In ancient times, when heroes and sorcerers lived on earth, people understood the language of animals, and animals understood the language of people; and it was not so customary that a person could offend even the smallest bird, and a beast could harm an unintelligent child - and so, in those ancient, ancient times, stones were soft, like raw clay
How did people and animals quarrel? Nobody knows this. But they divided the lands among themselves, placing boundary stones on the borders.
Wolves and bears, hares and foxes put their paws to the boulders, leaving impressions of clawed limbs on the soft surface. The time of wizards and heroes is over, and they left for unknown distances. But a chain of footprints followed them. Here the hero kicked off with her foot from a large gray boulder, jumping over the lake, and the imprint of her bare foot remained on the stone. And here the sorcerer walked over the stones, not wanting to get his pointed shoes dirty. Immediately after that, soft boulders petrified, forever preserving the traces of those who touched them.
Stones with depressions resembling human footprints (anthropomorphic footprints) or animal footprints (zoomorphic) are known from almost all continents - Europe and Asia, Africa and America. Usually the footprints go into the stone for a few centimeters. Sometimes their contours seem blurred, and sometimes they are so clear that the slightest bulges and depressions of the foot are visible. Most often there is one footprint on the stone, but boulders are known on which there are two or even three footprints or paws. If we talk about anthropomorphic prints, then, as a rule, these are traces of bare feet, but sometimes it seems as if a man in a shoe “stepped” on a stone. Most of the footprints are of natural size (the foot of an adult male, a narrow female foot or the foot of a child), but there are also very large ones.
And everywhere the stones with footprints are shrouded in legends and traditions. The story with which we began our article can be considered a generalizing and universal legend. In each specific area, it is specified and broken down into details. So Herodotus, who undertook a journey to the lands of the Scythians, wrote in the fourth volume of his "Histories" that on a rock in the Dniester valley (for Herodotus - the Tiras river), local residents showed him "one curiosity" - an almost meter footprint of Hercules.
And a modern colleague of Herodotus, a history teacher at one of the village schools in Belarus, told the author of this article about his search for a stone with prints of two feet (the stone disappeared during collectivization) - an adult and a child, which, as they said in the village, belong her daughter. " That is, in both cases, we are talking about the characters already specified by us: heroes and sorcerers, from which it is clear that we have before us legends with echoes of pagan religion.
At the same time, later, already Buddhist and Christian times, legends have been written about the investigator stones (as they are commonly called in the scientific world). The essence of such legends boils down to the following: traces on the stone were left by Buddha, Christ, Virgin Mary, angels or saints, for example, Elijah the Prophet, who either descended from heaven or ascended, and the stones melted under their feet. At the same time, there are trackers, footprints on which, according to local legends, were left by the devil or the devil.
There are no contradictions here - the new religion somewhere picked up pagan cults and "sanctified" stones, and somewhere it managed to overcome the pagan heritage, labeling the investigators as devilish and unclean. The same division into divine and devilish, holy and damned, extended to water, which accumulated during the rain in trace-like depressions on the stone. The first, according to legend, was considered alive, healing, it was washed out the eyes, sprinkled on the bodies of patients, sprinkled on children. The second was called dead, and to use it meant to harm oneself.
These are the legends. What do the scientists say? Who really left footprints in the stone? Are they man-made or maybe natural?
In order to answer these questions, let us go deep … into the stone. Its composition is not always uniform. Boulders often contain inclusions that differ in color and structure. These foreign inclusions are differently amenable to weathering, forming natural grooves in the stone. It is worth correcting them a little, giving the grooves the shape of the foot, and before us is the tracker stone. But who needed to "fix" the indentations? In addition, stones are known, traces on which are recognized as entirely man-made. For what purpose was this done? Let us ask ourselves the question in parallel - were only the foot prints left to us by unknown masons?
Obviously, in order to understand the purpose of the trace stones, it is necessary to consider all the rock signs known today. These are handprints on stones (they are much less common than trace stones), the already mentioned paw prints of animals and birds, images of crosses, circles, horseshoes, arrows and, finally, depressions in the form of trapezoidal, triangular or irregular funnels engraved on boulders. or cups (calyx stones). It is interesting that the same legends about medicinal (living) water are associated with the cup-stones as with the trace-stones. This suggests that both types of stones were part of the same cult. At the same time, all stones with signs should be considered not separate monuments of magical rituals of pagan times, but elements of a single cult - especially when you consider that many of them were found in ancient sanctuaries.