4,000-year-old 'shaman' burial near Stonehenge has a golden secret

About 4,000 years ago, two people were buried near Stonehenge with grave goods described as a “shaman’s costume” when they were discovered in the 19th century. But a new analysis of stone tools also found in the grave reveals they have traces of gold on their surfaces, indicating they were used to craft the precious metal. 

So, were the buried individuals shamans, goldsmiths or something else? “Grave goods are more than representations of a person’s identity,” scientists wrote in a study published Dec. 15 in the journal Antiquity (opens in new tab). These artifacts hint at the complexity of ancient identity, and that roles like “shaman” and “goldsmith” don’t adequately sum up individuals who may have represented many different things to a Bronze Age community.


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