Largest Neolithic monument discovered near Stonehenge

November 14th, 2007 - 8:33 am ICT by admin  
Remains of an estimated 300 houses are thought to have survived under earthworks three kilometres from the famous stone rings, and 10 have been excavated so far, reports the BBC.

Professor Mike Parker Pearson of Sheffield University believes that there could have been double that total.

“What is really exciting is realising just how big the village for the Stonehenge builders was,” Pearson says, adding that allowing four per house, there could have been room for more than 2,000 people.

Analysis of the houses has also shows that some were higher status than others.

This is the first evidence for social difference and hierarchy at the time of Stonehenge, indicating that the organisation of labour for moving and raising the stones was not egalitarian.

The settlement is buried beneath the bank of Durrington Walls, a great circular ditched enclosure. Geophysical survey and excavation work have revealed that separate work gangs probably had constructed the ditch and bank in large sections.

A find of dozens of antler picks in one section of ditch gives some idea of the size of these work parties.

The settlement beneath Durrington Walls dates from around the time of the construction of Stonehenge’s sarsen stones, about 2600 to 2500 BC.

For Mike Parker Pearson, the new evidence throws an important light on how Neolithic society worked - how people organised themselves to build mega-structures.

He believes there were groups of about 200-400 people working under a clan head, responsible for completing individual sections of the overall monument.

Other evidence from cow and pig bones found on the site suggests that people were coming into the area on a seasonal basis.

And there is also evidence of feasting at Durrington Neolithic village such as bones still connected together.

So far, only a fraction of the area has been excavated

The team has also found a tantalising artefact: a piece of chalk with cut marks that Parker Pearson believes was made by a copper axe.

The current excavations at Stonehenge began four years ago and are part of a 10-year project. (ANI)

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |