Erdeven Alignment’s counting of Metonic and Saros Periods

first published in March 2018

The word Alignment is used in France to describe its stone rows. Their interpretation has been various, from being an army turned to stone (a local myth) to their use, like graph paper, for extrapolation of values (Thom). That stone rows were alignments to horizon events gives a partial but useful explanation, since menhirs (or standing stones) do form a web of horizon alignments to solstice sun and to the moon’s extreme rising and setting event, at maximum and minimum standstill. At Carnac the solstice sun was aligned to the diagonal of the 4 by 3 rectangle and maximum and minimum standstill moon aligned to the diagonal of a single or double square, respectively.

It seems quite clear today that stone rows at least represented the counting of important astronomical time periods. We have seen at Crocuno that eclipse periods, exceeding the solar year, are accompanied by some rectalinear structures (Le Manio, Crucuno, Kerzerho) which embody counting in miniature, as if to record it, and it has been observed that cromlechs (or large stone kerb monuments) were built at the ends of the long stone rows of Carnac and Erdeven. Sometimes, a cromlech initiated a longer count,with or without stone rows, that ended with a rectangle (Crucuno). The focus on counting time naturally reveals a vernacular quite unique to this region and epoch. We have seen that the Kerzerho alignments were at least a 4 by 3 rectangle which recorded the 235 lunar months in feet along its diagonal to midsummer solstice sunset. After that rectangle there follows a massive Alignment of stone rows to the east,ending after 2.3 km having gradually changed their bearing to 15 degrees south of east. Just above the alignments lies a hillock with multiple dolmens and a north-south stone row (Mané Braz) whilst below its eastern extremity lies the tumulus and dolmen,”T-shaped passage-grave” (Burl. Megalithic Brittany. 196) called Mané Groh.

Figure 1 The intermittent extent of the Erdevan Alignments, and associated dolmens
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Kerherzo Rectangle near Erdeven & Crucuno

first published in March 2018

In 1973, Alexander Thom found the Crucuno rectangle to have been “accurately placed east and west” by its megalithic builders, and “built round a rectangle 30 MY [megalithic yards] by 40 MY” and that “only at the latitude of Crucuno could the diagonals of a 3, 4, 5 rectangle indicate at both solstices the azimuth of the sun rising and setting when it appears to rest on the horizon.” In a recent article I found metrology was used between the Crucuno dolmen (within Crucuno) and the rectangle in the east to count 47 lunar months, since this closely approximates 4 eclipse years (of 346.62 days) which is the shortest eclipse prediction period available to early astronomers.

Figure 1 Two key features of Crucuno’s Rectangle

About 1.22 miles northwest lie the alignments sometimes called Erdeven, on the present D781 before the hamlet Kerzerho – after which hamlet they were named by Archaeology. These stone rows are a major complex monument but here we consider only the section beside the road to the east. Unlike the Le Manec Kermario and Kerlestan alignments which start north of Carnac, Erdevan’s alignments are, like the Crucuno rectangle accurately placed east and west. 

Figure 2 Two stones, angled to the diagonal of a 3-4-5 triangle 235 feet from north west stone and setting sun at summer solstice
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Counting lunar eclipses using the Phaistos Disk

This paper* concerns itself with a unique fired-clay disk, found by Luigi Pernier in 1908 within the Minoan “palace” of Phaistos (aka Faistos), on the Greek island of Crete. Called the Phaistos Disk, its purpose or meaning has been interpreted many times, largely seen as either (a) a double-sided text in the repeated form of a spiral and outer circle written using an unknown pictographic language stamped in the clay or (b) as an astronomical device, record or handy reference. We provide a calendric interpretation based on the simplest lunar calendars known to apply in Minoan times, finding the Disk to be (a) an elegant solution to predicting repeated eclipses within the Saros period and (b) an observation that the Metonic is just one lunar year longer, and true to the context of the Minoan culture of that period.

*First Published on 26 May 2017

Figure 1. The location of Phaistos Palace atop a commanding hill in the middle of the fertile Massara valley in southern Crete. The Phaistos Disk was discovered in 1908 in chamber 8 of the northeast wing of the “Old Palace” (pre-1700 BCE) as per above diagram inserted from Balistier, 2000, 5.
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