Art Principles and History

Prehistoric Art

What was the purpose of Stonehenge?

Like all other Neolithic art, lack of written records and other archeological evidence makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to know exactly what sites like Stone-henge were used for. The theories about Stonehenge are wide-ranging, and some are more plausible than others. Much has been made of Stonehenge’s possible religious significance, including the idea that it may have been used for human and animal sacrifices, and though cremated human remains have been found, this suggestion has fallen out of favor. A complete skeleton was unearthed at Stonehenge; it was the body of a man who had been shot through the chest with arrows. While this discovery does indicate violence, it does not necessarily suggest religious sacrifice.

Some scholars, particularly a core group of astronomers, believe the purpose of Stonehenge is technological. They think the site served as a Neolithic observatory and was used to track the movements of the sun, an important function in a society reliant upon agriculture to survive. While Stonehenge is aligned to the summer solstice, this theory is also hotly debated.


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