The human viewpoint is from the day being lived through and, as weeks and months pass, the larger phenomenon of the year moves the sun in the sky causing seasons. Time to us is stored as a calendar or year diary, and the human present moment conceives of a whole week, a whole month or a whole year. Initially, the stone age had a very rudimentary calendar, the early megalith builders counting the moon over two months as taking around 59 days, giving them the beginning of an astronomy based upon time events on the horizon, at the rising or setting of the moon or sun. Having counted time, only then could formerly unnoticed facts start to emerge, for example the variation of (a) sun rise and setting in the year on the horizon (b) the similar variations in moon rise and set over many years, (c) the geocentric periods of the planets between oppositions to the sun, and (d) the regularity between the periods when eclipses take place. These were the major types of time measured by megalithic astronomy.
The categories of astronomical time most visible to the megalithic were also four-fold as: 1. the day, 2. the month, 3. the year, and 4. cycles longer than the year (long counts).
The day therefore became the first megalithic counter, and there is evidence that the inch was the first unit of length ever used to count days.
In the stone age the month was counted using a tally of uneven strokes or signs, sometimes representing the lunar phase as a symbol, on a bone or stone, and without using a constant unit of measure to represent the day.
Once the tally ran on, into one or more lunar or solar years, then the problem of what numbers were would become central as was, how to read numbers within a length. The innovation of a standard inch (or digit) large numbers, such as the solar year of 365 days, became storable on a non-elastic rope that could then be further studied.
The 365 days in he solar year was daunting, but counting months in pairs, as 59 day-inch lengths of rope, allowed the astronomers to more easily visualize six of these ropes end-to-end, leaving a bit left over, on the solar year rope, of 10 to 11 days. Another way to look at the year would then be as 12 full months and a fraction of a month. This new way of seeing months was crucial in seeing the year of 365 days as also, a smaller number of about 12 and one third months.
And this is where it would have become obvious that, one third of a month in one year adds up, visually, to a full month after three years. This was the beginning of their numerical thinking, or rationality, based upon counting lengths of time; and this involved all the four types of time:
- the day to count,
- the month length to reduce the number of days in the day count,
- the solar year as something which leaves a fraction of a month over and finally,
- the visual insight that three of those fractions will become a whole month after three full solar years, that is, within a long count greater than the year.
To help one understand this form of astronomy, these four types of time can be organized using the systematic structure called a tetrad, to show how the activity of megalithic astronomy was an organization of will around these four types of time.
The vertical pair of terms gives the context for astronomical time on a rotating planet, the GROUND of night and a day, for which there is a sky with visible planetary cycles which only the tetrad can reveal as the GOAL. The horizontal pair of terms make it possible to comprehend the cosmic patterns of time through the mediation of the lunar month (the INSTRUMENT), created by a combination of the lunar orbit illuminated by the Sun during the year, which gave DIRECTION. Arguably, a stone age culture could never have studied astronomical time without Moon and Sun offering this early aggregate unit of the month, then enabling insights of long periods, longer than the solar year.
The Manio Quadrilateral near Carnac demonstrates day-inch counting so well that it may itself have been a teaching object or “stone textbook” for the megalithic culture there, since it must have been an oral culture with no writing or numeracy like our own. After more than a decade, the case for this and many further megalithic innovations, in how they could calculate using rational fractions of a foot, allowed my latest book to attempt a first historical account of megalithic influences upon later history including sacred building design and the use of numbers as sacred within ancient literature.
The “output” of the solar count over three years is seen at the Manio Quadrilateral as a new aggregate measure called the Megalithic Yard (MY) of 32.625 (“32 and five eighths”), the solar excess over three lunar years (of 36 months). Repeating the count using the new MY unit, to count in months-per-megalithic yard, gave a longer excess of three feet (36 inches), so that the excess of the solar year over the lunar could then be known as a new unit in the history of the world, exactly one English foot. It was probably the creation of the English foot, that became the root of metrology throughout the ancient and historical world, up until the present.
This theme will be continued in this way to explore how the long counts of Sun, Moon, and Planets, were resolved by the megalithic once this activity of counting was applied, the story told in my latest book.