This article first appeared in ancient-code.com and is written by Ivan Petricevic
The mysterious 5000-year-old stone spheres… do they indicate knowledge of the five Platonic solids a millennium before Plato described them? Or are they depictions of atoms, thousands of years ago? Indicating that ancient mankind possessed far superior knowledge than we believe today.
These mysterious spheres are one of the greatest archaeological enigmas of the 21st century. These ‘anomalous’ petrospheres are found mainly in Scotland, Britain and Ireland and date from the late Neolithic to possibly the Iron Age. On their surface, the mysterious spheres have from 3 to 160 protruding knobs with a size varying from approximately 2.75 inches up to 7 centimetres across. In comparison, the stone spheres are about the size of tennis balls or oranges.
While researchers around the world have proposed numerous theories trying to explain their origin and purpose, their history remains a great enigma for scholars.
While researchers have discovered these spheres with up to 160 knobs, those with six knows are the most common. Mathematicians seem to have a particular interest in the spheres because of their incredible aesthetic beauty and mostly because, amongst them, they represent all the symmetrical forms of the five Platonic Solids.
While nearly all of the mysterious spheres have been found in north-eastern regions of Scotland, people have come across them in other surrounding areas. Researchers speculate that given the similar distribution of the spheres to Pictish symbols, many have suggested that the mysterious spheres are in fact Pictish artefacts. According to reports, by 2015, a total of 435 stone spheres have been recorded, while researchers expect that there are hundreds more waiting to be found.
Researchers have categorized the spheres into three categories: those with spirals, those with concentric circles and those which have patterns of straight incised lines and hatchings.
While their true purpose remains a mystery, the carved stone spheres have been taken as evidence by many researchers as evidence of knowledge of the five Platonic solids, which were described a millennium after. This means that ancient mankind had knowledge about the ‘five Platonic Solids’ much earlier than Plato described them. While some of the stone spheres do exhibit the symmetrical characteristics of Platonic solids, the extent of ‘how much’ is something widely disputed among researchers.
Among one of the more accepted theories is that of the Megalithic construction aid. Researchers theorize that the mysterious stone spheres could have been used by ancient mankind to help transport megalithic stones by acting as ball bearings. According to experts, there is a correlation between the standing stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and carved stone spheres.
Researchers suggest that the different size of the spheres might indicate that these were meant to be used together as one unit, in order to facilitate the transportation of huge blocks of stone. Experts indicate that it is possible to demonstrate that the petrospheres were found in the vicinity of Neolithic recumbent stone circles.
Testing this theory has shown that models using small wooden spheres placed in a groove in parallel longitudinal pieces of wood ‘sleepers’ with a carrying board above have shown such megalith transport to be practical in some situations. This theory, like many others, is widely disputed among scholars who cannot agree on one particular explanation.
Other researchers indicate that the stone spheres are in fact evidence of a lost ancient knowledge which indicates that ancient mankind had extremely advanced knowledge in numerous sciences and that these spheres are in fact depictions and representations of atoms. Like many other theories, this too has been widely rejected among archaeologists and historians.
The truth is that despite their number, researchers have very little information about the mysterious stone spheres. Their true purpose remains an enigma for researchers who can only speculate as to how and why, Neolithic people created such elaborate spheres. Very few of the stone spheres are in fact damaged which indicates that the petrospheres were non-utilitarian objects but rather spheres with symbolic or social significance to late Neolithic and early Bronze Age communities.
Ivan is a freelance writer, editor-in-chief of ancient-code.com, he also writes for EWAO, Share Knowledge, Svemir Online and Ancient Origins.