Thousands of pits that archaeologists believe were used by prehistoric hunters have been excavated near Stonehenge in Salisbury, UK.
A “solid” discovery by researchers at the University of Birmingham and Ghent, using a combination of new geophysical models with traditional archeology, reveals some of the earliest evidence of human activity still buried in Stonehenge. And it contains sites over ten thousand years old.
One of the wells, four meters wide and two meters deep, is the largest ever found in northwestern Europe. “The largest discovery of a known lower Mesolithic pit in northwestern Europe shows that this was a special place for hunter-gatherer communities thousands of years before the first stones were erected,” said Nickhashall, an archaeologist at Stonehenge.
According to experts, the pits, which date from around 8200 BC and 7800 BC, show that hunter-gatherers of the era migrated through the area during the early Mesolithic period, when Britain was repopulated after the late Middle Ages.
Electrical conductivity of soil
The discovery was made in part by a technique known as electromagnetic induction research, which uses the electrical conductivity of the soil (the ability of the soil to conduct electricity) to obtain information that can be used to find materials underground.
According to the University of Birmingham, this was the first extensive study of electromagnetic induction in Stonehenge.
“The remnants we see in our data span millennia, as evidenced by the 7,000-year period between the oldest and most recently excavated prehistoric wells,” said Paul Garwood, a professor of prehistory at the facility, who pointed out that “it’s a moment in time.”
“From the first hunters-collectors to the last inhabitants of the Bronze Age, the archeology we found is the result of a complex and ever-changing occupation of the landscape,” he added.