Evolution: Neolithic Farmers

Around 4,000 BC, first signs of economic and cultural developments, as associated with the Neolithic or New Stone Age was taking place.  Their route was from Africa and Asia Minor along the waterways of the Mediterranean and Danube into Europe.

First signs were taking place, as Europeans began cultivating crops and domesticating goats, sheep and cattle.

More permanent settlements, replaced the hunter-gatherer camps we were so used to.  With more permanent settlements came rectangular log houses, circular thatched huts on wooden platforms.  Stone axed heads were shaped and fitted with wooden handles.

Neolithic farmers were known for the earliest creation of pottery.

By 3500 the custom of creation of stone structures used for funerals had extended across Western Europe; tombs.

Britain’s Stonehenge dated back to 2,000 BC and is believed to be linked with such practices.

Earth’s Evolution: Lake Toba

Lake Toba measures 1,145 square km and a depth of 450 metres, making it the largest lake in Southeast Asia.  One of the deepest lakes in the world, and a natural wonder of the world.

Lake Toba is a natural formed lake in North Sumatra, Indonesia, which occupies the caldera (A caldera is a large cauldron like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber in a volcanic eruption).

Lake Toba became the site of a super volcanic eruption around 74,000 years ago, representing a climate change.

It has been widely accepted that the volcanic eruption that took place at Lake Toba lasted for ten years, and was responsible, for plunging earth into a six-year Volcanic Winter. Our planet was plunged into darkness, as the sun’s rays were unable to penetrate rock, which was spewed out of the volcanic eruption into our atmosphere.  An estimated 670 miles of dense rock/ pyroclastic material was released during the eruption.  Our world was being tipped closer and closer into an-ice-age.

Lake Toba, lies near a fault line that runs along the centre of Sumatra, one of the weak points of earth’s crust.

It is believed the eruption of Lake Toba some 74,000 years ago, had global consequences for the human population, and was responsible for the killing of most humans living at that time.  It is highly unlikely very few plants or animals would have survived the eruption, and it is possible that the volcanic eruption caused a planet-wide die-off.

Since the major volcanic eruption, smaller eruptions have taken place at Toba.  The most recent being at Tandukbenua, with signs of no vegetation, which might be the cause of an eruption, within the last few hundred years.  Earthquakes have taken place, close to the volcano, notably in 1987 along the southern shores of the lake.  Earthquakes have also been recorded in 1892, 1916, and 1920-1922.

Studies of 2016 revealed that Lake Toba’s Super Volcano has a magma chamber, some 50,000 cubic kilometres of underground eruptible magma, ready to burst forth.

It is now a waiting game… how long will it last, before earth suffers a Super Volcanic Eruption?

Herculaneum Destroyed by Versuvius

A prosperous Roman town, Herculaneum was lost in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Rediscovered in the 18th century, its excavation has been particularly challenging.

An Oscan town, founded around the site of a cult of Hercules, Herculaneum’s greatest prosperity came after it became a Roman municipum. Like Pompeii, it was lost in 79AD before it was rediscovered by treasure hunters in the 18th century. It’s excavation has been particularly challenging as it lies under the modern town that bears it name.

Brief History of Roman Herculaneum

Herculaneum was conquered by Sulla in 89BC. The town became a part of the Roman state, taking on the status of a municipum or provincial town. The conquest led to the most prosperous phase of town’s history. The Romans provided Herculaneum with paved streets, sewers, a theatre and basilica-all the trappings of a Roman town.

With its excellent fishing, noted vineyards and excellent sea views, the town became a tourist hot spot for wealthy Romans looking to escape Rome in the summer months. So important was the town that in 62AD when it sustained damage from an earthquake, its repairs were financed with subsides from the Roman government.

Roman City of Pompeii destroyed

On the 24th August in the year AD79, the Roman city of Pompeii in Italy became the victim to one of the world’s natural disaster.  The Volcano Vesuvius erupted, showering ash upon Herculaneum.  Pompeii was buried under five feet of ash, and some 20,000 people lost their lives that day.  Pompeii would be remembered…

The eruption of Vesuvius commenced on the morning of the 24th August AD79, catching its population utterly unprepared.  The tell tale signs were there to warn them; a column of smoke, triggering a response, one of curiosity.

A disaster of epic proportions, the obliteration of lives and property, sending shockwaves across the ancient world.  Penned eyewitness reports and poets, lamented the tragedy and its victims.  Pliny the Younger’s harrowing account described the eruption, one of confusion and terror.

By midnight on the 24th August, Pompeii was covered in a layer of ash, some five feet in depth.  The eruption had sent large amounts of ash into the sky.  The region suffered from earthquakes and storms lighting up the sky.

The fallout from the Vesuvius eruption covered an area of some 25 miles.  According to the writings of Pliny; as darkness fell upon the land, panic and chaos spread.

Volcanic cloud thinned out, as daylight burst forth, revealing a changed world, one buried in ash.

Evolution: Age of the Dinosaur

The Mesozoic Era lasted from 248-65 million years ago, this covered the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of earth’s evolution.

Around 248 million years ago, earth witnessed the dying out of much of its marine animals.  This extinction opened the door for the rise of the dinosaur.

The Triassic Period took place from 248 to 206 million years ago, but it was not until 220 million years ago, that planet earth witnessed the appearance of mammals and dinosaurs, and their evolution spread over the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, lasting some 165 million years.

The earliest dinosaurs we know of, has to be the two-legged meat eaters; Raptor and Plateosaurus the four-legged plant eater.

As the Triassic Period came to an end, planet earth suffered many volcanic eruptions, which led to the extinction of many dinosaurs, which in turn made way for larger and more deadly one’s to take their place.

The Jurassic Period lasted from 206 to 144 million years ago, and long-necked dinosaurs started appearing.  However, around 190 – 183 million years ago earth witnessed the extinction of some 80% of marine life and shallow water species die out.

The climate of the Jurassic Period was hot and dry, which brought about new dinosaurs:

APATOSAURUS, also known as BRONTOSAURUS, a large slow-moving herbivore, with thick legs, tiny head, with a long neck and tail.

DIPLODOCUS, a long-necked herbivore, whiplash tail, hollow bones and a tiny head.

BRACHIOSAURUS, a tree-top grazing dinosaur, with a long neck, large front limbs and a small head.

The Jurassic Period is remembered as the dinosaur era.  They walked upright, and as such developed different body shapes based on the environment.  By the end of the Jurassic Period, dinosaurs had spread across this land of ours.

The CRETACEOUS Period lasted from 130 to 66 million years ago and the final part of the Mesozoic Era… “Age of the Dinosaur.”  During this time of evolution, mammals flourished, plants and trees evolved, landscapes changed.  High levels of tectonic activity took place, which was accompanied by volcanic activity.

By the end of this period, outlines of continents had formed, many new mountain ranges had been created, sea levels had risen, covering around one-third of earth’s land.

Dinosaurs dominated this land of ours, and by the end of the Cretaceous period, at least seventy had become extinct.

Historical evidence states that around 65 million years ago, planet earth collided with an asteroid, and as such would have sent much dust into the atmosphere, which would have blocked out the sun for many months or years.  Without the sun our planet would have died out, and animal life would have ceased to survive…

Earth’s Early Steps

Some 3.5 million years ago, what happened that day, would not be witnessed by human beings, for their day had not come, they did not exist.

A dark brown head with small eyes looked from side to side in a cautionary movement, not wanting to be prey for some hunter animal.  This new animal to the food chain, with its flat-topped head, low forehead with a pronounced ridge running above its eyes, with a flattish styled nose, appeared different, no dangling arms existed.

As it slowly advanced through the long grass, satisfied no danger was obvious, it rose up, walking on two legs, not the customary four.  The creature, the animal was the next step in the evolution of mankind was female and belonged to the Australopithecus Afarensis group of mammals, the first known creature to be bipedal (walk on two legs).

These Australopithecines shared many physical characteristics with gorillas and chimpanzees; they had taken the first steps on the evolutionary path to the modern day man and woman.

If we go back 15,000 million years ago, it is believed that a cosmic fireball exploded in space, creating many galaxies. 

Approximately 4,600 million years ago Earth was formed, and men of science have deduced that the creation of humanity started on the 23rd October 4004 BC.

It is highly unlikely, that at the point of Earth’s creation, the atmosphere would have been a safe place for human, plant and animal life.  Planet Earth would have been waiting for the process of Photosynthesis to commence, leading to the release of oxygen into the atmosphere.

Photosynthesis: (Life on Earth relies on Oxygen to survive, and marine plants are known to produce seventy to eighty per cent of the oxygen in the atmosphere.  Most marine plants, found in our water’s are single celled photosynthetic algae, of which there are some five thousand species.

Earth’s oceans are known to cover, some seventy percent of this planet, and land the remaining thirty per cent.

Think of the plants, which live below the waterline of our oceans, rivers and lakes, for they are providing oxygen, for our atmosphere.

An interesting thought, if man continues to pollute our oceans, he is killing of marine plants, which reduces oxygen in our atmosphere, which could destroy mankind in the future.)

Single-celled organisms would be the first phase in the process, followed up by multi-celled organisms, which evolved into fish.  As our evolution of Planet Earth evolved, many changes took place, before our very eyes.  Large expanses of green fields would spring up, mountains were formed, rivers, lakes and seas filled with fish.  As we move forward Amphibeans evolved from fish, and into reptiles able to sustain life on dry land.  Birds and mammals evolved from reptiles, and human beings would be the final step in the evolution of mankind, evolving from mammals.

The Shifting Stones of Stonehenge ~ Steve Tanham — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

Not to be outdone by the recent discoveries on Orkney, Stonehenge – one of the world’s most famous stone circles – has thrown up a whole new story about its origins… and its original face. (1100 words, a ten-minute read) (Above: Stonehenge – source Pixabay) It was the end of the archeology ‘dig season’. Strong […]

The Shifting Stones of Stonehenge ~ Steve Tanham — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

Stonehenge in brief

Originally constructed on the site, known to-day as Stonehenge, were a number of pits, which supported wooden totem-pole posts, erected between 8,500-7,000 BC.

Around 3,100 BC, a large Henge was constructed, comprising of a ditch, bank and fifty-six Aubrey holes (round pits cut into the chalk, with flat bottoms).  They formed a circle some 284 feet in diameter.

Excavations at the site, have discovered human bones, but opinions believe these holes were not graves, but part of a religious ceremony.  Saying that some sixty plus cremations have been discovered in the area. 

Stonehenge was abandoned for some hundred years.  Then life returned around 2,150 BC with the arrival of eighty-two bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in South Wales.  These stones once erected created an unfinished double-circled circle.  At the same time the original entrance was widened, to make way for a pair of Heel Stones, plus other stones being set up in the centre of the monument.

Around 2,000 BC Sarsen stones were brought from Marlborough Downs.  These were arranged to create an outer circle with lintels.  Inside the circle, five trilithons were placed in a horseshoe arrangement.

In 1,500 BC the bluestones were rearranged in a horseshoe and circle arrangement, consisting of some sixty stones.  An earthwork Avenue was built, which connected Stonehenge with the River Avon.

In 1800-1500 BC, some digging took place around the stones of two concentric ring pits… the reason for these pits is unknown.

With Stonehenge built, and history ever changing, groups of barrows have been located on hilltops, which are visible from Stonehenge.  Could it be a connection to Stonehenge for the dead?

Four Sarsen stones have been adorned with carvings of early historical weapons; axe-heads, daggers and axes.  Was it a status of power to those visiting Stonehenge, or a connection to the graves on the nearby hillsides?

Avebury Henge

Avebury Henge monument consists of three stone circles, located around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire.  It was erected in 2,600 BC, comprising of one large outer circle, with two smaller stone circles situated inside.  Along with a large circular bank with an internal ditch measuring some 460 yards in diameter.

What is its purpose, a question that has baffled archaeologists for years, but they believe it was more than likely used for some form of rituals or ceremonies.

By the time of the Iron Age, it had been abandoned, yet human evidence existed into the time of the Roman occupation, showing that the Roman’s had used the site.

The outer stone circle of the henge, measures 1,088 feet in diameter, originally constructed with ninety-eight Sarsen stones.  With two large polished stones at the southern entrance.

The northern inner ring stone circle, measures 322 feet in diameter, with a cove of three stones in the middle, with a north-east facing entrance, but when erected probably consisted of twenty-seven stones.

The southern inner ring stone circle, measures 354 feet in diameter, with a single stone some 21 feet in height located centrally, along with an alignment of twenty-nine smaller stones.

Around the central point of the obelisk, small yet rough sarsen stones were positioned in a near rectangular format.  The obelisk stone has long since disappeared.

The Avenue:

The West Kennet Avenue of paired stones leads from the south-eastern henge entrance to Beckhampton Avenue to the western entrance.  Which linked the Avebury Henge with ceremonial sites at Beckhampton and Overton Hill.

The henge, with its imposing boundary to the circle, has no defence purpose, because the ditch and bank are located inside the larger circle.

Being a henge, one has to accept that the positioning of the stone circle are related to astronomical alignments.  The site is more than likely laid out for some form of religious function.

The Druids believe that there was an astronomical axis which connected Avebury Henge to Stonehenge, flanked by West Kennet Long Barrow on the west which symbolised the Mother Goddess and Silbury Hill the symbol of masculinity.

In the 5th century following on from the end of Roman Rule, Anglo-Saxons migrated to Southern Britain, where suggestions have been put forward that they used the site as a defensive site.

During the middle ages, many of the stones were buried or destroyed, as it was believed they had a connection to pagan and devil worshipping.

In the early part of Saxon life in Britain, around AD600, a settlement had been built at the henge; a seme-fortified settlement.

King Athelstan recorded a charter in 939 defining the boundaries of Overton, a parish which laid adjacent to Avebury.

In the 11th century Anglo-Saxon armies fought with Viking raiders at Avebury, and the pre-historic monument at Silbury Hill was fortified creating a defensive position.

In 1114 a Benedictine Priory and Church was built upon the site.

In the latter part of the 12th century, Avebury parish church was enlarged at a time of religious revival.

The Avebury stones, which stood tall for all to see along with nearby barrows were given names relating to the devil, before being toppled:  The Devil’s Chair, The Devil’s Den and The Devil’s Brandirons.

Shortly afterwards the “Black Death Plague” struck the village in 1349, reducing the village’s population, as many died.

In 1541 John Leland; Librarian and Chaplan to King Henry VIII, noted the existence of Avebury and its pre-historic monuments.  William Camden published his guide book to British Antiquities in 1586, but made no mention of Avebury, but his 1610 version made a fleeting remark to it.

John Aubrey Antiquarian rediscovered the Avbrey Henge in 1649, and recorded many drawings of the site.  In 1663, King Charles II visited Avebury Henge.

In the early part of the 18th century, William Stukeley doctor-clergyman and antiquarian studied Avebury Henge between 1719-1724.

The village was growing, and stone was much needed for the houses and the church.  He left a drawing for them to follow, how to break these large boulder stones, formerly part of Avebury Henge Pre-historic Monument.  Burn straw in a large pit to heat the stones, pour cold water on the stones, creating a weakness then split them open with a sledge hammer.

The Avebury Henge became listed as a pre-historic and sacred complex with ceremonial avenues lined with stones.  Silbury Hill the largest known man-made mound, the West Kennet Long Barrow a Neolithic burial chamber. A former stone circle Sanctuary.

Druidic rites held at Avebury are called Gorseddau, where they invoke Awen (a druidic concept of inspiration).  They recite the Druid Prayer by Morganwg and the Druid Vow.

One group of Druids (Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri) hold their rites at Avebury’s pre-historic monument.

Human Jawbone Discovery at Kent’s Cavern

The limestone of the Kent’s Cavern area in Torquay, Devon was deposited at the bottom of a tropical sea, south of the equator some 385 million years ago.

Tectonic plate movement, deposited limestone in the area.  Britain had been subject to ever-changing warm and cold periods, over the last few million years, which led to cave formation, carved by moving water’s through fissures and dissolving the limestone rock.

Each warm interglacial period left behind a stalagmite floor, formed by stalagmites shattering in the intense cold of a previous cold stage.

The process of successive stalagmite formation and shattering sealed evidence of human and animal occupation in a sequence of layers in the cave floor.

The oldest skeletal human remains were uncovered in a German gravel pit near Heidelberg.  The jaw, whilst similar to Homo erectus also showed signs similar to our own.  It was estimated to be some 500,000 years old these remains are similar to bones discovered in Boxgrove, Sussex.  These early Europeans were resident in the area close to Kents Cavern and their tools were unearthed in the breccias sediment of Kents Cavern which had flowed into the cave.

The Neander Valley:  Homo neanderthalensis are one of the most famous human species, with prominent eye ridges, large jaw teeth and dense bones.  Many tools of the Neanderthal were found in Kents Cavern and they died out some 40,000 years ago.

With the upper Palaeolithic period, came the evolution of man’s next stage in development, as we have observed in Kents Cavern jawbone.  According to carbon dating carried out in 2011, it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the jawbone was aged between 44,200 and 41,500 years old.  Dental structure tests, determined that it is Homo Sapien, making it the earliest human fossil discovered in Britain.