Dutch dolmens in proportion

About orientation patterns with Dutch dolmens (in European context)

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This is an abstract of the discussion on the Dutch page.

Statistical accounts

The subject of the orientation of megaliths belongs to the field of archeo-astrology. Since many things have been said that have brought the archeo-astrology into disrepute, one needs to handle the subject causiously. For example: If one argues that a set of alignments have been planned on a sudden place, one needs to prove that they haven't been setup via trial and error [5]. But how does one do?

This study follows the rules of Heggie [7] with one addition: a theory of probabilities for acceptation or rejection of orientation patterns. To accept an orientation pattern the following gidelines are kept up:
1. An alignment or pattern may not need resources or skills unknow to the time of use.
2. An alignment or pattern must explain properties of a monument which are striking or unusual.
3. The alignment or pattern should be found in geographically spread places [8].
4. There should be a statiscal prove that an alignment does not occur by chance.
With orientation patterns Heggie renounces the latest point for the sake of feasibility [9]. In this study this point will not be dropped, but replaced by a theory of probabilities. One could ask himself how many orientation lines are needed for a sudden pattern (if it occurs more then once) to be sure that the pattern doesn't exist by chance. On the Dutch page it's calculated that the pattern should exist of three lines when having a fixed orientation or four lines when it doesn't.

Furthermore it's argued that it isn't as much the alignment or pattern itself which should lie geographically spread. Here the argument of recognizability is introduced. The alignments or patterns must be set up by means of identifiable features and those have to lie wide spread.

Then a remark should be made on the mathematical skills of the Neolithicum. Some authors (i.e. Seidenberg and v.d. Waerden) plead an underlying source for the earliest mathematical writings and look for it in Neolithic times [10]. Of course this is open for debate, but at least one can argue that the skills in Neolithic time can not have exceeded the skills in those papers.

Measurement accounts

It's argued by van Giffen as well as Hoskin [6], that the orientation of the axis in a megalithic monument cannot be measured closer than to a few degrees. This doesn't count for orientations, which are represented by marking features. Then the deviation is fully dependent on the accuracy of the measuring instrument. On the Dutch page it becomes clear, that from Neolithic point of few an accuracy of maximum 0.5 is desirably. But this exactness can never be reached, since time has corroded the stones. Generally spoken a tolerance of 1 has to be accepted.