Chalk drums reveal a great prehistoric mystery

These might be the UK’s oldest and most versatile drums, the Folkton Drums, which were found in various archaeological digs starting in the 19th century. Thanks to them, one of the most important mysteries of the stone age has been revealed, the construction of prehistoric monuments such as that of Stonehenge.


Perhaps they are replicas of possible wooden drums, because of this material they would be lighter to move them from one side to another. However, the fact that archaeologists found these chalk drums may mean that they had a higher value than musical instruments. That is, it may be that the ancestors used these drums in spiritual rituals, marriage ceremonies, harvests, among other cultural activities.


Drums that transcend through the years

In 1889 three of the drums were found near Folkton in Yorkshire and the fourth was found more than a century later in West Sussex. According to studies they are 5000 years ago, that is, they were carved in blocks of chalk by people who practiced agriculture in the Neolithic period.

At first, the use that the ancestors gave to these drums was not known, but thanks to studies directed by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, from the Institute of Archeology at University College London, the mystery behind the Folkton Drums has been revealed. . By winding a rope around a drum 10 times, they discovered an exact measurement of 3.22 meters.

The University of Manchester also participated in this important finding and the results of the study were published in the British Journal for History of Mathematics. According to the work team at the time, the four drums offer the same unit of measurement, 3.22 meters.

Perhaps they are the best drums in the history of mankind, since being made of chalk, their durability surpasses almost any musical instrument.




Importance of this discovery

Years ago it had been revealed that the standard unit of measurement used in the construction of prehistoric monuments such as Stonehenge and Durrington was 3.22 meters. This means that people used this unit of measurement to establish the diameters of large circular structures made of wood or stone.

We do not know why the ancestors wanted it that way, but we are sure that they were not wrong in the construction of these monuments, since they lasted until today. In addition, it is a fact that shows the great engineering and architectural advances of the stone age.

This find is so important that today anyone can visit the British Museum to see the Folkton drums.


Figures carved on drums

One aspect to highlight with respect to these chalk circles is the art that can be seen on the outside of each one. These are lines and drawings that match on most drums. The blocks of chalk were carved by hand. This fact is related to the way in which human beings make drums today, since on many occasions they carve them with figures around them, especially if they are wooden instruments.

Although time passes, some customs of humanity do not change, as we can see that a style of making drums from 5000 years ago is not completely different from today. Instead, this discovery inspires today’s drum makers, because if the ancestors carved sturdy blocks of chalk so perfectly, this task should be done even better with today’s materials.


Folkton Drums and their relationship with geometry

Studies have determined that these drums offer the same unit of measurement of 3.22 meters. However, some are larger than others. This shows the great advances in geometry and mathematics that the British had 5000 years ago.

By turning the drums several times with a string, a standard length measurement of 3.22 meters can be obtained. For example, the smallest drum is turned exactly 10 times with a string to achieve this unit of measure. On the other hand, on the larger drums 9, 8 or 7 turns are enough to reach the same length.

In short, thanks to any of the Folkton Drums, the measurements of the stones could be made with precision, as well as the distance between each one. As if that were not enough, the diameters of the circumferences for monuments such as Stonehenge and Durrington were made through multiples of the standard measurement of 3.22 meters.




Drums for work and entertainment

One theory that could be true regarding prehistoric monuments such as Stonehenge and Durrington is that the former was made of stone to dedicate to the dead and the latter was made of wood because they celebrated life there. That is, the stone would last a lifetime, whereas the wood would not.

It is believed that at the summer and winter solstices, people came from far away to enjoy this natural phenomenon. The sun went straight through a couple of stones of the monuments. Therefore, the ancestors congregated in a religious way to wait for the moment when the rays of the sun will pass between the stones.

According to discoveries led by archeology professor Mike Parker Pearson, many people came around at this time of year, as many remains of food were found in the vicinity of each monument. In short, the people not only went to work on the construction of the place and bury the ashes of their dead, but also took advantage of the occasion to celebrate parties, eat and reproduce. Even though it was a town that lived from agriculture, near the place no remains of elements related to that work were found.

Therefore, there were rituals and festivals in which drums and horns were perhaps played, being the most important musical instruments of the Neolithic period.



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