London: Stonehenge may have been occupied 5,000 years earlier than previously believed, archaeologists have found.
Excavation of a site 1.6 km from the stone structure in England has revealed that people have occupied the area since 7,500BC.
Previous evidence had suggested that humans were present at the site, known as Vespasian`s Camp, around 7,500BC but there were no signs anyone had lived there until as late as 2,500BC.
By carbon-dating materials found at the site, the archaeologists led by David Jacques from Open University in the UK identified a semi-permanent settlement which was occupied from 7,500 to 4,700BC, with evidence that people were present during every millennium in between.
The people occupying the site would likely have been responsible for erecting the first monument at Stonehenge, the Mesolithic posts, between the 9th and 7th millennia BC, The Telegraph reported.
Jacques identified the settlement after deciding to search for evidence around a spring on the site, which he reasoned could have attracted animals.
"My thinking was where you find wild animals, you tend to find people," he said.
"What we found was the nearest secure watering hole for animals and people, a type of all year round fresh water source. It`s the nearest one to this place [Stonehenge]. I think it`s pivotal," he said.