Stonehenge makes history when a long-lost section of the monument reveals a two-billion-year-old mystery.
Researchers at Stonehenge have made an important discovery after a long-lost part of the ancient monument disclosed a two-billion-year-old secret.
The famous British monument may still be discovered in the Wiltshire countryside today, dating back to 3000BC. In 1958, Robert Phillips, who was working on the structure’s restoration, grabbed a chunk of rock that he had drilled from one of the stones. Since 1986, Stonehenge has been protected, making it impossible to obtain identical samples from the stones.
Experts have been able to conduct unparalleled geochemical analyses since the core’s recovery.
They’ve just announced the findings of a new eye-popping study.
It revealed that the sarsens of the monument contains sediments that formed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Other grains in the rock are over 1.6 billion years old.
“With the exception of thin-section examinations and a number of chemical procedures, all of the techniques we employed in the study were unique both to Stonehenge and to the study of sarsen stones in the UK,” said Professor David Nash of the University of Brighton.
According to English Heritage, Stonehenge’s center circle of pillars was built some 2,500 years ago during the Neolithic period.
When experts examined tiny slices of sarsen rock under a microscope, they were shocked to find that the stone was 99.7% quartz.
A quartz “cement” retained fine-to-medium quartz grains and formed “an interconnecting mosaic of crystals,” according to the researchers.
This reinforced the rock, which may explain why the original builders chose it.
“These cements are extraordinarily strong,” Prof Nash noted. I’ve always wondered if the builders of Stonehenge knew something about stone qualities and chose not only the nearest, biggest rocks, but also the ones that would last the longest.”
According to the expert, their investigation also revealed a mystery regarding the age of the sediments in the rock.
“The sandy sediments within which the stone originated were deposited during the Paleogene period, 66 million to 23 million years ago, so the sarsens can’t be older than that,” he told Live Science.
However, when the researchers examined the samples’ isotopes, they discovered that certain sediments in the sarsen stone were significantly older.
Some grains were degraded from rocks from the Mesozoic era (252 million years ago), according to the researchers.