A NEW study of prehistoric bones discovered at Stonehenge has found around half actually belonged to women.
The remains of 14 women found at the iconic prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, along with other findings, are important because it supports the theory that Stonehenge functioned, at least for part of its long history, as a cremation cemetery for leaders and other noteworthy individuals. It also means the women are believed to have been of high status and importance.
Researchers said their findings showed a “surprising degree of gender equality” despite artists portraying prehistoric man as in charge of the site “with barely a woman in sight”.
The findings, which are the results of the dig which took place in 2008, have been reported in British Archaeology magazine.
“In almost every depiction of Stonehenge by artists and TV re-enactors we see lots of men, a man in charge, and few or no women,” archaeologist Mike Pitts, who is the editor of British Archaeology and the author of the book Hengeworld, told Discovery News.
“The archaeology now shows that as far as the burials go, women were as prominent there as men. This contrasts with the earlier burial mounds, where men seem to be more prominent.”
Christie Willis of the University College London Institute of Archaeology worked on the project, sorting through some 45kg of bone fragments.
Her task was to identify which part of the skeleton each fragment came from and to then establish the age and sex of the remains. She identified 14 females and nine males — some of them children.
Ms Willis said the samples had originally been place in a series of Aubrey Holes around the periphery of the site, which were originally excavated in the 1920s by William Hawley.
“These were dug up and reburied in Aubrey Hole seven with the hope that one day there would be a breakthrough to allow them to be analysed.
“Because of this the fragments have become co-mingled — or mixed up — which is why the work has taken so long.”
The fragments were also sent to universities in Oxford and Glasgow to be radiocarbon-dated. (news.com.au)
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