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Moon may have influenced Stonehenge construction

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A study by a team of archaeoastronomers are investigating the possible connection of the moon in influencing the Stonehenge builders.

According to a press statement by the Royal Astronomical Society, academics from Oxford, Leicester and Bournemouth universities, suggest that a major lunar standstill, a rare astronomical phenomenon, may have influenced the monument’s alignment.

A lunar standstill, also known as a lunistice, is when the Moon reaches its furthest north or furthest south point during the course of a month. A major lunar standstill is when the declination at lunar standstill varies in a cycle 18.6 years long between 18.134° (north or south) and 28.725° (north or south), due to lunar precession.

Professor Clive Ruggles, emeritus professor of archaeoastronomy at Leicester University, said: “Stonehenge’s architectural connection to the Sun is well known, but its link with the Moon is less well understood.

“The four Station Stones align with the Moon’s extreme positions, and researchers have debated for years whether this was deliberate, and – if so – how this was achieved and what might have been its purpose,” added Professor Ruggles.

The researchers plan to document Moonrises and sets at key moments in the year when the moon will be in alignment with the Station Stones. In addition, they plan to document the event and show the visual effect on the stones though light patterns and shadows.

It is believed that at least one major lunar standstill was marked during the early phases of construction at Stonehenge. This is evidenced in the cremated remains in the ditch and bank that now surrounds the stone circle, and in the Aubrey Holes – 56 pits. Many of the cremations are located in the south-eartern part in the direction of the most southerly rising position of the moon.

English Heritage, said: “The Station Stones may have been employed to help measure out the sarsen circle around 500 years after the site was first used for cremations, when the large sarsen circle was being built, suggesting a compelling and enduring connection between the lunar cycles and the architecture of Stonehenge.”

Header Image Credit : iStock

Sources : Royal Astronomical Society

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”

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Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact

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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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