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Ancient Polish ‘Stonehenges’ remain a mystery 25 years after discovery. What we know

Piotr Wroniecki/Science in Poland

In the 90s, a mysterious, Stonehenge-like structure dating to the Neolithic period was discovered in Bodzów, Poland.

Since then, experts have uncovered about 20 of the ancient structures, but they remain perplexed, according to a May 23 release from Science in Poland, a subset of the national news agency.

Here’s what experts have learned about the peculiar structures over the past 25 years.

When and how they were built

Known as “rondels” — which translates to “saucepans” from Polish — for their shapes, the structures date back nearly 7,000 years, experts said, according to Science in Poland. They were built in a relatively short period of time between 4850 B.C. and 4600 B.C.

Their concentric structure, which typically consists of ramparts and ditches, resembles Scotland’s Stonehenge, prompting regular comparisons, experts said. However, unlike Stonehenge, the Polish structures are made of wood, not stone.

Researchers said the structures were not intended to be durable or long-lasting.

Instead, evidence indicates the structures were often meant to stand for only a short time, as digging and filling the ditches could have been part of rituals or other practices.

Why they were built

Experts said they are still puzzled about the exact purpose of the Neolithic structures.

Some argue the “rondels” were used for social gatherings, religious purposes or other rituals. Others say the structures were for astronomical observations.

Most experts agree that whatever they were used for, the complexes were a critical part of ancient European agricultural civilizations.

Understanding prehistoric civilizations

While the “rondels” are more common than Polish experts originally expected, they are also widespread throughout Europe. More than 200 similar complexes have been discovered across the continent.

Experts said these discoveries highlight how little is truly known and understood about prehistoric communities, and how much more there is to learn.

Previously, researchers believed ideas spread slowly and haphazardly during the Neolithic period, but the creation of similar structures across the region indicates a much greater degree of exchange and people being interconnected, experts said.

Bodzów is about 280 miles west of Warsaw.

Google Translate was used to translate the release from Science in Poland.

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