The builders of Stonehenge “used ball bearings to move giant slabs of stone”

The builders of Stonehenge “used ball bearings to move giant slabs of stone into position”

Neolithic engineers may have used ball bearings in the construction of Stonehenge, it is claimed today.

The same technique that allows vehicles and machines to function properly today could have been used to transport the monument’s huge standing stones over 4,000 years ago, according to a new theory.

Scientists have shown how logs placed in grooved wooden tracks would have allowed the easy movement of stones weighing several tons.

No one has yet managed to explain how the heavy slabs used to build Stonehenge were moved from their quarries to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

Experiment: University of Exeter students learn how to move large stones on wooden balls

Some, the “blue stones”, weighed four tons each and were transported 150 miles from Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Attempts to reconstruct the transport of the blocks on wooden rollers or to float them on the sea have not proved convincing.

The hard surfaces and trenches required when using the rollers would also have left their mark on the landscape, but are lacking.

Experts discovered the new idea after examining mysterious stone balls found near monuments similar to Stonehenge in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

About the size of a cricket ball, they’re precisely designed to be within a millimeter of the same size.

This suggests that they were meant to be used together in some way rather than individually.

Scottish Stone Circles are similar in shape to Stonehenge, but contain much larger stones.

To test the theory, researchers at the University of Exeter built a model in which logs were inserted into grooves carved into wooden planks.

When heavy concrete slabs were placed on a platform above the logs, held in position by more grooved tracks, they could be moved easily.

Archaeologist Andrew Young described the experiment in which he sat on the slabs to provide additional weight.

Heavy: Some of the larger stones used to build Stonehenge weigh up to four tons

Heavy: Some of the larger stones used to build Stonehenge weigh up to four tons

He said: “The real test was when a colleague used his index finger to pull me forward – a simple push and the slabs and I pulled forward.

“It proved that bullets could move large, heavy objects and could be a viable explanation for how giant stones were moved.”

The team then carried out a life-size test funded by an American television documentary maker.

To keep costs down, scientists used relatively soft green wood rather than the hard oak that would have been abundant in Neolithic times, when Britain was covered in forests.

This time, the researchers used hand-shaped granite spheres as well as wooden balls.

The results proved that the technique would have made it possible to move very heavy weights over long distances.

Professor Bruce Bradley, Director of Experimental Archeology at the University of Exeter, said: “The demonstration indicated that large stones could have been moved using this ball bearing system with around 10 oxen. and could have hauled stones up to 10 miles a day. .

“This method also has no lasting impact on the landscape, as the tracks with the ball bearings move relative to each other as the tracks move up the line. “

Neolithic people were known to cut long planks of wood, which they used as walkways across bogs, Professor Bradley pointed out.

Although the tests do not prove with certainty that the ball bearing method was used, they do show that “the concept works,” he said.

He added: “This is a radical new start, as previous ideas were not particularly effective at transporting large stones and left unanswered questions about what archaeological records they would have left behind.”

The next step in the project is to provide mathematical proof of the force required to keep a stone in motion.

Ultimately, scientists hope to conduct a full-scale experiment in Aberdeenshire using more authentic materials, stone balls and a team of oxen.

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