The Economics and Sociology of Stonehenge

24 January 2009 at 8:27 am 6 comments

| Peter Klein |

200812111617127052-2009-01brevwhittlefbRecent research on Stonehenge recognizes that its construction was not just a massive technological undertaking, but a huge organizational challenge as well. Here’s a recent item from American Scientist (via 3quarks):

Although many people might straightforwardly conclude that an undertaking on the scale of Stonehenge must have been an expression of concentrated power within Neolithic society, the claim cannot be conceded without thinking about the long processes of inspiration, discussion, mobilization of labor and periodic reenergizing of all those involved that must have accompanied such enterprises and indeed made them possible. The challenge for archaeologists can slide from simple detection of the presence of power to analysis of the ways in which social preeminence could be asserted and maintained for what was all too often just a brief interval.

So research into the ways in which monuments “worked” is crucial. How did people approach and move around these great assemblies of earth, timber and stone? Did they do so freely, or were they directed? What did interventions in nature on this scale signify, and what meanings could be projected by the materials used in their construction? How were tradition and innovation respectively regarded? Leaders or would-be leaders must have had tricky paths to negotiate.

I’m waiting for the pop-management book, Leadership Lessons from the Stonehenge Builders.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pj  |  24 January 2009 at 10:16 am

    Good idea … maybe I’ll try, after I finish writing Mammoth Tasks: Management Lessons from Neanderthals. I’m now on Chapter 3, “Who Moved My Tusk?,” and chapter 7, “Maintaining Morale in a Time of Extinction.”

  • 2. fabiorojas  |  24 January 2009 at 1:26 pm

    In ancient times…
    Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
    Lived a strange race of people… the Druids

    No one knows who they were or what they were doing
    But their legacy remains
    Hewn into the living rock… Of Stonehenge

    Stonehenge! Where the demons dwell
    Where the banshees live and they do live well
    Stonehenge! Where a man’s a man
    And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan


    Stonehenge! ‘Tis a magic place
    Where the moon doth rise with a dragon’s face
    Stonehenge! Where the virgins lie
    And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky

    And you my love, won’t you take my hand?
    We’ll go back in time to that mystic land
    Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow
    I will take you there, I will show you how


    And oh how they danced
    The little children of Stonehenge
    Beneath the haunted moon
    For fear that daybreak might come too soon

    And where are they now?
    The little people of Stonehenge
    And what would they say to us?
    If we were here… tonight

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  24 January 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Good thing I didn’t write about the “big bottom” of the stock market.

  • 4. fabiorojas  |  25 January 2009 at 1:09 pm

    “Talk about mud flaps, my market’s got ’em”

  • 5. sarsen56  |  25 January 2009 at 6:24 pm

    this may be useful:

  • 6. Dick Langlois  |  26 January 2009 at 4:52 pm

    It makes me wonder what the Druid Conferences were like back in the days of Stonehenge. A pity the proceedings haven’t survived.

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