ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT HERTS & ESSEX OBSERVER
A HENGE – or Prehistoric monument – may have been unearthed on the outskirts of Bishop’s Stortford.
Archaeologists investigating sites earmarked for thousands of new homes on the town’s ASRs – areas of special restraint – believe they could have found a Neolithic earthwork in the form of a ritual enclosure on the site along the A120 bypass.
The land – ASRs 1 to 4 – is the subject of a planning application by the Bishop’s Stortford North Consortium of developers and as part of the scheme, a series of trial trenches have been dug to investigate and evaluate their historic potential.
Similar work is being undertaken on ASR 5, which is the subject of a smaller application by Countryside Properties, close to Hazel End.
A report by the county council’s historic environment unit says: “Although these investigations are still ongoing (some of the trial trenches are visible from the Bishop’s Stortford bypass and Farnham and Hazel End Roads), some interesting archaeology has been identified in both prospective development areas.
“Interpretation is tentative at this stage but the Hazel End site, involving trenches on both fields alongside Hazel End Road, has identified the remains of a probable burial mound, of Late Neolithic (c4500-2500BC) or Early Bronze Age date (c2500-1700BC) several ditches, pits and post-holes of probable Bronze Age date, and, in the lower field next to the River Stort, a roughly cobbled surface covered with Late Iron Age and Roman pottery.
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Tired of trekking all the way to the English countryside just to perform your druid rituals at the actual Stonehenge site? Do you wish there was a more convenient way? Well your prayers—or chants, or whatever—have been answered with this inflatable alternative.
Created by artist Jeremy Deller to commemorate the Olympic games, and to show that Britain has a good sense of humor, this unique version of Stonehenge is completely inflatable. So all you need is a big enough space, an air compressor, and a bit of patience, and in no time you’ll have your own version of one of England’s biggest mysteries. And maybe next time Deller will create a bouncy castle version of Buckingham Palace—now that’s a tourist attraction.
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New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe – 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World.
A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast. Three of the sites are on the Delmarva Peninsular in Maryland, discovered by archaeologist Dr Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware. One is in Pennsylvania and another in Virginia. A sixth was discovered by scallop-dredging fishermen on the seabed 60 miles from the Virginian coast on what, in prehistoric times, would have been dry land.
The new discoveries are among the most important archaeological breakthroughs for several decades – and are set to add substantially to our understanding of humanity’s spread around the globe.
The similarity between other later east coast US and European Stone Age stone tool technologies has been noted before. But all the US European-style tools, unearthed before the discovery or dating of the recently found or dated US east coast sites, were from around 15,000 years ago – long after Stone Age Europeans (the Solutrean cultures of France and Iberia) had ceased making such artefacts. Most archaeologists had therefore rejected any possibility of a connection. But the newly-discovered and recently-dated early Maryland and other US east coast Stone Age tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago – and are therefore contemporary with the virtually identical western European material.
What’s more, chemical analysis carried out last year on a European-style stone knife found in Virginia back in 1971 revealed that it was made of French-originating flint.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY JENNIFER WALSH AT LIVESCIENCE.COM
The axes may have been traded between human groups and would have served as a social cue to others, Mimi Lam, a researcher from the University of British Columbia, suggested in her talk at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting here on Feb. 18.
“The Acheulean hand ax was standardized and shaped, became exchanged in social networks and took on a symbolic meaning,” Lam said. “My suggestion was that hand axes were the first commodity: A marketable good or service that has value and is used as an item for exchange.”
“Humans are unique in their use of tools,” Lam said. “We make stone tools and the stones are durable and become part of our external environment.” These tools, she added, could have been passed down in family groups or traded with other ancient hominids.
As humans became more intelligent, their tools become more symmetrical. “They became standardized as a result of social norms and also utility. Eventually, over time, hand axes were made special to set them apart,” Lam said. “There was a trend to distinguish these common tools that had a standard shape.”
Examples of hand axes from about 250,000 to 700,000 years ago contain some of these special properties, such as being made of pink rock or rock embedded with fossils. Ancient humans also made large axes that stood out from the crowd.
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Academics from the universities of Southampton and Liverpool are hoping to shed new light on the long-standing debate about whether the change around 4,000BC was due to colonists moving into Britain or if the indigenous population gradually adopted the new agricultural lifestyle themselves.
The experts will be excavating three island groups in the western seaways – the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and the Outer Hebrides – to understand what sailing across this area would have been like in 4,000BC.
Fraser Sturt, from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, said: “How people changed from hunter-gatherers to agricultural lifestyles is one of the big questions in archaeology.
“We know that the first signs of domestication occurred in the Middle East around 10,000BC and reached France by 5,000BC. However, it appears to be another 1,000 years before Neolithic farming activities reached Britain.
“We are investigating why this happened by looking at changing social practices, possible environmental impacts and the nature of maritime technology and communication.”
Recent archaeological findings, such as French pottery in Scotland, suggest that colonisation from the continent could be one possible explanation for this shift in lifestyle.
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While on the Scottish leg of filming Standing with Stones, Rupert and I came up with a little analogy which we hope illustrates the problems and dangers of interpretation when dealing with our ancient megalithic sites. Templewood – part of the Kilmartin Glen megalithic complex – seemed an ideal spot to slip it in. Hope it makes sense to you!
The layout of Stonehenge matches the spacing of loud and quiet sounds created by acoustic interference, new theory claims
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The Neolithic builders of Stonehenge were inspired by “auditory illusions” when they drew up blueprints for the ancient monument, a researcher claims.
The radical proposal follows a series of experiments by US scientist Steven Waller, who claims the positions of the standing stones match patterns in sound waves created by a pair of musical instruments.
Waller, an independent researcher in California, said the layout of the stones corresponded to the regular spacing of loud and quiet sounds created by acoustic interference when two instruments played the same note continuously.
In Neolithic times, the nature of sound waves – and their ability to reinforce and cancel each other out – would have been mysterious enough to verge on the magical, Waller said. Quiet patches created by acoustic interference could have led to the “auditory illusion” that invisible objects stood between a listener and the instruments being played, he added.
To investigate whether instruments could create such auditory illusions, Waller rigged two flutes to an air pump so they played the same note continuously. When he walked around them in a circle, the volume rose, fell and rose again as the sound waves interfered with each other. “What I found unexpected was how I experienced those regions of quiet. It felt like I was being sheltered from the sound. As if something was protecting me. It gave me a feeling of peace and quiet,” he said.
Auditory interference pattern created when two instruments play the same note continuously Link to this audio
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A team of geologists from Britain have pinpointed the exact quarry that Stonehenge’s innermost circle of rocks came from. It’s the first time that a precise source has been found for any of the stones at the prehistoric monument.
Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales painstakingly identified samples from various rock outcrops in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
For nine months the pair used petrography — the study of mineral content and textural relationships within rocks — to find the origins of Stonehenge’s rhyolite debitage stones. These spotted dolerites or bluestones form the inner circle and inner horseshoe of the site.
They found the culprit on a 65-metre-long outcropping called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It lies approximately 160 miles from the Stonehenge site.