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Stonehenge is one of the world ancient mistery. Archaeologists who carried out a dig in April say new radiocarbon dating evidence suggests the first stones brought to Stonehenge were erected around 2300BC - around 300 years earlier than previously believed.

The findings will be featured in the Timewatch documentary Stonehenge Deciphered to be broadcast on both BBC2 in the UK and the Smithsonian Channel in the US on Saturday.

Previous Stonehenge theories include it having been a prehistoric observatory, a temple, a giant calendar or a royal burial ground.

What is known is that the monument was built in stages between 3000BC and 1600BC. Prior to the erection of a double circle of bluestones brought 140 miles from south Wales and the subsequent placing of the larger famous Sarsen stones, was the building of a circular earthwork and placing of timber posts within the enclosure.

Darvill and Wainwright's team inferred the arrival of the bluestones as between 2400BC and 2200BC, from the positions of 14 samples of organic material such as carbonised plant remains and bone in their trench. This is precisely the date range for the Amesbury Archer, a man believed to have originated in the Alps, who was buried five miles from Stonehenge, and whose remains show evidence of an infected kneecap and a serious tooth abscess - potentially backing their healing hypothesis.

The new bluestone dates could undermine the main rival theory proposed by Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, namely that the monument was primarily a burial ground for a Neolithic elite and a place at which people paid their respects to their ancestors.

Darvill says the monument was an important place of burial but only up until 2500BC or 2400BC - before the erection of the stones.

Archaeologists are split on the issue and dismiss each other's explanations. Asked about the elite cemetery theory, Wainwright said people must back up their ideas with "hard evidence", adding "the time has passed for mysticism to play a large role".

On the other side of the debate, Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, describes the healing centre theory as "a fairy story".

Radiocarbon dating in the 1990s on samples from earlier digs places the erection of the Sarsens at 2500 - 2400BC, yet Darvill places them at 2100BC. Pitts said: "There is no evidence for that at all. These dates are completely baffling. They have to say that because we know from archaeological evidence that the first bluestones in the centre were there before the Sarsens were put up. I'm suspicious as to why this dating comes out so fortunately as fitting their theory."

Still, the stonehenge remains as a mistery...

2 comments

joe said... @ 10 May 2009 at 07:55

The stones are aligned almost perfectly with the sunrise on the summer solstice, and it is almost unquestioned that Stonehenge was built as a spectacular place of worship. Although the faith of the Stonehenge builders predates any known religion, the site has become a place of pilgrimage and worship for Neopagans who identify themselves with the Druids or other forms of Celtic paganism.

what amazing...

mas-aripp said... @ 14 May 2009 at 08:47

Thank you for comments..

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