Wednesday, September 24, 2014

0267 – Towers and huts

Late central towers at Porto das Carretas (left); stone huts at Mercador (up right); late central stone hut at Monte do Tosco 1 (down right). See how dimensions are quite similar.

            There are some Portuguese walled enclosures that, according to their excavators, present central towers in the latest phases when the wall are no longer functioning and enclosing. That is the case of Monte da Tumba, S. Pedro or Porto das Carretas. In general, these structures just present some rows of stones, are circular and tend to date from the Late Chalcolithic (some associated to Bell Beaker).
            However, it is never clearly explained why they are interpreted as towers. In fact, similar structures, with the same width and high and with identical diameters, are interpreted as huts. That is the case of the two huts of Mercador. They have the same dimensions of the so called towers of Porto das Carretas, they are from the same general period as the later, they dist just 1,5kms and they even are united by a short wall like the structures at Porto das Carretas. So structurally, how can we distinguish the base of a stone hut from the base of a stone tower, when we do not have enough information to estimate the vertical development of the structure?
            The larger hut at Mercador has a central post hole. But a two floors tower would probably have one also. And not all structures considered huts present internal post holes. At Mercador or Monte do Tosco, huts present internal fire places and areas of storage. But couldn’t towers present them also. During the Late Chalcolithic, what could be inside a hut that couldn´t be inside a tower? So, internal context also doesn’t help much in establishing a difference.

            So, in what bases do we call towers to the late central structures in Porto das Carretas, S. Pedro or Monte da Tumba? Or are they really stone huts, associated to late occupations of these sites? We need criteria and solid evidence to name these structures.

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