Ground-penetrating radar studies have revealed sheaves of inscribed animal skins beneath the ancient rock of Stonehenge.
The discovery may have finally clinched the identity of these mysterious monuments.
"I believe the monoliths are primitive staples binding the earliest known writing in the British Isles," said Dr. William Atkinson, director of the Stonehenge excavation.
Every staple was probably placed by hand since no device existed for driving the staples through the animal skins--though Bronze Age rock carvings of a machine long interpreted to be a catapult or similar siege engine may represent an early design for such a device.
"In any case, stapling was rather a lot of work, so they gave up," Dr. Atkinson said. "We didn't see another staple in human history until the McMurphy Company patented a 'Single-Stroke Staple Driver' 4500 years later, in 1877."
Atkinson's work has forced a complete re-imagining of Stonehenge. Scientists now understand the ancient stones' alignment with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset as an attempt to maximize natural reading light.
In the meantime, Dr. Atkinson has moved on to new research in Egypt, working on a controversial theory that Thutmosis III habitally opened papyrus letters with the tip of his obelisk.