Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News



The origin of megaliths

Tuesday February 2019
Share on Facebook

An article by Michael Price on - Stonehenge, other ancient rock structures may trace their origins to monuments like this - reports on new research tracing the origin of megaliths.

 The origin of megaliths. Carnac. Stonehenge. Ring of Brodgar

Stonehenge (above) may be one of the most famous example, but tens of thousands of other ancient megalithic sites can be found across Europe. The new study suggests these megaliths weren't created independently but instead can be traced back to a single hunter-gatherer culture that started nearly 7,000 years ago in what is today the Brittany region of northwestern France. The findings support the fact that societies at the time were adept in maritime voyages and navigation, thus expediting the spread of culture.

Michael Parker Pearson, an archaeologist and Stonehenge specialist at University College London, states that Brittany is the origin of the European megalithic phenomenon. And Bettina Schulz Paulsson, a prehistoric archaeologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the study's sole author, believes the new study - presented recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - confirms this.

Article continues below

Researching megaliths for some  20 years ago, she explains that most anthropologists originally thought megaliths originated in the Near East or the Mediterranean, but then latterly that they were invented independently in five or six different regions around Europe. The major hurdle, she says, has been sorting through the mountains of archaeological data to find reliable dates for the 35,000 sites, including carved standing stones, tombs, and temples.

The origin of megaliths. Carnac. Stonehenge. Ring of Brodgar
The Ring of Brodgar on the UK's Orkney Islands. Image: Bettina Schulz Paulsson.

She analysed radiocarbon dating data from 2410 ancient sites across Europe to reconstruct a prehistoric archaeological timeline. The radiocarbon dates came mostly from human remains buried within the sites. The study looked not just at megaliths, but also at so-called pre-megalithic graves that featured elaborate, earthen tombs but no huge stones. Schulz Paulsson also factored in information on the sites' architecture, tool use, and burial customs to further narrow the dates.

 The origin of megaliths. Carnac. Stonehenge. Ring of Brodgar

Carnac: the Kermario alignment, consisting of 1029 stones in ten columns, roughly 1,300 m. in length.

The data showed that the very earliest megaliths come from north-western France, including the Carnac stones, a dense collection of rows of standing stones, mounds, and covered stone tombs - dolmens (below). These date to about 4700 B.C.E., when the region was inhabited by hunter-gatherers. 

Northwestern France is also the only megalithic region that also features gravesites with complex earthen tombs that date to about 5000 B.C.E., which she says is evidence of an "evolution of megaliths" in the region. That means megalith building likely originated there and spread outward.

The origin of megaliths. Carnac. Stonehenge. Ring of Brodgar
Dolmen Sa Coveccada on northeastern Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea. Image: Bettina Schulz Paulsson.

By about 4300 B.C.E., megaliths had spread to coastal sites in southern France, the Mediterranean, and on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Over the next few thousand years, the structures continued to appear around Europe's coasts in three distinct phases. Stonehenge is thought to have been erected around 2400 B.C.E., but other megaliths in the British Isles go back to about 4000 B.C.E. The abrupt emergence of specific megalithic styles like narrow stone-lined tombs at coastal sites, but rarely inland, suggests these ideas were being spread by coast. If so, Schulz Paulsson believes it would push back the emergence of advanced seafaring in Europe by about 2000 years.

In response, some researchers do not rule out independent invention and some point out that still earlier megaliths may yet be uncovered, or with more evidence that might push back the dates of some known megaliths. Future studies that include ancient DNA and other bio-archaeological evidence on population movements will help clarify.

Stonehenge: the Age of the Megaliths


** Like Page below to receive our articles on Facebook **
Thursday June 2019
Tuesday February 2019
Thursday September 2018
Wednesday June 2018
Thursday March 2018
Thursday March 2018
Wednesday October 2017
Wednesday October 2017
Tuesday January 2017
Bradshaw FoundationAboutiShopBook ReviewSite MapMailing ListDonateFacebookTwitterContact
If you have enjoyed visiting this section of the website please consider adding a link
Bradshaw Foundation © MMXI
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Privacy Policy Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Birnin Kudu Rock Art Center Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Moab, Utah Clovis First Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Avebury Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Introduction Peterborough Petroglyphs Western Canadian Rock Art Writing-On-Stone Wuikinuxv Territory Dinosaur Provincial Park Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Rouffignac Cave Portable Art Defining Rock Art Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Preservation & Education Dr. V. S. Wakankar Articles on India Rock Art Contemporary Art Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Scandinavian Rock Art Archive Scandinavian Introduction Alta Rock Art Norway Rock Art in Finland Tanum Rock Art Sweden Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Banksy Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation