Stonehenge

My ARCHAEO-Crush of March is a world-famous prehistoric site of England!

Stonehenge

Photo of the main stone circle of Stonehenge taken during my one and only visit to the site in 2010.

STONEHENGE

Type: monument (generally acknowledged as a sanctuary)
Civilisation: Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain
Date:  circa 3700-1600  BCE

ARCHAEO-Crush: While I can’t pretend to know much about Stonehenge and Neolithic/Bronze Age Britain, I’ll admit to finding the site fascinating.  Enough to be on my bucket list! (Been there, done that!)  Stonehenge is undoubtedly one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, one that has yet to reveal all its secrets. It is an extremely sophisticated stone circle, even from an architectural and construction perspective, with specific features being aligned with the solstitial axis.  It was in continuous use for roughly 2000 years (!) and underwent various modifications during that time (making the plan difficult to interpret, especially with fallen or broken stones littering the ground). The monument comprised at various points in time an avenue, ditches, banks, post holes, pits and other archaeological features of interest along with the famous circle of linteled megaliths and the trilithons found within (trilithon means ‘three stones’ and refer to monuments made of two vertical stones topped with a horizontal one used like a lintel). The stones making up these structures have been drag from as far as 240 km away (sandstone sarsens from Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire and bluestones from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire). The largest megalith weighs 40 tonnes!   Whether it’s a pyramid from Egypt or a stone circle in the south of England, this stone moving business is mind boggling and serves as an incredible testimony to the ingenuity and skills of the ancient architects and workers, ancient peoples’ understanding of their environment and the interconnections of sites and features within a landscape. It’s impressive to say the least. Humans, when they put their minds to it, can move mountains… or just about.

Bucket list status: I visited Stonehenge while on vacation in England with my brother back in 2010. The visit that was unfortunately marred by the fact that both of us suffered food poisoning the night before… I’d like to go back again, especially since there is now a nice visitor centre, and explore the area because the sites are interconnected.
Additional information: Stonehenge has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986  (see here). You can find more info about this incredible archaeological monument and surrounding sites on the English Heritage website.

Experiential Mummification #1

Very cool post about experimental mummification… Thanks, Campbell, for sharing!

Animal Mummy Lab

As part of our research for The Leverhulme Trust, the BioBank Team have mummified several bird cadavers using experiential methods seen in the ancient mummies (Fig. 1) (kindly provided by the Natural History Museum Bird group, Tring and productive household pet hunting activity). The use of simple observation and clinical imaging were used to monitor smell, weight loss and temperature/humidity, level of desiccation and preservation, and difficulty in the mummification technique; all of which particularly relate to EM1 and EM10.

Experimental Mummies Figure 1: Wrapped Experimental Animal Mummies

Our experiences with clinical imaging have shown that they can be limited when it comes to collating zooarchaeological data (species identification, Minimum Number of Individuals, age and sex) from animal mummies that contain something other than a single, complete individual. To assess this difficulty, the NHM, Tring donated 6 bags of bird remains for mummification; the caveat being that they did not tell us how many or what species were present…

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