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Mary Leakey. Source Wikipedia. Image credit National Institutes of Health
John Aubrey (1626-1697)
John Aubrey may have been described by his friends as, “Shiftless, roving and magotie-headed…” but he was among the first to examine and record Stonehenge, Avebury and other megalithic structures with any degree of accuracy. Writing about Avebury and Stonehenge Aubrey says, “I have brought (them) from an inner darkness to a thin mist.” Extracts from the Wikipedia entry on Aubrey describes him as -
…an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the collection of short biographical pieces usually referred to as Brief Lives. He was a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, and who is particularly noted as the discoverer of the Avebury henge monument. The Aubrey holes at Stonehenge are named after him, although there is considerable doubt as to whether the holes that he observed are those that currently bear the name… He spent much of his time in the country, and in 1649 he first ‘discovered’ the megalithic remains at Avebury, which he later mapped and discussed in his important antiquarian work Monumenta Britannica. He was to show Avebury to Charles II at the King’s request in 1663.
John Aubrey’s map of Avebury
He was also a pioneer folklorist, collecting together a miscellany of material on customs, traditions and beliefs under the title “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme”. He set out to compile county histories of both Wiltshire and Surrey, although both projects remained unfinished. His “Interpretation of Villare Anglicanum” (also unfinished) was the first attempt to compile a full-length study of English place-names. He had wider interests in applied mathematics and astronomy, and was friendly with many of the greatest scientists of the day.
Star motif over the door of the porch at The Church of St Peter, Clyffe Pypard where Aubrey visited in or around 1660
A map of the UK with Doggerland marked as red. Image credit and © University of St Andrews
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London this year showcases an exhibition titled Drowned landscapes -
The only lands on Earth that have not been extensively explored are those that have been lost to the oceans. After the end of the last Ice Age extensive landscapes that had once been home to thousands of people were inundated by the sea. Although scientists predicted their existence for many years, exploration has only recently become a reality.
This exhibit explores those drowned landscapes around the UK and shows how they are being rediscovered through pioneering scientific research. It reveals their human story through the artefacts left by the people – a story of a dramatic past that featured lost lands, devastating tsunamis and massive climate change. These were the challenges that our ancestors met and that we face once more today.
How it works
Current climate change and associated sea level rise are at the forefront of social and scientific discussion, but research shows that dramatic changes in the environment have occurred numerous times in the past.
One of the most significant landscapes lost to sea level rise is the European world of Doggerland. Occupying much of the North Sea basin, this inundated landscape, bigger than many modern European countries, was slowly submerged between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC. Archaeologists now consider Doggerland to have been the heartland of human occupation within Northern Europe at that time, but understanding it depends on being able to locate and visualise the landscape.
ピラミッドや始皇帝陵とならぶ世界最大級の墓、巨大古墳。 3世紀から350年に渡る古墳時代は、文字資料がほとんどないため、未だ謎に満ちています。 その謎を解く鍵も、日本から遠く離れた大英博物館にありました。 今から120年前に、一人のイギリス人が日本から持ち帰った膨大な古墳のコレクション。 日英の合同チームは、収蔵庫に眠り続けていたコレクションの本格的な調査を開始しました。 そこからは、日本独自の進化を遂げた巨大古墳の知られざる実像が、浮かび上がってきます。
Phil Harding introduces the Wiltshire Heritage Museum
The Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Library and Gallery were set up and are administered by the Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society (WANHS), founded in Devizes in 1853, after the acquisition of the John Britton library of topographical and antiquarian books and manuscripts by a group of Wiltshire gentlemen. The inaugural meeting resolved to form a society ‘to cultivate and collect information on archaeology and Natural History in their various branches and to form a Library and Museum illustrating the History, natural, civic and ecclesiastic of the County of Wilts’. Most of the original members were clergymen and landed gentry.
The Museum and Library have been at their current location in Long Street since 1873, occupying first the old Victorian Devizes Grammar School, then the two Georgian houses on either side of the Entrance Hall. Further extensions have increased its size to the present day. It has overseen many of the famous excavations on Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs made by the Cunnington family and is a repository of the artefacts and writings of earlier antiquaries such as Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead House.
Andrea Hahn writing for The Southern reports today that -
CARBONDALE – Stonehenge is much closer to home, but some of the sites a group of British archaeologists want to see are in Southern Illinois.
The Prehistoric Society Tour, a British archaeological society based in London and led by British archaeologist Pete Topping, includes two Southern Illinois sites on a whirlwind tour of prehistoric sites in the Eastern United States. Southern Illinois University Carbondale archaeologist and prehistoric rock art expert Mark J. Wagner will guide the group through the Piney Creek Rock Art site and to the Millstone Bluff site. The tour group will be in Southern Illinois on Thursday, June 21, beginning mid-morning.
“I’ve worked as an archaeologist in Southern Illinois for 20 years, and this is the first time I’ve been asked to guide a tour group of British archaeologists,” Wagner said. “I think this whole thing is pretty cool, that we have archaeologists from as far away as Great Britain that know we have sites worth seeing in Southern Illinois and want to visit them. It is definitely something out of the ordinary.”
Wagner is the right person to lead the group. He is the author of an official survey of prehistoric rock art in Illinois commissioned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and has made the study of the rock art his research specialty.
Full article here.
On New Year’s Eve 1900, Stone 22 of the Sarsen Circle fell over, taking with it a lintel. Following public pressure and a letter to The Times by William Flinders Petrie, The owner, Edmund Antrobus, agreed to remedial engineering work under archaeological supervision so that records could be made of the below ground archaeology.
Antrobus appointed Gowland to manage the job, who despite having no formal archaeological training, produced some of the finest, most detailed excavation records ever made at the monument. The only area he opened was that around the then precariously leaning Stone 56 (the western stone of the Great Trilithon), an area measuring around 17 ft by 13 ft, and the difficulty was compounded in that only small areas were dug at each time to allow concrete to be poured and set.
Despite these difficulties, he established that antler picks had been used to dig the stone holes and that the stones themselves had been worked to shape on site. His work identified the ‘Stonehenge layer’, a thin strata of bluestone chips that sealed many of the non-megalithic features at the site and proved that they predated the standing stones.
Full Wikipedia entry here.