Ancient “Sat Nav” System Discovered in the U.K.

This was my daily post over at Gadling this morning as well, and I see that Gizmodo has picked up on the story too. Thought some of you would find it interest.

Historians in the U.K. now believe that rock monoliths and monuments found throughout England and Wales, including Stonehenge, were part of an elaborate navigation system created by prehistoric man to quickly and easily find their way through the countryside. The system worked as a stone “satellite navigation” system that pointed the way to settlements, fortresses, and other points of interest in the region.

Tom Brooks, a British researcher who examined the system, used modern day GPS coordinates to plot an intricate grid system that uses isosceles triangles to connect more than 1500 different ancient sites. In each case, Brooks found that the triangles all had two sides of the same length and each of them pointed directly to the next location. In a sense, the travelers could find their way using these primitive waypoints, which were accurate up to 100 meters, which is an astounding number considering the historical period we’re looking at here.

Even more interesting is that the use of these geometric patterns shows a sophistication and understanding of mathematical principles we didn’t expect out of such an ancient civilization. It has been widely accepted that the Greeks discovered Geometry, but this navigational system predates that by more than 3000 years. Brooks says he doesn’t rule out some external force assisting in the production of the navigational network, and even says that that assistance could have come from an extraterrestrial source. Hmm…

Regardless of how it came about, it is a very interesting system, and a fascinating story to read. And while it does help to explain why stone monoliths were build in the English countryside, it still doesn’t explain exactly how something like Stonehenge was built.

Kraig Becker

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