The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments

The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments

by Lynne Kelly


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The discovery of a powerful memory technique used by our Neolithic ancestors in their monumental memory places—and how we can use their secrets to train our own minds

In ancient, pre-literate cultures across the globe, tribal elders had encyclopedic memories. They could name all the animals and plants across a landscape, identify the stars in the sky, and recite the history of their people. Yet today, most of us struggle to memorize more than a short poem.

Using traditional Aboriginal Australian song lines as a starting point, Dr. Lynne Kelly has since identified the powerful memory technique used by our ancestors and indigenous people around the world. In turn, she has then discovered that this ancient memory technique is the secret purpose behind the great prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge, which have puzzled archaeologists for so long.

The henges across northern Europe, the elaborate stone houses of New Mexico, huge animal shapes in Peru, the statues of Easter Island—these all serve as the most effective memory system ever invented by humans. They allowed people in non-literate cultures to memorize the vast amounts of information they needed to survive. But how?

For the first time, Dr. Klly unlocks the secret of these monuments and their uses as "memory places" in her fascinating book. Additionally, The Memory Code also explains how we can use this ancient mnemonic technique to train our minds in the tradition of our forbearers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681773254
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Dr. Lynne Kelly is a science writer and an Honorary Research Associate at La Trobe University. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the author ofKnowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies (Cambridge).

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Chapter 1 Encyclopaedic memories of the elders 1

Indigenous knowledge of animals 2

Indigenous knowledge of plants 7

Performed and restricted knowledge 10

Songlines 13

Memory spaces and ancient Greeks 18

Ceremonies serve a multiplicity of purposes 23

Longevity of stories 28

Integrated knowledge systems 29

Chapter 2 Memory spaces, large and small 34

Skyscapes of memory 37

Miniature memory spaces 41

Strings: twisted, turned and knotted 51

Bundles of non-utilitarian objects 52

Representation of mythological ancestors 56

Pueblo corn stories: mythology and science 58

Genealogies and totems 60

Chapter 3 Memory spaces in a modern world 64

The landscape as a memory space 65

Skyscapes as a memory space 70

Decks of cards as memory spaces 71

Miniature memory spaces 73

A myriad memory spaces 76

Chapter 4 A journey through time 80

The first modern humans 82

Monumental memory spaces 85

Chapter 5 The ever-changing memory spaces at Stonehenge 98

A mind game of transition to settlement 100

Stonehenge and the British Neolithic 103

First stage: 3000-2920 BCE (Middle Neolithic) 106

Henge ditches 109

Stonehenge: the theories 115

Second stage: 2620-2480 BCE (Late Neolithic) 120

Third stage: 2480-2280 BCE (Copper Age) 127

Fourth stage: 2280-2020 BCE (Early Bronze Age) 129

Fifth stage: 1680-1520 BCE (Middle Bronze Age) 130

Portable objects 131

Memory spaces, mines and moving on 134

Chapter 6 The megalithic complexes of Avebury and Orkney 137

Avebury " 139

Windmill Hill 141

West Kennet Long Barrow 143

Avebury henge 145

The Sanctuary 149

Silbury Hill 150

Orkney 152

Skara Brae 156

Carved stone balls 157

Stones of Stenness 158

Chambered cairns 159

Maeshowe 162

The Ring of Brodgar 163

Chapter 7 Newgrange and the passage cairns of Ireland 166

County Meath passage cairns 168

Neolithic art 172

The purpose of the passage cairns 173

Circles of timber and stone 177

Decorated stones 179

Smaller passage cairns across County Meath 180

Individual burials 182

Chapter 8 The tall stones and endless rows of Carnac 183

The Carnac Mounds and the Tumulus de Saint-Michel 188

The Middle Neolithic passage cairns 190

The stone rows of Carnac 194

Gallery and lateral entrance graves 197

Chapter 9 The unparalleled architecture of Chaco Canyon 200

Pueblo Bonito 202

Learning from contemporary Pueblo 204

The Ancestral Puebloans at Chaco Canyon 207

Great houses 210

Enigmatic decorated objects 212

Buying knowledge at Chaco Canyon 215

Chapter 10 Giant drawings on the desert floor at Nasca 220

Astronomy 225

Making the lines 227

The animal glyphs 228

Trapezoids, squares and rectangles 230

Straight lines dominate the pampa 232

Time and change on the pampa 233

Chapter 11 Memory spaces across the Americas 237

The hunter-gatherers of Watson Brake and Poverty Point 240

Memory spaces grow more complex 249

Writing represents sound in Mesoamerica 255

The earthworks of North America gain complexity 261

The literate Aztecs and non-literate Inca 265

Chapter 12 Polynesian navigators create a unique world on Easter Island 271

The original settlers 273

The amazing skill of the Pacific navigators 276

Arriving on Easter Island 278

Settling another small Polynesian island: Rarotonga 279

Adapting to a different environment: New Zealand 281

Knowledge structured by genealogy 284

A memory space beyond the shoreline 288

The collapse of a culture 291

The Birdman cult 293

Art in many forms 294

Epilogue 296

Acknowledgements 298

About the author 302

Notes 303

Index 311

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