Exhibition

Studying the Ancient Mind - Aghnaskeagh

Archaeology gives clues for what people did. Forensic Psychology shows archaeologists and crime scene investigators why they did it.

As the Neolithic revolution swept across Europe 7000-2000 BC, not only did everyone adopt roughly the same lifestyle, they also seem to have all believed in roughly the same things. As a result, myths written down by the ancient Greeks reflect Neolithic beliefs that can apply across most of Europe, including Ireland. Ancient myths are a very tangled version of Testimonial Evidence, but some themes emerge.

Neolithic people appear to have seen cycles of the Sun and the Moon as parallels to human life. All are born, reach maturity and then wither to death; they are then reborn. Surely this was the cycle of all life?


  MOON
NIGHT, DEATH AND THE HOME OF THE DEAD - UNDERWORLD
SUN
DAY, LIFE AND HOME OF THE GODS - HEAVEN
MAN
ON EARTH - BETWEEN THE HEAVENS AND THE UNDERWORLD
LIFE TO DEATH Waxing (re-born and strengthening) Spring: Key event: Spring Equinox, mid March Childhood
Full (mature power) Summer: Key events: Mid-Summer Solstice (mid June) and Autumn Equinox, (mid September) Adult
Waning (weakening to death) Winter: Key event: Mid Winter Solstice, mid December Old Age
DEATH TO LIFE Reborn by passing through Underworld for three days (the period of no visible moon) Reborn Reborn (hopefully) by passing through Underworld


At Aghnaskeagh a Neolithic court cairn (or long cairn) was uncovered. There was a stoned 'court' containing a central flat stone, possibly a base for an altar or a totem, such as an inverted tree stump. The court could also be the place where people were cremated: passing from the world of the living into the world of the dead. From the court, a gallery leads into the cairn (where there are usually two main chambers). Many cremated bones were found either buried in the Aghnaskeagh court or placed in the central gallery. Aghnaskeagh is likely to be a double court cairn where the southern court was paired to the northern court via the gallery through the cairn.

Aghnaskeagh

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