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The circular enclosures were not the only mysterious constructions of the Salisbury plains in those early times. The 4th millennium B.C. was the period of the "long barrows" of which there are some 260 in Britain with 148 of them in the Wiltshire country area. The best known of these is the West Kennet Long Barrow, located some one-half mile south of Avebury. Constructed at about 3,600 B.C. it is three hundred forty feet long and seventy-five feet wide at its widest eastern end and eight feet high. It was originally surrounded by a curb of stones. The eastern one-eighth of the barrow is a stone tomb with five carefully made chambers in which forty-five skeletons have been found. At the entrance are many upright stones, lined up at right angles to the axis of the mound. No function has been yet identified for the western seven-eighths of the barrow.

The first Neolithic Age sites of Ireland are found in County Tyrone, dating from about 3,700 B.C. onwards. The Sandhills Ware Pottery people there exploited the salmon from the Boyne River and by 3,250 lived in rectangular, timber houses. The forests were cleared and cereals, oxen, sheep, goats and pigs were raised, perhaps after the addition of the immigrants related to the Windmill Hill people mentioned above.

Next we must discuss the mysterious and problematical megaliths which have been found all over the Mediterranean islands, along the coasts of the Iberian peninsula, France, Britain and southern Scandinavia. Traditionally it has been taught that the 2,500 B.C. period was the one of this megalithic culture, but recent correction of carbon dating by bristle-cone pine correlation has put the Atlantic megaliths back another 800 years to before 3,000 B.C. One theory is that this culture was based on a religion spread by priests and merchants (perhaps from Malta?), but as we shall see when we discuss some of these remaining monuments in the next chapter, their function, at least in some, appears to have been far greater than any simple ritual. It has been estimated that there are at least 50,000 of these megaliths in Western Europe and countless numbers of others must have been destroyed through the ages. Recently there has been speculation that the original megalith builders may have spread from Britain southward, rather than the reverse.

These immigrants also settled in Ireland and western mainland coastal areas, but avoided the Midlands. In this period of global optimal climate, there were prehistoric farms in Scotland and Northern England in latitude elevations where today no agriculture is feasible. At about 3,000 B.C. this Eden terminated with a sharp return of colder weather (Ref. 227 , 176 , 136 , 215 , 176 , 45 , 224 , 88 , 7 )


At 5,900 B.C. there were stupendous geological changes still occurring in the north. Men had lived in the area now covered by the North Sea but as the glaciers melted and receded, the earth's crust, previously dented by the weight of the ice, began to rise and it is still rising throughout most of Sweden today. South of this, the waters poured into the North Sea and over much of Denmark, so that the main part of this land remained attached to Europe only by a thin stalk at Holstein and the Danish tribes became isolated and remained virtually so for some centuries. The Danes knew how to sail and canoe and had flint tools and weapons. All southern Scandinavia and the Baltic settlements of this era had the Funnel Rim pottery. Rock scribings of petroglyphs hewn into or occasionally painted on rock faces representing animals have been found all over the Scandinavian peninsula, as well as in Finland and Russia, dating back to at least 5,000 B.C. Most of these are life-size and are outline drawings in naturalistic style, although another type with stylized animals has been found at Vengen and Ausevik, Norway and Namforsen in Sweden. Just after 4,000 B.C. (some say earlier) contact with Europe proper increased with the result that new people growing barley and wheat and raising herds of cattle, sheep and pigs migrated into the Scandinavian area. (Were these the same as the Windmill Hill people in England?). Like other areas in Western Europe, this was also the era of megalithic tombs, of which some thousands still stand in southern Scandinavia. Due to the very warm climate which developed after 5,000 B.C., vines grew in southern Norway and the whole of Scandinavia had mixed and deciduous forests. (Ref. 8 , 88 )

Eastern europe

There is archeological evidence of human habitation on the southern plains of Russia dating far back into prehistoric times, and nomadic peoples roamed the country throughout the centuries of this chapter. Of particular interest are the Kurgans, known to live on the lower Volga even in 5,000 B.C. (See also SOUTHERN EUROPE, this chapter). They had horses, loved to fight and buried their dead under tumuli. They may later have migrated to Greece to become the Mycenaeans. Marija Gimbutas of U.C.L.A. thinks these people are the original Indo-Europeans and that about 4,000 B.C. they expanded into the Danube basin and down into the Balkan peninsula from there. Most archeologists would deny that they are the original Indo-Europeans but do agree that at sometime, probably 3,500 to 3,000 B.C., these people did over-run much of Europe, using wheeled carts and bronze weapons.

Wild grapes were brought under cultivation in the Caucasus in the 4th millennium B.C. The Finns (or Lapps?) were endemic in northern Russia and occupied all northern climes outside the area of Neolithic Culture. The Linear Pottery Culture spread from Hungary around the northern edge of the Carpathians into Russia in the mid-5th millennium and agriculture spread through the Volga-Don region from the Danube by about 4,500 B.C. Central, east Europe was in the late copper age after 3,500 B.C., as the Carpathians supplied plenty of copper and later gold and tin. (Ref. 45 , 8 , 215 , 211 , 88 , 222 )

Forward to Europe: 3000 to 1500 B.C.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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