Tuesday 8 January 2013

Ancient Temples

The Neanderthal people left many remains of their ancient spiritual practices – many of which show striking continuity with later times.

Many examples of ancient Neanderthal Shrines and Temples remain. These religious sites have been found within caves where they may have been built for shelter from the elements or because the Spirits worshipped had Chthonic associations. The ancient Neanderthals also had outdoor religious sites, for example Stone Henges.

A striking example of a Neanderthal religious site was found in the Drachenloch cave in the Swiss Alps. The front of the cave apparently served as a periodic dwelling place, while deeper within the mountain were both a Shrine and a Temple. Inside the Shrine was a three-foot square stone box, which functioned as a reliquary. Inside the reliquary were the skulls of seven cave bears.

Still deeper into the mountain was a full-blown Neanderthal Temple. Around the walls of the Temple were six niches, each of which held the skull of a cave bear. Some of the niches held the skull alone, while others held the skull and a leg bone.

Another example of a Neanderthal Shrine or Temple was found in the Cave of the Witches, near Genoa Italy. Here a ritual seems to have been enacted that involved the magical “hunting” of a sacred stalactite that resembled an animal such as a bison. Evidence indicates that the stalactite was regularly used as a target for stone throwing – this is believed to have been magical in nature because the stalactite is not easily accessible, being awkwardly placed deep within the cave.

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