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Stonehenge As a Royal Family's Burial Site

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the my-stone-is-bigger-than-your-stone dept.

Earth 124

mikesd81 sends in a report from Newsday about radiocarbon dating of cremated bones excavated from Britain's Stonehenge that, an archeologist said, has solved part of the ancient mystery surrounding the 5,000-year-old site: It was a burial ground for what may have been the country's first royal dynasty. No word on how this work relates to the "Neolithic Lourdes" theory we discussed earlier. "The new dates indicate burials began at least 500 years before the first massive stones were erected at the site and continued after it was completed... The pattern and relatively small number of the graves suggest all were members of a single family. The findings provide the first substantive evidence that a line of kings ruled at least a portion of southern England during this early period. They exerted enough power to mobilize manpower necessary to move the massive stones from as far as 150 miles away and [maintained] that power for at least five centuries, said archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield, leader of current excavations at the site... His findings will also appear in the June issue of National Geographic and in the television special "Stonehenge Decoded," to be shown Sunday."

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south yorkshire (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612277)

south yorkshire

Alright!! An article about... (3, Funny)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612285)

Spinal Tap's [spinaltapfan.com] stage background!

Re:Alright!! An article about... (1)

bobmarleypeople (1077639) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612549)

Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow I will take you there, I will show you how

Re:Alright!! An article about... (1)

mstahl (701501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614109)

Thanks. Now I'll never get that song out of my head!

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612287)

They were aliens, right? Or time travelers? Or... mutants? COME ON! Give me something here...

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612405)

the aliens, the mutants and the heretics, yeah right

Re:But... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613057)

They were time-travelling mutated alien kernel hackers. Does that comfort you?

Pffft.. (0, Offtopic)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612317)

I know a better theory. It was built by early transvestites. Watch the excellent commentary of the well known historian Eddie Izzard. [youtube.com]

Note to the humorless ninja mods who are already brandishing their mod points at this post threatening to mod it troll or so, the proper mod for this post is funny. Of course that would just waste your mod points since it doesn't affect my karma so if this part of the post applies to you (that is if you are a humorless ninja mod) then don't click on the link (hey! it's slashdot) and mod this post insightful or informative or underrated (see it says "historian" in the link?).

Re:Pffft.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612531)

Considering that most of your post is talking about the moderation system of Slashdot instead of this article (3:1), the proper moderation would be -1 Offtopic.

Re:Pffft.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23615811)

0wn3d.

Why Stonehenge? (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612449)

Its always baffled me why Stonehenge gets all the attention, when there's a much more impressive stone circle and causeway monument four times the size only 20 miles away at Avebury [wikipedia.org] - and its hardly been investigated!

Re:Why Stonehenge? (5, Interesting)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612515)

It doesn't look as impressive, and is almost completely ruined, whereas stonehenge has always survived to some degree.
I'm not sure why you consider Avebury more impressive. I've been to both as a child and I was more impressed by stonehenge.

That having been said there are more impressive burial sites, which are earth mounds which have caves that go underground, and are lit up by natural light only on certain days of the year.
They were certainly more impressive to visit, if not visually impressive.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612587)

You went to both as a child? Go back as an adult and I guarantee you will change your mind. Stonehenge looks like it does because it has been rebuilt several times in the past 100 years - whether they actually are representative of how they stood thousands of years go is still subject to discussion.

The best thing about Avebury is that its not a stage managed tourist trap - you simply park your car and go wandering, you can even touch the stones if you wish and theres no entrance fee. The sheer size of the monument is fantastic.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (0)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613605)

I'm not impressed by the snobby "I like what tourists don't like" argument. How you can describe an ancient monument a tourist trap is beyond me.
It's just stonehenge and a barrier to try and stop people ruining it by touching the stones, how is that stage managed?

You're free to your own opinion, just don't act like it's anything other than opinion. (Same goes for your obnoxious sig)

Re:Why Stonehenge? (4, Interesting)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613973)

Visiting Stonehenge is like visiting a museum. There are certain areas you can and cannot go, times you cannot be there, and the path ends in a gift shop.

Avebury is an actual village surrounded by megaliths. More standing stones line a very nice walk/hike to the area, and there are burial mounds all over the place (some have been hedgehogged and look really cool). There are (incredibly kitschy) stores in town selling info of various kinds, and a visitors center set up to demonstrate what life was like back in The Day(tm).

In comparison the whole Stonehenge experience feels tightly controlled and 'artificial'. I can't really justify that word but you may understand what I'm getting at.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (3, Informative)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614257)

The best thing about Avebury is that its not a stage managed tourist trap - you simply park your car and go wandering, you can even touch the stones if you wish and theres no entrance fee.
Also check out the Callanish Standing Stones [wikipedia.org] on the Isle of Lewis if you get the opportunity. Perhaps not quite as impressive as Stonehenge, no lintels, but if you go in the off tourist season, you may be able to have them all to yourself. To be alone with something like that affords a deep feeling of connection with the ancient past.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23619061)

You went to both as a child? Go back as an adult and I guarantee you will change your mind. Stonehenge looks like it does because it has been rebuilt several times in the past 100 years - whether they actually are representative of how they stood thousands of years go is still subject to discussion.
Stonehenge has been excavated, in different areas and to different depths, several times in the last century, and yes, there was some re-erecting of stones in several of these excavation phases. However, the nature of the site is such that we can have high confidence that the stones which have been re-erected are very close to their original positions. Part of the reason for that confidence is that antiquarians as far back as the mid-15th century have been producing drawings and sketches of the structure. But most of the reason is that the stones are each set into pits excavated into the bedrock of the site. Soils on the downlands are typically under a meter thick, which is insufficient to provide adequate foundation for any substantial structure. So, to build (for example) a large hut you'd need to excavate a deep narrow hole in the ground to receive the bottom half-meter or so of your main posts, then slot the posts into the pit and wedge them into upright position with smaller stones. Exactly the same techniques, scaled up, were used on the stone circles (look at the mortise and tenon carpentry joints on the tops of the trilithons, for example). The archaeology of habitation sites and ritual sites throughout southern England is literally peppered with these holes in the ground. Since digging holes in the ground is hard work, and you want your post (or stone) to stay closely upright, you make the hole a close fit for the post/ stone with due allowance for how you're going to slot the stone in. When archaeologists come back to the site 'X' thousands of years later, they find all the old holes in the ground filled-in with soil and contrasting very clearly with the clean white Chalk. The Stonehenge site is absolutely littered with these holes, and many of them can be assigned with confidence to individual stones. If organic debris is found at the bottom of any particular hole (say, an antler-pick), it can (potentially) be carbon-dated, adding to the details of the site's chronology. (Wooden artefacts, say the shaft from a broken axe, might also be suitable for dendrochronological dating - tree-ring methods.) For particular holes we have good evidence of a latest possible date for their excavation (the date of the oldest material in the hole. Some holes may have retained their stones in position since antiquity, preventing their accurate dating.

The best thing about Avebury is that its not a stage managed tourist trap - you simply park your car and go wandering, you can even touch the stones if you wish and theres no entrance fee. The sheer size of the monument is fantastic.
I entirely agree ; I visited Stonehenge with my (Russian) wife a few weeks ago, which she was duly impressed by, while also being underwhelmed by the trampling hordes. Then we went over to Avebury to meet my parents for lunch in the pub there (well worthwhile, BTW) and spend the afternoon going around the stones. That was much more interesting. And as you say, getting up close and personal with the stones is much more interesting than being shepherded along a donkey track. At least we didn't have to pay for Stonehenge (NTS members) My father has been teaching a WEA [wikipedia.org] course in megalithic archaeology for a decade or so, and a day trip to Avebury is a normal part of the curriculum.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612655)

"whereas stonehenge has always survived to some degree."

Look at the paintings of Stonehenge from the 17th to early 19th centuries. The Stonehenge you see today is as genuine as Disney World. It's a phony tourist trap, just like Newgrange.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23615815)

For some pictures of Stonehenge's restoration, see:

http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicstonehenge.htm/ [ufos-aliens.co.uk]

I know the URL doesn't inspire confidence, but you can at least search for John Constable's 1835 depiction of Stonehenge independently and compare it to modern day.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23615885)

...no pictures, but a slightly more confidence inspiring URL, which gives a little more detail on what work was done.

http://www.britarch.ac.uk/stonehenge/stone23.html [britarch.ac.uk]

Re:Why Stonehenge? (1)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612661)

I am curious about these other burial sites you mentioned. Care to share which they are?

Oh - and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (3, Informative)

Puggs (562473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614295)

people have been touching those stones for thousands of years, why should we stop now?

At the risk of sounding like a pretentious hippy, theres nothing I like doing better than hugging one of the stones when I'm at Avebury - you can see all the tiny little nooks and crannies, some of which have random crystals etc in.

Stonehenge *IS* a tourist trap, theres nothing there but the stones and a gift shop. Avebury on the other hand has a quaint little biker pub, the biggest henge in the world, which imho is more impressive than the stones at stonehenge.

Yes I've been to both repeatedly - the best time to go to stonehenge is overnight at one of the solstices, when you CAN get up to the stones - with all drums,chanting,bongos etc it feel like your thousands of years ago.

I was at avebury last weekend for my birthday - the kids love it, rolling down the henge, playing on the stones etc. Far more enjoyable than the "stand at a distance and look" experience at stonehenge.

The henge at stonehenge is just a dip in the ground - the henge at avebury is massive, and far more impressive than the remains of the stone cirles there.

Anyway, enough ranting :) - if you get the chance go back to both as an adult, take your family to Avebury on a sunny day, its a good (and cheap) afternoon out

Re:Why Stonehenge? (4, Informative)

wish bot (265150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614723)

The best thing about the Avebury circle is that there's a pub in the middle of it.

And no, I'm not joking.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23625211)

Also, Avebury was the setting for Children of the Stones, a cool and scary kids series from the Seventies.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612525)

I think there's just generally more folk stories and spiritualist hippie bullshit surrounding Stonehenge, plus it's near a main road. I would imagine the residents of Avebury have done their best to stop thousands of tourists pouring into their small village every year.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (3, Interesting)

wass (72082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612565)

Avebury's circle is larger in area, but Stonehenge has a much denser organization of sarsen stones, and just looks much more majestic IMHO. Additionally, Stonehenge has actual henge stones (ie, the top crosspieces), which originally circled the whole structure but only a few still remain intact.

Also, the Stonehenge sarsens were transported from their quarries several hundred miles away, which is pretty amazing and makes you seriously wonder what the hell was so special about this site to justify such a long haul.

But maybe I'm biased, as my wife and I just visited Stonehenge about two months ago on our honeymoon.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (2, Interesting)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612581)

The stones are considerably larger at Stonehenge, and the origin of how the stone itself was brought there was a puzzle in itself. Avebury is a very special and different place, and those that prefer it don't tend to want to shout about it too much it as they don't want to draw the attention to it, so it stays that way.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (2, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613447)

If you want the really good stuff, you need to go to Orkney.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615371)

I went to Orkney about two years ago and there are standing stones all over the place. I was a bit dissapointed by Skara-Brae (WTF is the deal with the tinnted glass over the top). However after visiting Orkney the guy who owned the B&B we were staying at near Joh-o-Groats told us about an old archeological dig on some mounds near the cliff that the B&B was overlooking. So when we were leaving we thought we would have a look, sure enough there was a maze of ruined huts just like the ones at Skara-Brae, only there were lots more rooms and passages. The whole site was overgrown by weeds but you could walk over them and reveal the flintstonesque shelves and the 'bait boxes' in the floors. We spent the whole morning doing the "Indiana jones" thing and didn't see another soul.

We travelled all over the UK for about 5 weeks, Orkney, Stonehenge and a stone circle somewhere high up in the Yorkshire dales were the most awe inspiring, but the little huts on the cliff overgrown and forgotten for 5000yrs were my favotite.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (2, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613801)

Its always baffled me why Stonehenge gets all the attention, when there's a much more impressive stone circle and causeway monument four times the size only 20 miles away at Avebury [wikipedia.org] - and its hardly been investigated!
Well, it's obvious why. Stonehenge spent a lot more money on advertising and product placement.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (1)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 6 years ago | (#23616665)

I thought it was because the Stonehenge builders managed to secure a trademark on lintel stones.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (4, Insightful)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614409)

Its always baffled me why Stonehenge gets all the attention

In a word, trilithons [wikipedia.org] . Stone circles are impressive, but raising large lintel stones and fitting them with mortise and tenon joints to the even larger sarsen stones is very impressive.

Spinal Tap references aside, there's something about the trilithons that is deeply iconic: a mastery of stone, and thus nature. The later use of arches, vaulted ceilings and domes in religious buildings is no accident; people may not "get" religion, but suspend several tonnes of stone over their heads and they can't help but be impressed.

Re:Why Stonehenge? (1)

fialar (1545) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615243)

You forgot Arbor Low [wikipedia.org] . Located in Derbyshire, it pre-dates Stonehenge by at least a 1000 years or more. I've visited the site, and even though the stones are no longer standing, it is a pretty impressive place.

Oh, that one! (1)

MagdJTK (1275470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612485)

I was amused (disappointed?) to see that Stonehenge had to be described as "Britain's Stonehenge". Does Johnny Foreigner have another one we don't know about?

Re:Oh, that one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612487)

Re:Oh, that one! (1)

MagdJTK (1275470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612499)

That's a henge sure, but I'm pretty sure painting cars grey doesn't turn them into stone... ;-)

Re:Oh, that one! (4, Informative)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612535)

Henge [wikipedia.org]

Stonehenge is type of henge. There are many, many henges, and not all of them are in Britain. There are even henges in America, one of the more famous ones being at Cahokia Mounds [wikipedia.org] and is called 'Woodhenge'.

So, to answer your question, yes, there is more than one.

Re:Oh, that one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23614147)

I guess the Strawhenge didn't last out the year...

Re:Oh, that one! (1)

MagdJTK (1275470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615141)

Sure, I've heard of Woodhenge - but why would someone confuse Stonehenge with Woodhenge?

Re:Oh, that one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23618603)

That Cahokia one is even more famous than Carhenge [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Oh, that one! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612705)

Too busy masturbating into a mustard jar while staring at the Linux penguin? Rubbing its soft fur against your scab-covered cock shaft, moaning incoherent words as you feel your raisin-testicles begin to boil?

I wish I could see your lard-covered body.

sure sure (2, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612493)

That's what they want you to think. But then when it starts taking down satellites with an ion beam then we'll see what it was built for. Aliens I tell you!

Sure sure.... (3, Funny)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612495)

Anything to discount the alien theory

Re:Sure sure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612765)

Well, I'm all for getting rid of the alien theory. Ever since the abomination that is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Shitty Movie.

Re:Sure sure.... (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614287)

Yes, Stonehenge is up there when it comes to extraterrestrial believers.

Personally though, I find the Nazca lines far more fascinating. The reason behind those drawings are still la

Re:Sure sure.... (1)

wish bot (265150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614749)

We're lucky that the men from the black helicopters who kidnapped you mid sentence were kind enough to press 'submit' for us.

Re:Sure sure.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23614937)

I need to go to bed...you know you've been on the computer too long when the parent posts reads to you as "extraterrestrial beavers".

Garry Denke (1)

Garry Denke (1299421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612553)

Coal dusters. Avebury coal duster, Cursus coal duster, Durrington Walls coal duster, Long Barrow coal duster, Robin Hood's Ball coal duster, Stonehenge coal duster, Woodhenge coal duster, etc, all being originally simple coal hunting failures. Every one of them were coal exploration sites that did not yield any coal. Take away all of the dressed up cemetery headstone rocks and what have you got? Nothing more than a bunch of coal exploratory ditches and holes, that is what. Afterwards, these ditches and holes were utilised as grave plots, for tired disappointed coal explorers, and their cold disheartened families. Sad but true.

I doubt it (2, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615445)

Personally I doubt it, because coal wasn't even important in Britain (or almost anywhere else) before the 1600's-1700's or so.

Even in the iron age, the preferred fuel originally was charcoal. It's only when wood was more important for building whole ship armadas, that coal became the fuel of choice.

In the bronze age, you didn't even need coal at all, as tin and copper can be smelted with wood just as well. They have a lower melting point than iron. Copper: 1084.62 C, Tin: 231.93C, vs Iron: 1538 C. So with a good forge you just need wood to generate the temperatures needed for copper or bronze.

The first stage of Stonehenge dates from 3100 BC, although the stones you see now are from 2200 BC. In 3100 BC Britain wasn't just waay before Iron Age at that point, but was probably before Bronze Age too, if I remember the general timeline right. They were decidedly chalcolithic, i.e., a mixture of copper for weapons and some tools, and still a lot of stuff made of stone or bone.

I.e., the economic demand for coal was somewhere between "not at all" and "buggerall". Assuming that anyone went feverishly poking holes all over the place to find coal, is just... the wrong age for that.

Additionally, Stonehenge 1 from 3100 BC already had a big ditch dug in the middle. So they'd already know if there was any ore or (still worthless) coal underneath. Assuming that they still went and poked the same place with square holes around it for another 1000 years, is kinda silly. There was no further point in probing the same damned place as opposed to going looking somewhere else.

And even if they just buried some poor workers in such holes, noone would drag holes from 300km away from Wales to use as headstones for poor miner families. The poor guys would just get a wooden marker for their grave, not hundreds of people dragging and lifting stones for their grave. Their families wouldn't have been able to pay those.

Re:I doubt it (1)

Garry Denke (1299421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23616577)

Cave Coal: 800,000 BC; Hand Axes
Camp Fuel: Dates through Ice Ages

---> NW to SE --->

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Salisbury Plain

http://www.durhamrecordsonline.com/literature/coalfields-british.gif [durhamrecordsonline.com]

Coalfield -> 40 miles -> Coalfield -> 40 miles -> Coalfield -> 40 miles -> Prospect Area

http://www.geology.19thcenturyscience.org/books/1878-Ramsay-Geology/text-ocr/text/figs-100-jpg/GeoMap-400.jpg [19thcenturyscience.org]

800,000 BC Coalfield -> 800,000 BC Coalfield -> 100,000 BC Coalfield -> Stonehenge

---> dusters in white --->

http://www.coalpro.co.uk/images/coalmap.jpg [coalpro.co.uk]

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Avebury duster

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Cursus duster

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Durrington Walls duster

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Long Barrow duster

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Robin Hood's Ball duster

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Stonehenge duster

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Woodhenge duster

http://www.coalpro.co.uk/images/coalmap.jpg [coalpro.co.uk]

---> dusters in white --->

800,000 BC Coalfield -> 800,000 BC Coalfield -> 100,000 BC Coalfield -> Stonehenge

http://www.geology.19thcenturyscience.org/books/1878-Ramsay-Geology/text-ocr/text/figs-100-jpg/GeoMap-400.jpg [19thcenturyscience.org]

Coalfield -> 40 miles -> Coalfield -> 40 miles -> Coalfield -> 40 miles -> Prospect Area

http://www.durhamrecordsonline.com/literature/coalfields-british.gif [durhamrecordsonline.com]

Pembrokeshire Coalfield -> South Wales Coalfield -> Bristol Coalfield -> Salisbury Plain

---> NW to SE --->

Camp Fuel: Dates through Ice Ages
Cave Coal: 800,000 BC; Hand Axes

YEEEEHAW!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620359)

http://www.garrydenke.com/ [garrydenke.com]

What does this have to do with cyber-technology? (1)

Corky Devereaux (1299435) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612629)

Not much... but it's jaw-dropping nonetheless. You can bet I'll be memecasting it here [blogspot.com] . -Corky

Re:What does this have to do with cyber-technology (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612665)

News for nerds.....all types of nerds are included.

Re:What does this have to do with cyber-technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23625105)

Wichsend, Wichsend, Wichsend!

Stonehenge Decoded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23612689)

Stonehenge is a binary representation. A pillar represent 1 and two pillars with a horizontal stone connecting them is 0. Going around, it reads 10001010 10011110

Re:Stonehenge Decoded (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612713)

I have to betray my lack of geeky coder cred here and ask whether or not "10001010 10011110" actually means anything.

Re:Stonehenge Decoded (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612947)

According to this translator [roubaixinteractive.com] it means: in ASCII text.

Re:Stonehenge Decoded (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612963)

Apparently /. editor doesn't like it so (take out the spaces) & # 3 5 2 ; & # 3 8 2 ;

Poor, as per usual (4, Informative)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612739)

It was a burial ground for what may have been the country's first royal dynasty
"country" - didn't exist 5,000 years ago, patchy local tribes, communities and chiefdoms were all that exsisted, often as small as a couple hundred people.

"first" - nope - there were thousands of years of these patchy clans and communities going back far before 5,000 BP - the Stonehenge neolithic communities and any political, cultural or religious "leaders" there weren't the "first" anything.

"royal dynasty" - Firstly it wasn't royal - that is a modern definition, and can only be used when it means what it says, I see the FA uses it as well, and it should be rightly criticised for inaccurate reporting. We know little concrete about how stone age societies functioned - far too little to use the word "royal". Secondly there is no evidence that it is a "dynasty" of anything.

Historical accuracy seems to becoming abandoned these days. The media seem to becoming more and more able to get away with just making up anything they want to fit the "angle", particularly with scientific pieces.

Re:Poor, as per usual (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613199)

Worse yet, who says that it was built for this? It's not unheard of that "holy sites" have been recycled over and over in history. Many cathedrals are built on ancient sites of worship.

Take the Nebra sky disk [wikipedia.org] . It is almost certain that it changed its use and purpose over time, as can be seen by the changes it underwent during its use. It's even possible that the last "user" of the disk had no idea of its astronomic significance and it became some sort of idol for ancient worship.

Dynasties and rulers come and go, land and property changes hands in times of war. And rarely does the defeated tell his nemesis his holy secrets. Why shouldn't some victorious tribe conquer the area of Stonehenge and, in ignorance of its actual reason, attribute it to some divine or otherworldly creation? After all, chauvinism isn't something we invented in our time, would a victorious warlord attribute the creation of something as impressive as Stonehenge to a tribe he just conquered? He'd have to admit that the people he defeated created something he does not understand.

And what better place for a royal burial site than a place where the gods themselves built something?

So just simply saying that some place is "merely" the tomb of a king just because someone was buried there is cheap. Especially if there are indicators that point towards scientific use.

But there our chauvinism sets in again. How could some barbaric culture that can, at best, use stone axes be scientifically "advanced", to a point we "civilized" people didn't achive until medieval times?

Re:Poor, as per usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23615629)

Wish I had mod points, portions of this post were bordering on "+6 extremely brilliant."
 

Re:Poor, as per usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23616321)

But there our chauvinism sets in again. How could some barbaric culture that can, at best, use stone axes be scientifically "advanced", to a point we "civilized" people didn't achive until medieval times?
You raise a good point, but at the same time, you go too far and veer into the territory of what one might call "reverse chauvinism": you appear to assume that any doubt one might have that Stonehenge was really used for scientific purposes is merely the result of chauvinism, saying, in essence, "I claim that it was used for science - now prove me wrong if you want to!".

But the burden of proof, needless to say, is on you.

Re:Poor, as per usual (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23619027)

I think it's fair to say (and I would like to put it forward as a theory) that human beings, given almost no knowledge on the subject of (for example) astronomy (as happened time and again before, say, the 15th century - warning: European POV here), will yet almost certainly, during a lifetime, invent all sorts of things related to it; sundials, longest-day-discovery-things (and therefore yearlength-discovery-things). Perhaps it's possible to define a certain 'unschooled but using maximum concentration' benchmark of human intelligence based on these things.

Re:Poor, as per usual (2, Insightful)

mstahl (701501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614199)

I think you're nit-picking way too much. "Country" in this case refers to the actual current borders of the UK, and this may be the burial ground within those borders of earliest origin yet discovered. In this case "first" means "earliest discovered", which is after all the best gauge we have for these things. How could we ever determine for sure which was the first, as the first may have been lost forever? As for "royal dynasty", though it may not have been made for a king or queen as we think of them today, in describing the hypothesis that the burial ground may have been for especially important persons isn't unreasonable.

I just think that for the purposes of communication with modern people it's okay to use modern terms, even if you're talking about something ancient for which there may not be an exact analogue today.

In any case the things you're complaining about are not one of those cases where someone's blatantly distorted the facts to hype up a story for the general public (see also: any popular media article having anything whatsoever to do with any physics developments past elementary mechanics).

Re:Poor, as per usual (2, Insightful)

Scaba (183684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614333)

We know little concrete about how stone age societies functioned...

Yet, that hasn't stopped you from making bold and unsubstantiated claims about these very societies.

Historical accuracy seems to becoming abandoned these days.

Become the change you wish to see.

Thx for that (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23616145)

Because that paragraph didn't make sense to me at all. Now I understand a little better.

Plus 500 years is a very, very long time. That would be at least twenty generations.

Re:Poor, as per usual (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23616357)

I'm pretty sure you're just being a pedant.

"country" - perhaps they mean the OTHER meaning of country, ala 'area'? Maybe they don't mean the precise "nation/state" that you're debating.

And instead of "first royal dynasty" I'm sure it would have been so much more accurate for them to say "...the region's furthest-back prehistorical group that we've found to date who were probably related, probably over a series of generations, and clearly either had the power to command significant time and effort from others or were so well-liked that this was done spontaneously on their behalf - comparable to saying that they are the oldest extant analogue to a royal dynasty that we've found in this region, except we can't say that because some internet wanker would call us to task for using shorthand language, entirely missing the significance of what we found."

human nature's not so different... (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612785)

So maybe I've read too much Dostoevsky over the years... but I never buy the explanations for what people think these things were.

Visiting some dolmens in France a few years ago the archaeologist explained that it was believed these were religious sites, since visitors had to bow low to enter a womb-like chamber. Sure... or... how about the small entrance is easier to heat, easy to keep dry, easier to defend, and easier to keep out animals like rats etc away from food stores. For all we know the dolmen was the first equivalent of Walmart.

Homo Sapiens is, for the most part, a selfish, greedy species. To ascribe our ancestors with cuddly, noble airs of spirituality, science and mysticism is the stuff of fairy tales, not science. Take a look at your neighborhood; minus the styles, the cars, and the pointless obsession with worthless things like social networking sites, the species is today just and evolved and spiritual as it has ever been. If anything, we've progressed (slightly) in terms of abolishing slavery, women's right etc.

Seriously, the first Walmart is more likely than some solar temple. I'll buy a royal burial site admittedly, that's just naked greed. That's pretty much what we humans are good at, especially the ones at the top of the social order.

Re:human nature's not so different... (1)

goatpunch (668594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612849)

You don't buy the explanations? But these people are experts! This documents the historical speculation process quite well, although the episode when they reconstructed King Arthur's Court from a piece of china was even better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf95P2DJC6E&ftm=6 [youtube.com]

Re:human nature's not so different... (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613307)

It is likely that ancient buildings had far more often practical uses rather than esotheric ones. But our ancestors were often also quite adapt at combining those reasons. Mostly to make people do it.

Religion, IMO, was invented for just this reason: To make people do stuff you, as a leader, know is important for the well being of your tribe, but you can't really explain to your people because they either don't understand it, or they'd outright oppose it because for them, as an individual, it may have negative effects. Let's face it, we're selfish. Everyone wants everything for himself and doing things for the "common good" is something reserved for when you're doing REALLY well and have no real problems anymore, so you do some feelgood stuff. And in ancient times, you rarely if ever were doing so well that you have no problems anymore.

But as a ruler, it can be quite useful to know the right times for sowing and reaping. Too early and your grain is dying in the last freeze. Too late and it won't grow long enough. So you have to put aside a few people who watch the skies and do astronomy. That creates two problems for your tribe. First of all, the question why should I work so this moocher gets fat and lazy watching the skies, and second, why should I build him his astronomy tools (which often included a lot of stone lugging back then) on top of it? Sure, we'll know the best time for sowing in the future but guess what, I'm 20, I almost certainly won't live to be 30, I have no benefit at all from it!

This is where religion and all those "religious" buildings came in. It also served as a quite good tool to keep your people in line, too. Especially if you can predict (and claim to command) such impressive events like an eclipse.

I'm fairly sure this is the reason why astronomy is one of the oldest sciences mankind invented. It was practical for an early tribe to predict the seasons. It's not that they were so fond of the stars, it was a matter of survival.

Re:human nature's not so different... (1)

Ramss Morales (13327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615207)

The myth of the noble savage has been hard to kill, but it is finally dying, albeit rather slowly.

Re:human nature's not so different... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615341)

Homo Sapiens is, for the most part, a selfish, greedy species. To ascribe our ancestors with cuddly, noble airs of spirituality, science and mysticism is the stuff of fairy tales, not science. Take a look at your neighborhood; minus the styles, the cars, and the pointless obsession with worthless things like social networking sites, the species is today just and evolved and spiritual as it has ever been.

I can't say much in reply other than your position is utterly at odds with all known existing archaeological, literary, sociological, etc... etc... evidence.

Re:human nature's not so different... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23616765)

please provide at least one source backing up your statement...

Re:human nature's not so different... (1)

nekozid (1100169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23617685)

I could add that astronomy isn't a science too if you like. It was invented by Nostradamus.

Re:human nature's not so different... (1)

nekozid (1100169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23617807)

Disregard that, too much weed. Astrology.

NO. it didnt. (2, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612863)

this 'burial' theory just ignores the fact that rulers, ruling families, especially the first family of any new kingdom/dynasty etc, had the habit of claiming long standing monuments, legends, traditions as their own, and claiming they were the first, and even order distortion of existing records (if there is any) to that extent.

this can happen and take unbelievable forms even in civilizations that had long standing history, like egypt. it is too common for pharaohs to deface all mentions of previous pharaohs from even temple hieroglyphs, have scribes rewrite the records.

one of the most curious examples is the great pyramid. despite it is supposedly the 3rd true pyramid that is built, and it should have all kinds of glyphs, wall art, statues and carvings to nail the legacy of Khufu at every step inside the pyramid, there are NO mentions of khufu's name everywhere but on a small wall glyph (that contains only his name) over where his casket is placed. the king chamber is also curious, it has no kind of wall art, carvings or anything of the sort. this creates a contrast to long standing egypt tradition (even at that date) of adorning every bit of the burial site with all kinds of art and wall carvings and glyphs.

no sir. experience of mankind through history states that this new find didnt solve any mystery in regard to past of stonehenge.

Re:NO. it didnt. (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613359)

That's a quite good argument. Reattributing something you conquer or inherit as your own creation has been a quite common tool in ancient times for kings to justify their claim of the throne. Ramses II was notorious for it.

PR isn't an invention of today's marketing goons. It's been here long before the advent of the ability to write, but that only made it worse. It is incredible how many documents of Charles the Great exist, the overwhelming majority of which are forgeries. Kings and rulers have been forging and lying to legitimate their claim to power for as long as we have written proof, and it is doubtful that this tradition started only when we learned to write. Without written documents, it's actually easier. Kill everyone who knows otherwise and your word is the only truth.

Re:NO. it didnt. (2, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613505)

Reattributing something you conquer or inherit as your own creation has been a quite common tool in ancient times for kings to justify their claim of the throne. Ramses II was notorious for it.

A tool for kings? Perhaps, but my dog does the same with every tree he passes. Lacks the requisite pomp, of course, but no less effective.

Re:NO. it didnt. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613535)

Great. Now writing your name on someone else's pyramid is pissing on his grave.

Re:NO. it didnt. (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613811)

Did you read even the summary? The bodies were there before, during, and after the stones. How do you repurpose a structure before it stands?

Re:NO. it didnt. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23616983)

carbon dating methods are not accurate for certain time periods. alternative dating methods are neither too accurate from what i know http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw29evolution31011403.htm [hyperhistory.net]

for example it is believed that the Sphinx is built at the time of the great pyramid. yet, recently a climatologist and a geologist have found evidence that sphinx had experienced erosion in its base that is almost identical to what buildings experience during rainfloods that happen in tropical rainforest zones. the only time that it could happen was when egypt (that zone) was in tropical rainforest belt, which is a time period that dates back to around 10.000 bc or so. this, of course, has been staunchly opposed by settled opinion in egyptology. however the evidence is there, and its undeniable. therefore science community is just choosing to ignore that exists, and not talk about it.

hmm.. (3, Funny)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23612989)

I, for one, welcome our Neolithic Lourdes.

Kings? (1)

Xaemyl (88001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613119)

Kings!? But according to Spinal Tap, Stonehenge is where the Demons Dwelled!

Yes, that's this year's theory (2, Insightful)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 6 years ago | (#23613201)

Oh well, another year, another theory about something that's become a dull-looking tourist trap jammed next to a busy main road. Another "explanation" is bound to be along in 2009. Stonehenge is really just a prism for the subconscious preoccupations of the day. One deduces from the latest idea that the UK is now worried about how long its current royal family will last. Surprising really that the archaeologists haven't uncovered "evidence" that the site was constructed under the supervision of a Stone Age health and safety executive. Perhaps next year they'll uncover the remains of a tree stump and declare that a hollow indentation in it is proof positive of the world's first on-site hard hat.

Stonehenge as Royal Family's Burial Site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23613529)

I believe that Stonehenge as the Royal Family's burial site is a splendid idea. Of course the British with their silly sense of formality will probably screw it up by waiting until the family member's have died....

Nothing to do with the current royal family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23613681)

The current British Royal Family are descendants from a French Invasion of England made in 1066 AD. That would make Stonehenge the burial place of an actual British royal family, and Buckingham Palace as British as the Iraq's 'Green Zone'.

Re:Nothing to do with the current royal family (3, Informative)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614233)

The current British Royal Family are descendants from a French Invasion of England made in 1066 AD
No they're not.
They're Germans, from the house Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (the English branch of which being renamed to Windsor when having German sounding names didn't make you popular), and before that, house Hanover (since the early 18th century).
And even before that it was far more complicated than simply being descendants of William I

Re:Nothing to do with the current royal family (1)

neuromancer23 (1122449) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614381)

>> And even before that it was far more complicated than simply being descendants of William I I think you mean William the bastard.

Re:Nothing to do with the current royal family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23616143)

Parent OP here. Didn't know that. Thanks for the info.

"Sacred" Means "Don't Touch" (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23614869)

European and American (and thereby worldwide) scientists and historians are fond of labeling artifacts and sites "sacred", as if distant peoples' ideas and practices of "sacred" meant the same as what we mean by it today. All "sacred" means universally is "don't touch unless you're a religious authority". And most religious authorities, especially of longer-lived societies, will not change anything given to them already sanctified.

So "sacred" really is primarily a way for a society to protect something's integrity, even if there's no obvious reason why. The sacred might be a site, like Stonehenge, or it might be a practice, like naming stars and telling stories about their namesakes, or it might be a ritual, like walking up to a mountaintop on a date determined by a site like Stonehenge from the names of some stars. It might just be the way that a town's homes are laid out around an area, or the way a home is laid out around its enclosing walls.

There is no guarantee that something "sacred" was actually believed to be a connection to a "superpowerful person" like a god or a mystic hero as we currently understand them. The sacred is just sanctified in that people's own special way of making obvious something was sacred, and not to be messed with by those who couldn't understand the belief that made it "work". Burying kings in connection with the sacred was one way to ensure that people knew it was sacred, if they knew the king was sacred, and building something sacred at a royal burial place would do it, too.

"Holy" just means that you do something even when you can't understand it. To later civilizations after ours has waned into nonexistence or mutated into something completely obliterating it, plenty of what we do for a reason we can understand is something they won't be able to understand in their different future context. So they'll call it "sacred", and not really get it entirely.

Before the stone... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615247)

The new dates indicate burials began at least 500 years before the first massive stones were erected at the site and continued after it was completed.

Before Stonehenge there was Strawhenge and Woodhenge...

It was King Arthur of course (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615397)

It was King Arthur and the Round Table of course, these kings, who were the lost tribe of Israel as explained by the British Israel movement, they had come to the UK by routes which we no longer know about. They were, like, the original inhabitants. They had powers now lost to us and erected the stones by thinking. They were vegan, lined up their stones with the planets and the ley lines. They were like very ecological and in harmony with the environment. Later they painted themselves purple with natural plant extracts. They were priest kings. They were real left or is it right side of the brain people unlike the Romans. Like, whatever.

Are there any more questions?

So does this mean... (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615439)

That all those new agers, wannabe wiccans, shamans and the like, when they thought they were performing their little ceremonies at what they thought was a temple, were actually desecrating a graveyard?

Ouch.

Noble sacrifices if "noble" at all (0)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615453)

It wouldn't surprise me if the remains found had their skulls bashed
in as that was the method of dispatching the "volunteer" during
sacrificial rituals of the teutonic tribes back in those very days.

If so I would love to have man-hating enviroscum like Prince William
("I wish I could come back as a deadly virus") laid to rest in the shade
of these stones... the traditional way of course ;-)

The Pi King (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615479)

Obviously its a homage to pi. The first geek king?

   

The "Mystery" Solved (1)

bin'home'etc (1294404) | more than 6 years ago | (#23615615)

"His findings will also appear in the June issue of National Geographic and in the television special "Stonehenge Decoded," to be shown Sunday."

What a strange coincidence(?)

An important discovery is announced immediately before the airing of a TV program about Stonehenge featuring the same archeologist's findings.

The mystical power of those stones is awesome!

Logic (1)

Haxx (314221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23617061)

Well, it's about time. Science has finally started putting together logical and sane ideas about Stonehenge with evidence to prove their theory. Maybe now we can leave out Stonehenge on the brainless histories mysteries and UFO programs. Although they still discuss crop circles as alien creations even though my friend Mike is responsible for 3 of them.

-The first thing we need to ask the first aliens we meet is weather or not they accept Jesus Christ as thier savior!

Re:Logic (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23624321)

aliens would have used the site as a hunting stand. They first would have built them out of wooden poles, they would have chased the deer into the area and speared them from the platform. Sooner or later they would have dug a ditch in the slippery mud around the platform to slow the escaping animals and increase their success rate. Eventually the poles would decay and they would use stone pillars . All the evidence is there.

Marc Loriau (1)

Marc_Loriau (1299967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23619355)

I would like to believe it is much, much more than that. Marc Loriau

Bad design (1)

TaoJones (10412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23623733)

It was supposed to read: "This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here"...
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