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Lives before and after Stonehenge: An osteobiographical study of four prehistoric burials recently excavated from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Mays, S., Roberts, D., Marshall, P., Pike, A. W. G., Van Heekeren, V., Ramsey, C. Bronk, Dunbar, E., Reimer, P., Linscott, B., Radini, A., Lowe, A., Dowle, A., Speller, C., Vallender, J. and Bedford, J. 2018. Lives before and after Stonehenge: An osteobiographical study of four prehistoric burials recently excavated from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 20 , pp. 692-710. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.06.008

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Abstract

Osteobiographies of four individuals whose skeletal remains were recovered in 2015–16 from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site are constructed, drawing upon evidence from funerary taphonomy, radiocarbon dating, osteological study, stable isotope analyses, and microscopic and biomolecular analyses of dental calculus. The burials comprise an adult from the Middle Neolithic period, immediately prior to the building of Stonehenge, and two adults and a perinatal infant dating from the Middle Bronze Age, shortly after the monument ceased to be structurally modified. The two Middle Bronze Age adults were closely contemporary, but differed from one another in ancestry, appearance and geographic origin (key components of ethnicity). They were nevertheless buried in very similar ways. This suggests that aspects they held in common (osteological analysis suggests perhaps a highly mobile lifestyle) were more important in determining the manner of deposition of their bodies than any differences between them in ethnicity. One of these individuals probably came from outside Britain, as perhaps did the Middle Neolithic adult. This would be consistent with the idea that the Stonehenge landscape had begun to draw people to it from beyond Britain before Stonehenge was constructed and that it continued to do so after structural modification to the monument had ceased.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
ISSN: 2352-409X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 January 2020
Date of Acceptance: 6 June 2018
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2020 15:00
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/128656

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