic placed there, like a “watermark” upon the stone. This graphic announces and prefigures that of stone No. 18 located Inside the chamber, on the left side, after a new crossing.

Fig. 23 Stone 11

Entrance to the Room

Can we then consider, in this step, the potential existence of a new form which will be evident only after having crossed the threshold of the room?

If the room is symbolically the sky (see the second part of our newsletter, our study hopscotch) it is here that we find the entrance.

The frame of the door consists of two upright stones and a flagstone floor engraved on three sides should summarize the information required at the entrance to the room. In our hypothesis the tile floor, like a tombstone, could be the symbol of a ritual killing. The graphics of the slab floor are similar to those that illustrate the myth of Osiris.

Figure 24 The Three engraved faces of the stone threshold to the chamber at Gavrinis

So it is through the study of the Egyptian ritual and its links to the cult of death that we have tried to interpret this point in the passage. Some forms illustrating the Osirian myth will therefore be investigated [untranslated] in parallel with those shown on the engraved stones.

This comparison of Egyptology and megalithic monuments is not new. For example in 1812 Maudet Penhoët, in his Research on Brittany, considers the possibility of hieroglyphic writing in the engravings of the passageway at Pierres Plates. That is not our point here since,  as we have already said earlier, forms as symbol are precursors to hieroglyphics, and such form-symbols have an existence independent of any system of writing.

Fig. 25 The two stones 19 (left) and 12 (right), either side of the threshold stone