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Rum Goings On

7 November 2016

At www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-37869985 … an ancient stone with concentric circles, one inside the other, has been unearthed in the Dublin area. The stone is thought to go back, at least, to around 3000BC, and probably before that as it seems to have been a robbed stone from a nearby megalithic tomb. This desecration occurred in the 18th century – by the great and the good, impervious of the concerns of the little people. Lodge Hall was built in 1725 and made use of stone from two passage graves/ tombs. The original bigwig popped his clogs and the lodge later became associated with rum goings on by a group of wealthy young rakes with time on their hands. These sort of things never seem to change – generation to generation.

Elsewhere in Ireland, see www.irishtimes.com/news/science/a-9-000-year-old-axe-sheds-light-on-buri… ….an early burial site in Co Limerick has been dated to the Mesolithic, pre-farming period, at 7500BC. A highly polished stone axe was buried with the cremated bones of a single individual in an area full of pits with cremations in them. It seems the pre-farming communities were not as brute as academics have alleged in the past – but quite sensitive when sending their ancestors to the afterlife. These pits and cremations seem to pre-empt the better known graves of the Neolithic period – which is telling us that there may not have been such a big difference between them. Stone axes are usually associated with megalithic period people – and usually partially polished to acquire a good sheen on the stone. This axe was polished on all side and is a beautiful example that may never have been used for mundane tasks but had some kind of ritual significance (we can only guess at). The piece suggests it was an offering of some kind, in order to provide the dead person with something to present to the gods in the afterlife. That can only be an assumption as we don't know if they actually believed in an afterlife – or gods that could be accessed in such a situation. However, the axe probably had some kind of symbolic value.

Meanwhile, at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/wuis-htc110216.php … some 30 domesticated chicken bones at a village in Ethiopia are further proof of a trade route linking Africa with India and SE Asia in the first millenium BC (the Iron Age) – or even earlier (perhaps). Chicken bones have been found at Saite in the Nile delta from around the same period. All we know is that domesticated chickens were being bred and eaten at least as early as the Iron Age – but archaeologists do not necessarily look for chicken bones in earlier contexts as people in Egypt ate a lot of water fowl (and various birds including a native species very much like chickens as far as bone is concerned). The chicken was domesticated in southern China and SE Asia at least as early as 8000 years ago. There was plenty of time for it to be brought to Africa and the Mediterranean world earlier than the Iron Age – but evidence at the moment is lacking.

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