Archeologists Excavate 4,000-Year-Old “Dutch Stonehenge” in the Netherlands

Archeologists Excavate Mysterious Dutch “Stonehenge”

The sanctuary site in the Netherlands. (Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF TIEL)

Recently, thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge in England to celebrate the summer solstice, a day when the sun shines perfectly through the ancient stones by design. The ancient monument has long been a source of fascination, but it is not unique in its mystery. Archeologists have uncovered a similar sanctuary in the Netherlands which served as both burial ground and calendar. The ancient site is a fascinating example of Bronze Age culture.

Located near the town of Tiel in the Netherlands, the historic grounds are about 4,000 years old and stretch the length of several football fields. One of the largest Dutch archeology digs in history, the site has wooden farmhouses and wooden poles stuck in the ground, scattered all across it. The excavated area also contains three burial mounds with human remains inside. There are even more people buried around the site, totaling up to 80. The main burial mound, though, appears to have special significance. Its flat summit was an observatory of sorts, timed to the sun's seasons just like Stonehenge.

A priest or priestess likely stood next to a tall center pole. From their vantage point, the sun would shine between poles surrounding the hill like numbers on a clock. Openings line up the solstices, it appears, just like Stonehenge. Researchers also discovered what they believe are offerings, by way of bone evidence and other abandoned treasures. Perhaps the most interesting find on the site, however, was a glass bead. While it may seem innocuous, the bead is in fact from over 3,000 miles away—ancient Mesopotamia in modern-day Iraq. This simple bead is proof of remarkable trade relationships among early Bronze Age humans.

Among the 1 million finds made on the site, more fascinating details may still emerge from this massive Dutch wooden version of Stonehenge.

An ancient sanctuary in the Netherlands is like a wooden Stonehenge, aligned with the sun to track the calendar.

Archeologists Excavate Mysterious Dutch “Stonehenge”

An artist rendering of what the site may have looked like. (Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF TIEL)

h/t: [ARTnews]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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