Today’s post is not about Neolithc or Chalcolithic enclosures, but about another kind of enclosure and from a different chronology. It is about an Iron Age funerary ditched enclosure that is being excavated by Omniknos Company (direction of Tiago do Pereiro) near Beja.
This is a rectangular enclosure defined by a ditch about 1 meter wide, with a central rectangular grave inside. What is interesting is that the ditch shows several recuts. In one of them a human skeleton was recorded. It is possible that there are more, for the majority of the ditch is still to be excavated.
The larger rectangular enclosure with the central grave (the grave in the ditch is being excavated)
In one side, the rectangular ditch is partially overlapped by another ditch that seems to be part of another rectangular enclosure, but not totally finished and with some intervals in the sides, as if the rectangular enclosure was built in an additive way. It also has a central rectangular grave and a human skull just started to appear in the corresponding ditch. It seems that there is a central grave surrounded by graves in the enclosing rectangular ditches.
The other enclosure overlapping the large one.
Some similar contexts from Iron Age were excavated in Alentejo in the recent past: Vinha das Caliças (by Arqueohoje Company) and Poço das Gontinhas (by Era Arqueologia Company).
Of course we are in presence of a different cultural and historical context, but it did remind me of Bela Vista 5, a ditched enclosure from late 3rd millennium with a grave surrounded by two ditches, being the outside ditch built by segments and showing recuts (although no human remains were found in the small excavated areas).
In fact, these funerary monuments seem to present a sequence of use and construction until they get their final shape. A bit like the Bronze Age cist graveyards that grow from a previous central grave. And the same process of “construction in use” before reaching the final form was also documented for megalithic monuments in Galiza.
We tend to focus in what we see and tend to forget that we see final stages. Things have often quite complex biographies and that later look might result of a process of “construction in use” or “by use”, and not done at once. But they present a pattern. Which means that there are prescriptions and intentions that are followed, resulting in the final significant designs. We see that in several prehistorical ditched enclosures
Although from different times and cultures, there are human behaviors that respond to similar social needs or involve similar social problems.