Monday, October 17, 2011

0057 - Beaker and ditched enclosures

Beaker pottery from Porto Torrão (after Valera & Filipe, 2004)

One interesting issue about the Portuguese ditched enclosures is the distribution of Bell Beaker pottery. We have now an inventory of almost thirty ditched enclosures, the great majority located in the Alentejo’s hierterland.

But when we look to the actual distribution of Bell Beaker pottery in ditched enclosures we are striking by one evidence: beaker pottery, characteristic of late Chalcolithic (mainly 2nd half of the 3rd millennium BC), only appears in the ditched enclosures that grow to achieve large areas and extreme structural complexity: Perdigões, Porto Torrão and Alcalar.

That suggests that the smaller enclosures didn´t reach the 2nd half of the millennium or were not permeable to beaker influences. Only the ones that became large complexes did incorporate beaker phenomena. On the other hand, several walled enclosures present beaker pottery (Monte da Tumba; São Brás) or were reoccupied in beaker times (such as Porto das Carretas or Monte do Tosco) reinforcing the differences between these categories of sites.

This is another particularity that needs careful reflexion. Even more if we add the fact (stressed in Valera, 2007 and in the recent publication of the Fronteira meeting proceedings) that there is a tendency for the small sites to present just one specific beaker style (Porto das Carretas, Miguens 3, Monte do Tosco, Barrada do Grilo, etc.) while Porto Torrão or Perdigões (the large enclosures) present influences of the several beaker styles and a significant amount of this kind of materials (especially Porto Torrão).

A circumstance that reinforces the idea that the latter development of larger ditched enclosures represents a transition to a new social dynamic that is progressively alien to the cosmological/ideological frames that generated in the first place the ditched enclosure phenomena in the Neolithic.

The Cathedral’s Era, in fact.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating ideas. I've been very interested in the role that Bell Beaker may have played in Iberian pre-history, for example in posts here and here, but haven't had a lot of archaeological data points to confirm or contradict my speculations.