Archaeology: "Dutch Stonehenge" discovered: A solar calendar, 80 burial sites - and a 4000-year-old glass bead

A spectacular archaeological dig was unveiled on Wednesday in the tranquil Dutch town of Tiel, a town between Utrecht and Nijmegen on the banks of the Waal.

Archaeology: "Dutch Stonehenge" discovered: A solar calendar, 80 burial sites - and a 4000-year-old glass bead

A spectacular archaeological dig was unveiled on Wednesday in the tranquil Dutch town of Tiel, a town between Utrecht and Nijmegen on the banks of the Waal. Over the past five years, scientists have excavated a complex there, which they now describe as a kind of "Stonehenge of the Netherlands". Around 4000 years ago, people gathered here to perform religious ceremonies, celebrate, make offerings and bury the dead.

The complex is the size of three soccer fields. There were three burial mounds, the largest of which had a diameter of 20 meters. However, this mound not only marked graves, but apparently also had another function: the people who used it at the time dug a ditch around the mound and used the excavation to build a wall around the complex. There were gaps in this wall at certain points through which the sun could shine on the longest and shortest day of the year. So it was a solar calendar, just like Stonehenge was probably one.

According to the responsible archaeologists, it is a "unique find in the history of the Netherlands". The team examined an area of ​​around 22 hectares over a period of five years and found a good million objects – counting every small part. The most exciting of these is not large in turn, but very important: a glass bead. 4000 years ago the production of glass was not known in the Netherlands.

And indeed, the scientists were able to determine that the pearl was not made in Tiel, but in Mesopotamia (roughly equivalent to today's Iraq). Almost 5000 kilometers away. This proves that as early as 2000 B.C. There were trade networks that spanned large parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. In addition, 80 burial sites were found on the site, of men, women and children. Some of the bodies had been cremated and some given a regular burial.

Bitter for many archaeologists: The site should not be declared an open-air museum or a protected area - but leveled and built with barns. After all, the artefacts found are exhibited in museums in the region, as well as in the Dutch city of Leiden.

Sources: "Dutch News", "NOS"

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