Archeologists have used modern methods in order to study the mysterious Folkton drums – three decorated cylinders made from limestone, which were found in a child’s tomb in England. The results show that some of the decorations and motifs on the drums had been removed and made again. Decorations that were unknown until now were also found.
The drums, if that’s what they really represent, are at least 4000 years old. These unusual objects can be seen in the collection of the British museum. The curators explain that the ritual of burying a person with different objects began around 3000 years B.C. The burial of this child and the stone cylinders happened between 2600 and 2000 years B.C.
All of the drums are made from limestone, which can be found in the region, and the largest one is 146 centimeters in diameter. Complex carvings appears all over the cylinders, and they look like those made by woodworkers. The carvings are made in separate sections, and in some places human faces are also illustrated.
The Folkton drums are three of the most notable decorated objects of Neolithic Britain. In the analysis, we used Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and photogrammetry and we observed traces of removal, redrawing, and addition of new decorations. This means that these limestone drums were not made by a previously determined scheme, but were rather engraved and remade several times throughout the history.
Also, the study is proof that these modern methods for analysis show us not only the visible decorations, but previously removed ones as well, states the publication made by scientists, led by Andrew Jones from the department of archeology in the University of South Hampton.
Despite the fact that the cylinders are called drums in the world of science, their purpose is not as clear. Until now, only one other such drum has been found on the Island.
When such artifacts are in question, researchers usually stress importance on the stylistically made analysis. But, focusing only on the style, certain important discoveries can be left unseen. To complete their work, researchers analyzed the methods of the ancient people as well – those pertaining to the altering of artifacts.
The drums were originally placed by the head and legs of the child, who was buried in an oval grave. Several more bodies were found close by.
The results of the study are published in the last issue of Antiquity magazine.