Learning in Action: Prehistory Inquiries

Stonehenge — why was it built?  Who built it and how?  Catal Huyuk — how did its inhabitants live?  Why didn’t they have doors?

SMA Prep cadets are learning to think like archaeologists as they grapple with these prehistory questions in SMA-CPT Meissner’s IB World History course.


Exploring topics such as Stonehenge, Catal Huyuk, early humans, migrations, and Sumerian achievements, 6th grade students immersed themselves in research and inquiry about these ancient periods and events occurring before written records.


In addition to developing presentations that included detailed research about their selected topic, several students took their projects to the next level by creating models that supported their discoveries.  “I was really impressed with the creativity and details that my students displayed in their projects,” SMA-CPT Meissner proudly explained.

One of their discussions focused more deeply on Stonehenge as SMA-CPT Meissner shared the research about Dr. Andrew Young’s theory regarding stone/wood balls/rails method. As students learned more about the possible methods for moving the enormous stones to include the trench and log roller methods, questions began to form about the theories.  Bringing their ideas together, SMA-CPT Meissner sent an email to Dr. Bruce Bradley, Emeritus Professor from the University of Exeter, to find out more about possible excavations of stone or wooden balls near Stonehenge.  To everyone’s delight, Dr. Bradley responded!

Dear Eric,

The answer is no and yes.  There have been no stone or wood spheres found in the vicinity of Stonehenge that would work with the roller theory.  Some stone ones have been found in northern England.  However, there have been a few recovered at Stonehenge made of chalk.  While they are too soft to work they could have been models to be copied in wood.  There are no organic artifacts from Stonehenge. What can be said is that there is no direct archaeological evidence for how the stones were moved.  The log-roller method would need a hardened surface which should have left significant traces as would the trench method.  Neither has been found.  The stone/wood ball method would leave no traces.

I hope this has answered your questions. 


Bruce Bradley
Emeritus Professor
University of Exeter
Department of Archaeology

The students and SMA-CPT Meissner were thrilled to receive the response but realized this created even more questions about the theory.  Eager to have their inquiries answered by an expert in the field, the students again submitted their questions for SMA-CPT Meissner to send to Dr. Bradley.


Dr. Bradley,

Thanks so much for your reply, I really appreciate it. I told my students about it, and we were excited to hear more about the roller method theory. I explained to my students what you said in your email, and they asked that if the logger method leaves traces, why wouldn’t tracks used for the roller method?

Again, many thanks for your reply.


SMA-CPT Eric Meissner
6th Grade World History Teacher
Sarasota Military Academy Prep


Once again, Dr. Bradley responded to their questions!  Here are two of the pictures that the students studied as they pondered this mystery.


What do YOU think his response may have been?