Paul Devereux integrates evidence from archaeology, archaeo-astronomy, archaeo-acoustics and sacred geometry to discover the hidden meanings of ancient sites and the mystical connections that our prehistoric ancestors attributed to the landscape. Since time immemorial they invested places with metaphysical and healing powers where the physical and the spiritual came together.
Illustrated with photographs, satellite imagery, diagrams and maps, the work reveals global patterns of pilgrimage and places of power whilst illuminating the concepts of acoustic and cognitive archaeology. Ancient humans seem to have viewed the world as consisting of three parts: the underworld of ancestors, the middle world of the living and the heavenly world of spirit. Our ancestors must have considered nature to be alive in some way and this was quite universal as the author demonstrates by taking the reader on a tour through Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.
Sacred sites where the three worlds met include familiar places like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Mount Fuji, the source of the Ganga and caves like those of Altamira. Numinous features encompassed dolmens, trees, hilltops, crevices and waterfalls. An important aspect of many of these features was the sounds emanating from them or their acoustic properties of amplification.
Temples, dolmens, menhirs and caves were built or adapted to enhance or amplify ritual sounds. The author has interesting thoughts on the origins of music when echoes were regarded as spirit voices. This knowledge assists our understanding of the biochemical and physiological reasons why dance, rhythm and percussion are such powerful emotional experiences. Richard Rudgley explores objects possibly used for creating sound that date back to 50 000 BP in chapter 15 of his book The Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age.
Entheogenic substances played a part in the rituals performed at sacred sites; there is evidence that hallucinogenics and music were used together. In his book The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art, David Lewis-Williams theorizes that the people of the Upper Paleolithic harnessed altered states of consciousness to fashion their society and used imagery as a means of establishing and defining social relationships. Graham Hancock supports Lewis-Williams' theory and personally used mind-altering substances in a series of experiments which he so lucidly describes in his absorbing book Supernatural.
Devereux believes that urbanization has removed the link between humans, earth and mythology to detrimental effect. An earlier work by him, titled Stone Age Soundtracks: The Acoustic Archaeology of Ancient Sites, is less detailed, more concise but equally fascinating. Its text is enhanced by black & white illustrations, musical notations, striking color plates; it is another valuable resource highly recommend to those who are interested in mankind's unknown past.