Stonehenge DNA

 

stonehenge dusk.jpg

This article caught my eye. 2/3rds through it says, “The British hunter-gatherers were almost completely replaced by the Neolithic farmers, apart from one group in western Scotland, where the Neolithic inhabitants had elevated local ancestry.”

I would so love to know more about my pre-farming ancestors, but nobody seems to find anything … at least as yet. Things changed so much with the introduction of farming, we got …

  • the beginning of wrecking the ecosystem
  • cutting down trees
  • stealing habitat from our fellow creatures on the planet
  • bad diet
  • the modern diseases we complain of, eg arthritis, diabetes, gut diseases, cancers etc
  • ownership – my field, your field
  • class system – I own the field, you work for me, you’re less than me, I’ve got more of everything than you
  • greed and aspiration – I want what he’s got
  • progress – we need bigger and better
  • war … i want your field, I’ll get my gang together, kill you and take it

I find it all very depressing. I would love to know about the people the farmers displaced.

We do know a bit – look at Star Carr, a Mesolithic archaeological site in North Yorkshire, and likely a part of now drowned Doggerland. These folk were not savages but an advanced culture who lived very well with the land, with not on, that’s an important point. My favourite example of their art are these …

starcarrantlers.jpg

Archaeologist think they were likely worn like the pic on this commemorative stamp.

Star Carr headdress stamp 400feat.jpg

the folk who crafted these had wonderful imagination, they were well able to envisage them, conceive how to do them.

star carr pendant.jpg

It’s an engraved shale pendant. No-one knows who made or wore it; perhaps it was part of a shaman’s ritual paraphernalia, or an amulet. It may well have been put into the lake intentionally as a way of ending its use life, similar to what has been suggested for Danish pendants.

Wooden post holes, a sunken area and concentrations of flints, burning and other artefacts indicate a living-place, about 3.5m in diameter. Several post were likely replaced over the the structure’s lifetime. They may have used hides, thatch, turf, and/or bark to wall and roof the conical (teepee-like) or rounded (wigwam-like) frame. Evidence shows the floor was covered with layers of moss, reeds and other soft plant materials to 20-30cm deep. Radiocarbon dates suggest the structure was used for 200-500 years. Likely the house was like the Mesolithic structure found at Howick, Northumberland and British Iron Age roundhouses.

A large wooden platform was found nearby on the shore of the former lake; it’s the earliest known carpentry in Europe. Aspen and Willow wood was split along the grain using wedges (likely made of wood and antler) and these were laid in the boggy areas at the lake shore, probably to give firm footing. It may well have been known a significantly larger and more complex undertaking than the house-like structure.

They had plenty to eat and their diet was very varied, based on local, seasonal and fresh foods; it’s very different to our modern diet and offers us lessons in how to eat more healthily. They ate lots of vegetables from both land, water and the sea; seeds, nuts and fruit; chickweed, dandelion, nettle, sea kale, sorrel, wild garlic, mushrooms and seaweed. They ate fish and shellfish from rivers, lake and sea; fowl like pigeon, duck, grouse, goose; animals like deer, boar and hare, maybe aurochs too.

What on earth could the attraction of farming have been? Were our mesolithic ancestors converted, or were they pushed out. We don’t know. Archaeologists, digging a wonderful site near me, have discussed this point; some of them indeed wonder this too, and have noticed potential evidence of those mesolithic folk being perhaps driven further and further west by the new farmers. We don’t know. I would love to know. The DNA as talked about in this article – “The British hunter-gatherers were almost completely replaced by the Neolithic farmers …”Khoisan hunter-gatherers.jpg

That makes me unhappy …

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