Perception of Old And New Monuments

Ray's001 (521)
Image by Tjflex2 via Flickr
Recently I read this interesting article about the “American Stonehenge”. Apart from being a great, and considering today’s press, surprisingly informative article, it made me think about how we treat the monuments from the old days… Well obviously I mean civilized people, that do not trash and destroy something because it’s from this or that religion.

We kind of subconsciously assign more value to it as opposed to modern pieces. In a way the less we know about a structure, the more mysterious it is and the wilder the theories that surround it. I look at things today and am amazed at things like the pyramids. But then again is it maybe that I am assigning knowledge available to few people to a whole society? Just because modern day humans have the technology that can build structures even greater than the pyramids or Stonehenge, it does not mean a random person in the street could build as much as a simple watch or a car… In similar sense it was probably just very select few who had the skills and knowledge to orchestrate such a great undertaking.

Also at first I was taken aback with the negative attitude of some of the people. Doesn’t matter what the intention is of the builders, it’s not like they are putting some nuclear weapon out there. But when I thought about it for a longer while and I remembered something.

My home town Gniezno is located near a bigger city called Poznan, and there near the town centre one can find the Castle. For many years it looked like any castle. The stereotypical grayish-green walls looking old and gloomy. That’s how old castles look, at least all that I have seen up till then, that’s how they looked in the stories etc…

Until one day I went to Poznan and they were in the process of restoring the Castle and a part of it was cleaning the walls – washing of all the dirt and stuff that has accumulated over the centuries. I was in fact lucky enough to get there when the process was half-way done, which meant you could see half of the wall clean and half with the dirt still on. Not to drag it out much more – the restored stones were of a light sandy colour, not really something you associate with old castles.

But the point of this is that it made me realize that when the Castle was built it looked completely differently. And in a similar way we will never know whether there were the equivalents of graffiti painters trashing monuments like Stonehenge or commoners whining about what a waste of money the pyramids are. Probably not to the degree that democracy allows us today to voice our opinions, however still the perception at the time of their building might have been just as controversial as of our modern attempts at great architecture.