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Archeology Headlines of June 2009
Posted In: Other Exciting News  6/11/09
By: Yona Williams

It's a discovery that doesn’t immediately reveal all of the details – the skulls of 45 men that date back 2,000 years found in a burial pit in Dorset, England. Located in separate sections of the pit, researchers are mulling over ideas on whether or not disease, war, or execution took the lives of the final remains. In this article, you will find additional information, including details on the discovery of two Neolithic tombs.

2,000-Year-Old Skulls

Situated in one burial pit, the skulls of around 45 men have been uncovered. The find is one of rather extraordinary proportions retells the archeologists, who believe the skulls are nearly 2,000 years old. Since there are so many found in one place, they believe that the people they belonged to may have encountered a disaster that took their lives. The skulls could be the result of a great battle, mass execution, or of a fatal disease that ripped across their region.

The majority of the bones recovered from the site seem to have belonged to young men. Archeologists hope to uncover clues that shed light on the Late Iron Age or early Roman period. Researchers may possibly find evidence that shows a deathly clash between invaders and the local population. After their death, they were buried at a site that represented ritual significance – one that was used for thousands of years before they lost their lives.

The positioning of the bodies also tell a story, as the project manager for Oxford Archeology, David Score will use what he knows about different types of burials. It is his wish that they can come back with a fascinating story to tell about the remains. After recording details and collecting the remains, they will begin the task of extensively analyzing the bones.  In a separate section of the pit, archeologists will also have torso and leg bones to study.

The Discovery of Two Neolithic Tombs

Thanks to aerial photography, two Neolithic tombs have been detected near Cranborne Chase, a site located about 15 miles away from the infamous Stonehenge. Known as one of the most famous prehistoric locations in the world, the find is certainly creating a stir amongst the archeological community.

It was an English Heritage photographer named Damian Grady, who discovered the tombs while flying over the land to take aerial photographs. He was looking for marks or indications that the landscape housed any ancient monument. One photograph revealed the two long mounds that would later be identified as the ancient tombs.

Archeologists involved in the discovery hope to uncover clues that create a better picture on how people lived from this time period, as well as learn some of the details concerning their surroundings. Using the information they acquired from examining similar sites, archeologists already know that complex burial rituals were typical of this time period. It was common to see bodies left in the open air until the flesh had disintegrated, leaving behind just the skeleton. Afterwards, the bones were placed in the tombs following a special arrangement. Usually, it was significant members of the community that were housed in the tombs.

Since the Stonehenge region is one of great historical importance, archeologists are curious as to why the discovery of the tombs has come so late. Cranborne Chase is known as one of the best researched prehistoric area in Europe.


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