Monday, September 7, 2015

Stretching the Cord, or the Development of Prehistoric Geometry

Cernunnos with rod (blue) and cord (red)
From the Gundestrup cauldron
“Stretching the cord,” is a phrase some will be familiar with today; it was written about by the Sumerians, Akkadians, Egyptians, and patriarchal Hebrews, and was directly alluded to by yet older civilizations. This process is indirectly testified to archaeologically at Altamira (18,000 BC), Lascaux (14,500 BC), Nabta (12,500 BC), Cappadocia (10,500 BC), Lixus (9500 BC), Byblos/Sphinx (9000 BC), and Azors (6500 BC). 

Stretching the cord begins with yarn, twisted and roved into a cord as a string compass used to make a circle. Likely this dates to before 32,000 BC. It is simple really, a stick in the ground, a string attached at one end,  another stick at the other end (or today a pencil), pull it taught and move it around, marking the ground with a large circle. I used this technique to make a 12 foot circle on a stage floor with a 6 foot string, a nail, and a pencil. Perfect spirals can also be created by fixing the string to a thicker stick in the center; as the marking-stick is moved around, the string winds onto the center stick, pulling the marking-stick in evenly to the center.

The rod and cord used for measuring and marking out patterns on the ground, for division of time, and for laying out megalithic observatories are depicted on images of ancient kings and queens. These artifacts are symbols of power and influence, as both are a result of knowledge and tools which improved the lives of everyone else. (prediction of natural cycles recorded in calendars allowed preparation for seasons and thus increased survival)

“Stretching the cord” is a phrase describing humankind’s invention of geometry and mathematics used to this day. No historian or archaeologist we know of has seen this (examples shown below). Likely mathematicians ignored pictures of the rod and cord, while archaeologists and historians could not appreciate what they saw. Experts see what they want to, not what is there.  

Stretch the cord? Yes, stretch it out, as it is kept rolled up. Straightened out it becomes a string compass to make a circle using one peg in the center, or an ellipse using two pegs, or zigzagged between multiple pegs to make more intricate constructs. The secret: not stretching it too much and lengthening it, or leaving it limp and too short. The cord is marked off with knots to check lengths, intervals measured by the rod, like inches on a ruler. 

The most significant constructions, which likely originated as prehistoric textile workers string finger pattern - like cat’s cradles - are the circle, ellipse, and 3,4,5 triangle, as well as trisection and quintisection of angles, and even seven pointed stars. 

The use of the cord by the Vanir (ca. 5000 BC) for the development of geometry reveals the origin of Solomon’s Key, the gavel, mathematical foundation of keystone symbolism, Masonic ceremony, and ethical simile to geometric-mathematical truth. Our ancestors recorded their knowledge with symbols, passing their images, accompanied by oral tradition, into our contemporary world. The Brotherhood of Freemasons and their sisters in the Order of the Eastern Star have inherited the responsibility of preserving and sharing the knowledge of the Vanir through symbol and ritual designed by those exquisitely attentive to pattern, tradition, and detail as found in symbolism and oral mythology.

(ref: Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann)

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales, decoding prehistoric images, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales and tracing them to their roots. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.
     Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:


Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge  
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images 
Symbology: World of Symbols 
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids


A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn


A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid

The Fairy Tales: Once-Upon-A-Time Lessons First Book


  1. Hi Michelle Snyder,

    I was just searching for prehistoric geometry this morning and found this page on the stretching of the cord ceremony. It seems like you really have something here. I noticed in your book list that you do not have Tom Brooks who has a theory about prehistoric geometry. Of course, his theory has been criticized as involving selection bias. However, I mention him because you speak of lost civilizations. Archaeoastronomers like Alexander Thom attributed geometry as you describe to prehistoric people. I also found this article on Minoan geometry you might like:
    "Origins and Application of Geometry in the Thera Prehistoric Civilization Ca. 1650 BC." @
    I wonder where you may have written more about the stretching of the cord? I am obviously eager to get some sources.
    Like Tom Brooks and yourself I think that prehistoric people were much more sophisticated than presently thought.

    Laurence Crossen

    1. Thanks for your comments, I will look at my material and see what I can find. My symbologist FB page might be of interest.


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