Tuesday, December 8, 2015

0322 – Architectures of shared cosmological principals

In 2011 Era Company made an excavation of a large area of the construction of a residue treatment facility near Vila Nova de Mil Fontes, where a chalcolithic occupation was already known. There, amongst several archaeological evidences (fire places, pits, deposits of shells, post holes), a chalcolithic circular hut with a diameter of about 10 meters was discovered. It had a large entrance (4 meters wide) with a post in the middle. This large entrance was facing SW with the alignment of the entrance post and the two central posts that sustained the hut’s roof oriented at 121º, that is to say, basically to the winter solstice.

This is suggesting that the place was visited during the winter (which the main consumed mollusk, Monodonta lineata, also suggests). Ideotechnic items (such betil idols and stone vessels) were also identified, showing that ritual practices were associated to this space, reinforcing the possible symbolic meaning of the orientation of the hut, possibly used in periodically collective ceremonies where the consume of certain mollusks would be relevant).

This unusual hut, certainly unique in shell midden contexts of the Portuguese coast, shows how different architectures, like megalithic passage graves, megalithic cromlechs, ditched enclosures, and now a hut may share similar cosmological principles during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic. And it also underlines that the segmentation of the social phenomena in subsystems, with well compartmentalized scenarios and architectures, is not the best approach to these prehistoric communities.

A paper regarding the results of this work has just been delivered for publication in the proceedings of the meeting Encontro de Arqueologia do Sudoeste Peninsular.

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