The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments by Lynne Kelly
In ancient, pre-literate cultures across the globe, tribal elders had encyclopedic memories. They could name all the animals and plants across a landscape, identify the stars in the sky and recite the history of their people. Yet today, most of us struggle to memorize more than a short poem.
Using traditional Aboriginal Australian song lines as a starting point, Lynne Kelly has since identified the powerful memory technique used by our ancestors and indigenous people around the world. In turn, she has then discovered that this ancient memory technique is the secret purpose behind the great prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge, which have puzzled archaeologists for so long.
The stone circles across Britain and northern Europe, the elaborate stone houses of New Mexico, huge animal shapes in Peru, the statues of Easter Island - these all serve as the most effective memory system ever invented by humans. They allowed people in non-literate cultures to memorize the vast amounts of information they needed to survive. But how?
For the first time, Lynne Kelly reveals the purpose of these monuments and their uses as 'memory places', and shows how we can use this ancient technique to train our minds.
The Memory Code: Unlocking the Secrets of the Lives of the Ancients and the Power of the Human Mind - About the Author
I am a science writer fascinated by the way indigenous cultures encode knowledge without writing, especially the pragmatic stuff - animals, plants, medical knowledge including a pharmacopoeia, laws, navigation, genealogy, history, land and resource rights plus all sorts of ethical metaphors. I am constantly astounded by the range and brilliance of the memory techniques historic indigenous cultures have used to memorise a vast amount of information when they can't write it down. I then realised that this understanding offered a new theory on the purpose of Stonehenge and many other archaeological sites.
My latest book, 'The Memory Code' is the result of a decade's obsessive work. I have never written anything as important as this before and know that this topic will occupy me for the rest of my life.
Having completed a PhD on the topic in 2013, Cambridge University Press has published the academic version, "Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies". My focus sites are Stonehenge in the British Neolithic context, Poverty Point, LA, in the mound-building context of the American Southeast and Chaco Canyon in the Ancestral Pueblo context of the American Southwest. 'The Memory Code' adds a lot more sites, including Avebury in England, Orkney in Scotland, Carnac in France and Newgrange in Ireland, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the Nasca Lines in Peru among many others. It will also include the way I have used these indigenous memory methods myself to memorise a huge amount of information that I simply wouldn't have thought possible before.
Writing dominates my life. I started with educational books - 10 of them - logical because I was a teacher. I wrote a novel, "Avenging Janie" and then three popular science books published in Australia, the US and UK: "The Skeptic's Guide to the Paranormal", "Crocodile: evolution's greatest survivor", and "Spiders: learning to love them". I overcame my arachnophobia a bit too well and now I am obsessed by spiders. I simply adore the gorgeous critters. "Skeptic's Guide" has been translated into Russian.
But it will be indigenous memory systems and archaeology which will dominate my writing for many years to come. I simply love the stuff!