Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Archaeologists to Explore 5,000-Year-Old Tomb

The tomb near Maghere resembles a pile of rocks.

Collapse of Tirnony Dolmen near Maghera in Northern Ireland is creating a rare opportunity for archaeologists to explore a portal tomb that lies beneath ~ and determine exactly how old it is.

Normally portal tombs, which are among the oldest built structures still standing in Northern Ireland, are off limits to excavators and must be preserved. But after the massive capstone of this portal tomb fell to the ground earlier this year, archaeologists will be able to uncover the secrets it has held for millennia before repairs are carried out.

Tirnony Dolmen is between 5,000 and 6,000 years old, according to Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIIEA) archaeologist Paul Logue.

“After standing in Northern Ireland weather for over 5,000 years some of the tomb’s structural stones have begun to crack, causing the capstone to slip,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. “Before we start to repair the tomb we will excavate it to ensure that the archaeological material associated with it is recorded ahead of restoration work.”

“When the tomb was first built it would have been used for interring the bones of selected members of the local stone age community,” he explained. “This could have included men and women, young and old. Finds from inside similar tombs include pottery and flint tools, possibly left as grave goods for use by the dead in the afterlife. We hope to find out more about how this tomb was built, when it was built and how it was used.”

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