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Stonehenge of the Netherlands

Dutch archaeologists have unearthed an approximately 4,000-year-old religious site - nicknamed the “Stonehenge of the Netherlands” - that includes a burial mound that served as a solar calendar.

An artist's impression of the Stonehenge of the Netherlands
An artist’s recreation of the intact sanctuary | Municipality of Tiel/Reuters

The mound is 20m (65ft) in diameter and contained the remains of about 60 men, women and children. It also had several passages through which the sun shone directly on the longest and shortest days of the year.

The town of Tiel, where the site was discovered, said on its Facebook page: “What a spectacular archaeological discovery! Archaeologists have found a 4,000-year-old religious sanctuary on an industrial site.” It added: “This is the first time a site like this has been discovered in the Netherlands.”

“People used this calendar to determine important moments including festival and harvest days,” the archaeologists said.

Digging on the so-called open-air sanctuary started in 2017 in the small village, near to Utrecht, and the results have just been made public.

They made another fascinating discovery: a single glass bead inside a grave, which after analysis was shown to have originated in Mesopotamia - present-day Iraq. “This bead travelled a distance of some 5,000km four millennia ago,” the chief researcher, Cristian van der Linde, said.

“Glass was not made here, so the bead must have been a spectacular item as for people then it was an unknown material,” added Stijn Arnoldussen, a professor at the University of Groningen.

Stonehenge at dawn


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