Later Neolithic and Newgrange 2500-1700BC (part 1)

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  • Later Neolithic and Newgrange 2500-1700BC
    • Later Neolithic
      • Greater range of funery monuments-movement from excarnation to cremation and some inhumation.
      • Ritual monuments-linear arrangements, processional ways, barriers separating ritual area from surrounding area.
      • Artefacts-beakers and grooved wares (rinyo-clacton wares)
      • Alignment of monuments to sun, stars, rivers-authority? Lightboxes etc.
      • Idea of LNEBA-Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age.
      • Religion and Ritual
        • Structures and practices becoming more tentative.
        • Neolithic saw agricultural chnages
          • Evidence of farming
          • Female figures with ears of grain on their bellies (historia de Catalunya)
            • Votive offerings?
              • Linkage between women, wheat and fertility
                • Cycle of wheat production same as human gestation.
      • Regional variation, group and family preferences.
        • Sites also develop over time.
      • Passage graves
        • Circular mound or cairn delimited by kerb stones covering a passage and chamber.
          • Became more complex-cruciform.
          • Separate sacred and profane
          • Often complex of main cairns and subsidiary tombs
            • Often positioned on high ground
              • Can be seen all around or to be able to see long distance?
    • Newgrange
      • Located in Ireland which has four main complexes-Carrowmore, Carrowkeel, Loughcrew and Bend of the Boyne.
        • Newgrange if part of Bend of the Boyne.
          • Total complex made up of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
          • More than 700+ decorated stones in whole complex
            • 35% of all Neolithic art in Europe
              • Represent calculations about star and sun
                • Symbolism?
                • Or just plain decoration?
                • Built up in successive layers
                  • Show foreign influences-linear designs from Brittany and Iberia and new styles of 'faces'.
                    • Other sites in Ireland don't have any of these.
      • Passage grave. Passage constructed using orthostats-large stones on end-supporting lintel stones
        • Main chamber made by spiral form corbelling. Newgrange is 6m high.
          • Has three smaller chambers coming off of it.
            • Each of these had a flat basin like stone in.
              • Deposition of bones?
              • Cremation?
                • Cremated remains placed here?
                  • Deposition of bones?
                  • Cremated on terraced land outside?
                  • Deposits of cremated human remains and uncremated remains found in passage
                    • Unburnt remains indicate at least two individuals
                    • Some animal remains found- mountain hares, rabits and dogs, sheep etc. Some molluscs.
                      • However a lot of these likely entered and died at a later date
                        • Rabbits only introduced to Ireland 13th century.
                    • But not very many
                      • So are these the elite or special few?
                        • Or perhaps many people were placed here for awhile and then removed and these few got left behind?
                      • But then visitors had already been coming for around 260 years before initial excavtion
                        • Merely damaged and no longer present-many more bones originally?
                          • Perhaps similar to Mound of Hostages at Tara where creamted bones of around 200 people found (Professor Mitchell in Reading the Irish Landscape)
                    • Bones of 5 individuals found-3 cremated
                • Ceiling shows no evidence of smoke though.
                  • Cremated remains placed here?
                    • Cremated on terraced land outside?
                    • Deposits of cremated human remains and uncremated remains found in passage
                      • Unburnt remains indicate at least two individuals
                      • Some animal remains found- mountain hares, rabits and dogs, sheep etc. Some molluscs.
                        • However a lot of these likely entered and died at a later date
                          • Rabbits only introduced to Ireland 13th century.
                      • But not very many
                        • So are these the elite or special few?
                          • Or perhaps many people were placed here for awhile and then removed and these few got left behind?
                        • But then visitors had already been coming for around 260 years before initial excavtion
                          • Merely damaged and no longer present-many more bones originally?
                            • Perhaps similar to Mound of Hostages at Tara where creamted bones of around 200 people found (Professor Mitchell in Reading the Irish Landscape)
                      • Bones of 5 individuals found-3 cremated
              • But right hand one has two
                • One from granite and intricately decorated
                  • On top of slate stone-too large to have been transpoted into passage-there originally. Ancestoral link-special stone?
              • Back basin broken
          • Slope downwards-prevent water entering-gutters also on roof stones
          • Sealing mixture of burnt clay and sea sand packed between stones
            • Allowed radiocarbon dating
        • Passage is 19m long. Roughly a third of the way into the mound.
          • Walls consist of stone lintels, 22 on west side and 21 on east side. Average height of 1.5m.
          • Curves slightly-removes view of outside (create world of the dead?)
      • 110 decorated stones at Newgrange.
        • Entrance stone (K1) features triskele. Carved in situ.
          • K52 also very elaborate-so much so it was thought another passage may have been behind it
          • Also 1m high
            • Had to climb over it
              • Barrier-separated sacred and profane
        • Decorative?
        • Or symbolic?
          • Some carvings done would not have been visible-on underside of orthostats.
        • No images of people or animals.
      • Built 3200-3100BC. (C14)
      • Retaining wall and kerb stones
        • Material taken from long distance in some cases
          • Strapped to underside of boats with cow hides-weigh less in water
            • Then taken uphill on wooden rollers
          • O'Kelly also claimed that boulders were weathered-scavenged rather than quarried
          • Quartz came 80km and granite 50km
        • Kerbs are greywacke
      • Part of Bru Na Boinne complex (bend of the Boyne)
      • Similarities to Maes Howe.
      • Mound made of alternating layers of earth (turves) and stones (cairns)
        • 76m across and 12m high. covers 4,500 square metres. Can't be given diameter as isn't completely circular, entrance area and rear flattened slightly-to allow better viewing of kerb stones and entrance?
          • Professor Mitchell (Reading the Irish landscape)  reckons that around 400 could have built in slack season of agriculture
            • Still take years if not generations though
              • Also suggests that there must have been someone presiding over project as organisation would have been required
                • Labourers, engineeers cooks etc
                  • Large social operation
          • Cairn layers made up of many small stones
            • Several theories
              • Picked up on  river terraces
              • Brought by pilgrims to site-offering?
            • Roughly 200,000 tonnes
        • Entrance is on southeastern side.
        • Some evidence that there had been an earthern mound there before passage tomb built.
          • Already ritual site?
          • K52 placed at limit of orignal mound
            • Acknowledging original builders?
      • Timber circle added to south-east and west
        • Similar  idea to Stonehenge-wood (life) and stone (death)
        • Eastern timber circle consisted of five concentric rows of pits.
          • Outer row contained wooden posts.
            • Next row had clay lining, Used for burning animal remains.
              • Inner three rows for accepting animal remains.
          • Within circle were stake and post holes
            • Beaker pottery and flint associated.
          • Bronze Age
        • Western circle-two concentric parallel rows of post holes.
          • Circle 20m in diameter
      • Artifacts
        • 7 'marbles', four pendants, two beads, used flint flake, bone chisel and fragments of bone pins and joints.
      • Lightbox present above entrance
        • Allowed rays of rising sun on winter solstice to travel up passage
        • Images  around lightbox thought to possibly represent stars/sun
          • Sun worship/star worship?
            • Due to sun bringing life-reliance at time on crops due to agricultural revolution
              • Ritual to ensure that crops will grow again-or start of days getting longer?-important date for farmers
            • Art related to changing seasons and solar events?
      • Irish name is Si An Bhru
        • 'Fairy mound of Bru Na Boinne'
      • Even Romans respected it-Coins from 400AD found
      • More finds-gold band with floral design found in debris near entrance. Two disc brooches, rings of gold silver and bronze. Bone dice, bronze strap loop in La Tene style, bronze pin, bronze bracelet.
      • Stone circle of 12 stones around Newgrange. After 2000BC-a stone sits on top of the timber circle.

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