People who built the Stonehenge may have hosted ancient meat-roasting parties about 4500 years ago, where thousands of people would gather to feast on meat, a new research finds.
Thousands of years ago, pilgrims would go to Stonehenge to honour their dead after which they would stop by Durington Walls to take the edge off their hunger, according to the researchers.
Archaeologists believe that the ancient builders of Stonehenge lived just a few miles away from the prehistoric monument, in Durrington Walls, a large Neolithic settlement. In 1966, a wooden henge (circle) was excavated at Durrington Walls.
Sarsen stones (sandstone blocks) – similar to the ones at Stonehenge – that had been partially worked were found at the Neolithic settlement as well. The period when Stonehenge was built also overlaps with the time that the villagers lived in Durrington Walls.
“The dates are absolutely bang-on. It’s exactly the same time when the monument was being built,” Oliver Craig, an archaeologist at the University of York in the United Kingdom, said.
While conducting excavations at Durrington Walls, the archaeologists found at least seven house floors, although the village once had about 200 houses, Craig stated. A lot of pottery fragments and holes filled with animals bones were also found by archaeologists. Unlike Stonehenge, no signs of constant funeral practices were uncovered in the village.
In the new study – published in the October issue of the journal Antiquity – the researchers looked at the chemical compositions of samples taken from the pottery vessels. The vessels from the habitation area had chemical traces of animal fats, while those from the areas where rituals were held contained residue of milk and other dairy products.
According to the authors of the paper, milk represents a symbol for purity in many cultures, as well as the link between the earthly and spiritual nourishment, which is why it is no surprise that these [milk and other dairy products] remnants were found near the timber henge.
Some of the animals also came from far away, based on the isotope analysis. Aside from being well organised, the builders of Stonehenge had quite a sophisticated culinary system, the new research found.
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