Live and Learn: Mysterious Ruins in West Africa

Have you ever heard of the Senegambian Stone Circles? ( ) I hadn’t, until a few minutes ago. They are an enormous number of standing stone monoliths, in what are now the countries of Senegal and the Gambia, erected over many centuries, perhaps started by Iron Age people as early as 300 B.C. They were still being erected many centuries later… and then, sometime during what we would call the late Middle Ages, they stopped.

The dating is uncertain, the history is–well, there isn’t much of it. The stones don’t bear inscriptions. Most inconvenient for students of history.

I don’t know about you, but stuff like this just fascinates me. Who were the people who raised these stones? Why did they go to all that trouble, for so long, and why did they stop? If the stones were involved with funeral customs, what did they mean? The project had to have involved a tremendous amount of labor, and probably required a highly effective social and or/political organization. But whose? And what else did they do, besides set up countless huge and heavy stones–without anything like modern construction equipment?

These stones bear witness to the fact that whole nations, civilizations, and cultures can be lost, forgotten, and beyond recovery.

We ought to be more careful about maintaining ours.