Carved stone balls are a curious type of artifact found at a number of locations in Scotland. They date from the late Neolithic period, around 4,000 years ago. They are round in shape; they were carved from several types of stone; most are about 70 mm in diameter; and many are ornamented to some degree. Archaeologists do not agree about their purpose and meaning, but there are several theories.
One theory is that the carved stone balls were weapons used in hunting or fighting. Some of the stone balls have been found with holes in them, and many have grooves on the surface. It is possible that a cord was strung through the holes or laid in the grooves around the ball. Holding the stone balls at the end of the cord would have allowed a person to swing it around or throw it.
A second theory is that the carved stone balls were used as part of a primitive system of weights and measures. The fact that they are so nearly uniform in size – at 70 mm in diameter – suggests that the balls were interchangeable and represented some standard unit of measure. They could have been used as standard weights to measure quantities of grain or other food, or anything that needed to be measured by weight on a balance or scale for the purpose of trade.
A third theory is that the carved stone balls served a social purpose as opposed to a practical or utilitarian one. This view is supported by the fact that many stone balls have elaborate designs. The elaborate carving suggests that the stones may have marked the important social status of their owners.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they challenged the specific theories presented in the reading passage.
1. There are several theories about the purpose and meaning of carved stone balls.
2. First, the carved stone balls were weapons used in hunting or fighting.
3. Second, they were used as part of a primitive system of weights and measures.
4. Third, they served a social purpose as opposed to a practical or utilitarian one.
1. None of the theories presented in the reading passage are very convincing.
2. The surfaces of the balls are very well preserved, showing no sign of wear or damage. However, common Neolithic weapons generally show signs of wear.
3. The balls may be uniform in size, but considerably different in weight. So they cannot be used to weigh things.
4. Many carving are too simple to make them look like status symbols. Also, none of the stones were found in graves, where people with high social status kept their personal possessions.