Wednesday, October 12, 2011
0056 – Dimension matters
The slide presents Portuguese walled and ditched enclosures at the same scale (the bigger walled enclosure is not Portuguese, but Spanish and near the border – Pijotilla -, used to substitute a similar Portuguese site – Porto Torrão – that doesn´t have yet its integral plan defined). The differences of sizes reached by some ditched enclosures are striking.
At Rome, my presentation was about the connections between walled and ditched enclosures in South Portugal. After established a general spatial and chronological simultaneity, several disparities were stressed. One of them was dimension.
Walled enclosures present small and, let us say, medium sizes (from less than a ha to 2 or 3 ha). Ditched enclosures present equal sizes, but some of them grew bigger, and reached areas from 20 to more than 100 ha (excluding the surrounding necropolis).
This is a striking fact that needs explanation. Why some ditched enclosures did grew so much during the Chalcolithic? Why, in the same region and time, walled enclosures kept small dimensions?
The answer, taking into account other several differences not referred in the present post but stressed at the conference, has to do with different social roles. My suggestion (to be developed in the paper) is that specific social roles of ditched enclosures, such as identity management, control and reproduction of cosmological order through architecture and social activities and funerary and ritualized practices, allowed some of them to grow and became regional centres of social aggregation and living metaphors of the cosmos.
Nevertheless, their size and meanings can somehow be seen as the “singing of the swan” of Neolithic world views. By the end of the 3rd millennium or beginning of the 2nd cal BC they are “dead” and a new social dynamics is already in course.
In a way, they remind us of the Cathedral’s Era.