Stonehenge skeleton was a visitor from the Mediterranean
A wealthy young teenager buried near Britain’s mysterious Stonehenge monument came from the Mediterranean hundreds of miles away, scientists said Wednesday, proof of the site’s importance as a travel destination in prehistoric times.
The teen — dubbed “The Boy with the Amber Necklace” because he was unearthed with a cluster of amber beads around his neck — is one of several sets of foreign remains found around the ancient ring of imposing stones, whose exact purpose remains unknown.
The British Geological Survey’s Jane Evans said that the find, radiocarbon dated to 1,550 B.C., “highlights the diversity of people who came to Stonehenge from across Europe,” a statement backed by Bournemouth University’s Timothy Darvill, a Stonehenge scholar uninvolved with the discovery.
“The find adds considerable weight to the idea that people traveled long distances to visit Stonehenge, which must therefore have had a big reputation as a cult center,” Darvill said in an e-mail Wednesday. “Long distance travel was certainly more common at this time than we generally think…”
Clues to the adolescent’s foreign origins could be found in the necklace, which isn’t a recognized British type. But he was traced to the area around the Mediterranean Sea by a technique known as isotope analysis, which in this case measured the ratio of strontium and oxygen isotopes in his tooth enamel…
It isn’t clear precisely what drew these people to Stonehenge, a site which has existed in various forms for some 5,000 years. It clearly had an important ceremonial function, and the area around it is dotted with the remains of prehistoric monuments and tombs.
Tourism ain’t so new is it? I doubt if he traveled from the Mediterranean to experience British weather. And we know he wasn’t mugged by the locals because he still had his amber.
That far back in history, no doubt there was something at least ceremonial if not spooky that drew him there. And he could afford the journey.