Thursday, August 25, 2016

Durrington Walls (Nick Snashall in USA Today)

USA Today inters Dr. Nicola Snashall, who also blogs FragmeNTs Stonehenge & Avebury blog in the sidebar.  "You Know Stonehenge.  This is Superhenge."  USA TODAY

This excavation wrapped up sometime last week, so now that I've had a few moments to get my mind around this discovery I'll speculate on what could be the significance of this dig based on just a few things Ive read.

Posted by MegalithomaniaUK

Durrington Walls was excavated by the National Trust of Stonehenge and Avebury [here].  It was previously thought that the enormous enclosure was partly surrounded by large megaliths as ground radar had previous suggested.  Rather what archaeologists found was very deep post holes that were weirdly uninstalled after their installation.

Durrington Walls and nearby Stonehenge had either complementary or competing purposes depending on the interpretation.  Likely, Durrington Walls contained a bunch of huts where the people who built Stonehenge lived, and then both structures had a (possibly simultaneous) phase where they were improved, again 'possibly' concordant with the Beaker phase, although I'm not sure anything from the Beaker culture is found at the occupation site.

So unlike the very sad and disappointed headlines of the British press for not finding gigantic stones beneath the soil, I'll say that this find opens up a very intriguing possibility instead, based on where these posts were located outside the ditch.  

It seems possible that these post holes could be the piles of a large lever engine, similar concept to a shaduf, and used to excavate the enormous fifteen to twenty-something foot ditch that surrounds the town, or whatever it is.  I imagine something like this being reassembled many times as the shadufasaurus is moved along the perimeter.
If I understand correctly, some of the timbers appear to have plucked out of the ground which could mean that, like modern tower cranes, the 'excavator' was used to partially assemble and disassemble itself or at least its footings.  This is all speculation based on reading a couple of paragraphs and it could be that the ditch is too far from posts for it to make any difference. 

It's entirely possible that people with baskets, picks and shovels excavated all of this one basket at a time, however two miles away the same people stacked stones at Stonehenge.

On a separate note, thinking more broadly about ditched enclosures in general and quickly infilled ditches and so forth, I kind of wonder if these ditches of any size are nothing more than benjo ditches.
If a bunch of people lived in a place like Durrington Walls, you've got to have a big benjo ditch, maybe additional small ones and a big one to catch the runoff.

She provides a description on the dig and the archaeologists for the project [here]
See also a paper by MP Pearson regarding his view on the connections [here].

Old concept.  SciNews.

See also "Huge ritual monument thought to be buried near Stonehenge doesn't exist admit archaeologists"  Telegraph UK

"New Stonehenge' was made of WOOD:  Vast 4,500-year-old timber circle may have been erected to commemorate the builders of its famous neighbor"  DailyMail

'New Stonehenge' at Durrington Walls 'had no standing stones'  BBC

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