Friday, May 29, 2009

Rhyolite - the gold of stone age world

(Not rock pile related)
I was just reading an article about Stonehenge [Click here] and they were mentioning that the blue stones had been transported 225 KM from their source in the Preseli mountains and no one knows why, since there were other materials available much closer to the Stonehenge site. Then the article mentions that the blue stones are of rhyolite. Is that correct? In Concord MA where there is no good arrowhead making material, rhyolite is the commonest imported or "exotic" material. Around here anyway, rhyolite was precious. They had to be transporting hunks of it around and trading it etc.This leads to an idle speculation: the use of blue stones at Stonehenge would have represented a huge symbol of wealth - like building doors of gold or walls of bronze. Prehistoric conspicuous consumption. But that is probably wrong, they had metal by then didn't they?


Norman said...

I've read that the bluestones at Stonehenge are a type of dolerite, and not rhyolite. And one of my books says that not all the bluestones are the same, meaning, I guess, that some other type of stone was also used. Though perhaps the bluestones can differ mineralogically even at the location in Wales where this stone is found. At Stonehenge, the bluestones really don't look different color-wise from the huge Sarsen stones, but apparently when a fresh cut surface is wet, it has a blue color. The article you posted is fascinating.

P. Anick said...

Additionally, there was apparently plenty of actual flint available at the Stonehenge site. I recall seeing a lot of fragments mixed in with the chalk along the roads and have read that some ancient roads (e.g. from Durrington) were actually paved with flint.