February 9, 2008

The Henge Builders

Archaeology Magazine, in the January/February issue had a wonderful article about "The Henge Builders: New Discoveries inspire archaeologists to re-envision the culture that created Stonehenge." The seven page article in the magazine is much more thorough than short, 1 page, extract on the Archaeology web site.

Among the many new findings are:

1. Bones near Stonehenge reveal that people were immigrating to the area from the European continent.

2. New carbon-14 dates indicate that Stonehenge is 1,000 years older than archaeologists previously believed.

3. A wooden henge nearby, at Durrington Walls, has lead to a contorversial idea that wood henges were associated with rituals for the living while Stonehenge was associated with rituals for the dead.

4. That the winter solstice alignment of the stones may have been more significant than the summer solstice alignment.

I must add that the author, Mike Pitts, takes some license in stating that the "view [of Stonehenge] has changed little since Hawthorne's time," [150 years ago] in that the stones were rebuilt re-erected and otherwise improved in early 20th century and again in the '50's and again in 1964. Photos of Stonehenge from before the 'Heritage Restoration" are a bit different. He even mentions the problems he had doing research 30 years ago because the intermittent excavations at the site went largely unpublished, so I'm surprised he thought there was little changed in the past 150 years.

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