|28 February 2017
A prehistoric labyrinth in Denmark?
Archaeologists have discovered a large enclosure from the Neolithic period near Stevns in Denmark, but the purpose of the site is a mystery. Discovered by archaeologists from the Museum Southeast Denmark, the site seems to frame an oval area of nearly 18,000 square meters.
"It was actually somewhat overwhelming to experience that it is possible to reveal the traces of such a huge building from the Neolithic period. There are many suggestions for what they could've been used for, but to put it simply, we just don't know," says archaeologist Pernille Rohde Sloth who leads the excavation.
One of the most remarkable things about the fencing at Stevns is the way the entrances have been constructed. The fence is in fact built in five rows that extend outwards, and the opening in each row appears to be offset from the others. Sloth suspects the uneven design was deliberate. "The openings don't seem to sit next to each of the post rows, and we're slightly amazed by that. But maybe it functioned as a sort of labyrinth - at least that's how we imagine it. That way you weren't able to look inside the common space, which may have been an advantage," she says.
Archaeologists have not yet found any structures or construction in the area that could point them towards any possible purpose for the enclosure. So far, they have only discovered single pits of various sizes containing flint tools, waste, and some ceramic fragments. "A palisade construction is typically built for protection, but we don't think that that is what the construction at Stevns is. The rows of poles would have been around two metres high and weren't very close together, so you could probably squeeze through them if you wanted to. We believe that it was some kind of fenced gathering area, but it's difficult to say what it was used for," says Sloth.
Sloth is still waiting for precise dates on the Stevns site, but some of the scraps of broken pottery found on site suggest that it could date to the latter part of the Middle Neolithic Funnel Beaker Culture from 2900 BCE to 2800 BCE.
The archaeologists have not been able to excavate the whole area. The excavation is happening alongside the construction of a new sports hall and there could be many secrets hidden away in this unexplored area.
Edited from Science Nordic (17 February 2017)
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