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A tooth unearthed near Stonehenge shows dogs were man’s best friend even in prehistoric times, it has been claimed.
The tooth, dug up at Blick Mead in Wiltshire, is believed to be evidence of the earliest journey in British history.
It is thought to be from a pet Alsatian-type dog that travelled 250 miles from York with its owner.
Archaeologist David Jacques said it was significant as it was not known people travelled so far 7,000 years ago.
The shape and size show the tooth was from a domestic dog, he said.
It also suggests people were visiting Stonehenge 2,000 years before the monument was built.
“The fact that a dog and a group of people were coming to the area from such a long distance away further underlines just how important the place was four millennia before the circle was built,” Mr Jacques said.
“Discoveries like this give us a completely new understanding of the establishment of the ritual landscape and make Stonehenge even more special than we thought we knew it was.”
Bones found near the tooth suggest the dog would have feasted on salmon, trout, pike, wild pig and red deer.
Researchers at Durham University used carbon dating to discover the age of the tooth and isotope analysis on the enamel.
Mr Jacques, a senior research fellow at the University of Buckingham, said: “We know it was probably born in the area of York.
“It was drinking from the area when it was young, it went on a journey of about 250 miles to the Stonehenge area with people and it ate what the people were eating on this site at Blick Mead.
“You would not get a wolf travelling 250 miles but you’re much more likely to get a dog doing that because it’s travelling with its people.”
Previous excavations have uncovered tools from Wales and the Midlands and evidence people lived near Stonehenge for long periods of time, near the natural springs used hollowed out tree trunks for shelter.
Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-37574881
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Archaeologists have started a new excavation of Amesbury in an attempt to uncover some of the mysteries of Stonehenge. Amesbury is located in southern Wiltshire, England, and in recent years has revealed some incredible archaeological discoveries, including numerous monuments and artefacts dating back to the Mesolithic era. The major dig due to start soon could help to explain why Stonehenge was built where it was.
Excavations since 2005 have indicated that Amesbury and the surrounding area has been settled for around 10,000 years, much earlier than previous thought. Findings have included large scale prehistoric structures and settlements and numerous monuments around Stonehenge.
The last significant finding occurred at a site called Vespasian’s Camp, approximately 1 mile from Stonehenge, which showed traces of human settlement 3,000 years before nearby Stonehenge was apparently built. David Jacques, a researcher who has directed eleven small excavations between 2005 and 2012, has described the site as “potentially one of the pivotal places in the history of the Stonehenge landscape.”
New excavations will be seeking to establish Amesbury as the oldest continuous settlement in the UK. At the moment, neighbouring region, Thatcham, has evidence for the oldest settlement with well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic settlement dating back to 7,700 BC. In Amesbury, evidence of settlement has been found dating back to 7,596 BC, but archaeologists have not yet reached the bottom section of the trench where previous digs took place, indicating that much older evidence may be found beneath. The team is hoping to find evidence of settlement going back to 10,000 BC.
But the dig is about much more than establishing the oldest date of settlement. The team or archaeologists believe that findings may help to explain why Stonehenge is where it is.
“No-one would have built Stonehenge without there being something really special about the area, said Andy Rhind-Tutt from Amesbury Museum.” There must have been something there beforehand and Amesbury may well be it – [it could be] one of the greatest Mesolithic sites in the country.”
The dig will finish on 25th October and findings from the excavation will be reported then.
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