Friday, July 15, 2011

0039 - Burning rituals

“Conical” deposit of burned material inside pit; burned arrow heads; burned human bones.

In several European ditched enclosures evidences of (intentional?) burning wood structures are known. Those evidences were not yet directly documented in Portuguese enclosures of Eecent Prehistory, but some of the images obtain by geophysics (burned material gives a strong magnetic signal) suggest that the same happen here.

But not only structures were burned. Human bodies also.
In Perdigões a pit was excavated containing the remains of human cremations (burned human bones submitted to different temperatures; burned pottery; burned flint materials; lost of charcoal and ashes sediments). Next to this pit, another structure with burned human bones is going be excavated this season (starting next Monday).

In fact, Perdigões presents several different funerary practices, like secondary depositions in tholoi type monuments in a necropolis, primary depositions in pits, scattered bones inside ditches and now cremation.

At Carrascal (a necropolis of Porto Torrão), in a ditch used as atrium for several hypogea, accumulation of burned human bones were also recorded. But also at Valencina enclosure (South Spain), partially burned human bodies were found in a ditch.

The use of fire is well known also in several megalithic monuments, traditionally interpreted as sanitation practices. As Vale de Ambrona (in Ebro high basin) cases are revealing though, burning is a ritual ideological practice used since the Neolithic and Chalcolithic.In the context of the practices occurring inside ditched enclosures they could have played roles much more important than we initially suspected. Let’s see what Perdigões give us this year.

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