From the Editors: Our September cover story about new underground surveys of the Stonehenge site stirred up a storm on social media, garnering more than 47,000 shares and likes and hundreds of comments. Many readers speculated about the stones’ mysterious function, from “a meeting place for tribes to settle political business” to “an early form of theatre.” Others suggested the new research only underscores how much more there is to learn about the nearly 5,000-year-old henge.
Perhaps Stonehenge and the many monuments surrounding it (Silbury Hill, Avebury and the Cursus) were the ancient equivalent of Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle. It would take a powerful central authority to construct so many amazing structures in one small area of Britain. As for how the stones were moved, the easiest explanation is that they were moved in winter, on sleds, over frozen streams and “ice roads.” It would be far easier to pull heavy loads over roads made of ice and snow than over rocks and soil.
Access to Kennewick Man
I loved “The 9,000-Year-Old Man Speaks.” Thanks for exposing the Corps of Engineers and the federal government for obstructing the exploration of these ancient human remains. We could know ever so much more. I believe the obstruction is due less to logical reasoning than to the bureaucrats’ desire to exercise their authority to disallow it.
I was amazed by the difficulty the team had getting clearance to conduct its research. And still the Corps of Engineers holds up progress. Why?
“The Wildest Idea on Earth,” about setting aside half of the planet for wildlife, contained an excellent discussion of Ted Turner’s Flying D ranch near my hometown of Bozeman, Montana. But it appears to me if something is not done as the world population doubles way too often, what good can all this touchy-feely environmentalism do? What are we leaving for our grandchildren?
J. Nevin Thompson
If the world does not include in its “set aside” the reduced use of fossil fuels and truly massively disruptive agricultural practices such as corn and cane ranching for ethanol, then wildlife will not have a survivable planet.
Maira Kalman’s Vision
This remarkable artist uses her child-like palette and clarity of vision in order to make the beauty of simple objects come alive [“A Few of Her Favorite Things”]. Her glowing golden portrait of the kidskin slippers from the Cooper Hewitt collection are surely something Andy Warhol—another artist who limned many a fancy shoe—would both cherish and celebrate.
San Diego, California
Clone the Passenger Pigeon?
These modern-day Dr. Frankensteins can argue the noble motive of restoring a species [“Angry Bird”] that had its right to live taken by habitat destruction and unlimited predation by humans, the worst predators of all. But do they consider where cloned passenger pigeons would live? Their habitat is gone and it’s never coming back. If we wish to use Martha, let’s use her as an example of how not to treat our fellow animal species.
St. Louis, Missouri
In “The 9,000-Year-Old Man Speaks,” we mischaracterized the position that Kennewick man was buried in. It was supine, not prone.
In “What Lies Beneath,” we misstated the origin of the Stonehenge monument’s bluestones. They came from West Wales, not North Wales.