4,000-Year-Old 'Stonehenge' Unearthed in Netherlands

Jul 5, 2023

Scientists have found a ritual and burial site in the Netherlands. They think it's 4,000 years old. They think it was used by the people who made it to measure the passing of time.  

The site took up nine acres. It had soil mounds. The mounds allowed sunlight to pass through at certain levels. This helped the people know the shortest and longest days of the year. Inside the mounds were the remains of some 60 adults and children. They lived between 2500 and 1200 BCE, according to Smithsonian magazine.  

Researchers compared the site to the famous Stonehenge in Britain. But Stonehenge was built from rocks. The Dutch site was built with wood that rotted away long ago. 

“It is known that farmers have been concerned with the positions of the sun since the Stone Age,” Stijn Arnoldussen told the Dutch broadcaster NOS. He's a historian at a university in the Netherlands. “Yet such a complete … landscape as has now been discovered is not often seen.” 

A high priest or priestess likely would look at the sun’s shadows on the mound from the same perspective on a daily or regular basis to figure out the time of the year, scientists told the London Times. 

“For these people it was important to … be able to predict seasonal changes,” archaeologist Cristian van der Linde said. “People could see where they were in time.”

The Netherlands has been a great place for excavations in recent years. More than a million artifacts have been found in the town of Tiel. They're from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Empire, and the Middle Ages. 

Photo from Reuters. 

Reflect: Why do you think it might have been important for ancient civilizations to be able to keep track of time or predict the seasons?

Which of the following ideas is highlighted throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. The discovery of a ritual and burial site in the Netherlands.
b. The comparison between the Dutch site and the famous Stonehenge.
c. The excavation of artifacts in the town of Tiel from different historical periods.
d. A and C
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