Saturday, January 26, 2013

0149 – Surprisingly late

Outeiro Alto 2 ditched enclosure (Brinches, Serpa, Beja). Photo by Paulo Marques; excavations by Era Arqueologia. S.A.

That is what we might say about Outeiro Alto 2 ditched enclosure recently dated in the context of a project financed by FCT (Portuguese Science and Technological Foundation).

This sinuous small enclosure, with patterned lobules, is extremely similar to Santa Vitória one and, in its general regularity, to Xancra, inclusively in the astronomic orientation of the gate. Xancra is not yet excavated, and we just have some surface materials indicating a general Chalcolithic chronology, but Santa Vitória was largely excavated, though never conveniently published. We still not have access to the contextual data of Santa Vitória (excavated in the eighties of last century). Though, a study of the pottery in a master theses suggests an early chronology in the third millennium BC (there is a lot of faunal remains that could be dated, but it seems we have to wait for the next millennium to have access to it – particularities of Portuguese archaeology).

When other sites started to appear showing the same general layout, the tendency was to consider them from the first half of the third millennium, like Santa Vitória. Well, a sample from the bottom of Outeiro Alto 2 ditch was dated from the third quarter of the third millennium, demonstrating that this particular layout of lobules was being done in later times in the Chalcolithic; bell beaker times (although no bell beaker were recorded at Outeiro Alto 2)

This is another dimension of the “empirical revolution“ that is going on in Alentejo. Things are much more complex, much more “mixed up”, than previously suspected. Clear “frontiers” are falling apart everywhere and diversity is emerging as the “main stream” image of the historic dynamics of South Portugal Recent Prehistory.

The context of Outeiro Alto 2 ditched enclosure and its absolute chronology will be published in the next volume of the “Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património” journal, expected for next April.

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