Thursday, February 11, 2016

0330 - The exhibition of Perdigões: the posters

For those who cannot go to Évora and visit the temporary exhibition about Perdigões ditched enclosures the posters that go along with the archaeological materials may be seen here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

0329 - Enclosing is organizing the world

Creating borders, opposing spaces with different meanings: the organization of space is an expression of human forms of cognition. Enclosing is a structural phenomenon, a way of thinking and organizing the world that cannot be reduced to a defence strategy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

0328 - Perdigões in Évora next week

Perdigões: an aggregation centre in Prehistory and in the Present

15.00 – 16.00
Perdigões: a synthesis of 18 years of research of an exceptional site
António Carlos Valera

16.30 – 17.30

The display of Perdigões: limitations and potentials
Miguel Lago
The anthropological record of Perdigões: evaluation from the case study of tomb 1
Lucy Shaw Evangelista

The faunal record of Perdigões: data from the study of 15 000 studied bones.
Cláudia Costa

The research of ditched enclosures in Portugal: reasons for the exceptional status of Perdigões.
António Carlos Valera

 Followed by a debate and visit to an exhibition of Perdigões contexts and materials.

Friday, January 29, 2016

0327 - Abstracts for the meeting Enclosing Worlds

The preparation of the meeting Enclosing Worlds is going on. Paper proposals are being received and analysed. Abstracts will be progressively displayed in the web page during the next months.
You may check the abstracts here.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

0326 – Portuguese ditched enclosures in intercontinental project

After obtaining the approval and funding for a FCT project on mobility, the enclosure of Perdigões (but also others that were researched by Era Arqueologia, like Bela Vista 5 and Porto Torrão) will be part of an intercontinental research project on prehistoric mobility. The project, titled “Beyond migration and diffusion: The prehistoric mobility of people & ideas”, is funded by the Australian Research Council and has a leading team composed by Catherine Frieman, Rainer Grun, Matthew Springgs, Rachel Wood (from Australian National University), Mathieu Duval (from Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre Evolución Humana, Spain) and António Valera (Era Arqueologia, S.A.).

The main goal is to see how the movement of individuals and groups of people is both an instigator and a response to sociocultural change, utilizing both key European and Pacific Island examples to help build a truly comparative archaeology of rapid social and economic change, with pertinence to general theories of innovation and adoption.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

0325 - Still the manipulation of human remains at Perdigões

A new paper has been accepted for publication (it will be available soon) about a human bone used as a tool recovered at Perdigões ditched enclosures: it is a fragment of a femur turned into an awl, recovered in the context of the cremated human depositions in the central area of the site. A new dimension on the manipulations of human remains that are being documented at Perdigões.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

0322 – Architectures of shared cosmological principals

In 2011 Era Company made an excavation of a large area of the construction of a residue treatment facility near Vila Nova de Mil Fontes, where a chalcolithic occupation was already known. There, amongst several archaeological evidences (fire places, pits, deposits of shells, post holes), a chalcolithic circular hut with a diameter of about 10 meters was discovered. It had a large entrance (4 meters wide) with a post in the middle. This large entrance was facing SW with the alignment of the entrance post and the two central posts that sustained the hut’s roof oriented at 121º, that is to say, basically to the winter solstice.

This is suggesting that the place was visited during the winter (which the main consumed mollusk, Monodonta lineata, also suggests). Ideotechnic items (such betil idols and stone vessels) were also identified, showing that ritual practices were associated to this space, reinforcing the possible symbolic meaning of the orientation of the hut, possibly used in periodically collective ceremonies where the consume of certain mollusks would be relevant).

This unusual hut, certainly unique in shell midden contexts of the Portuguese coast, shows how different architectures, like megalithic passage graves, megalithic cromlechs, ditched enclosures, and now a hut may share similar cosmological principles during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic. And it also underlines that the segmentation of the social phenomena in subsystems, with well compartmentalized scenarios and architectures, is not the best approach to these prehistoric communities.

A paper regarding the results of this work has just been delivered for publication in the proceedings of the meeting Encontro de Arqueologia do Sudoeste Peninsular.

Friday, December 4, 2015

0321 – Timings of discover. Do they really matter?

The real nature and dimension of Perdigões was discovered in 1996 after a field of olive trees was converted, by the removal of the trees and a deep ploughing, into a field prepared to receive a vineyard. It was then that thousands of archaeological materials came to the surface and several ditches became visible in the ground and especially in the aerial image taken in that year.

At the time, the Portuguese archaeology was just awaking to the phenomena of ditched enclosures, and looking for them was not a practice. Portuguese scholars never really questioned the oddness of Santa Vitória (de first ditched enclosure being excavated in Portugal) and the oddness of the apparent isolation of Iberia from a relevant European phenomena in Recent Prehistory. Only in the last decade that work has been done, with success I might had (and this blog shows it), using the available aerial and satellite images, namely the ones provided by Google Earth.

Google Earth was not available in the nineties, but other aerial images were. And if there was the expectation for this kind of contexts to appear and the practice of looking for them, Perdigões could have been identified before the site was ploughed, for the outside double ditches were quite visible in an image of 1995 (just in the lower area of the image).

The question is: could have this prevented the ploughing?

It probably wouldn’t. It was in 1997 that the Portuguese Institute of Archaeology (IPA) was created, and only then preventive archaeology really developed. But those times were already of higher awareness for archaeology, due to the Côa case. And that made possible the archaeological work that would show the importance of the site and that would start the trajectory of research that is well known for Perdigões.

But since then we would expect that new discoveries would be protected. Well that is not true. Several enclosures that were recently discovered have been affected by intensive agriculture, namely to plant olive trees and vineyards. Some were discovered to late (like this one) while others were recently affected, even after geophysics had been done with very good results that show the presence of an important archaeological site, as it happened with Montoito.

Alentejo is being submitted to a significant change in agriculture. This change is threatening this fantastic heritage of prehistoric ditched enclosures that we are recently aware of. I elected them as one of my main topics of research and I am doing what I can to bring them to the public knowledge and to alert to these problems. It is important that the public institutions responsible for the Portuguese heritage be also aware of this situation and act accordingly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

0320 - Issues from Porto Torrão

In 2002 two sections in two ditches of Porto Torrão were excavated by Era Arqueologia (Valera, Filipe, 2004; Valera, 2013). In that area the ditches are just 8 meters apart. For the inner one (ditch 1), material culture and radiocarbon dating say that it was open and filled almost to the top during Late Neolithic (end of the 4th millennium BC/transition to the 3rd). The last filling deposits, though, are from Late Chalcolithic. The outside one (ditch 2) was open by the middle of the 3rd millennium BC and the filling went on until the end of the millennium (according to radiocarbon dating). That means that when the outside ditch (ditch 2) was opened the inner one (ditch 1) was visible and not completely filled, what just happened in simultaneity with the later filling of ditch 2. So, why opening a new ditch just 8 meters apart, having to excavate bedrock, when a previous ditch was just there, visible and easier to re-excavate? Well prehistoric communities do not respond to modern principles of effort-profit and this particular situation (together with many others in other ditched enclosures) should make people, at least, wondering.


Valera, António Carlos e Filipe, Iola (2004), "O povoado do Porto Torrão (Ferreira do Alentejo): novos dados e novas problemáticas no contexto da calcolitização do Sudoeste peninsular", Era Arqueologia, 6, Lisboa, ERA Arqueologia/Colibri, p.28-61.

Valera, A.C. (2013), “Cronologia absoluta dos fossos 1 e 2 do Porto Torrão e o problema da datação de estruturas negativas tipo fossos”, Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património, 9, Lisboa, Nia-Era, p.7-11.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

0319 - Monte da Contenda and Montoito enclosures first publication


Monte da Contenda

In next December 11th a volume of the Estudos Arqueológicos de Oeiras will be publically released, including a paper where the geophysics plans, surface materials, available radiocarbon dates and some interpretative ideas of Monte da Contenda and Montoito will be displayed. Both sites have their particular important issues. Monte da Contenda, by its complexity and dimensions, is a site to be discussed in the context of the large and long lasting enclosures with repetitive episodes of building and rebuilding. Montoito is different. Not so big, apparently with much lesser phases and less complexity, provides a quite specific plan in the Iberian context.

This results were obtained in the context of the project that the NIA department of Era Arqueologia has been developing regarding the identification and characterization of ditched enclosures in Alentejo. A research responsible for the identification of a third of the ditched enclosure presently known in the region.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

0318 - New prehistoric ditch in the heart of Lisbon

Image taken from here

It was presented today, in a congress in Lisbon, a paper about a recently excavated ditch (by Neoépica company) in Lisbon (Travessa das Dores) dating from Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic. It is a large ditch (can reach 8 meters wide and almost 3 meters deep) and was detected in an area highly urbanized, in what seems to be a platform at the middle of a slope over the Tagus river.

The ditch revealed several stone structures and levels of occupation inside it and was abandoned apparently during the middle Chalcolithic.
Ditches are, step by step, becoming more frequent in Lisbon peninsula during Recent Prehistory. At the moment it is hard to believe that ditched enclosures will reach there the numbers already available for Alentejo.  But the future will bring important news for Estremadura regarding this kind of structures and sites.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

0317 - The oldest chalcolithic ditch at Perdigões

We know now that Perdigões ditched enclosures started by the middle of the 4th Millennium BC. That it has developed during the Late Neolithic to became already a large enclosure. The new assemblage of radiocarbon dates shows this. But also shows something else. That the earliest chalcolithic ditch at Perdigões is the small ditch 10 and that it defines an enclosure smaller than the Late Neolithic large one. Interesting don't you think?

The temporalities of Perdigões are getting better characterized by the recent work developed by NIA-ERA (that is directing the global program of research) and ICArEHB at Perdigões. But this work also shows that many surprises may be ahead. This is a complex and chellenging site. It is a privilege to work there.

Monday, November 23, 2015

0316 - New paper on portuguese enclosures.

It has been recently published and is available at and Reserach Gate.

0315 - Perdigões ditch 7 is dated.

Perdigões ditch 7, another one with structured depositions and human remains, is now also dated by three radiocarbon dates that put its filling and re-cuttings between 2600 and 2200 BC. This ditch has one of the most interesting sequences of filling of Perdigões ditches, for it has a sequence of depositions that seem to have been deliberately closed by a stone “cairn”. After that the process of filling changed. That sequence is well dated by these three dates. But some more are needed.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

0314 - Horta do Pinheiro 6 dated

The ditch at Horta do Pinheiro 6 has been dated by radiocarbono from Late Neolithic. There are now 15 ditched sites with occupations dating from Late Neolithic in Alentejo, plus the occupation of Middle Neolithic at Perdigões.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

0313 - Perdigões is getting older

New radiocarbon dates for recently excavated features at Perdigões show that the site was already quite big in Late Neolithic and that it begun earlier, in late Middle Neolithic.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

0312 - New project with Australia

Desenho de Guida Caselas

The project of Perdigões enclosure, me and Era Arqueologia will be integrating a new project on mobility financed by Australian Research Council, and led by Australian National University. Here are the participants and abstract of the project:

“Beyond migration and diffusion: The prehistoric mobility of people & ideas”

1 Dr Catherine Frieman, Chief Investigator, The Australian National University
2 Prof Dr Rainer Grun, Chief Investigator, The Australian National University
3 Prof Matthew Spriggs, Chief Investigator, The Australian National University
4 Dr Rachel Wood, Chief Investigator, The Australian National University
5 Dr Mathieu Duval, Partner Investigator, Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), Burgos, Spain
6 Dr António Valera, Partner Investigator, Era Archaeology, Conservation and Heritage Management, Portugal

1 The Australian National University Administering Organisation
2 Era Archaeology, Conservation and Heritage Management, Portugal Other Organisation
3 Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana Other Organisation

The project builds on the strength of ongoing, innovative collaborations between archaeologists and geochemists to ask novel questions about the movement of people and ideas in prehistory. Spatial and temporal patterns in population mobility will be examined to clarify their relationship with the appearance of new and exotic materials, technologies and practices. We focus on the ways in which the movement of individuals and groups of people is both an instigator and a response to sociocultural change, utilising both key European and Pacific Island examples to help build a truly comparative archaeology of phenomena of rapid social and economic change, with pertinence to general theories of innovation and adoption.

Monday, October 26, 2015

0311 - Talk at Seville University

Next thursday, a talk in a Master of University of Seville about "The ditched enclosures phenomena in South Portugal and the Perdigões case study".

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

0310 - Call for papers

Is now open the call for papers for the conference "Enclosing worlds. Comparative approaches to enclosure phenomena" to be held in Portugal in October 2016.

More information here


Thursday, September 3, 2015

0309 – Back to Perdigões

Next week I will be back to Perdigões to finish the section in ditch 7. In this section the ditch is already 3 meters deep and, although it is quite narrow down there, the walls are still quite vertical. So it is not easy to estimate how much deeper it will go.

Note that the section is in the area where ditch 7 is starting to overlap ditch 8 (a previous Neolithic one). So the inner wall of the ditch (right in the image) is, in this area, constituted by the sediments that were filling the previous ditch. This filling, that goes until about 2 meters deep (ditch 8 was less deep), is constituted by deposits of earth with faunal remains and pottery shards. But this wall of earth was not eroded and it would have been easily if exposed to winter rains. This means that ditch 7, at least in this section, had to have been opened and rapidly filled.

And as you can see in the section, after it was filled (with a sequence of layers of stones, faunal – and human – remains and pottery shards) it was reopened through a recutting, then filled with layers of stones.

This is a stratigraphic sequence of openings and deliberate fillings that shows the nature of this ditch. A ditch that defines a inner enclosure that I now think that can be related to a later, complex and highly symbolic occupation of the central area of the natural theatre where Perdigões stands.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

0308 - New project on Perdigões enclosure

Mobility is one of the most actual issues to research in Prehistory, in the context of a socially committed Archaeology. Here is the abstract for the new research project on Mobility for Perdigões enclosure that will be financed by the Portuguese Science Foundation, led by NIA-ERA and ICArEHB for 2016-2018.

Abstract here

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

0307 – Coming back

I have been out for a while. Perdigões excavations got my full attention for the last 5 weeks (I will be there one more week in September). So I have not been able to provide you with new information about Portuguese enclosures.

Nevertheless, the results from Perdigões 2015 campaign will provide food for several future posts (and papers). For now, I just display an image of what I think (at the moment) to be the earliest ditch in Perdigões set of enclosures: a small “V” shape ditch, right in the middle of the natural amphitheater. It was baptized as Ditch 13.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

0306 - Exposed

A nice one (or two?) exposed by a dam.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

0305 - Perdigões campaign 2015

It starts next Monday. The archaeological works may be followed here.

Friday, July 3, 2015

0304 - Enclosing worlds 2016 conference



Comparative approaches to enclosure phenomena

 12 – 14 OCTOBER, 2016, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal

CONFERENCE PROPOSAL – 1st announcement

 Analogy was always central to archaeological methods and interpretations. It is a powerful tool that has been consecutively criticized and theorized, remaining at the heart of the archaeological practice. Between the large amplitude of the uses of analogy in Archaeology, the cross-culture comparative methods have been shown to be useful to deal with cultural change and the correlations between materiality, human behavior and social organization.

This conference intends to focus on the emergence and development of the European prehistoric enclosures phenomena in the context of a large scale social practice of enclosing expressed by architectures, landscapes and forms of territorial management. It is meant to confront the diversity of the European phenomena between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age with other historical processes of enclosure building developed in other continents and to discuss the social implications and the social roles of such architectures and strategies of space organization.

With this purpose, the conference will reunite case studies from Western and Eastern Europe, Central and Southern Africa and North and South America, stimulating the development of comparative research on this topic and the debate on comparative methodologies, namely regarding the definition of comparable controlled units.

The organization of the meeting will be the responsibility of a partnership between the research group for the Development of Complex Societies of the Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behavior (ICArEHB - University of Algarve), the archaeological research department of ERA Arqueologia (NIA-ERA) and the Global Research Program of Perdigões enclosure.

Call for papers is opened until 31 March 2016.
Inscriptions for assistance will be open in October 2015.
Contacts: António Carlos Valera (


Friday, June 26, 2015

0303 – Social implications of monumentality

Some ditched enclosures reveal a significant investment in labor in the building of their structures.

The investment in works of significant amplitude has undeniable social implications. Applying complex systems theory to social developments shows us that the higher is the scale of the task and the number of persons involved the harder is the consensual decision and the management of the enterprise, implicating the emergence of leading persons or groups. So, we might agree that, enterprises that require significant amount of work and investment, inherently require specific forms of leadership in the decision and implementation processes. The archaeological data available for the large ditched enclosures of the 3rd millennium BC in Alentejo region would have implicated the development of stronger leaderships that would have initiated processes of social competition and created needs for differential forms of consumption and social display that fed the increase of circulation of the exotic materials obtained through long distance interchange networks. In other words, these large sites of social aggregation seem to have implied the development of social segregation. And if, as Churchill argued, we shape our buildings and our buildings shape us, this is not just true at an individual level, but also at a society level: the development of a monumental architecture during this period was not simply a response to ongoing social changes, but actively contributed to conform and induce them in a trajectory towards social competition and inequality. 

But to what extent did this social path developed in the region during the 3rd millennium BC? This is the question that has had significant different answers, in a debate that clearly shows the influence of the present theoretical frames in the constructions of the past.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

0302 - The possible enclosure of Mercador

Excavated in the beginning of this century, Mercador (Mourão, Évora) revealed a segment of a stone feature that seems to correspond to the base of a wall that would define and enclosure with a diameter estimated in 14m.

Plan of the segment of the stone structure with estimation of diameter (Valera, 2013)
The site, dated from Chalcolithic, had a posterior occupation during the middle ages that was responsible for the dismounting of some of the previous structures.

Projection of the possible enclosure (Valera, 2013)

The eventual enclosure corresponded to the second phase of the occupation of the site and was located in the extremity of a plane top of a smooth rise, facing the valley of the Guadiana river. Outside two circular stone houses connected by a small wall were recorded. The chronology for this phase is from the second half of the 3rd millennium BC, roughly contemporaneous of the second phase of the Porto das Carretas (just 1,5 km away), where there are similar constructions of stone houses (interpreted as towers by the excavators) associated to bell beaker pottery.

Plan of the stone houses (Valera, 2013).
Bibliographic References:
Valera, A.C. (2013), As comunidades agropastoris na margem esquerda do Guadiana. 2ª metade do IV aos inícios do II milénio AC., Memórias d' Odiana, 2ª Série, 6, Edia.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

0301 – Perceptions

Santa Vitória. The first ditched enclosure identified in Portugal. Excavated in open area.

I just came back from Kiel (Germany) were I participated in a congress dedicated to Neolithic landscapes and monumentality.

There I heard that until 2000 there was an inadequate methodological approach to ditched enclosures in Iberia: just small sections; no open area and geophysical approaches; no perception of the real nature of the sites. That to explain the Iberian isolation to what is happening in the rest of Western Europe regarding enclosures.

There was an isolation all right. But that has nothing to do with methods, for they were already here for long. In Portugal, open area approaches were done to walled enclosures since the middle of the XX century, although without much accuracy. But since the sixties, eighties and nineties, we observe them all over Portugal, according to modern record procedures (Zambujal, Santa Justa, Monte da Tumba, Castelo Velho, Castro de Santiago, Fraga da Pena, etc. stand as examples).

Furthermore, the first ditched enclosure detected in Portugal, Santa Vitória, was excavated in open area and submitted to geophysics in the beginning of the eighties, as was the walled and ditched enclosure of Monte da Ponte.

And the lack of contact with European archaeology is also just partially a reason: the German Archaeological Institute worked (and works) in Iberia for long, American, French and English archaeologist have been related to Iberian research since the eighties.

The reasons are maybe others:

a)      The late appearance of ditched enclosures in Portugal (and in general in Iberia);

b)      The fact that Iberian countries were the last dictatorships to be rolled out of western Europe, a fact that clearly conditioned the previous and subsequent theoretical developments of History and Archaeology in Iberian countries and their immediate agendas (to each methods are not independent), that, in the case of post dictatorships,  naturally focus in what was being done until then.

c)      The institutionalization and financing systems of archaeology that emerged after the democratization processes.

The archaeological approaches to Iberian recent prehistory enclosures is a recent issue. Until recently that approach suffered from a certain degree of isolation regarding the European scenario. That is obvious. But that does not allow us to erase the past and the context, and reduce everything to a lack of vision, lack of international contacts and a lack of methods. It is not just the enclosure phenomena that is extraordinary complex.

I agree that the “Archaeology of Enclosures” in Iberia is passing through a process of developments that creates friction, not just with the dominant theoretical approaches, but also with the institutionalized powers that support them. There is a fight, like always was. An antitheses facing the theses. But there is no need to simplify the past to enhance the future.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

0300 - Looking back at Senhora da Alegria

Here is an aerial perspective of the excavation of one of the sectors in Senhora da Alegria (excavations of Omniknos Lda). In this area we have ditches from the Middle Neolithic and a larger ditch dated from the Late Neolithic. It is that larger one that we can see in the image overlapping a smaller one that partially runs beside it. This important site shows us a sequence of ditch construction that, with periods of abandonment, covers a significant part of the Neolithic, since the second half of the 6th millennium BC until the late 4th millennium BC. The monographic publication of the excavations will take some time. It is a complex site with a great deal of archaeological materials. The importance of the site, though, will oblige to some extra commitment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

0299 – A new one (of two)

Today, just a few hours before giving a talk about large ditched enclosures in the Lisbon Society of Geography through a collaboration with Era Arqueologia, I identified two new ones in Alentejo while I was locating, in Google Earth, some emergency excavations done in the context of Edia water supply network.

Here is the bigger one. Not one of the largest (it has about 2,2 ha “only”), but quite near to two larger ones (Salvada and Monte das Cabeceiras) that are already too close to each other.

It looks that there is an internal enclosure with a wavy ditch and a double ditch defining an outside enclosure.

I do not know yet the chronologies of these new site, but the density of ditched enclosures around Beja is amazing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

0298 - Salvada enclosure

Will be one of the ditched enclosures addressed in my next conference in May 20th at Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

0297 - In front of the gate

At Perdigões, in front of the gate identified in Ditch 10, by the outside, there are several pits. All of them are of small depth (no more than 15 cm), except one, that is larger. It is not yet totally excavated, so we do not know its depth and all that is inside it.

However, the top layers present interesting depositions.

In the top deposit there was this ceramic “idol”.

Just below it, a complete vessel lays in a “bed” of stones.  

And in the next layer a perfect half of a plate was deposited.

Again, intentionality is easily recognized here as is the importance of parts and wholes.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

0296 – Large ditched enclosures in Guadiana basin

A group of large ditched enclosures in the Middle Guadiana basin, an assemblage that is emerging from old and recent research, is rising quite interesting questions regarding the territorial organization in the 3rd millennium BC and the theoretical tools used to address it.

The complexity of Monte da Contenda. One of the sites to be discussed.

In May 20 I will be presenting, in the context of ERA meetings in Lisbon in collaboration with the Lisbon Society of Geography , a talk about the implications of this new “territorial perception” to the social organization of Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic communities in Southwest Iberia.

Large ditched enclosures like Monte da Contenda, Perdigões, Porto Torrão, Monte das Cabeceiras, Salvada, Herdade da Corte will be specifically addressed.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

0295 – PhD on Alcalar enclosure

It was recently presented a PhD thesis about Alacalar enclosure (Portimão, South Portugal) by Elena Morán entitled “Alcalar, organização do território e processo de formação de um estado prístino V-III milenio a.n.e.)” (Alcalar, territorial organization and formation process of a pristine state V-III millennium BC). It was presented at the Department of Prehistory of the Geography and History Faculty of Seville University.

Monday, April 20, 2015

0294 – Visiting Perdigões enclosure

In 2013, in the context of an archaeological meeting in Évora, a small group of participants visited Prdigões enclosure. In this photo, where the winter solstice orientation is being pointed out by me, we can recognize Primitiva Bueno, Rodrigo Balbín, Luc Laporte, Chris Scarre and Rosa Barroso Bermejo. 

The Perdigões Research Program is always pleased to receive visits from colleagues and other interested persons. This year excavation will be from 20 July to 15 August, so if you are interested in visiting please contact the Nia-Era department ( or

Monday, April 13, 2015

0293 - Structured depositions inside ditches

Structured deposition inside ditch 3 in Perdigões enclosure.

Is something that it is obvious in many situations and less in others. The difficulties of recognition are basically related to the fact that the logic presiding to the depositions has to be accessible by our own rationality. But different criteria and different categories of organizing the world do not make the task an ease one. Meaning is hard to establish, particularly in Prehistoric archaeology. So, many just argue that we should not attempt to interpret, while more or less inadvertently keep projecting familiar meanings into past contexts.

But, in fact, sometimes it is undeniable that there was an intention of communicating an idea or to practice an action expected to interfere with the course of events. That is the case of a particular deposition inside ditch 3 of Perdigões enclosure.

A tubular ceramic object, usually associated to the practice of copper metallurgy (used to introduce air into the ovens to arouse the fire), was deposited standing between two river pebbles. The composition, we might argue, corresponds to a phallic representation and suggests an association between masculinity (expressed by the phallus) and metallurgy (expressed by that specific object and its specific use in kipping and renewing the fire).

This is just one more specifically symbolic expression that was recorded inside a ditch in Perdigões. An intentional deposition easily recognizable by our categorization patterns. Others, however, are not so easily recognized by present perceptions and tend to be relegated to the “trash can”.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

0292 - Easter

There is no Easter without a rabbit. Here is the one from Perdigões ditched enclosure.

Friday, April 3, 2015

0291 - Just 2km away from Monte da Tumba...

Image of the excavated section of the ditch (photo by Tiago Nunes)

…walled enclosure dated from the Chalcolithic a new ditched site was discovered and a section of a ditch was excavated by Era Arqueologia (for Edia S.A.). It is a relatively small ditch where some manual pottery and faunal remains were recovered. The pottery is constituted only by simple hemi spherical bowls. Bones will be used for obtain radiocarbon dates in order to determine the chronology of this structure. Nearby there are several pits or hypogea with persevered human remains (but with chronology still uncertain). This is one of the most western ditched site in Alentejo, right in the limits of the geological border with the sandier lands of the Portuguese littoral platform.   

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

0290 – Perdigões interactions

Next week the exogenous materials of Perdigões complex of enclosures and the interaction networks that they traduce will be presented in Madrid. Results of research developed by several researchers from several institutions that collaborate with the Global Program of Archaeological Research of Perdigões coordinated by Era Arqueologia. The presentation will be in the context of the workshop "Key Resources and Socio-cultural Developments in the Iberian Chalcolithic" to be held in the German Archaeological Institute of Madrid and University of Alcalá de Henares.

Research on items made of ivory, cinnabar, limestone and marble, variscite and sea shells or large flint blades, bell beaker and other stiles of pottery will be discussed.

0289 - Visiting Santa Vitória

In the context of the congress organized by Era Arqueologia in 2012, held in Gulbenkian, Lisbon, and dedicated to debate the Recent Prehistoric Enclosures and Funerary Practices in Europe, a field trip was organized and Santa Vitória ditched enclosure was visited by the participants.

Part of the group. In the picture we can identify Alasdair Whittle, Niels Andersen and Alex Gibson. All with relevant work in European enclosures.
Perspective from the tower of observation of Santa Vitoria enclosure. That horizon was hiding a surprise.

At the time we did not suspected of the incredible complex of enclosures that was just behind that horizon line: Monte da Contenda.

Magnetogram of Monte da Contenda, just 3,5 km from Santa Vitória.

A paper about the preliminary data on this important complex of enclosures is in press in the Estudos Arqueológicos de Oeiras journal.

Monday, March 30, 2015

0288 - Visiting Fraga da Pena

A group of german archaeologists and students of Archaeology (headed by Michael Kunst and guided by me) visiting the Fraga da Pena walled enclosure in 2008.

Some took some risks to photograph a painting preserved in one of the rocks of the granitic tor.