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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boy buried near Stonehenge was from the South

A teenager who died c. 1550 BCE and was buried near Stonehenge with an amber necklace was not raised in Britain but further south, near the Mediterranean, reports BBC

The burial was discovered in 2005 5 km south of Stonehenge, in a mound at Boscombe Down, while doing roadworks for military housing. His age at death is estimated to have been 14-15 years old.

The burial shows the characteristic fetal position of Bell Beaker but not the usual grave goods of this subculture

The oxygen isotopes found in his enamel evidence that he grew in a warmer climate than Britain, near the Mediterranean. Date and context suggest to me Portugal, where an important Megalithic civilization was still active at that time. However other places of Megalithic culture in Iberia, Southern France or even North Africa or Italy cannot be discarded with the available information. 

Other people buried near Stonehenge known to have arrived from afar are the Amesbury Archer, a member of the Bell Beaker subculture, known to have grown at the Northern Alps, and the Boscombe Bowmen, also with a Bell Beaker style burial, known to be from Wales or Brittany or maybe even farther away. However all these belong to a much earlier period, 750 years earlier than the boy of the amber necklace. This strongly suggests that Stonehenge and the religious/cultural (and maybe political) complex around it kept attracting people from the wider Megalithic and Bell Beaker area for almost a whole millennium, possibly more.

Stonehenge, no doubt, was a Mecca of its time. Pity that we know so little about the beliefs and society that motivated such pilgrimages.

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