- BBC World, @bbc_ciencia
Beneath the impressive Stonehenge monoliths is an underground archaeological treasure trove.
This was discovered by a team of scientists, who scanned the area surrounding the famous site in England and were able to see in great detail what is up to a depth of three meters underground.
Their work brought them several surprises: the iconic monument was not alone, but accompanied by 17 neighboring temples.
Remains of up to 60 huge stones that were part of a great ring larger than Stonehenge, 1.5 km wide, were also found to the northeast of the famous monoliths.
«For four years we have been looking at this incredible monument and trying to see what was around it,» said Vincent Gaffney, project leader from the University of Birmingham who presented their first findings at the British Science Festival.
Most of the land around Stonehenge had never been studied in this way, and as Gaffney explained, there was one question that remained unanswered: «Was it really an excluded place, where only special people came?»
The new three-dimensional map that Gaffney’s team created, which covers an area of 12km2, shows that it is not.
see through the floor
The researchers used six different techniques to scan the entire site at different depths below the surface.
Its instruments include a magnetometer, ground penetrating radar (GPR) and a 3D laser scanner.
«Using GPR and other techniques they have been able to see through the ground and explore what civilization was like thousands of years ago,» Nishad Karim, a University of Leicester researcher who has used similar instruments to reconstruct graves, told the BBC. 16th century, Tudor period.
Beneath one of the many mounds, they identified a 33-meter-long wooden building from around 6,000 years ago, probably used for rituals and burial practices.
«It has three rows of beams to support the roof. It’s around 300m2 and it’s slightly trapezoidal, which is interesting because in the same period on the mainland, around 100 or 200 years earlier, we also find these types of related trapezoidal buildings. with megaliths (big stones),» explained Wolfang Neubauer, director of the Austrian Ludwing Boltzmann Institute, also involved in this study.
Another 17 mounds revealed hitherto unknown ritual monuments, as old as Stonehenge.
Assembled for the first time on a digital map, the discoveries transform archaeologists’ view of the landscape that was modified over the centuries after construction began around 3100 BC.
«Using 21st century techniques, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes team have transformed our understanding of this precious and very special ancient landscape,» said Nick Snashall, Stonehenge archaeologist.
Now the scientists must study in detail all the information they got after four years of work, and begin to tell us the underground history of Stonehenge.