A 4,000-year-old archaeological site that contains burial mounds and a shrine dedicated to the sun and the solstice has been unearthed in the central part of the Netherlands.
The site find has been dubbed the “Stonehenge of the Netherlands” because both prehistoric monuments were believed to have been religious burial sites connected to the solar calendar.
The sanctuary was “dedicated to the sun,” the municipality of Tiel, which is about an hour’s drive south of Amsterdam and is where the excavation took place, said on its website on Wednesday.
“The shrine must have been an important place,” the municipality revealed in an English translation. “People kept special days of the year, performed rituals and buried their dead. The shrine had been in use for 800 years.”
“In the places where the sun shone straight through the openings, archaeologists also found sacrifices,” the municipality said, including animal skeletons and human skulls and valuables like a bronze spearhead.
An illustration shows what the researchers believe is the 4,000-year-old Stonehenge-like sanctuary that archaeologists have discovered in Tiel, a town in the centre of the Netherlands. (Municipality of Tiel/Handout via Reuters)
Archaeologists also uncovered the oldest glass bead ever found in the Netherlands that appears to have come from Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq, thousands of miles away.
“This sanctuary must have been a highly significant place where people kept track of special days in the year, performed rituals and buried their dead. Rows of poles stood along pathways used for processions,” the municipality added in a statement, according to Reuters.
Archaeologists excavated more than one million objects from the site, many of which are expected to go on display.