A book on the latest archeology at Stonehenge by Mike Parker Pearson< read all 1 reviews
As it turns out Stonehenge is at the center of a whole neighborhood of Neolithic sites, including a "Woodhenge" and village a few miles away at a site called Durrington Walls along the River Avon. Pearson's extensive team (with specialists and students from many scientific, technical and academic disciplines) found the village based on the theory that if Stonehenge was a monument to the dead, there must have been a "village of the living" nearby. In other words, Stonehenge wasn't just an isolated place, but a place in context.
While sometimes the book veers off into archeological arcania, most of the time this is a fascinating account of what they found and how modern archeology works. Yes digging in the dirt is part of it, but now environmental and preservationist controls limit access, and much of the work is done on tiny samples of material in labs far away from and long after the eureka moments of the digs. And for a site like Stonehenge was has been dug into for centuries, historical research is a big component of the work. Pearson both relied on, re-execavated, and corrected past findings and theories based on them.
The net result is a new theory of who, how and why Stonehenge was built. Pearson takes a few (very few) sentences to dismiss druid magic and alien invasions, and focuses in on the findings in the context of the surroundings, culture, geography, and geology; for example one possible reason for Stonehenge's vaunted alignment with the summer and winter solstices is the glacial geology underlying the site, which the builders may have augmented by the aboveground stones.
Because of Stonehenge's historical value and number of visitors getting permission to dig on the site is very hard, so it is likely that Pearson's team will be the last major dig there for a few years--but as you will learn in the book there are dozens of other potential sites and projects that could be proposed and funded that would continue to unravel the mysteries of Stonehenge. Maybe a reader of this book will be inspired to be one of those future history detectives.
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