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Saturday, 1 December 2012

New Timeline for Stonehenge



Thanks to Rob for drawing attention to this.  Must peruse the article carefully in ANTIQUITY, to see how much this journalist has got right, and how much of it is wrong.  I notice that Rob is credited with being the researcher who discovered the origin of the bluestones, which is very flattering for him, even if it is not necessarily correct....... but what the hell...

I notice immediately that there is the assumption that the bluestones were imported from Wales at a particular time which the authors think they can date, and that there is absolutely no questioning of the human transport theory.  More on that anon.....

I also notice that they now think the bluestones were carried by the Beaker People --- which makes the "heroic enterprise" a good deal later than earlier estimates.  Expect further posts.

--------------------------
Article: 
Building Stonehenge: A New Timeline Revealed

Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer
http://www.livescience.com/25157-stonehenge-megaliths-timeline-enigma.html
Date: 30 November 2012 Time: 01:23 PM ET

Ancient people probably assembled the massive sandstone horseshoe at Stonehenge more than 4,600 years ago, while the smaller bluestones were imported from Wales later, a new study suggests.

The conclusion, detailed in the December issue of the journal Antiquity, challenges earlier timelines that proposed the smaller stones were raised first.

"The sequence proposed for the site is really the wrong way around," said study co-author Timothy Darvill, an archaeologist at Bournemouth University in England. "The original idea that it starts small and gets bigger is wrong. It starts big and stays big. The new scheme puts the big stones at the center at the site as the first stage."

The new timeline, which relies on statistical methods to tighten the dates when the stones were put into place, overturns the notion that ancient societies spent hundreds of years building each area of Stonehenge. Instead, a few generations likely built each of the major elements of the site, said Robert Ixer, a researcher who discovered the origin of the bluestones, but who was not involved in the study.
"It's a very timely paper and a very important paper," Ixer said. "A lot of us have got to go back and rethink when the stones arrived."

Mysterious monument

The Wiltshire, England, site of Stonehenge is one of the world's most enduring mysteries. No one knows why prehistoric people built the enigmatic megaliths, although researchers over the years have argued the site was originally a sun calendar, a symbol of unity, or a burial monument.

Though only some of the stones remain, at the center of the site once sat an oval of bluestones, or igneous rocks (those formed from magma) that turn a bluish hue when wet or freshly cut. Surrounding the bluestones are five giant sandstone megaliths called trilithons, or two vertical standing slabs capped by a horizontal stone, arranged in the shape of a horseshoe.

Around the horseshoe, ancient builders erected a circular ring of bluestones. The sandstone boulders, or sarsens, can weigh up to 40 tons (36,287 kilograms), while the much smaller bluestones weigh a mere 4 tons (3,628 kg).

Past researchers believed the bluestone oval and circle were erected earlier than the massive sandstone horseshoe.

But when Darvill and his colleagues began excavations at the site in 2008, they found the previous chronology didn't add up. The team estimated the age of new artifacts from the site, such as an antler-bone pick stuck within the stones. Combining the new information with dating from past excavations, the team created a new timeline for Stonehenge's construction.

Like past researchers, the team believes that ancient people first used the site 5,000 years ago, when they dug a circular ditch and mound, or henge, about 361 feet (110 meters) in diameter.

But the new analysis suggests around 2600 B.C. the Neolithic people built the giant sandstone horseshoe, drawing the stone from nearby quarries. Only then did builders arrange the much smaller bluestones, which were probably imported from Wales. Those bluestones were then rearranged at various positions throughout the site over the next millennium, Darvill said.

"They sort out the local stuff first, and then they bring in the stones from Wales to add to the complexity of the structure," Darvill told LiveScience.

The new dating allows the archaeologists to tie the structure to specific people who lived in the area at the time, Darvill said. The builders of the larger sandstone structures were pig farmers found only in the British Isles. In contrast, the bluestone builders would've been the Beaker people, sheep and cow herders who lived throughout Europe and are known for the distinctive, bell-shape pottery they left behind.

The new timeline "connects everything together, it gives us a good sequence of events outside, and it gives us a set of cultural associations with the different stages of construction," Darvill said.


=====================
"Stonehenge remodelled"
Timothy Darvill, Peter Marshall, Mike Parker Pearson & Geoff Wainwright
ANTIQUITY 86 (2012): 1021–1040




53 comments:

Geocur said...

There's no suggestion in the Antiquity paper that the Bluestones were brought to the site by "beaker people " . It suggests that bluestones were part of the first megalithic stage as well as at "Bluestonehenge " all before the beaker period . There is a mention of possibility of "people who used beaker pottery " were involved in Stage 3 where the putative bluestones from "Bluestonehenge " were moved to Stonehenge but certainly no suggestion of "beaker people " bringing the the original bluestones to the monument .

BRIAN JOHN said...

I agree with you, Geo, that this is what the paper says -- so what on earth is Darvill on about? We must assume that the journalist has used the press release properly, and that Darvill did actually say what she says he said. Another example of the hunt for big headlines?

Lloyd said...

The article says that the bluestone builders would have been the Beaker people however, the bodies found in April 2003 on Boscombe Down, 3 miles from Stonehenge have been identified as originally coming from South Wales; Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hafJmgEePo (41:47 mins). Surely wouldn’t this cast some doubt on the Beaker people being the bluestone builders?

Geocur said...

Fwiw and a possible explanation in his favour ; the Darvill quotes don't contradict anything in the paper but the dodgy part “the bluestone builders would've been the Beaker people,  “ is not a quote from him and could be the journalist getting confused. To be fair to her the chronology according to the model, particularly the coming and going of bluestones within the monument and supposedly imported from Bluestonehenge etc can be confusing .It is what is to be expected and we have seen it often enough .The next one will be equally as garbled .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Lloyd -- the Boscombe Down bodies have NOT been identified as having come from South Wales. Sheer speculation -- there are many parts of Europe from which those people might have come....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- I have a tendency to blame hyped up press releases, combined with gullible and naive journalists who have a tendency to regurgitate whatever is fed to them without actually bothering to look at the sources properly.

Myris of Alexandria said...

I know Dr Ixer was pleasantly surprised to see that he had discovered the bluestones (earlier this year he was described as being an FRS (-IF ONLY)so fame must be like rolling a snowball in the snow -
now folks a bluestone packed in centre of a huge snowball drawn 5-10 kms a day
-sorry digression
((favourite quotation of all time))
"Holla, ye pamper'd jades of Asia!
What, can ye draw but twenty miles a-day,
And have so proud a chariot at your heels",
Enough of that. I suspect that the article is possibly not exactly all the Prof Darvill said. Certainly Dr Ixer came off lightly although he was talking about the construction of Causeway Camps rather than Stonehenge when discussing the collapse of time due to the use of Bayesian stats.

Lloyd said...

Brian; the tests done on the bodies at Boscombe Down seemed to be reasonably conclusive, rather than just mere speculation. I summarise, “Chemical markers are found in the teeth enamel and are tested for oxygen isotopes and the isotopic levels of the isotope strontium. These are compared with a map of the UK for known levels of known oxygen and strontium to reveal the locality of where the bodies came from. These tests showed that the bodies originated in South Wales”. Would this type of test cause confusion in determining the validity of the evidence?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Lloyd -- the evidence was far from conclusive. Who are you quoting there? The evidence showed that some organic remains showed links with either Wales or the lake District, or areas with similarly old rocks -- as I recall. Strontium isotope dating is a very imprecise thing -- although of course the media always likes to think otherwise.

TonyH said...

Lloyd - the strontium tests also pointed to the possibility of Brittany.

TonyH said...

It looks to me as though Darvill is spinning his own web-story whereby he can subtlely dismiss the Parker Pearson-led claim that the bluestones were first on the Stonehenge scene, within the Aubrey Holes. This, we will remember, was one of the distinguishing features between the two combating camps, i.e. that led by Parker Pearson on behalf of the seven-year-long Stonehenge Riverside Project, versus the Darvill & Wainwright "Dream Team" circa 2008.
This Darvill v Parker Pearson animosity/ rivalry appears to go back to their time together as undergraduates at Southampton University archaeology department. It appears that MPP graduated with a First; Tim Darvill gaining a 2:1.

Lloyd said...

Brian; the test on the teeth enamel was conducted by Dr. Andrew Fitzpatrik – Wessex Archaeology and Jacqueline McKinley – Osteoarchaeologist. It is good for me to learn about the quality and sources of evidence and its reliability. Yes TonyH, I did wonder if other areas of Europe would produce similar results, which has obviously been ignored, so the evidence would fit the facts they were looking for.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Lloyd -- the fact that Andrew Fitzpatrick has said things about these remains and written about them is no guarantee of reliability! We all have our own agendas and put our own spin on things -- I happen to think that Andrew WANTED a South Wales connection because it suited his storyline. I just do not think that the evidence as presented is strong enough to make that link credible.

chris johnson said...

I think we should be careful about mistrusting motives although we should challenge evidence.

One thing seems clear from the Boscombe and Archer evidence and that is that non-local participation and respect for non-locals was in play.

One of the toughest aspects of this study is the evaluation of opinion. So when a person who has handled hundreds of mauls tells me something is a hammerstone, I tend to believe them.

This is the most frustrating aspect of this press flurry around the Stonehenge chronology. The Antiquity article is undersigned by too few of the actors to be a consensus. The widely reproduced press story gives a different slant under the name of one of the signees. And the extensive paper by EH is not yet on-line. Confusion reigns on something we all hoped would put a reliable stake in the ground. Meanwhile the broader public has been misinformed again.

Myris of Alexandria said...

You should ask the isotope researchers NERC/BGS directly for their views on all the possible sources that fit those data.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- I wasn't suggesting that Andrew is unique here. We all do it! In the end the evidence that we cite has to stand up to intense scrutiny.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Speaking of evidence, what evidence was used for the most recent Stonehenge chronology study? Same old evidence based on antlers, charcoals and animal bones found buried at Stonehenge?For me, this is a more important issue than the actual chronology.

Can someone please explain why a deer antler found stuck in a sarsen crevice is relevant in dating Stonehenge? Are we to assume deer antlers were used to cut and dress stones for Stonehenge?

Kostas

chris johnson said...

@Myris, if you think you know what they think then please tell us directly. I trust your reporting, and your opinion of their opinion should you choose to share something unscientific like your opinion.

For people like me (or LLoyd?) ) to address these experts on a sunday afternoon is intrusive and likely non-productive. Even when they respond I am not qualified to judge, even though I know more about isotopes than most people.

When we move forward on this issue we have to trust the opinions of experts, which makes the mess around the communication of new stonehenge timelines all the more pernicious.

@Brian. Our posts crossed. My basic position is to trust subject matter experts, especially when peer reviewed. So I trust you on geomorphology even when NOT peer reviewed. I trust Myris on the provenance of rocks, even when peer reviewed. I trust Geo_Cur to tell the truth as he sees it. I trust Tony not to invent stuff. Maybe I am being stupid and everybody has an agenda, but I think not...

When we are all expected to become individually expert on all the many disciplines involved in understanding Stonehenge then we are embarked on a mission impossible. The central question is who can be trusted and who cannot.

Darvill is low on my scale of credibility despite being a professor and peer reviewed.

At the proverbial end of the day we need to decide on the quality of the evidence and here almost nobody can stand on solid ground. There is insufficient evidence of sufficient quality to construct any theory - so we are living in a time of uncertainty and probability theory. We look for what I call "rational plausibility" - something Kostas is determined to misunderstand.

Coming back to LLoyd's question - as I understood it. What do we really know about the Beaker folk? My assumption has been that they arrived in S.England around 2500 BC and their culture spread quickly as it had throughout Europe. Darvill seems to imply that it might have arrived from the West. I will be grateful when someone can point me in the right direction or give a summary about Beaker culture.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, from the article posted ...

“...estimated the age of new artifacts from the site, such as an antler-bone pick stuck within the stones”

What does that mean? More 'nomenclature' Myris? How does an antler get stuck “within the stones”? Which stones? Orthostats, recumbent, buried? Could an antler get stuck inside a crevice of a rock naturally? Or placed there by Romans or tourists, for example? What does the age of the antler say about Stonehenge dates or method of construction?

Am I the only one interested in such “irrelevant” details to the archeologists narrative?

Kostas

TonyH said...

Chris. As you say, I do not "invent stuff". I deal in factual information, having been an information/reference librarian with particular experience in providing information for local government purposes. Trawling through the 'serious' daily press and journals on a regular basis was an excellent way to discover lots of spin-doctoring from individuals or groups with their own agendas AND to find lots of disinformation presented by those papers with their own political stances.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris, you write

“We look for what I call "rational plausibility" - something Kostas is determined to misunderstand.”

My mathematical mind and non-biased disposition finds your statement especially offensive! Want to enlighten me of my 'misunderstanding' of rational plausibility?

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Mr Johnson
We are getting dangerously close to TAG (spit spit.
Myris is but a poor scribe in the vast etc etc. but has his ear close to the rat-holes.
This blog operates on many levels and different messages are being given to sub-classes of readers. Plus it is read alongside the private emails that act as a gloss.
I certainly am unwilling to repeat what is said to me privately by people who have not crossed me.
BUT it is well known that scientists/geoscientists are aware of the pact they have made with the Devil when they cross over to the archy side and we discuss and comment on it often. Archies will always try to push the science further than it can decently be driven and what is often given as a range of possibilities is narrowed down to an archy 'certainty'.
Do not start me or I shall give my views on the current Mills and Boon (Wessex) archaeology or I would be forced to give names.
M

chris johnson said...

@Kostas.
Sorry if I offended you, especially after we seem to be getting on better in recent months. You are right - "rational plausibility" has everything to do with comparative probabilities and not often with mathematics.

On this basis it seems most "rationally plausible" currently that the Bluestones arrived via glacier, less likely that people quarried and moved them long distances, and improbable that SH was built by natural forces. The delight of working with "rational plausibility" is that you are allowed to change your mind when new evidence emerges or even an opinion from a trusted source. I see this way of thinking must be very frustrating for a mathematician so I will try to be more respectful in future.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

So Chris,

… “rational plausibility” has to do with “probabilities”. A field in Mathematics! Unless you mean “probabilities” set by humans based on their predisposed biases. In which case we are back debating (respectfully) “likelihoods”. And if the “likelihoods” can be rationally argued and supported by all the facts on the ground, we have “rational plausibility”. What I have been doing. Right?

Kostas

chris johnson said...

@Kostas.
I think this subject came up when I mentioned the importance of opinions.

Actually Myris mentioned confidentiality as a factor and I think he right. Confidentiality is a bigger obstacle than bias. In my field the obsession with non disclosure agreements is a big obstacle to progress and prevents arguments being explored properly even.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

By skirting around – “Kostas is determined to misunderstand [rational plausibility]” – I accept you now wish to take this back. So moving on …

“ Confidentiality is a bigger obstacle than bias”. I agree!

Whereas bias allows the possibility of a rational debate, confidentiality Robs us of even that much!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Confidentiality is necessary in order to disseminate ideas. Where confidentiality cannot be assured, information is distributed according to the will of the information holder: The recipient receives the minimum information rather than what he or she may really need to know.

When confidentiality does not exist, the information is just as unavailable as when it does exist.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

“Confidentiality is necessary in order to disseminate ideas”

Hmm … is this “I'll tell you if you wont tell anyone” dissemination?

Truth can and often is kept secret or purposely distorted. Just look what happened with the Iraq War. But we are discussing and debating archeology and science. What can possibly justify “truth control” in such discussions? Unless we have here “security interests” that need to be protected!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

An example: Say you have a business idea that you are developing which could also help someone else in an unexpected way. But you don't want to gift the idea to your competitors.

Options:

1) Don't tell the person it could help (safest)
2) Tell the person it could help, providing it's kept confidential.
3) Tell everyone, help the person you want to help, but allow your business idea to go down the pan.

I imagine it's the same in archaeological circles. I don't know much about archaeology, but can't see why it would be different.

chris johnson said...

@Kostas. I see Jon's point. Yet In current business I am hedged in by non-disclosure agreements both explicit (legally binding) and implicit (valued friends). The current mantra is to tell as little as possible.

I think we make best progress as a society via a free exchange and discussion of ideas, yet the trend is in the opposite direction. The trend is reinforced by paywalls and the threat of legal actions. I was reinforced in my belief by the number of whispered conversations happening at the Rhos-y-felin dig. Here the personal interest in whether you will be invited next time to take part plays a role -being able to keep a secret is part of being in the club.

I met a few current billionaires in the early days of the pc industry and I know them still. They were happy to discuss their ideas and I was never asked to sign an NDA. We were all interested to figure out where this might go. Making a living or becoming rich was not part of the agenda, even for the people who later became super rich. Solving the puzzle was most important - riches are fortunate and incidental and perhaps better give them away to Africa.

So I get Jon's point as a business person. Yet I think this is important enough to share information freely, now. In twenty years time we might see a supermarket or gas station built on Stonehenge. We will have been careful about our confidences but who will care. History is about looking forward and not just about looking back.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

In the context of business, sure you need confidentiality agreements to exploit ideas for profit. But in the context of Stonehenge thoughts, what possible reason can justify keeping truth secret? Such truth belongs to all mankind. No special interests should be its guardian.

Imagine, for example, MPP having evidence that proves his “human quarry” at Rhosyfelin was inundated by water at the time Stonehenge was said to have been built. Intellectual honesty and integrity require he shares this truth with the world. But will he? That's the troubling question!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- while I agree with your sentiments here, I do not see a scrap of evidence that suggests that the Brynberian river valley was flooded during the Neolithic or Bronze Age. If I do find any such evidence, I will be sure to let you know....

chris johnson said...

Kostas, I am sure you are not naive.

Archaeologists keep info secret for their next book, their next grant, their academic salary, their place in history, and to be powerful. Not entirely unimportant when you worry about paying your mortgage for the next few decades and when your biggest asset is your reputation. Small-minded, maybe.

I would prefer it when they are more open.. The solution, if there is one, would arrive faster too.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, Chris

The imagined example was only to illustrate the potential dangers of keeping secrets in an endeavor to discover truth.

@Chris: One can seek truth and mortgage too! Brian is a great example of that principle!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Such truth belongs to all mankind. No special interests should be its guardian.

Depends. If you don't yet know the 'truth', leaked information could be misinterpreted. Archaeology is a profession that is relatively well funded in good times but will almost certainly be significantly cropped as we start to go into the predicted energy crises: It is unlikely that we'll be out of austerity before that sequence of events starts.

The generation now in their 30s or younger will be the first generation in living memory for whom living standards will drop relative to their predecessors: Despite being well funded over the last twenty years or so, there have been no significant archaeological discoveries which are likely to be seen as relevant, or showing guidance, to future generations.

Against this background, it is probably wise to keep information well shielded against potential misinterpretation: It may belong to mankind, but we're only really discussing the timing of publication.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

Truth is most in danger when times are hard! The more reason why we need to come to its defense in principle and in practice!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

“I do not see a scrap of evidence that suggests that the Brynberian river valley was flooded during the Neolithic or Bronze Age.”

How do you explain the rounded edges in the rock pile along the “polished” NW side of Rhosyfelin?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- this debris has accumulated over a very long timescale of 10,000 years or more, after which the degree of frost shattering and debris accumulation slowed down and the finer sediments started to accumulate and bury the scree. It will be interesting to see when that process of "scree burial started" -- maybe the MPP team will come up with some dates, if there is organic material. They will want those dates to be around 4,000 BP or later (to prove that this was a Neolithic quarry) but I think I would put a few quid on the lowest dates being much older -- maybe 9,000 BP. Watch this space....

In short, the water rounding of the edges of the stones is much, much older than the Neolithic.

Jon Morris said...

Truth is most in danger when times are hard! The more reason why we need to come to its defense in principle and in practice!

I doubt that. The seeds of discontent are sown by complacency in good times: Without complacency in the good times, hard times can be endured. Loss of perceived wealth is the primary driver of discontent.

When an organisation or profession becomes complacent, it assumes that the status quo will continue and it justifies itself by internal competition and recognition rather than looking out. Younger and hungrier alternatives gradually usurp its power until it is finally replaced or driven to become a 'back-room' operation.

I recently had a conversation with a very well known professional in a body that I think is in terminal decline: He had spent a very long time doing certain calculations to come up with a certain result. The same calculation could be done on my systems in two minutes; showing where the error was and producing rather beautiful renders (if I say so myself). It's not as if my stuff is new, the systems have been around for twenty years. If you're outside such a profession, there's nothing you can do to help; internal justification within the profession prevents the inter-disciplinary approach.

If you are part of a body that is facing challenges, the best possible course of action is to ensure that the information you hold is catalogued in an orderly fashion so that future generations can pick it up. There's no distortion of truth in this, it just avoids the type of sensationalism that could hasten the decline.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Admittedly I am relying on my 'sensible intuition' here! But looking at the fallen spree and boulder clutter in your photos, these look to me like what I have seen of even very recent rock falls. The amount of top soil covering this clutter does not appear to be all that great. Perhaps a meter or so deep from your photos? This being near the river makes me believe the fallen clutter cannot be all that old.

Some 4000 years old seems reasonable to me. Much older and the fallen rocks would have shown greater disintegration. Especially since these are foliated rhyolites. Which you have described in the past as easily flaking and braking. Frost shattering also happens to fallen rocks! And the rounding of the rock edges also seem to point to the possibility these clutter of fallen stones cannot be very old. And if the rounding of the edges is due to water torrents to the nearby river, than MPP's “human quarry” was under water around the Neolithic. This would also answer the “heather” question growing on the crags.

Brian, surely MPP can find a bone buried under one of these fallen rocks. Or even some rotten tree trunk or branch. And if the dating of this is say 4000 BP, wont this be as conclusive a date for this fallen clutter as any SH date archies swear by?

MPP and his “quarry crew” have dug up so much ground here. One would think they would actively seek such important evidence that would help date his “human quarry”. But has he? That is the troubling question! Maybe Myris knows …

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

“The seeds of discontent are sown by complacency in good times”

I agree with that, and much else you said. You have described some ways by which established orthodoxy becomes entrenched to inhibit new ideas to emerge.

What I was really thinking can perhaps best be encapsulated in the following quote (can't recall who said it):

“The first casualty of war is truth”.


I extend this to include “hard times”. When people need to believe in myths. I could elaborate, but I wont.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

@Kostas (and Jon)

People like to believe in myths - it is part of human nature in good times and bad. We all love a story. Perhaps myths are more forgiven in good times than bad. When you are starving and the priests say you should pay more attention to Orion then you are unlikely to be forgiving when it does not work.

We need more proper science in government and among voters. Lobby groups confuse the important discussions - GM, climate change, Fracking, to name but three. Archaeology too.

Confidentiality is a noxious plant. UK went to war in Iraq because MPs thought Blair knew something that he could not share. We extradite prisoners to dubious places because of secrets we do not want to reveal in our own courts even.

While I get Jon's point, he has an easy remedy in our society - file a patent or ten. Being open to criticism is economically efficient because open debate will either save money by not commercialising something silly, or attract more investment faster by being evidently brilliant.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

While I don't disagree with anything you are saying, it's not the myth-making I am troubled about and find most dangerous to truth and all honest people.

I don't wish to elaborate (volumes can be written!) but I can give you a historical example: Hitler's Aryan Race Myth. This was created while Germany was having “hard times” and people needed to believe!

People believing in myths during “good times” is no more harmful than Hollywood entertainment.

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Can't get the “polished” side of Rhosyfelin and the rounded edges of the fallen clutter out of my mind! Like to settle some logical conclusions to a hypothetical. Please indulge me …

Let us suppose some organic material is found under the fallen clutter that dates to say 4000 BP. What can we logically conclude from this?

1)The clutter of stones could not have fallen before 4000BP.
2)If the rounding of the edges of the stones in the clutter resulted by water torrents feeding the river, such water torrents had to be present possibly before but certainly after 4000BP in order to round the stone edges over time. These torrents of water would also explain the “polish” of the NW side of Rhosyfelin next to the fallen clutter.
3)Having thus logically concluded water covered the grounds by Rhosyfelin at around 4000BP and latter, can there be any question but MPP's “human quarry” at Rhosyfelin around 4000BP was not possible?

It all comes down to finding reliable organic material under this Rhosyfelin spree of fallen stones. Sounds important to me. We had two years of excavations at Rhosyfelin. Is anybody looking?

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

I understand what you're saying about confidentiality Chris (and even agree)

But patents for SMEs are rarely the way to go. Far better to preserve the rights under CAs or keep further advances entirely withheld: It might be worthwhile for an SME with an existing product line to file a broad claim patent in some circumstances. For SMEs with a new product, filing a patent is only really worthwhile if you have a series of discoveries, in which case the initial patent serves as an advertisement (and can be narrow claimed and inexpensive).

There's a vague possibility that we're going off topic here? ;-)

Slightly on-topic, I got a review for my Stonehenge book on the Portal:

Megalithic Portal

(blatant plug, sorry)

chris johnson said...

@Kostas. The rounded edges at Rhos-y-felin are becoming a myth - my recollection is that the majority of debris there was very rough. I don't know how this particular hare got started. Do you?

I saw two largely rounded and smooth mauls and the remains of what might have been a standing stone. My assumption is that the mauls may have come from the nearby river, which contains many smoothed stones, or in the case of the putative spotted dolerite from further afield.

Brian likely has a better opinion. Until he tells, I fear you might be trying to solve a problem that is not posed by the bulk of the evidence on the ground.

chris johnson said...

Jon, my experience is that patentable ideas are often products of their time and seldom due to the brilliance of an individual mind. So you can keep your idea secret for yourself, but these days thousands of other bright people around the world are thinking about the same problem in the same context and may well arrive at the same or very similar conclusion. Think of all the past debate about who really invented the printing press and other breakthrough technologies.

I sometimes think this plurality may be lurking behind the so-called "megalithic culture". There were many communities puzzling about the same things with similar materials to hand and with similar tools and techniques. Not surprising they arrived at apparently similar "solutions".

I would NOT advise an SME to avoid patents unless their idea is very low value or they are idealists or they cannot afford it. When you an idealist it is better to publish widely and quickly so nobody else can patent it, as with the world wide web. Otherwise you will eventually fall victim to a patent troll, the modern day Afanc.

SMEs are deterred by patent laws because of the expense - my rule of thumb is that one patent costs 10k Euros per year to manage over its life (15-20 years) and one patent is rarely sufficient. Should you ever have to defend a patent in US, say, then you need a few million dollars right now - hence the trolls and greenmailers. It is a complicated issue and well beyond Brian's blog - happy to share my views and give good (but very expensive) contacts but email me directly.

Nice review by the way. I hope I have time over Christmas for a good read.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I fully agree, Chris. Kostas, you are getting rather obsessed with these rounded edges -- they are very slightly rounded off in some cases, but so are the edges of frost-shattered blocks on the top of Carningli too. Overall, the shape of these stones -- as you will see in the photos I have posted -- is typical of frost-shattered scree. I did indeed speculate about whether there has been any rounding off of edges by seasonal snowmelt of meltwater in the vicinity coming from ice melting. Still working on it -- don't get too excited!!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry -- should have put "seasonal snowmelt OR meltwater in the vicinity".....

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris and Brian,

I am not exclusively relying on the “rounded edges” (whether extensive or slight) for my argument that Rhosyfelin may have been in water and in the middle of a much wider river 4000BP. Frost shattering and other natural processes could also have occurred. And many small rock edges do appear to me also as sharp. This alone doesn't prove anything! It does not rule out the rounding of some edges Brian observed may have resulted from water streams. Read my recent comments under the post on “Castell Mawr, Rome and Mecca” for my argument on this.

All the facts on the ground do indeed collaborate what I am arguing. Can you point to one such fact that doesn't?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- there is NO evidence for a much wider river -- or even for some catastrophoc flood -- around 4000 BP. What we have here is a pretty straightforward valley floor made of river gravels -- yes, it is flattish and will occasionally have been flooded during exceptional flood events during the past 20,000 years. But that's all I am prepared to say on the basis of the evidence as I see it.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I accept you see no evidence of a wider river! I do!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

I sometimes think this plurality may be lurking behind the so-called "megalithic culture".

In agreement with you on this one Chris: Let me know what you think when you've had a chance to digest the content?