Ireland’s famed Lia Fáil Standing Stone, better known as the “Stone of Destiny,” has been vandalized.
The stone, which stands upon the Hill of Tara in County Meath, was smashed with a hammer on all four sides. Chips broke off from it but were not found, suggesting that the culprits took them.
The stone is the traditional coronation site for the ancient High Kings of Ireland, semi-mythical rulers about whom little is known for certain. The last king was supposed to have been crowned there around the year 500 A.D. The stone was said to be magical and when the rightful king touched it, the stone would roar in approval.
The stone is a menhir, or lone standing stone, dating back to the Neolithic some 5,500 years ago. Many megalithic monuments such as menhirs and stone circles were seen as magical by later cultures.
This is the latest of several acts of vandalism against ancient sites. Unrest in Syria has led to destruction and looting of archaeological sites. In Israel, a 1,600-year-old synagogue mosaic was wrecked by ultra-orthodox Jews. Then there are the oil pipelines passing through Babylon in Iraq.
At this rate of ignorance and greed, there won’t be any ancient sites left for our grandkids to admire.
[Photo courtesy Andrew Dietz]
A design of a reindeer hidden in the back of a Welsh cave may be the oldest cave art in the UK, archaeologists say. Sadly, it’s been vandalized.
Unlike the more familiar cave paintings of France and Spain, the reindeer is scratched into the rock instead of being painted, like this horse from the Scottish cave of East Weymss courtesy Europe a la Carte. No photo of the reindeer has been released for public use, but you can see it in this BBC video. Incised designs are common in Paleolithic art, but are less known to the general public because they’re not as impressive as the giant paintings of caves like Lascaux and Altamira.
Archaeologists date the carving to about 12,500 years ago, a time when prehistoric hunter gatherers stalked reindeer and wholly mammoth across an Ice Age landscape.
It was discovered last September but its location kept a secret as the team studied it. Unfortunately, someone found out about the discovery and tried to scrape the carving away. Instead of it potentially becoming a tourist destination, now it will probably be gated over. Yet another example of one idiot ruining it for the rest of us.
Paris’ catacombs, underground passages full of neatly stacked human bones, have been temporarily closed to the public after being vandalized.
A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office would not go into detail on the extent of the vandalism, which took place over the weekend, but said that the site would be closed because in its current state it was hazardous to visitors. According to the AP, a photo in a Paris newspaper showed “bones and skulls scattered along the walking paths”. There was no word on when the catacombs would reopen, but as they are a major tourist attraction visited by over 250,000 people each year, it seems that the city would do its best to clean the mess and repair any damage as soon as possible.
The catacombs open to the public are just one part of an 186-mile network underneath the city. The bones of over 6 million Parisians are contained here, having been moved to the site in the 18th and 19th centuries after the city’s cemeteries became overcrowded and contributed to the spread of disease.