SO HOW WERE THINGS? (Continued)
The absence of basins in other passage tombs is equally as interesting as their presence.
The eastern tomb at Knockroe does not contain a basin, but does have a
bowl-shaped pit in the floor of the end/terminal chamber that either could
have incorporated a basin that was later removed (O’Sullivan 1995, 21), or
alternatively was dug to simulate some of the actions of a basin. For
instance, cremated remains may have been placed in the pit to facilitate a
journey, or liquids may have been pored into the pit to assist in activation
of the chamber itself. The lack of basins in the majority of Irish passage
tombs suggests that their inclusion was particular to the location and
requirements of specific sites, rather than as part of an island-wide
passage tomb ‘blue-print’.
The stone objects in passage tombs may have embodied other places and other times,
radiating some of their essences through presence or by appropriating their
influences. The placement of these parts into a passage tomb with cremated
remains may have served to further project them into the cosmos or
alternative relationships (Fowler 2004, 140). Certainly, the process of
cremation may have facilitated the release of some elements to the heavens.
Such engagements may have been viewed by some as acts of renewal and
regeneration, especially if associated with engraved imagery and connections
with other realms (physical or otherwise). The placement of material objects
in passage tombs upon the floors and in the chambers would have created
temporal sequential layers, with early deposits being recognisable.
These acts would have generated a textured and sublime bricolage (Thomas
1990, 175; 1999, 79), a ‘cosmoscape’ of variant parts: stone, earth, clay,
bone, pottery, chalk, antler, ash, charcoal, and plant matter. The notion of
mixed and textured layering is enhanced when one also includes the
sequential application of motifs upon the stones. Each of these elements
would continually be (re)understood, reformed and re-aligned through use and
fluid change (Shanks 1992, 190). Such performances would render the passage
tombs locations as ‘technologies of disclosure’ (Brittain, 2006) and
revelation within spheres of activity that often overlap (Thomas 1996, 178).
As such, the repetition of resembling artefacts in Irish passage tombs is
more than the marking of similarities; it is also the growth and
magnification of differences via quantities and placements.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OR DIALECTICS AT STANDSTILL?
By convention sweet and by convention bitter, by convention hot, by convention cold, by convention colour: but in reality atoms and void. Democritus