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Stonehenge

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Chapter 2 Journal Activity

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Did they use Auroch?

5 comments

The Blick Mead site yielded 61% Auroch bones. Were they used in the construction? Has this been investigated?

Comments

9 months ago

Hi Peter

It's likely that the auroch that's been found at Blick Mead was dinner, but they had probably begun to husband the great beasts in later days.
Personally, I believe they were used to do a lot of the heavy lifting at Stonehenge, but because there's no direct evidence, they call me daft.

Neil

Hi Peter

We have analysed a dog's tooth from Blick Mead which shows that the dog was eating mostly beef (ie auroch) plus a lot of river fish. Presumably the people were eating the same, and presumably there was plenty of food if the dog was so well fed. An auroch would have provided a phenomenal quantity of meat for a community, especially as the bones indicate that the people were killing big ones.

Graeme

9 months ago

My original thought was that the Auroch were a roaming beast like the bison/buffalo in the central plains of the US. But the more I am reading regarding the Blick Mead site, could they have become domesticated herds early on?

9 months ago

Hi Randi

Short answer: Yes and Yes.

Auroch was a herd animal as you mention, ranging widely, and the grasslands of the Plain was a perfect environment. It's probable that their eventual, much later domestication began by diverting or constraining their general movement, probably followed by corralling of some kind. A few Neolithic and BA field boundaries have been detected which were probably used for this purpose, at least in part.
The earlier remains found at Blick Mead no doubt reflect hunted animals in the wild, while later specimens may have been 'kept'. My own theory involves using these great beasts for help moving large stones.

It's possible that as the Bronze Age went into full swing, these animals were husbanded and bred for more desirable qualities, but it was a long, initially haphazard process.
The last Auroch we know about survived until the 17th century, but many bovine breeds find their origin with this mild-tempered large-horned animal.

We have some largely contiguous DNA samples and there's been some growing back-chat about restoring them. There are still some environments left where they could thrive.

Neil

9 months ago

Thank you all for the responses. Very insightful. Can anyone point me in the direction of any literature references on the subject? Peer-reviewed or other?

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