I figured it would make me a bad anthropologist to visit Ireland without going to see some of its vestiges of prehistoric civilization, so on our second day in Dublin we took a bus up to Drogheda, then a taxi to Brú na Bóinne, whose tourist center manages access to several Neolithic passage graves dating back to 3000 BC. At this time of year only one, Newgrange, is open to the public.
Resembling giant hobbit holes, the tombs consist of intricately layered sod and several types of stone that all came from many kilometers away. Like the iconic statues on Easter Island, the mystery remains how the large stones were moved across such vast distances before the invention of the wheel and 'modern' building methods. The results are stunning.
The main entrance to the tomb contains an opening designed to align perfectly with the sun at the winter solstice, illuminating the otherwise dark inner chamber for about 20 glorious minutes each year. Visitors can enter a lottery for tickets to witness the phenomenon.
The more historic sites we visit, the more I wonder what - if anything - from contemporary society will still be around hundreds and thousands of years from now. Probably nothing that would reveal any useful information to future generations of scientists. Who knows? Climate change may have very well wiped out humankind by then.
See more photos here.