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Martha Hanner '63 discusses Neolithic Stonehenge: The Brooding Giants of Salisbury Plain

Many stone circles exist across Britain, but Stonehenge is the most famous. For centuries, its construction and purpose have been debated. Now, archeological excavations combined with modern technology are revealing some of its secrets. Stonehenge was built in 2 main stages, ca. 3000 BCE and 2500 BCE. Martha Hanner will describe some of the discoveries, including the source of the mysterious bluestones, 230 km away in Wales, the analysis of cremated bone fragments buried under the bluestones, the excavation of a nearby Neolithic settlement dating from 2500 BCE and how pig bones tell us when the workers feasted.


Martha is an astronomer and planetary scientist. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1963 and her Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1969. Her research interests include comets, planetary science, interstellar grains, and exoplanets. From 1970 to 1975, Martha was a Co-Investigator on Pioneer 10/11, the first space probes sent beyond the asteroid belt to the planet Jupiter. After two years (1975-1977) as a Visiting Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, she spent 25 years as a Senior Research Scientist at Caltech/JPL. There, she worked on several space missions, including Galileo Jupiter Orbiter, ESA's Giotto Halley flyby, and the Stardust Comet Sample Return. She also conducted infrared observations of comets at the Palomar and Mauna Kea observatories. Martha has published over 100 scientific papers and she served as Solar System Division President for the International Astronomical Union. At UMass, she taught the honors section of Astro 101, "Exploring the Solar System," for several years, as well as a seminar on exoplanets.

Watch your inbox for the Zoom invite to this talk to be given on Friday, April 16 at 3:00PM.