According to the results of the long-term digital mapping project, it was revealed that Stonehenge is not an isolated monument, but only a part of a huge complex of sanctuaries, burial mounds, ditches and places of sacrifice. In the vicinity of the famous megaliths there were found 17 unknown religious monuments, the foreign media reports.
With the help of radars, laser scanners and magnetic instruments designed at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna, the British scientists have created a digital archaeological map of the complex (12 km2). In virtual space, they removed all the changes in the landscape that have occurred over 5000 years since the first megaliths.
"Our understanding of Stonehenge have changed radically. This monument was not standing in splendid isolation, it was spatially and culturally connected with a number of ritual constructions", said the head of the project Vince Gaffney.
Deep in the hill, the scientists discovered a huge wooden structure. Most likely, it was a "house of the dead" where strange rituals were performed, including dead bodies" exposure and defleshing. These rituals were played out in the forecourt of the building.
The ground-penetrating radars helped to discover 3-kilometer Cursus monument north of Stonehenge. Here two huge ditches perform an astronomical function: the summer solstice the shadow of the eastern (at dawn) and western (at sunset) ditches indicate the place where 400 years ago Stonehenge was built.
The project also discovered an unexpected page in the history of the famous monuments, especially Durrington Walls Henge. It is one of the largest henges in the world; its territory is more than a mile. It turns out that initially 3-meter stones (there were more than sixty of them) were set on the perimeter of Durrington Walls, as in Stonehenge.
But then the ancient Britons demolished and dragged all the megaliths in different directions. "Ancient people were happy to destroy their monuments. They did lots of strange things. They killed monuments, changed them, reappropriated them. They developed over many hundreds of years, so the people who started them were not the people who finished them," said Gaffney.