Friday, 11 April 2008

Stonehenge dig 2008 day 11

From BBC History.

Environmental archaeologist Dr Mike Allen likes to see the big picture, so he uses the latest scientific techniques to reconstruct Stonehenge's ancient setting. Likening the prehistoric scene to a landscape painting, "my colleagues paint the detail in the middle, and I paint the rest", he explained.

Masters of rock, geologists Rob Ixer and Jason Allen, were also at the dig today, scrutinising all the stones from the trench. They confirmed that some of the bluestone was spotted-dolerite from Preseli, in southwest Wales. Other highlights included chunks of non-local greensand and hematite, a piece of worked sarsen, and a fossil sea-lily.

Most of the material from the trench is taken off-site to the 'engine-room' of the dig (a humble portacabin). There, research assistant Debra Costen supervises the wet-sieving, sorting and recording of every single trowel-full. It's a demanding task as over two tonnes of spoil have been processed so far (some kind of record?).

An archaeological excavation is necessarily methodical, but patience and vigilance are richly rewarded. Forget needles in haystacks: Debra found an ancient grain buried in the bucket-loads - the only one of the dig so far. In today's video (above) Dr Allen explains how by studying the small - he's on the trail of tiny snails - we can understand the large.

Full story here.

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