Osireion Abydos

As it was found: A snapshot back in time like it was just found.  http://staging.doaks.org/library-archives/icfa/icfa_img/exhibits_img/thomas_whittemore_exhibit/abydos

Egypt Exploration Society excavations at Abydos, Egypt, c. 1910s-1920s
Egypt Exploration Society excavations at Abydos, Egypt, 1920s

After the cleanup
Osireion today, full of water
An older picture
Immediately behind, to the south and set much lower, is another
structure, of uncertain function. Frankfort (1933), who excavated it,
called it a “Cenotaph of Seti”, but today it is usually referred as an
Osireion (Figure 10:3). The entrance was via a long passage from the north-west; there seems to have been no way in from the Memnonion, though the main staircase in the Memnonion would have led out into the area of ground above it. Inside was a chamber with a central area, perhaps meant to represent the primeval mound, surrounded by a channel of water. Strabo (XVII.42) seems to have interpreted it as a well.
Vast Underground Edifice, Described In Earliest Writings Extant revealed Through Explorations Made by Scientist.
Professor Naville has just discovered what he believes to be the most ancient building extant In Egypt The professor believes that he has discovered the place mentioned by Strabo,
who calls It the well, or fountain, of Abydos. “Below the Memnonium[1].” says that ancient writer, “is a spring reached by passages with low vaults consisting of a single stone and distinguished for their extent and mode of construction. This spring is connected with the Nile by a canal which
flows through a grove of Egyptian thorn acacias. Sacred to Apollo.”
The vast underground edifice, to which the excavators first penetrated on February 13, is termed by its discoverer a reservoir, remarks the Indianapolis News. It Is some ninety feet long by sixty feet aide and surrounded by a wall eighteen feet thick.
The construction of the building Is of the cyclopean order, blocks of stone of enormous size being piled one on top
of the other. A canal runs right around the building under a roof sup-
ported by enormous pillars of granite, with a narrow stone towing path along the sides The center of the construction seems to have been a sort of Island, reached possibly by a wooden
bridge from the pathway. The professor states: “We have still
no certain indication of the date of Its construction; but the style, the size of the materials used and the complete absence of all ornamentation all Indicate a very great antiquity. Up
to now the temple of the Sphinx at Gizeh has always been considered the most ancient edifice In Egypt It Is contemporary with the pyramid of Chefren. The reservoir of Abydos, of a wholly analogous construction, but built of very much vaster material,
has a character still more archaic. I should not be surprised If It were the most ancient piece of architectural work extant In Egypt. The pyramids are possibly of the same age, but a pyramid Is only a mass of stones, and would not require so complicated a
plan as the reservoir.
“If we have before us the most ancient Egyptian building which has
been preserved, It is curious that it is neither temple nor tomb, but a reservoir, a great hydraulic piece of work.
That shows us that these ancient peoples knew very well the movement of subterranean Waters and the laws
which govern their rise and fall. It is quite probable that this reservoir
played some part in the cult of Osiris.
The cells along its sides are possibly those that appear In the Book of the Dead;
It is also possible that the waters were held to have curative qualities and that they were used by sick persons who came thither to seek a
It may he that sometimes the boat of Osiris floated on the waters of
the reservoir, hauled by priests on the path that runs along the side; for the bark of the SUN, as one sees It depicted in the tombs of kings, Journeys always at the end of a towline. Who would
have thought a few months ago that thirty feet below the earth one would be able to see a building such as this, which surpasses in grandeur the most collosal of cyclopean edifices?”
Source: http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2021/Sea%20Cliff%20NY%20News/Sea%20Cliff%20NY%20News%20%201914-1917/Sea%20Cliff%20NY%20News%20%201914-1917%20-%200152.pdf
[1] Memnonium (Strabo):
Three monuments in Egypt described by Strabo (XVII.42) as a Memnonium:
1. one at Crocodilopolis (the Labyrinth)
2. one at Abydos (Temple of Seti I)
3. Thebes (Temple of Amenhotep III – Ramesseum – Temple of Seti I)
Memnonium, name used by travelers and visitors to Thebes for the ruins of the Ramesseum around 1750-1850 (including variants like Temple of Memnon or Memnonia). Memnon is of further relevance to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossi_of_Memnon
There are other interesting relation to memnon, even from scandinavic countries. Memnon father of Thor. Interesting here is that its about 12 kings just like the egyptian labyrinth.
In the Prologue of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Memnon is cited as the father of the Germanic God Thor.
Near the earth’s centre was made that goodliest of homes and haunts that ever have been, which is called Troy, even that which we call Turkland. This abode was much more gloriously made than others, and fashioned with more skill of craftsmanship in manifold wise, both in luxury and in the wealth which was there in abundance. There were twelve kingdoms and one High King, and many sovereignties belonged to each kingdom; in the stronghold were twelve chieftains. These chieftains were in every manly part greatly above other men that have ever been in the world. One king among them was called Múnón or Mennón; and he was wedded to the daughter of the High King Priam, her who was called Tróán; they had a child named Trór, whom we call Thor.

Further Academia.edu Research papers



Megalithic sites Italy and Rome

Source: http://unchartedruins.blogspot.co.za/2014/01/the-cyclopean-cities-of-ancient-latium.html?m=1

Uncharted Ruins

Looking for remnants of the lost civilization…

martedì 7 gennaio 2014

The Cyclopean Cities of Ancient Latium

The Cyclopean Cities of Ancient Latium

The countryside around Rome is littered with relics of a past more or less remote. One feels almost a continuity there between the ancient and the modern world, with the ancient Roman ruins being almost a familiar presence as if part of the natural landscape. Yet, one also finds there remains of a much older and mysterious past. Massive cyclopean walls encircle towns and villages, their stones darkened by the passing of centuries and millennia. One can never get used to them, so strange they are in their interlocking geometries and so different from the familiar contours of Roman and Medieval walls. They loom as a relic from an entirely different past of which we know almost nothing.

The cyclopean walls of Alatri near the Main Gate of the Acropolis (Porta Maggiore). In the foreground, one of the three enigmatic niches called “The Sanctuaries”, which probably once contained statues – Photo by Author
The megalithic gate of the Acropolis of Alatri (Porta Maggiore). The walls reach an height of over 15 meters in this point and in proximity of the corner in the walls – Photo by Author

Who built the cyclopean walls and why? 

The small towns of Alatri, Ferentino, Segni, Sezze, Veroli and Arpino, all in the Province of Frosinone, Norba, Cori and Circei in the Province of Latina, Amelia in nearby Umbria, as far as Ansedonia,  Orbetello and Roselle in Tuscany and Alba Fucens in Abruzzo, are entirely surrounded by cyclopean walls that survive to this day in varying states of preservation. They loom even to this day over 15 meters high on the Acropolis of Alatri, and are almost intact over their entire circuit around Ferentino, Segni and Norba.
The stones composing the walls are truly gigantic, each weighting many tons, and as finely fitted together as to leave a few millimeters at most between the joints. But it is their near impossible acute angles and interlocking corners that cause the greatest amazement, as if each stone was individually carved to be a piece of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

Another view of the Walls of Alatri near the Porta San Pietro (Saint Peter’s Gate) – Photo by Author

Not much has changed since the time when Ferdinand Gregorovius first described the cyclopean walls of the Acropolis of Alatri as “the most astounding monument of the past in Latium”. It was 1859 when he wrote these words:  “The sight of this marvelous masonry, which equals in size any existing Egyptian building, would amply repay the visitor for the longest and most fatiguing day’s journey […] When I walked round this black, Titanic, construction, just in as good preservation now as if years, instead of thousands of years, had passed over them, I was filled with amazement greater than when I first beheld the Colosseum at Rome”. [1]

In over 150 years, very little has changed also in our knowledge of the builders and purpose of these cyclopean structures. The debate on the original builders of Alatri and the cyclopean walls of Latium raged for much of the 19th and the 20th Century. Lacking any other plausible explanation, the construction of the walls was attributed to the Romans of the early Republican period (III – I Century BC) and the whole question was put to rest for almost half a century. Indeed, no other civilization known to historians and archeologists would have had the technical skills and social organization to afford the construction of the miles long walls and to move tens of thousands of stones, some of which weighting in excess of 27 tons.

Yet, whoever visits the little town of Ferentino, still encircled by its beautiful cyclopean walls, would immediately realize that this attribution is plain nonsense. Here one sees more than in any other place three distinct and clearly recognizable stages of construction: the cyclopean, the Roman and the medieval. The inscription of the Roman censors Aulus Lollius and Marcus Irtius still stands to commemorate the restoration of the walls by the two censors in 180 BC. Of course, the restoration was made with relatively small, square blocks of stone upon the already ruined cyclopean masonry underneath, which served as a 10 meters high foundation for the new roman wall.  Even without the inscription, no reasonable person would ever think that the cyclopean masonry and the brick-like stone wall above could belong to the same period, not to mention having been built by the same people! Yet one still reads in guidebooks and even scholarly studies that the two censors built the whole of the walls of Ferentino, including the cyclopean portion.

The acropolis of Ferentino, where one can clearly see the three layers of construction: the Cyclopean (bottom), Roman, and the Medieval on top – Photo by Author
Another view of the cyclopean walls of Ferentino, near the Porta Sanguinaria. The arch above the gate is a Roman addition, as also much of the wall above – Photo by Author
Again at Ferentino one can clearly see the three different layers of construction: Cyclopean (polygonal), Roman (with small sized square blocks) and medieval on top. These layers belong to completely different epochs and denote entirely different construction techniques – Photo by Author

Nor did the Romans ever claim authorship of such a feat as building the walls of Alatri, Norba, Segni or any other of the cyclopean cities of Latium. Quite to the contrary, ancient historians had a tendency to attribute these structures, so similar to the great walls of Tiryns and Mycenae, to mythical ancestors like the Pelasgians.

If then the walls were not built by the Romans, who built them? More recent scholarship has shown greater openness towards the idea of a pre-Roman date for the cyclopean walls. The pre-roman peoples of the Hernici and the Volsci are therefore sometimes credited for the construction of the walls. Yet, also this attribution, though much more plausible, appears to rest on very thin evidence.  The Hernici formed a league as far back as 495 BC, until their capital, Anagni, was taken by the Romans in 306 BC. Yet one is surprised not to find even the slightest trace of cyclopean walls in Anagni itself, where the walls – which are with good certainty attributed to the Hernici – are rather built with much smaller square blocks.

Even the ultimate function of the cyclopean walls and acropolises is ultimately shrouded in mystery.  Of course, the immediate thought that comes to mind when seeing a wall is that it might serve some defensive function. Yet, in spite of their grand scale, cyclopean walls would offer very little protection and certainly no better protection than a much more simple structure built of bricks or even wood. Not only are the walls pierced by several gates and lacking towers or any other defensive feature one would expect from a fortification of comparable size, but they even present features that seem to exclude any meaningful defensive function. The author Giulio Magli lists several of this features in his book “I Segreti delle Antiche Città Megalitiche” [Secrets of the Ancient Megalithic Cities]. For instance, the acropolis of Circei lacks any defense on the Northern side, which was therefore entirely open and defenseless towards the mountain. Even the main gate of Norba is too broad, at over 7 meters, to allow any kind of covering unless we imagine a capstone of truly monstrous size as could have never been supported by the side walls (there is ample evidence the builders of the cyclopean walls didn’t know the principles of the arch, or deliberately chose not to use it in their constructions) [2]. These cyclopean walls are much more similar to a sacred precinct, like the themenos of a temple, than to a fortress of any kind.

The Main Gate (Porta Maggiore) to the ancient city of Norba. Over 7 meters wide, the gate is flanked by a round “tower” to the right of unclear function, which is a masterpiece of polygonal megalithic architecture – Photo by Author 
Another gate in the walls of Norba, facing the cliff, and sormounted by a huge architrave. Also note the very fine texture of the polygonal blocks, each one of which weighting many tons – Photo by Author

This is especially true in the case of the Acropolis of Alatri, undoubtedly the finest of its kind in Italy and among the greatest megalithic realizations in the Mediterranean. Other than the usual absence of any defensive features inside or outside the perimeter of the Acropolis, the only structure inside the precinct of its walls appears to be a large stepped platform. Here is found some of the finest cyclopean masonry in Italy and probably in the world, including a stone with over 15 angles, with joints so tight that they don’t allow even the finest blade to pass between two stones. This platform, called a Hyeron, was clearly an altar of some sort, and is moreover very carefully astronomically and geometrically aligned as to be the virtual center or omphalos of the whole city of Alatri.

Recent research has shown that the entire city of Alatri was designed after a roughly circular plan, with three concentric walls converging towards the Acropolis. The gates defined a number of axes which show evidence of having been carefully astronomically aligned towards the rising and setting of the Sun at the solstices and equinoxes. A number of stellar alignments also seem to point to the constellation of Gemini, Orion and the Southern Cross, at a time when it was still visible above the horizon in the Northern hemisphere. Also, the golden section was embedded in the design of the Acropolis and its gates.

The stars may shed new light on the age-old question of the dating of the Acropolis of Alatri: A recent archaeo-astronomical study shows that the Acropolis could not have been built later than 1,270 BC, when the main axis of the city and of the Eastern wall of the Acropolis was aligned to the star Polaris, with the North-West wall aligned to the rising of the Sun on the morning of the Summer equinox and its setting on the Winter solstice.  The same study found evidence of an astronomical clock based on the shadow projected by the sun along the tunnel formed by the lesser gate of the Acropolis, also pointing at a date in the XIII Century BC. [3]

Previous studies had already shown that the shape of the Acropolis almost exactly mirrors the profile of the constellation of Gemini.  Even on a grander scale, the position of the towns of Alatri, Atina, Arpino, Anagni and Ferentino (ancient Antinum) matches the same profile of the constellation of Gemini (or, according to other interpretations that also include several other centers of Lower Latium, the constellation Ursa Maior). [4]

The stepped megalithic Hyeron (altar) on the Acropolis of Segni, also sorrounded by massive cyclopean walls, is a good examples of how the altar on the Acropolis of Alatri would have looked like before the Medieval cathedral was built on top of the older sanctuary. Also at Segni a church was built on top of the original Hyeron, partly reusing the walls of a Roman temple to the Goddess Juno Moneta – Photo by Author

According to tradition, these five cities were founded by a legendary king Saturn (sometimes identified with the God of the same name) and are therefore called “Saturnian Cities”. According to the same legend, the tomb of Saturn was located in the town of Atina, which is also surrounded by imposing cyclopean walls of unknown date.

Following the renewed interest in the megalithic civilization of Central Italy, even UNESCO has taken an interest in the astronomic alignments of the acropolis of Alatri. [5]

Even UNESCO now acknowledges that the cyclopean walls of Lower Latium may be indeed several centuries older than their assumed dating to the Roman period, and laments the lack of a reliable stratigraphy that may shed more light on their true age. UNESCO defines Alatri as “the most spectacular example of the use of geometry and astronomy in planning” and is considering its inscription as a World Heritage site.

A view of the Hernici Mountains from the Acropolis of Veroli – Photo by Author


[1] Ferdinand Gregorovius, Latian Summers (tr. Dorothea Roberts, 1903), http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Lazio/_Texts/ROBLAT/3*.html, accessed January, 2014

[2] Giulio Magli, I Segreti delle Antiche Città Megalitiche, Newton Compton, 2007

[3] Albino Malanchini, Acropoli di Alatri, per una Ipotesi di Datazione, published on September 24, 2012 http://www.ilpuntosulmistero.it/2012/09/24/acropoli-di-alatri-viaggio-archeoastronomico-alla-ricerca-di-misteri-per-un-ipotesi-di-datazione-finalmente-pubblicato-integralmente-lo-studio-di-albino-malanchini-che-ha-vinto-a-pari-merito-la/, accessed January 2014

[4] Gianluigi Proia and Luigi Cozzi, “Le Città Cosmiche del Lazio”, Mystero n. 33, february 2003, http://www.circei.it/pagina-27.html, accessed January 2014
[5] UNESCO Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy, http://www2.astronomicalheritage.net/index.php/show-entity?identity=27&idsubentity=1, accessed January 2014


– Norba

– Arpino

– lazio

– Segni

– alatri

– Pigra

(100km south of Rome) day excursion.
Here are more megalithic cyclopean sites in Italy :
Map : https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?hl=en_US…
Pics : https://www.facebook.com/groups/914400045345057/
Tiryns 133km of athens
Mycenae 90km of athens
– Delphi (Wall of apollo)
Argolis, Plain of argolid (133km of athens)
Epidaurus & Nafplio : www.greeka.com

The Lion Gate points to Regulus in Leo and the Summer Solstice Point in ca. 1500 BC.
Mycenae Citadel Lion Gate Cancer Leo


Regulus is also connected to the white house.


Some sites relating to Greece and Mycenae of interest are:
Victor Reijs

Hellenic Ministry of Culture

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Andrea Nicolaides

Martin Gray’s Sacred Sites


Particularly of interest here are the pages on geodetic triangulation and pyramids.

Paulilatino 80km from airport on sardinia.


Neil mcDonald Magical Malta Tour

Magical Malta Tour

Megalithic Tours Cathar Country Tour

Magical Malta Ancient, Mystical & Historical Sites Tour

Malta Book Cover reduced

Neil’s Book – ‘Malta & Gozo, A Megalithic Journey’

An Eight Day Tour of the Ancient and Historical Sites of Malta and Gozo

The ancient temples of the sunny Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo are a real wonder of the megalithic World.  Dating from the Early Neolithic they are a unique phenomenon but the answer to the mystery of who built these sophisticated buildings at a time when the British Stone Builders were merely constructing stone circles, has never come near to being answered. The beautiful archipelago of Malta has had a fascinating history with many layers brought to the islands by various cultures. After the enigmatic megalithic architects were the Phoenicians and Romans, the Knights of St John and the British, finally leading to independence.  On our tour of ancient and historical Malta we will visit a great selection of temples together with fantastic sites from many periods in its rich history.

Our full and varied ancient and historical sites tour of Malta and Gozo will be based in the town of Sleima where our hotel is right on the edge of the Mediterranean and from here we will explore the many wonderful sites of these majestic islands listed in the proposed itinerary below.

Proposed Itinerary of Ancient, Mystical and Historical Sites of Malta and Gozo

Day 1. Collection from Malta Airport and transfer to our Seafront Hotel in Sliema

Neil will meet you at Malta airport and transfer you to our Hotel on the seafront at Sliema. You will then have the rest of the day to take in the town and sea views.  The hotel is on a B&B basis but those who would like to will be able to meet up for dinner.

Day 2. A Tour of Ancient Sites of Malta

Hagar Qim Ancient Temple
Mnajdra Ancient Temple
Lunch near the Blue Grotto
Dingli Cliffs
Clapham Junction Ancient track-ruts. These hundreds of parallel lines cut deep into the rocky hillside are an amazing ancient mystery.

Day 3. Another Day Touring the Ancient and Historical Sites of Malta

Tarxien Ancient Temples
Lunch break in the sea-side town of Marsaxlokk with its wonderfully painted fishing boats
Ghar Dalam Cave, a massively important Maltese site
Mosda Church & Dome, where a miracle occurred during WWII, when a bomb fell through the massive dome, but did not explode missing the gathered congregation.

Day 4. A day in Valetta, Malta’s Capitol

A day in the Capital City of Valletta. We will begin with a visit to the National Museum of Archaeology and will then be free to explore this amazing small city either in the group or off on your own. If you feel like a boat trip you could take the ferry at the end of the day across the bay and back to Sliema.

Day 5. A well earned free day in Sliema or around the Island

A free day to relax by the sea or take in the shops, bars and restaurants of Sliema. The local buses are frequent, so you could easily head off around the island.

Day 6. A day in Rebat and Mdina

Today we will visit the spectacular hill top town of Rebat and the citadel of Mdina with its wonderful views across the island and the Mediterranean. Here we will visit the cave where St. John is said to have lived in 60 AD and the nearby extensive complex of catacombs. On the way back to the hotel we will take in the beautiful St. Antoine Gardens

Day 7. A tour of the Island of Gozo

Picturesque Ferry crossing from Malta to Gozo
Ggantija Ancient Temples – Biggest Temple of the islands (amazing)
Victoria town
The Ancient Citadel
Xlendi Bay (lunch break)
Azure Window & Inland Sea
Fontana Historic Washing fountains & Craft Shops

Day 8. Head for the airport and home with your memories

Cost of the 8 day Ancient, Mystical & Historical Sites Tour of Malta & Gozo – £865

(single supplement £80)

Included – All transport from being met and being dropped off at Malta airport. Most site entrance fees & B&B in the hotel. Not Included – Flights to and from Malta and holiday/travel insurance. Please do ensure that you take out adequate travel insurance.

(Flights are available from Air Malta & RyanAir from around £100. If you would like assistance please email Neil)

Booking & Payment

Deposits can also be made here via Paypal (includes £10 Paypal fee per person)

Deposit Payment inc £10 Paypal fees

Pictures from Ħaġar Qim & Mnajdra Temples

Pictures from Ggantija, Skorba & Ta’ Ħaġret  Temples

Miscellaneous pictures from Malta

Just a few Maltese artefacts

Cyclopian Worldwide Polygonic Masonry

Torre d’en Galmés, Minorca, Balearic Islands / Spain

By a friend on facebook:  “Clearly the remnants of another colony of the previous worldwide civilisation – the site looks cruder than most other megalithic sites, but it is certainly because the stones used there are limestone blocks, which got heavily corroded over time. A “trained eye” will easily notice the same polygonal masonry that is seen in other megalithic sites. Keep in mind that all masonry works from these builders most probably had the same level of finesse, which nowadays can only be observed on walls that were made with stones that are much less vulnerable to acid rains, like, for example, the andesite and porphyry walls in Peru.”


Valey temple, Egypt

2a 2b 2c

Oseirion, Egypt (also polygonic interlocking)


Easter Island


Edo Castle, Japan


andes5 delphi

Delphi, Greece

12 11

Saqsaywaman, Peru


Polygonal masonry is a technique of stone construction of the ancient Mediterranean world. True polygonal masonry is a technique wherein the visible surfaces of the stones are dressed with straight sides or joints, giving the block the appearance of a polygon.[1]

This technique is found throughout the Mediterranean and sometimes corresponds to the less technical category of Cyclopean masonry.[2]


In Italy it is particularly indicative of the region of Latium, but it occurs also in Etruria, Lucania, Samnium, and Umbria; scholars including Giuseppe Lugli have carried out studies of the technique.[3][4] Some notable sites that have fortification walls built in this technique include Norba, Signia, Alatri, Boiano, Circeo, Cosa, Alba Fucens, Palestrina, and Terracina.[5]

View of a polygonal masonry wall at Rusellae, Italy

Section of the ancient polygonal masonry wall of Amelia, Italy (ancient Ameria)

A detail of the polygonal masonry bastion flanking the Porta Maggiore.

The so-called Porta Rosa of the ancient city of Velia employs a variant of the technique known as Lesbian masonry.[1]

Polygonal masonry is a technique of stone construction of the ancient Mediterranean world. True polygonal masonry is a technique wherein the visible surfaces of the stones are dressed with straight sides or joints, giving the block the appearance of a polygon.[1]

This technique is found throughout the Mediterranean and sometimes corresponds to the less technical category of Cyclopean masonry.[2]

The so-called Porta Rosa of the ancient city of Velia employs a variant of the technique known as Lesbian masonry


In Italy it is particularly indicative of the region of Latium, but it occurs also in Etruria, Lucania, Samnium, and Umbria; scholars including Giuseppe Lugli have carried out studies of the technique.[3][4] Some notable sites that have fortification walls built in this technique include Norba, Signia, Alatri, Boiano, Circeo, Cosa, Alba Fucens, Palestrina, and Terracina.[5]


Amelia , Italy

(“Polygonal masonry wall, Amelia, Italy” by Torquatus – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Polygonal_masonry_wall,_Amelia,_Italy.JPG#/media/File:Polygonal_masonry_wall,_Amelia,_Italy.JPG)


“Norba, detail of Porta Maggiore bastion” by Torquatus – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Norba,_detail_of_Porta_Maggiore_bastion.jpg#/media/File:Norba,_detail_of_Porta_Maggiore_bastion.jpg



“Velia 0975” by Carlomorino – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Velia_0975.jpg#/media/File:Velia_0975.jpg




Cyclopean masonry

The term comes from the belief of classical Greeks that only the mythical Cyclopes had the strength to move the enormous boulders that made up the walls of Mycenae and Tiryns. Pliny’s Natural History reported the tradition attributed to Aristotle, that the Cyclopes were the inventors of masonry towers, giving rise to the designation Cyclopean.[1]


Current definitions of Cyclopean masonry

A typical stretch of Cyclopean walling (near Grave Circle A at Mycenae)

The walls are usually founded in extremely shallow beddings carved out of the bedrock. ‘Cyclopean’, the term normally applied to the masonry style characteristic of Mycenaean fortification systems, describes walls built of huge, unworked limestone boulders which are roughly fitted together. Between these boulders, smaller hunks of limestone fill the interstices. The exterior faces of the large boulders may be roughly hammer-dressed, but the boulders themselves are never carefully cut blocks. Very large boulders are typical of the Mycenaean walls at Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos, Krisa (in Phocis), and the Athenian Acropolis. Somewhat smaller boulders occur in the walls of Midea, whereas large limestone slabs are characteristic of the walls at Gla. Cut stone masonry is used only in and around gateways, conglomerate at Mycenae and Tiryns and perhaps both conglomerate and limestone at Argos.[2]

Outdated definitions of the Cyclopean style

Harry Thurston Peck, writing in 1898, divided Cyclopean masonry into four categories or styles:[3]

  1. The first style, which is the oldest, consists of unwrought stones of various sizes in which the gaps are, or were, filled with small stones.
  2. The second is characterized by polygonal stones, which fit against each other with precision.
  3. The third style includes structures in Phocis, Boeotia and Argolis. It is characterized by work made in courses and by stones of unequal size, but of the same height. This category includes the walls of Mycenae, the Lion Gate, and the Treasury of Atreus.[4]
  4. The fourth style is characterized by horizontal courses of masonry, not always of the same height, but of stones which are all rectangular. This style is common in Attica.

While Peck’s first and possibly second and third styles conforms to what archaeologists today would classify as cyclopean, the fourth now is referred to as ashlar and is not considered cyclopean. There is a more detailed description of the Cyclopean styles at the Perseus Project.[5]


Example of “ashlar” labeled masonry. Non polygonic straight blocks.


In some Masonic groupings, which such societies term jurisdictions, ashlars are used as a symbolic metaphor for progress. As described in the explanation of the First Degree Tracing Board, in Emulation (and other) rituals the rough ashlar is a stone as taken directly from the quarry, and allegorically represents the Freemason prior to his initiation; a smooth ashlar (or “perfect ashlar”) is a stone that has been smoothed and dressed by the experienced stonemason, and allegorically represents the Freemason who, through education and diligence, has learned the lessons of Freemasonry and who lives an upstanding life.[6]

Historical accounts

Difference between Cyclopean masonry, shown in the blue rectangle, and ashlar masonry, outside the rectangle (the Lion Gate, Mycenae, 13th century BC)

Pausanias described the Cyclopean walls of Mycenae and Tiryns:

There still remain, however, parts of the city wall [of Mycenae], including the gate, upon which stand lions. These, too, are said to be the work of the Cyclopes, who made for Proetus the wall at Tiryns. (2.16.5) Going on from here and turning to the right, you come to the ruins of Tiryns. … The wall, which is the only part of the ruins still remaining, is a work of the Cyclopes made of unwrought stones, each stone being so big that a pair of mules could not move the smallest from its place to the slightest degree. Long ago small stones were so inserted that each of them binds the large blocks firmly together.(2.25.8)

Modern archaeologists use “Cyclopean” in a more restricted sense than the description by Pausanias; while Pausanias attributes all of the fortifications of Tiryns and Mycenae, including the Lion Gate, to the Cyclopes, only parts of these walls are built in Cyclopean masonry. The photograph above shows the difference between Cyclopean masonry (shown in the blue rectangle), and the ashlar masonry of the Lion Gate.

Locations of Cyclopean structures

Apart from the Tirynthian and Mycenaean walls, other Cyclopean structures include some tholos tombs in Greece and the fortifications of a number of Mycenaean sites, most famously at Gla.

In Sicily there are many Cyclopean structures especially in the eastern part of the island.[citation needed]

In Cyprus, the Kition archaeological site in present day Larnaca, has revealed cyclopean walls.[citation needed]

The Nuraghe of Bronze Age Sardinia also are described as being constructed in cyclopean masonry, as are some of the constructions of the Talaiotic Culture abounding on Menorca and present to a lesser extent on Mallorca.[citation needed]