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Theory gives ancient stones new weight

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Dara Meloy
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« on: March 17, 2009, 12:32:11 am »

Theory gives ancient stones new weight
Former U of A professor believes a site sacred to Alberta natives is actually 'Canada's Stonehenge'
By Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald; Canwest News ServiceMarch 15, 2009Comments (1)
In the prologue to Gordon Freeman's book Canada's Stonehenge, the 78-year-old author writes about an unsettling and slightly ominous meeting he had with two Blackfoot hunters on a sacred hill in a remote location 17 kilometres west of Brooks.

It reads like the beginnings of a great, conspiratorial religious thriller, rife with ancient mysteries and secretive worlds. A retired University of Alberta chemistry professor, Freeman was at the site as part of an obsessive 28-year personal study. Known as the Majorville Medicine Wheel, it has long been regarded by archeologists as one of many left behind by the Oxbow people thousands of years ago.

But as he explained his against-the-grain theory that the hill and medicine wheel are actually part of a 26-square-kilometre sun temple and remarkably accurate calendar, the two hunters became wary, quiet and even a little frightening. The younger hunter explained to Freeman that he was entering a world that was not meant for the prying eyes of outsiders.

"He made it clear that I was trespassing in an extremely sacred construction and told me things intended to frighten me away," Freeman writes. "Not direct threats -- but he indicated things I'd done that were forbidden to all but the highest holy men and women."

While the dramatic meeting is factual, one can't help but think its inclusion came as a result of Freeman taking advice to "sex up" his book of scientific and historical theories for the average reader. Canada's Stonehenge -- which promises "astounding archeological discoveries in Canada, England and Wales" -- certainly has a fascinating premise. Freeman took 28 years developing theories about the Alberta site. He took numerous trips to England for equally alarming conclusions about Stonehenge. But, much to his chagrin, his work has been rejected by countless archeological journals and publishers.

So earlier this year, he decided to write the book without the backing of editors or the academic society. He also decided to personalize the book.

"In 2002, I gave it to some people to read and they kept falling asleep," says Freeman with a chuckle, from his home in Edmonton. "I was describing the site. What the people said was, 'You have to put yourself in the book.' I resisted. But after six years of beating my head against the wall, I got to where people don't fall asleep."

Canada's Stonehenge (Kingsley Publishing, 291 pages, $34.95) is based on theories Freeman has been trying to push into the mainstream of the archeological world for at least 15 years. He goes against the traditional views of the Alberta site by suggesting it is actually a 5,000-year-old sun temple and calendar that has stunning similarities to Stonehenge in Britain and the man-made patterns of rocks on Preseli Mountain in southwestern Wales. He concludes that both the creators of the British sites and the Plains Indians could make precise astronomical observations from these patterns of stones. These similarities have led him to a conclusion that is fast becoming the book's unofficial tag line: "Genius existed in the Prairies 5,000 years ago."

"And the people there didn't look like you or me," he says. "The people who built it were not European."

Freeman's reluctance to include anything but science, measurements and history in the book no doubt stems from the fact he is a respected academic, keen on presenting his findings as fact rather than speculation. He has been published more than 450 times in chemistry, physics and other academic journals. For 10 years he was chairman of physical and theoretical chemistry at the University of Alberta and director of the radiation research centre. He is known throughout Canada as a pioneer in interdisciplinary studies in chemistry, physics and human societies.

So it's no surprise that Canada's Stonehenge is full of charts, measurements and diagrams that Freeman says prove beyond doubt that the Plains Indians and pagan Britons were capable of constructing "Stone Age time machines" that marked the changing seasons and phases of the sun and moon and produced a calendar that is more accurate than our present-day Gregorian version.

Freeman won't speculate how people who lived so far apart in time and space came to such similar inventions. But he has concluded that the Alberta site, considered sacred by the Blackfoot, contains geometric patterns that have to be read "like a book."

They are effigies to the sun, moon and morning star -- the holy trilogy of the Plains Indians, he says. The piles of rocks throughout the 26 square kilometres were not arbitrarily placed by melting glaciers -- as is the favoured opinion -- but with scientific precision by people who had far more knowledge of astronomy than previously believed.

And after making these discoveries, Freeman still bristles that his idea continues to fall on deaf ears in official archeological circles.

"People who don't like what I say, say this is just an opinion based on emotion," says Freeman, "but these are conclusions based on an enormous number of hard facts."

Freeman, who was born in Saskatchewan, has had an interest in archeology since he was a boy. The son of a Canadian Pacific Railway agent, young Gordon would often spend Sundays scouring the plains of east-central Saskatchewan for spearheads in the 1930s.

It was in 1980 that he and his wife first came across the Alberta site that would occupy so much of his time for the next 28 years. While Freeman is a scientist, his immediate suspicion that there was more intelligence to the site than meets the eye seems to have sprung from intuition.

"Visually," Freeman says, "I saw these patterns that couldn't have been natural."

Brian Kooyman, a University of Calgary expert in plains archeology, is careful to say that he can't specifically disagree with the book since he hasn't read it. But he is familiar with Freeman's ideas, and admits they tend to be met with skepticism in the academic world.

"Your eyes make lines out of things," he says. "So you have to be very careful. ... The problem is we're not dealing in southern Alberta with aboriginal people who care when to plant things. With things like Stonehenge, one might make a case along those lines. Here, the transition from one season to another was general and people are predominantly concerned with hunting buffalo."

Still, Kooyman says if Freeman's book does prove what he says it does, it would open up a very interesting dimension in the study of this ancient people and the artifacts left scattered across southern Alberta.

Freeman hopes his book continues to spark debate and remind people that the Alberta site is a sacred place. "People pick up rocks and move them, and the rocks are all information and we're just learning to read them," he says.

"People take these souvenirs from a sacred place. This is a 5,000-year-old book that I'm learning to read. Someone will come along who, like me, has a passion for this and understanding of complex systems and will continue the study."

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