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.

No comments:

Post a Comment