Research ArticleARCHAEOLOGY

Origins of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge

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Science Advances  29 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 31, eabc0133
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc0133

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  • Use of Zr-normalized data
    • David Nash, Professor of Physical Geography, University of Brighton, UK
    • Other Contributors:
      • Jake Ciborowski, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton, UK

    Thank you for a very interesting question. Our provenancing approach relied on a comparison of elements that reflect the chemistry of the non-quartz component of the host sand grains within Stone 58 and potential source areas. We took this approach, rather than comparing the chemistry of the whole rock (cement plus quartz sands plus other detrital mineral grains), to ensure that we were comparing like with like. Specifically, we needed to be confident that our comparisons were not influenced by the variable effects of weathering over time and variations in the proportion of silica within different silcrete/sarsen boulders.

    Our comparisons used only immobile trace elements, that is to say elements that are highly unlikely to have been dissolved, transported or (re)precipitated (i) since the deposition of the original host sand grains during the Palaeogene, (ii) during the silicification of those sands to form the cemented silcrete/sarsen or (iii) during any subsequent weathering or diagenesis.

    The proportion of silica within a silcrete/sarsen is, by definition, very high (>85%) but can be variable. Variability occurs due to variations in the silica content and packing of the host sands and the degree of silica cementation. In this context, using the absolute abundances of trace elements within a sarsen as a basis for comparison would not be appropriate, since the variable silica content will non-uniformly affect the absolute abundances of other elements. P...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Origins of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge

    Why did you chose to use Zr-normallized data to establish the potential source of stone 58?

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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