Oldest Calendar Discovered in Scottish Pits, Archeologists Believe

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 02:34 PM

By David Ogul

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Archeologists believe they have found the world’s oldest calendar, a nearly 10,000-year-old series of pits in Scotland that track the various phases of the moon to track the lunar months over a year’s time.

The discovery is being called profound.

“What we are looking at here is a very important step in humanity’s earliest formal construction of time, even the start of history itself,” Vincent Gaffney, professor of landscape archaeology at Birmingham University, told the National Geographic about the discovery of the world's oldest calendar.. Gaffney led the team of scientists that analyzed the pits and determined what they were used for.

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The specially shaped pits are aligned so that they would have helped the hunter gatherers keep track of the seasons and the lunar cycle. They also are set up to note when the winter solstice would occur.

The pits are about 5,000 years older than what had been considered the oldest calendar in Mesopotamia.

“For pre-historic hunter-gatherer communities, knowing what resources were available at different times of the year was crucial to survival," Gaffney said in a University of Birmingham news release. "These communities relied on hunting migrating animals and the consequences of missing these events were potential starvation. They needed to carefully note the seasons to be prepared for when that food resource passed through, so from this perspective, our interpretation of this site as a seasonal calendar makes sense.”

The Mesolithic monument was first found in 2004 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The site was discovered when an aerial survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland found a group of unusual crop markings in the area.

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“This illustrates one important step towards the formal construction of time and therefore history itself,” Gaffney told msn.com.

Richard Bates, a geophysicist from the University of St. Andrews who worked on the project, told The National Geographic that the finding “shows that Stone Age society was far more sophisticated than we have previously believed.”

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