“It wasn’t a trip if you didn’t come back smarter,” Aunt Martha used to say. So I’m sitting here in my abode in Ireland, trying to glean more wisdom from what I’ve experienced so far. I look at Nocneria, a bare monolith that looks like a huge breast. Climbing the mountain reveals that the breast bud is a giant chain placed on the plateau by Bronze Age people 5,000 years ago. Technically correct, it is a cairn, a tomb, however, it only fulfilled the function of a side tomb. It was a place of worship and memorial. Here the ancestors and the miracle of life were worshipped.
Tunnel burials beneath the stone and soil are suspected, but have never been verified at Knockneria. Queen Maeve’s tomb stood alone there. I already know what it’s like to have such a stupendous cairn from Noth and Newgrange, two cairns in which Maeve’s grave would fit several times over. I stood in awe and wonder before these architectural masterpieces. If a modern architect were to build a concert hall that looked like the 5,200-year-old Newgrange, he would certainly be admired. The strong grass and flat dome is set like a diamond below with huge stones weighing several tons. The stones are decorated. The stone was used to carve patterns into the stone. You can enter the monument. You will pass through a long tunnel of steep stones to inner chambers arranged in the shape of a clover leaf. The main joke of this skillfully and painstakingly built structure is that exactly on the winter solstice, the sun sends out a full beam for just 17 minutes. A select group of wise men and women waited there to witness the miracle of the return of life. The course of the sun changed and the fertile six months began. Man and beast shall again have corn.
Lesson number one: To build something like this, you need to be able to plan, you need astronomical knowledge and time management. Our ancestors were very intelligent. They didn’t have the sophisticated equipment we had. Buildings are still standing for more than five thousand years, the same cannot be said about modern houses.
Lesson number two: The general will was enormous. The most important motivation for these massive construction efforts was a harmony unknown to us today. Some, like Noth or Newgrange, were not the oddity of a single elite Neolithic clan, but the combined effort of all the peoples of the region. For generations. They all believed in something together. A similar united will between people and generations would do us good to stop climate change today. Avoiding climate catastrophe is ultimately a yes to recurring life. We need a Newgrange – per head. I drove to several Neolithic monuments in a rental car, one of the most sophisticated examples of mechatronics that had nothing to do with the car I knew from childhood and still drive. This thing beeps and reminds me to do something. The path to the parking lot of a guesthouse is so narrow that I have to fold in the side mirrors and it works. The car interrupts my concentration with constant deafening beeping and various graphics on the display. Like I don’t see what I’m doing. Particularly treacherous is the lane departure warning system, which sees its task to keep the wide SUV between stone walls on one side and the white center line on the other on narrow Irish roads. As if that’s not my job as a driver. Once I overtake a cyclist and cross the median without blinking. The lane departure warning system is against it, moving backwards. To the horror of both the cyclist and myself. When I take my foot off the gas, the car accelerates or brakes to the highest speed currently allowed, leading to interesting driving situations. My rental spaceship reacts especially hysterically when I turn everything off. The infotainment and support center is switched off and under repeated beeps it writes on the display.
Lesson number three: We can’t turn off the infotainment and support centers and remember that we have brains, eyes, and instincts. It won’t be technology that saves us, just a shared will to live.
Prone to fits of apathy. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Internet advocate. Avid travel enthusiast. Entrepreneur. Music expert.