January 31, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Solstice

I love this story about the recent unearthing of a big neolithic village at Stonehenge:

Archaeologists who have unearthed the largest Neolithic village found in Britain believe it housed hundreds of workers who helped build Stonehenge.

The discovery of the settlement, along with tools, pottery and food debris, will help solve some of the remaining mysteries surrounding the country's most significant prehistoric monument and show how people lived 4,500 years ago.

Nine houses have been excavated at Durrington Walls, a huge circular earthwork less than two miles from Stonehenge.

Signs of dozens more clay hearths set in more houses have been identified through magnetic field analysis beneath the 1,400ft-wide enclosure. Researchers believe it was a base for seasonal workers and a festival venue for midwinter solstice celebrations.

Prof Mike Parker-Pearson, of Sheffield University, is leading the Stonehenge Riverside Project.

He said yesterday: "We are looking at people coming from across southern Britain for both feasting and to work, probably on a seasonal basis.

Very cool, indeed.

This reminds me that I read Bernard Cornwall's Stonehenge, a fictional account of the politics and passions behind its construction, last summer. My review is here. In it, I described the book as "perfect for when you don't feel like having to think too hard." I suppose I was right about the thinking because I remember virtually nothing about the book now.

Of course, if you want true prehistoric mindlessness, it's hard to beat Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series (Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters and Plains of Passage), which the Mater summarized thus:

"Earth Mother tames fire, Earth Mother has roll in the hay. Earth Mother domesticates animals, Earth Mother has roll in the hay. Earth Mother founds civilization, Earth Mother has roll in the hay."

Posted by Robert at January 31, 2007 01:58 PM | TrackBack

Your review of the Earth Mother story puts me in mind of Quest for Fire, another in that same line of story.

Posted by: rp at February 1, 2007 11:21 AM