NewsSweden unearths ancient burial chamber older than Stonehenge

Sweden unearths ancient burial chamber older than Stonehenge

The megalithic structure in Tiarp, Sweden, is older than Stonehenge.
The megalithic structure in Tiarp, Sweden, is older than Stonehenge.
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7:14 AM EDT, April 27, 2024

Archaeologists have unearthed a megalithic structure in Tiarp, Sweden, older than the celebrated Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. This recent discovery has been analyzed and identified as one of the oldest burial chambers in Sweden, shedding light on Neolithic burial practices. However, the absence of skulls and major bones from the tomb has puzzled researchers.

Recent studies highlight that the megalithic structure in Tiarp is among the oldest in Sweden and possibly in all of Scandinavia. "It’s an early grave which dates to the Early Neolithic period, about 3500 BCE," archaeologist Karl-Göran Sjögren mentioned to the portal sciencedaily.com. For context, Stonehenge's construction is dated between 3000 and 2000 BCE.

The grave's condition suggests it has been undisturbed since the Stone Age, making the lack of certain skeletal parts even more curious. Upon examining the tomb's contents, scientists found bones of hands and feet, rib bones and teeth fragments, but a striking scarcity of skulls or larger bones, such as those of the thigh and arm.

"Skulls and large bones are missing and may have been removed from the grave. We don’t know whether that relates to burial rituals or what’s behind it. This differs from what we usually see in megalith graves, i.e. stone burial chambers from the Neolithic period. Usually, the missing bones are smaller bones from feet and hands," explains Sjögren.

Torbjörn Ahlström, a professor of osteology at the University of Lund, analyzed the bones and determined they belonged to at least twelve individuals, from infants to the elderly. The cause of their deaths remains a mystery. Still, forthcoming DNA analyses should provide insights into potential diseases they might have had and whether there was any familial connection among those buried in the tomb.

What makes the chamber in Tiarp stand out

Falbygden, known for its significant prehistoric remnants with over 250 corridor graves built from stone blocks, hosts the Tiarp chamber amidst its rich Stone Age history. However, this particular chamber is set apart by its structure. "At each end is a small niche, a unique feature among the graves in Falbygden," Karl-Göran Sjögren clarifies, highlighting the distinctive construction that marks the Tiarp site as a significant find in the study of Neolithic burial practices.
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