Neolithic Tombs and structures

To begin, let us first remember what Neolithic means.  In class we defined it as the last stage of the Stone age: Neo=New and lithic=stone.  This is also the era when ground or polished stone weapons and implements prevailed.

With these Neolithic Tombs, we must address that these structures and sites were designed around the Neolithic Revolution.  The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution. It was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement.


Around 45 minutes north of Dublin Ireland is a a fairly unknown series of Passage Tombs and Neolithic structures.  The site is collectively known as Bru na Boinne, but there are many other sites throughout Ireland. 

    In Ireland, there are 4 main areas of these Passage Tombs.  Bru na Boine has 35-40 tombs, Loughcrew or Slieve na Caillighe has over 30 tombs (These 2 are in County Meath), Carrowkeel has at least 14 and Carrowmore (Both in County Sligo) has more than 100 tombs. 

To the right is the most famous, and frankly, the most beautiful of the tombs in the area.  It is at the Newgrange site and it is believed that this structure was built around 3,200 BCE.  

As you look at the structure, notice the  stones in the front and imagine the light that would reflect off the stones.  Now ask, WHY?  Why did early man feel a need to built a structure of this size 5,ooo years ago? 

 At the front of the structure at Newgrange is a pattern of swirls.  The upper hole in the face is the place where the sunlight enters on the Winter Solstice. 
 The image to the right is a drawing of the inside portion of the Newgrange tomb.  It has a path inside that is approximately 60 feet long, and has a gradual downhill slope.  At the back wall of the path are three small chambers, none of which was larger then 8 feet deep.

What makes this tomb fascinating is that the entrance and the slope of the floor allow sunlight to enter the tomb on the Winter Solstice, and that light will illuminate the back wall for several minutes. 

There is also a ring of large stones that surround the tomb.

Click on the image for larger view.
This is part of the Bru na Boinne series of structures, but is specifically known as Knowth.

Stonehenge Photos:

 Stonehenge in southern England ranks among the world's most iconic archaeological sites and one of its greatest enigmas. The megalithic circle on Salisbury Plain inspires awe and fascination—but also intense debate some 4,600 years after it was built by ancient Britons who left no written record.




(pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh)
    What makes Gobeklitepe unique in its class is the date it was built, which is roughly twelve thousand years ago, circa 10,000 BC. As you approach Gobleki Tepe, there are dozens of massive stone pillars arranged into a set of rings, one mashed up against the next.  The site is similar to Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly carved blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars covered with images and carvings of animals—a series of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars.

    The entire site was built seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.

 Below is a map of the region.  If you click on the map it will expand it so you can more easily read it. 

Below is a bas-relief or carving that is found on the columns around Gobleki Tepe. 
 Click here if you would like to read the National Geographic article on Gobleki Tepe.
 One approach to Gubleki Tepe is that the area was a massive sun dial.  Something scientists have speculated for years about Stonehenge.

Catal Hoyuk

Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic (Neolithic late Stone Age to early Bronze Age) settlement in southern Turkey, which existed from approximately 7500 BC to 5700 BC. It is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to date.

The population of the eastern mound has been estimated at up to 10,000 people, but population likely varied over the community’s history. An average population of between 5,000 to 8,000 is a reasonable estimate. The inhabitants lived in mud-brick houses that were crammed together in an agglutinative manner. No footpaths or streets were used between the dwellings, which were clustered in a honeycomb-like maze. Most were accessed by holes in the ceiling, with doors reached by ladders and stairs. The rooftops were effectively streets. The ceiling openings also served as the only source of ventilation, allowing smoke from the houses' open hearths and ovens to escape.

Click here to access the archeological website:

 The excavators have built simple structures over the sites to prevent rain and wind from hampering the excavation.  There is an enormous amount of area to be cleared, and with each 10 centimeters, scientists uncover amazing artifacts.
 Below is an artists rendering of Catal Hoyuk as a city.  Buildings were touching,and streets are believed to have been on the roofs. 


Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE),. Jericho is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BCE. By about 9400 BC the town had grown to more than 70 dwellings, and was home to over 1000 people. The most striking aspect of this early town was a massive stone wall over 3.6 meters high, and 1.8 meters wide at the base. Inside this wall was a tower over 3.6 meters high, contained an internal staircase with 22 stone steps.  The wall and tower were unprecedented in human history, and would have taken a hundred men more than a hundred days to construct it. The use of this wall and tower was likely for defense against flood water and mud flows from the nearby Jordan river.