Saturday, 4 April 2015

Stone Money - the 'secret' of Avebury's gigantic Stones

by Robert John Langdon

The last chapter in my new book 'Avebury's Lost Stone Avenue' gave me an opportunity to publish a hypothesis I have been working on for a few years now - how did an ancient civilisation organise their workforce to construct the massive monuments, such as Avebury, Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and the one thousand earth works scattered around Britain?

The fact we have such monuments 'completely disproves' the present nonsense about 'Hunter Gatherers' as they live on a 'day-today' system as we see in the recent past in Australia, Africa and South America.  None of these indigenous tribes ever built permanent monuments - the closest was the Mayan Temples (and they were NOT Hunter Gatherers!!).

Here is a sample of the Chapter.

Stone Money

These stones probably started small to mark the mooring position of a particular trader or family, then they become progressively larger as the family grew in importance.

So why did the use these massive stones at Avebury?

Money!  If you have a trading civilisation and economy and you progress past ‘bartering’, you will need currency of some form to take in exchange for goods. This would explain why they are so large and seems not to have a practical use.

It may seem ‘far-fetched’ by some, to think of stone as money, but just consider this – what’s in your pocket today that you use for currency, metal and paper.  And of those two substances, which one has the greater value – paper!

How can paper be more valuable than metal – it’s not like it grows on trees is it?

Clearly, paper is less precious than metal, yet we value this ‘special paper’ more because it has what is known as ‘perceived value’ (it’s not real). And this ‘perceived value’ is the same principle our ancestor’s gave Stone – still not convinced?

Avebury stone
What is the purpose of such a stone?


The Island of Yap
Yap is an island in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It is considered to be made up of four separate islands: Yap Island proper ,Tamil/Gagil, Maap and Rumung. The three are contiguous though separated by water and are surrounded by a common coral reef. They are formed from an uplift of the Philippine Sea Plate, and are referred to as "high" islands as opposed to atolls. The land is mostly rolling hills densely vegetated. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore. Yap's indigenous cultures and traditions are strong compared to other states in Micronesia.

yap stone
Yap Stone

Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap which includes Yap proper and the fourteen outer islands (mostly atolls) reaching to the east and south for some 800 km (500 mi), namely Eauripik, Elato, Fais, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai atolls, as well as the island of Satawal . Historically a tributary system existed between the outer islands and Yap this probably related to the need for goods from the high islands, including food, as well as wood for construction of seagoing vessels.

As you see this is an island culture that relied on boats and trading like our ancestors in Britain some ten thousand years ago.  So let’s take a closer look on how the system in YAP works and see if we can find similarities to what we find at Avebury?

From Wikipedia
Yap is known for its stone money, known as Rai: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter (most are much smaller). The smallest can be as little as 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) in diameter.  There are five major types of monies: Mmbul, Gaw, Fe' or Rai, Yar, and Reng, this last being only 0.3 m (1 ft) in diameter. Many of them were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone's size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects around. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments.

The value of the stones was kept high due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. Once quarried, the disks had to be transported back to Yap on rafts towed behind sail-driven canoes. The scarcity of the disks, and the effort and peril required to get them, made them valuable to the Yapese. However in 1874, an enterprising Irish sea captain named David O'Keefe hit upon the idea of employing the Yapese to import more "money" in the form of shiploads of large stones, also from Palau. O'Keefe then traded these stones with the Yapese for other commodities such as sea cucumbers and copra. The 1954 movie His Majesty O'Keefe cast Burt Lancaster in the captain's role. Although some of the O'Keefe stones are larger than the canoe-transported stones, they are less valuable than the earlier stones due to the comparative ease with which they were obtained.

As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed. The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the United States dollar is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party.

To sum up – stones come in many different sizes and shapes, what makes them valuable is their rarity, the larger the stone and the harder to move the greater the value.  The stones of Yap are not moved when they are first brought to the island they are either left on the trading road by the encampment or around the wooden trading houses.

stone money


Do you still find it hard to understand?




Our own paper currency was based up to the 1930’s on a similar system of precious rarity called Gold.  The gold standard we when we produced paper money with a numeric value that represented a theoretical piece of gold in the vaults of the Bank of England (or Fort Knox) this gold did not move, but you were able to borrow against it to buy goods or even houses and boats.

The analogy I like to remember this concept by is casino chips.  These are different plastic counters worth nothing in material cost.  Outside the casino, the counters are valued at nothing, but in the casino (or trading place) you could be a millionaire as you can trade these plastic chips for paper money instead.

This ‘stone money’ would answer yet other questions archaeologists have failed to understand with certain artefacts that were classified as ‘tools’ but were never used.  These are the polished and drilled Stone Axes and Maces of our ancestors.

The best solution our historians have reasoned is that these are ‘ceremonial’ goods (what is the ceremony, no-one knows!).  If we look at the Yap stones, they are coin shaped with a hole in the middle – why the hole, easier to transport on a pole.

The large stones that survive at Avebury do not have holes in them as they could not be carried around on a pole, but there are other stones around that do like Men-an-tol Stone in Cornwall.  This is just three standing stone in a row, with no apparent reason for its construction as it serves no purpose, unless it’s a trading point.  These types of stones with holes may have been at Avebury, but the fact they have holes in the middle would make them ‘easy targets’ for stone robbers we know tried to dismantle the stones for stone walls over the last two thousand years.

men-an-tol
Men-an-tol

So are we looking at smaller stones but with a high value as the process of polishing and drilling increases its preciousness?

Well, you can go down to a hardware store and buy a stone for a few pennies each, but a polished Jade stone from the Alps – which have been found in the Stonehenge area would be almost impossible to buy with your paper money!

Holes in money have a historic precedent not only here but in all countries of the ‘old world’ – it seems to represent the idea of value and a way for keeping them safe.  We lose money all the time as we use pockets and pursues.  That’s because they have very little value on their own – but if you had a pure gold coin worth your house, would you throw it in your pocket or a purse?

I don’t think so!!





Holed objects can be tied to you for safety 

You’ll keep it secure were you can touch it and see it – round your neck, waist or wrist.  The hole has a practical aspect of being able to put a tread or wire through the coin for safe keeping.  Have you ever wondered why we keep our jewellery around our necks and wrist?  It’s a throwback to how our ancestors kept their holed stones and then coins.

holed money
Money with those 'symbolic' holes

Moreover, what this system tells you (apart for how worthless and delusional is our own financial system) is how sophisticated is this ancient civilisation was in the past, with is network of traders that sailed the entire known world.

However, Avebury and Silbury Hill show this level of organisational culture in other ways than just pure financial and trading exploits, we can see it through its engineering skills as well.  For Avebury’s gigantic ditch that surrounds the town is 21m wide and 11m deep with a single bank which would have been some 20m high before compression reduced the bank to the 10m we see today.

avebury excavation
Lots of men needing payment - so what's the currency?


For we are looking for a civilisation that can excavate 21m x 11m x 1.34km long or 309,540 m3  or equivalent to 11 million  man hours at one cubic foot, per hour or a gang of 100 diggers and 100 carriers (supported by a even larger number of support people to cloth, feed and provide tools to allow continuation – through summer and winter) working non-stop for 50+ years!!!

Furthermore, towards 1000 citizens of a society working on this one project for about 40 years fully supported by other people of this civilisation to construct a – trading centre.  You can now see why money was used as it is the only way to get ‘credit’ for such projects, societies using the much simpler ‘barter system’ of exchange do not build large monuments as they can’t get easy credit to feed the workers.  The same level of organisation and credit can be seen at Silbury hill which contains 248,000 cubic metres of chalk, and would have taken 9 million man-hours to construct.

Conclusion
So we have seen that the discovery of Silbury Stone Avenue answers not just the question of how was Silbury connected to Avebury but moreover, why Silbury Hill was constructed.  The newly discovered avenue was the first avenue built after the receding waters of the Neolithic left the gigantic moats of Avebury when they became too low in water to take and unload boats, so a new Avenue was constructed.  This Avenue (like the main trading site of Avebury) was surrounded by colossal Stone Megaliths as this was the currency of this prehistoric civilisation and each trader would secure their transactions by credit against these stones, as we do today.

This is the best and clearest indication on the size and scale of this civilisation.  Not only did it have the engineering skills and ability to build sea going ships and boats that sailed the known world at that time, but it could build harbours, canals and lighthouses to support this ancient trading society.

Yet history suggests that this civilisation could not have existed as we have no evidence for its existence?

However, this conclusion is false and foolish as we can see their engineering skills on the hillsides of Britain and Northern Europe, and if we search the archives of history with an open mind, we see through accounts in mythology and legend this same ‘advanced’ civilisation.  In fact, one of our most famous ancient Greek Philosophers wrote in length about this same civilisation in two of his most historic books ‘Critias’ and ‘timaeus’ but has been either ignored or misrepresented.

As Plato tells the story of an advanced, civilisation - and when his suggests advanced it’s not sci-fi’s flying saucers, he was referring to a Bronze Age trading civilisation that used ships, boats and metal.  For this was the true story of Atlantis, we can see in the hillsides of Avebury, for the ‘island’ was in Doggerland and the boats from this metropolis would have sailed to the Mediterranean via the Thames past Avebury, Stonehenge, Old Sarum out to the English Channel then via Carnac in France where more stone money and yet another trading port can be found.

First European Central bank
First European Central Bank??