Tag Archives: neolithic

Neolithic people made fake islands more than 5,600 years ago

Hundreds of tiny islands around Scotland didn’t arise naturally. They’re fakes that were constructed out of boulders, clay and timbers by Neolithic people about 5,600 years ago, a new study finds.

Researchers have known about these artificial islands, known as crannogs, for decades. But many archaeologists thought that the crannogs were made more recently, in the Iron Age about 2,800 years ago.

 The new finding not only shows that these crannogs are much older than previously thought but also that they were likely “special locations” for Neolithic people, according to nearby pottery fragments found by modern divers, the researchers wrote in the study.

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Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument

Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument

From who built it to what it was used for, Stonehenge is surrounded by many enduring mysteries — and researchers from the University of Buckingham in England now say they’ve solved one of them.

“For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers,” David Jacques, an archaeology research fellow at the university, said in a written statement.


Last October, Jacques led an archaeological dig at a site 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. His team unearthed flint tools and the bones of aurochs, extinct cow-like animals that were a food source for ancient people. Carbon dating of the bones showed that modern-day Amesbury, an area that includes the dig site and Stonehenge itself, has been continuously occupied since 8820 B.C. Amesbury has now been declared the oldest continually occupied area in Britain.

The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.

Stonehenge from the air

“The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways,” Jacques said in the statement, referring to the assumption that those migrants drove Britain’s transition from a hunter-gatherer to a farming society in the 6th Century B.C. “It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments.”

The researchers say evidence suggests that before erecting Stonehenge, people living in the area set up gigantic timbers between 8820 and 6590 B.C. — a sort of wooden precursor to the stone monument. Jacques likened the area to a “Stonehenge Visitor’s Center,” where visitors from far and wide came to feast and tour the site with local guides.

“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself,” he said.

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Prehistoric palates may be more refined than we think.

NBC News reports that the earliest conclusive evidence of humans cooking with spicehas been discovered from 6,100-year old clay cooking pots found in Neolithic sites in Denmark and Germany. Burnt food remains on the pots revealed traces of garlic mustard seeds along with meat and fish fats.

old pot

While spices have been found in older sites, it is unclear whether they were used in food or for medicinal or decorative purposes. This new discovery shows well-preserved food scraps without any whole seeds, suggesting that the seeds were crushed to release flavor.

According to a Smithsonian magazine blog post, experts previously thought that cooking with plants during this time period was largely motivated by a need for calories, but garlic mustard seeds have little nutritional value.

The findings suggest culinary spices were in use more than 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, predating the discovery of tumeric and ginger in 4,500-year old cooking pots from northern India.


Lead researcher Dr. Hayley Saul tested the primitive recipe and likened it to today’s popular mustard seeds. “It went down very well,” she tells NBC News.

Check out the slideshow above to find out more about this surprising discovery and what other ancient spices have been found.

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