Calanais Survey and Excavation, 1979-88 (part 3)

Page 220

Calanais Survey and Excavation, 1979-88

the passage was wall-built (ibid 12, Fig 4). The longer dimensions of the chambers at Embo were at right-angles to the passages. But there were some similarities. The south chamber at Embo was about the same size as the reconstructed original chamber at Calanais; its ‘antechamber’ was about 1m long and its passage was 1.6m long (Henshall and Ritchie 1995, 136), dimensions not far different from those at Calanais. Four radiocarbon dates came from contexts supposed to be contemporary with its construction. An age from two adult vertebrae found behind a stone under a corbel stone (GrA-772; 3720+/-70 BP) calibrated to between 2320 and 1900 cal BC. Small animal bones from a deposit contemporary with construction of the chamber provided an age (BM-442 3870+-100) calibrating to between 2580 and 1990 cal BC. On the other hand, infant bones from under corbel stones produced two ages (GrA-770 and 771, 4010+/-70 and 4340+/-70) calibrating to 2865 to 2310 and 3305 to 2700 cal BC (Henshall and Ritchie 1995, 75). Four more technically reliable dates were recently obtained from single human bones in the north and south chambers (UB-6876 to 6879). Two from fills of the south chamber calibrated to between 3520 and 3350 cal BC; and an age from another bone from fills of the south chamber calibrated to between 3330 and 2920 cal BC. But one from the floor of the much damaged north chamber calibrated to between 2620 and 2470 cal BC. (Sheridan 2006, 205). Parts of an International Beaker were found redeposited in a secondary cist at Embo and an insular Beaker came from the south chamber. The question must be whether the latter was built in the 4th millennium or in the second half of the 3rd millennium when skeletal material and Beaker pottery were deposited. The most straightforward interpretation of the reported stratigraphy is that the chamber should be dated to between 2320 and 1900 cal BC by the latest radiocarbon-dated bones in constructional contexts. In that interpretation the 4th millennium bones will have been ancestral material from the original cairn. Opposition to this interpretation can be based on the propositions that the late 3rd millennium bones were simply tucked behind stones in an al-

Illus 24.48 Calanais and Embo, the latter simplified from Henshall and Wallace 1963, 10, Fig 2

Illus 24.49 Early Beakers found at Calanais Discussion and conclusions \ 1034

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