• Roll Me a Great Stone: A Brief Historiography of Megalithic Construction and the Genesis of the Roller Hypothesis

    Author(s):
    Barney Harris (see profile)
    Date:
    2018
    Group(s):
    Archaeology
    Subject(s):
    Archaeology, Cultural heritage, Historical archaeology, Neolithic, Technology studies
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Stonehenge
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6N87300P
    Abstract:
    The idea that prehistoric, megalith‐building communities used cylindrical, wooden rollers to transport enormous stones – the ‘roller hypothesis’ – is ubiquitous within archaeological literature and public discourse on megalithic architecture. The likelihood that such devices were actually used to transport megaliths during prehistory remains highly questionable, yet the roller hypothesis has now dominated discussions of the subject for some 400 years. At its heart lies the assertion that fewer people were needed to transport large stones with rollers than without them. A review of experimental and ethnographic studies of megalith transport casts doubt on this central claim and suggests that simpler, better‐attested and more reliable methods were probably used. So when and why did the roller hypothesis become so popular? The historiography of the idea reveals how its advocates succeeded in rationalizing it within wider, paradigmatic beliefs about their contemporary worlds and the deep past. The roller hypothesis is bound up in outmoded, even jingoistic perspectives of megalithic construction and the evolution of technology. To advance our understanding of megalithic construction a more critical stance is herein advocated.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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