Research reveals Stonehenge panorama earlier than the world-famous monument

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4 thousand years earlier than Stonehenge was constructed, land throughout the World Heritage Web site was coated by open woodland, with meadow-like clearings, inhabited by grazing animals and hunter-gatherers, in accordance with new analysis by the College of Southampton.

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Scientists exploring Blick Mead, a Mesolithic archaeological website inside a chalkland spring space a couple of mile from the long-lasting standing-stones, have discovered proof the land was not coated in dense, closed cover forests through the later Mesolithic interval, as had beforehand been thought. Fairly, it was partially wooded and populated by aurochs (cattle), pink deer, elk and wild boar — making it good looking floor for people who lived opportunistically off the land, previous to the arrival of early farmers.

Lead researcher, Samuel Hudson, of Geography and Environmental Science at Southampton explains: “There was intensive examine of the Bronze Age and Neolithic historical past of the Stonehenge panorama, however much less is understood about earlier durations. The combination of proof recovered from earlier excavations at Blick Mead, coupled with our personal fieldwork, allowed us to know extra concerning the wildlife of the panorama previous to building of the later world-famous monument advanced.

“Previous theories recommend the world was thickly wooded and cleared in later durations for farming and monument constructing. Nonetheless, our analysis factors to pre-Neolithic, hunting-gatherer inhabitants, dwelling in open woodland which supported aurochs and different grazing herbivores.”

The analysis workforce analysed pollen, fungal spores and traces of DNA preserved in historical sediment (sedaDNA), mixed with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon relationship to provide an environmental historical past of the location. Utilizing this proof, they constructed an image of the habitat within the space from the later Mesolithic (5500 BC) to the Neolithic interval (from 4,000 BC).

The examine signifies that later Mesolithic populations at Blick Mead took benefit of extra open circumstances to repeatedly exploit teams of huge ungulates (hoofed mammals), till a transition to farmers and monument-builders befell. In a way, the land was pre-adapted for the later large-scale monument constructing, because it didn’t require clearance of woodland, because of the presence of those pre-existing open habitats. The researchers recommend there was continuity between the inhabitants of the 2 eras, who utilised the land in several methods, however understood it to be a beneficial location.

The findings of the workforce from Southampton, working with colleagues on the universities of Buckingham, Tromsø and Salzburg, are revealed within the journal PLOS ONE.

The scientists plan additional exploration of the Mesolithic historical past of this space, which they hope to start on the finish of this yr.

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Materials supplied by University of Southampton. Notice: Content material could also be edited for fashion and size.

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