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Mysteries of Stonehenge
A Very Strange Structure
In an open field in England, there is a strange group of stone blocks known as Stonehenge. Thousands of years ago, the blocks formed the structure.
Today, some of the stones have fallen over. Other stones are missing because they were removed long ago to be used to build new structures. What makes Stonehenge a mystery? There are two questions scientists have been trying to answer:
1. How did people build Stonehenge thousands of years ago without the tools and machines we have today?
2. Why did people build Stonehenge?
How Was Stonehenge Built?
The blocks in Stonehenge are huge. The largest blocks weigh about 36 tonnes. When Stonehenge was built, the wheel had not yet been invented. Then how did the builders move the blocks to that site? Some experts believe that logs were used under the stones to act like rollers. The rolling logs made the blocks much easier to drag.
The next challenge was to place the standing stones in an upright position. One theory is the builders first dug a hole in the spot where the stone was to be placed. They then tipped the stone so the bottom of it fell into the hole, and used ropes to pull the stone upright. When the stone was upright, the builders filled in the hole with dirt to support the stone.
The toughest job of all was to place the stones that sit on top of the standing stones. (These top stones are called lintels.) It is possible that the builders created dirt ramps beside the standing stones, then built a wooden track on top of the ramp. They could then drag the lintels up the wooden track and into place. The people could then remove the ramp when they were finished.
On top of the standing stones, the workers carved out small round bumps. On the bottom of the lintels, they created small holes. When they placed the lintels on the standing stones, the bumps fit into the holes to hold the lintels in place. They also cut special mortise and tenon joints in the ends of the stones. Those joints made the stones fit together like puzzle pieces.
Why Was Stonehenge Built?
The question of why people built Stonehenge is the biggest mystery of all. Over the years, experts have suggested many different ideas. Here are some examples:
1. Stonehenge was like a huge clock that helped people to mark the seasons. For example, on the longest day of the year (in summer) and the shortest day (in winter), people stood inside Stonehenge and watched the sun rise. On these days, the sun was visible in the space between certain standing stones.
2. Stonehenge was a place where people went to worship ancient gods.
3. Stonehenge was built as a place to bury the dead. Graves have been found around the site.
We will probably never know for sure how and why Stonehenge was built. The answers to those mysteries are buried deep in the past.
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1. It is amazing that some parts of Stonehenge are still standing.
What three natural forces do you think Stonehenge has had to withstand over thousands of years?
Great answer!Great answer!
Type your response above.
2. Workers might have used simple machines to build Stonehenge.
What simple machine may have been used as a ramp to pull the lintels up to the top of the standing stones?CorrectIncorrect
3. Workers might have used simple machines to build Stonehenge.
What simple machine might have been used to tip the standing stones into holes to make them stand securely?CorrectIncorrect
4. Why do you think Stonehenge was built? Choose one of the theories in the text or make up your own. Give a reason why you think it is the best theory.Great answer!Great answer!
5. Fill in the blank using information from the text.
When Stonehenge was built, the had not yet been invented.