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Paul Devereux integrates evidence from archaeology, archaeo-astronomy, archaeo-acoustics and sacred geometry to discover the hidden meanings of ancient sites and the mystical connections that our prehistoric ancestors attributed to the landscape. Since time immemorial they invested places with metaphysical and healing powers where the physical and the spiritual came together.

Illustrated with photographs, satellite imagery, diagrams and maps, the work reveals global patterns of pilgrimage and places of power whilst illuminating the concepts of acoustic and cognitive archaeology. Ancient humans seem to have viewed the world as consisting of three parts: the underworld of ancestors, the middle world of the living and the heavenly world of spirit. Our ancestors must have considered nature to be alive in some way and this was quite universal as the author demonstrates by taking the reader on a tour through Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

Sacred sites where the three worlds met include familiar places like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Mount Fuji, the source of the Ganga and caves like those of Altamira. Numinous features encompassed dolmens, trees, hilltops, crevices and waterfalls. An important aspect of many of these was the sounds emanating from them or their acoustic properties of amplification.

Temples, dolmens, menhirs and caves were built or adapted to enhance or amplify ritual sounds. The author has interesting thoughts on the origins of music when echoes were regarded as spirit voices. This knowledge assists our understanding of the biochemical and physiological reasons why dance, rhythm and percussion are such powerful emotional experiences. Richard Rudgley explores objects possibly used for creating sound that date back to 50 000 BP in chapter 15 of his book The Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age.

Entheogenic substances played a part in the rituals performed at sacred sites; there is evidence that hallucinogens and music were used together. In his book The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art, David Lewis-Williams theorizes that the people of the Upper Paleolithic harnessed altered states of consciousness to fashion their society and used imagery as a means of establishing and defining social relationships. Graham Hancock supports Lewis-Williams' theory; his experiments with mind-altering substances are lucidly described in the absorbing book Supernatural.

Devereux believes that urbanization has removed the link between humans, earth and mythology to detrimental effect. An earlier work by him, titled Stone Age Soundtracks, is less detailed, more concise but equally fascinating. Its text is enhanced by black & white illustrations, musical notations, striking color plates; it is another valuable resource highly recommend to those who are interested in mankind's unknown past.
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on 6 February 2012
For me, a really interesting book that explores the link between the natural world, and how humans find spiritual meanings in this. Beautiful photos as well, recommended for those interested in geology/ physical geography.
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on 25 November 2013
A good place to start would be at the end because there's a great essay written by someone other than the author.

Plenty of interesting ideas in Sacred Geography though, and you do sense an over-arching theme of humans and their planet getting into a loving relationship, which is surely what people will want from a book called 'Sacred Geography.' If you like archaeology, anthropology, or you're just generally fairly human, there are lots of things that will get you excited and it's always fun to read about a new topic like archaeoacoustics, and I really commend the author for bringing fringe ideas into a book but I just feel that the author never really goes farther than a short and sweet introduction. A lot of the statements made are quite generalised, simplified, and sometimes completely without qualification or evidence as well, which dampens the spirits somewhat. There are fairly suspect comments thrown in that leave you wondering if the book really serves much of a purpose beyond sharing the author's obvious affection for the romantic association of the concept of noble savages; of course, we have lost so much of our heritage and they certainly did know a lot about existing back in the past but sometimes I found wishing for a more neutral narrator.

Essentially, Sacred Geography is a solid pontoon from which to explore a fantastic subject of humans and their environments but don't expect to be taken on a long journey out to sea.
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