the age of bronze

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Necropolis of Montessu, Sardinia

The necropolis is located on the southern side of the hill of Sa Pranedda, near Villaperuccio. Set within a large natural amphitheater, it has about forty domus de janas (pre-Nuragic chamber tombs) and is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites of Sardinia. The site dates back to the pre-Nuragic period (3rd millennium BC) and it was in use for a millennium by the peoples of the Ozieri, Abealzu-Filigosa, Monte Claro, Bell Beaker and Bonnanaro cultures.

Danish Bronze Age elite buried in fancy woolly hats and shawls, 3,500-year-old graves reveal

High-status Bronze Age Danes wore intricate wool clothes that were made hundreds if not thousands of miles away, to show how well-travelled and wealthy they were. The first wide-scale study of wool clothes from the period has revealed how this elite class began to emerge in the 2nd millennium BCE.

The most famous of the elite western Danes is one known as Egtved Girl. She was between 16 and 18 years old when she died in 1370 BCE. She was buried wearing a tunic and skirt, a large bronze belt plate decorated with spirals, a delicate earring, a comb and a dagger.

This finely made outfit was preserved, like many others in the region, thanks to the unique conditions created in her burial mound. A layer of iron that was deposited around the oak coffin she was buried in helped to create an oxygen-free and acidic environment around the body. This killed off any microbes that would otherwise have started to break down the materials. Read more.

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The oldest depiction of the universe

This is one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century and the oldest depiction of the universe so far. Called the Nebra sky disc, named for the town where it was found in 1999, the artifact has been dated back to 1600 BC. It was buried about 3,600 years ago but could be much older. It has been associated with the European Bronze Age Unetice culture.

When it was first crafted, it would have been golden brown because the disc itself is made from bronze. Over time, the it corroded to green. Fortunately, the symbols are made of gold and thanks to them we know it was possibly an astronomical instrument.
There’s Sun, a central to northern European Bronze Age religion and the crescent moon (in ancient times, the moon was used to represent time). The clump between the sun and moon are thought to be the Pleiades constellation, which was an imporant constellation for Bronze Age farmers because it appeared and disappeared in important farming times. So the Nebra disc could have told people the right time to plant and harvest.

What’s more, astronomer Wolfhard Schlosser, at the University of Hamburg, found that if you draw a line from the center of the disc to the top and bottom end of the right arc, the angle between the two ends measures exactly 82 degrees. And it’s the same value for the left golden arc. This number is very important for only a small group of people who live at the same latitude as the current German town of Nebra since it’s the angle between where the sun sets on the horizon in mid-winter and mid-summer.

The bronze disc combines an extraordinary comprehension of astronomical phenomena enabling to peak into the early knowledge of the heavens. It’s   shocking it was almost lost to the black market.

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Cors y Gedol Burial Chamber, North Wales, 12.4.17.

Last time I visited this site was in the last day of 2016. Very different weather this time! One of my favourite prehistoric burial chambers with a notable capstone. It is roughly 84ft in length and likely built in the Neolithic. 

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Doll Tor Stone Circle and Cairn, Derbyshire, 28.8.17.

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Carahunge, The Armenian Stonehenge

Carahunge (aka Zorats Karer, Karahunj, Quarahunj, Carenish or Armenian Stonehenge) is a prehistoric archaeological necropolis near the town of Sisian in the Syunik Province of Armenia that dates from the Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age.

The name Carahunge is derived from two Armenian words: car (or kar) (Armenian: քար), meaning ‘stone’, and hunge or hoonch (Armenian: հունչ), meaning 'sound’. Thus the name Carahunge means 'Speaking Stones’.  This interpretation is related to the fact that the stones make whistling sounds on a windy day, presumably because of multiple reach-through holes bored under different angles into the stones in prehistoric times. About 80 of the stones feature a circular hole, although only 37 of the stones, with 47 holes, are still standing. They have been of interest to Russian and Armenian archaeoastronomers who have suggested that the standing stones could have been used for astronomical observation.

The site is rich with stone circles, burial cists and standing stones (menhirs). There are a total of 223 basalt stones. Their heights measured from above the ground range from 1.6 to 9.8 feet (0.5 to 3 m) and they weigh up to 10 tons.

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Dolmen 2, Ilton near Masham, Yorkshire, 14.8.17.

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The King’s Men Stone Circle, England

The King’s Men are part of the Rollright Stones, a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments near the village of Long Compton, on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Constructed from local oolitic limestone, the three monuments now known as the King’s Men and the Whispering Knights in Oxfordshire and the King Stone in Warwickshire, are distinct in their design and purpose, and were built at different periods in late prehistory.

The King’s Men is a a stone circle which was constructed in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age; unusually, it has parallels to other circles located further north, in the Lake District, implying a trade-based or ritual connection.

By the Early Modern period, folkloric stories had grown up around the Stones, telling of how they had once been a king and his knights who had been turned to stone by a witch; such stories continued to be taught amongst local people well into the 19th century. In the 20th century, the stones became an important site for adherents of various forms of Contemporary Paganism, as well as for other esotericists who hold magico-religious ceremonies there. They also began to appear more widely in popular culture, featuring in television, literature, music and art.