Egypt has pyramids, while England has Stonehenge megaliths that have been around for thousands of years, according to the Bradshaw Foundation. It is a megalithic monument, which means it is composed of large stone slabs that had become the most conspicuous landmark in Europe. Scientists said that it became a ritual site in southern Britain by 2,000 B.C.
Its structure is amazingly durable, resisting the weather for thousands of years without breaking apart so much. Due to that, Stonehenge sparked the interest of many scientists and has been the subject of scientific studies. The latest study involves looking at its geological structure to uncover what makes its megaliths extremely durable.
They published their study, titled "Petrological and Geochemical Characterisation of the Sarsen Stones at Stonehenge," in the journal PLoS ONE.
What Makes Stonehenge Megaliths So Durable?
Hurriyet Daily News reported that the very first comprehensive scientific analysis of Stonehenge megaliths revealed what makes them an exemplary building material that enabled them to resist weathering.
Researchers studied the composition of the core of Stonehenge's 52 megaliths known as sarsens. The core sample was extracted from one of the sarsens way back in the 1950s that was kept in the United States. It was only returned to Britain in 2018 for further research.
According to Reuters, the core sample was about one inch in diameter and roughly one yard long. It has been exposed to different elements throughout many millennia, which explains its cream color. The team used CT scans, X-rays, microscopic evaluation, and other geochemical analysis methods to study the fragments of the core sample.
The current study found that the sarsens are composed of silcrete that gradually formed from the ground due to the washing of groundwater through buried sediment. An examination of Stone 58's internal structure showed that the silcrete is mainly comprised of sand-sized quartz that is tightly packed in an interlocking mosaic of quartz crystals, which is extremely durable and not easily destroyed even by eons of weathering.
Lead researcher geomorphologist David Nash from the University of Brighton said that the findings of the geological analysis of Stonehenge megaliths explain the structure's durable characteristics and why it is an ideal material for building monuments.
Origins of Stonehenge Megaliths
According to a previous report from Reuters, Stonehenge megaliths were found to have a similar origin some 15 miles away from the original site. The site is in a region named West Woods on the edge of the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, according to geochemical studies.
The sarsens, which make up the famous outer circle and center trilithon horseshoe at Stonehenge, were built about 2,500 B.C. Scientists are still mystified as to how these massive rocks got to where they are now. Many people believe that the megaliths were dragged or moved on rollers, but no one knows for sure how ancient humans built the building.
Nash also led the study in finding the origins of megaliths in Stonehenge last year. He said that scientists are fascinated with the Stonehenge because no one exactly knows the real purpose it was built thousands of years ago. Many have formed their hypothesis, but no one could tell the real reason.
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