How was Stonehenge built 2
Stonehenge: 5 questions about the mysterious monument
A stone age observatory? A cemetery? A druid temple? What was Stonehenge really?
Stonehenge came into being in several phases. Initially, around 5,300 years ago, it was laid out as a round wall with a ditch, a place for ancestor worship, on which the ashes of important deceased were buried. Since the ancestors were responsible for the well-being of the living, it was probably also a place for celebrations during the solstices, the most important fixed points during a harvest year. About 800 years later, the social structures were different, the square lost its function as a cemetery. The stones were set up, but the orientation towards the solstices was retained. The old ritual place became a place of worship, a temple.
Elaborate engineering has now helped archaeologists solve the great puzzles that have surrounded Stonehenge for centuries. The whole story in GEO.
And who built Stonehenge?
Certainly no druids, they only existed after Stonehenge had long since become insignificant. The beginning was probably made by clans who had settled nearby as farmers. By the way, creating a trench and a wall with a diameter of more than 100 meters was no small feat. There were no spades, the digging was done with deer antlers and the shoulder blades of cattle.
Later, people of Welsh origin came to the area, they also brought the smaller stones with them and were probably involved in the construction of the temple, for which, archaeological evidence suggests, tribes from all over the island flocked to. They probably received support from members of the so-called bell beaker culture, a group that had already mastered metalworking and had appeared in the region shortly before the start of temple construction.
Why did Stonehenge come about in this deserted, then rather desolate area?
Many archaeologists who study Stonehenge now think they know the reason - and it's pretty curious. Because very close by, on the Avon river, there are still warm springs today, which in itself must have been a miracle for the average Stone Age person: a pond that never freezes over. In addition, rivers and springs were already religious places at that time, as can be read from the many offerings found in them.
In addition, a rare type of algae lives on stones in one of these springs, which turns bright pink when it comes into contact with oxygen. The effect on people back then is easy to imagine. Archaeologists then also found remains of much older cult sites near this source - and evidence that the site was settled around 7,000 years ago by hunters and gatherers. So Stonehenge is only the most striking building in a ritual landscape that has existed for a long time.
How do you know the Stonehenge area was so important back then?
In several places, for example at the warm spring near Stonehenge and in the excavated ruins of a Neolithic village three kilometers away, remains of large festivals have been discovered in which very, very many people from different regions of the island took part have to.
In the Neolithic and later, in the Bronze and Iron Ages, it was customary to ritually bury not only the bones of the consumed animals, but also dishes, knives and even the remains of the fire in large pits after cultic festivals. From such finds one can read today when these feasts took place, what was eaten, approximately how many people were involved and where they came from.
Are there really still things to discover in Stonehenge that you didn't know about?
For sure. So found, for example, the just completed Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project found out that the stone monument was surrounded by numerous smaller henges, mostly round structures made of tall wooden posts, so-called woodhenges. One can only speculate, but perhaps these were once the cult sites of individual clans or tribes.
Centuries later these cult spots were built over with barrows for the Bronze Age elite. The largest Stone Age monument ever erected on the British Isles was also discovered nearby: a circle of huge wooden stakes that were almost 500 meters in diameter. Inside this ring was a whole village with three other places of worship.
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