Wednesday, October 31, 2012

0121 - A first sketch of Salvada

A first sketch of Salvada based on Google images and aero photos.

0120 - With a gate open to the solstice?


In this older aerial picture of the new site we can see very well the eastern side of the enclosure, namely the sinuous lobules of the inner ditch. We can see a gate that, by its location, seems to be facing the winter solstice. By combining several different images from Goolge and aero photographs we can almost have the whole plan of the site.

0119 - And a new (BIG) one

Just discovered, while preparing a field prospection. The Impact Study refers prehistoric material at the surface. Google reveals the rest (or almost).

It is a big one (480 x 430 meters), more or less the size of Perdigões, and have two external ditches, one apparently linear and the other sinuous like Xancra, Santa Vitória or Outeiro Alto (but much bigger). Inside, we can almost see more two other smaller ditches.

Like Porto Torrão and Pijotilla, a stream cut the enclosure, with a North-South orientation.

It is, naturally, in Alentejo hinterland, in the Beja district.  A work of ERA in a project of water supply of EDIA S.A.

Monday, October 29, 2012

0118 - Senhora da Alegria again

Here is a small enclosure detected in the highest platform of Senhora da Alegria set of enclosures.

In terms of stratrigraphy, it is posterior to the Early Neolithic occupation and it seems to be prior to the Late Neolithic one.  It is a very small ditched enclosure, apparently oval, with only one gate. The ditch is deeper in the gate sides and progressively becomes lesser deep towards the back. It was filled with layers of stones and clay, with very few materials, mainly polished stone tools.

Inside, and not centred, there was only a fireplace, conserving large fragments of wood charcoal.

The plant and the inside fireplace remember other European small enclosures, namely in Ireland and in Italy. In Portugal, and from Late 3rd millennium, we have other examples in Alentejo, where a pit grave substitute the inside fireplace.

In fact, we are just start to become aware of the large diversity and complexity of the processes of enclosing that took place in Western Iberia Prehistory. New empirical data is emerging every day. But most of it still way from debate and scientific forums.

Friday, October 26, 2012

0117 – A new one?

It might be a new one. It really looks like a ditch, slightly sinuous, from a Prehistoric enclosure. But only a section was defined. It has a gate, but the ditch ends in one side and continues to an unexcavated area on the other side. There are also some pits.

This section of the ditch was surveyed in two areas. In both it reveals a depth of just 30 centimetres and no archaeological material was recovered. What can we make of this? A ditch started but that wasn’t finished? It would be the first evidence of such a situation and, therefore, the site would be quite important.

We shall see. For the time being, the area will be enlarged and we possibly have a larger definition of the plan of this strange ditch.

It is in Alentejo, of course, near Moura. A work of Era Company to Edia S.A.

Friday, October 19, 2012

116 - International Meeting

18 days to go...

Alasdair Whittle (Cardiff University, Wales, UK)
Single or multiple?: exploring narratives for the development of enclosures in central and western Europe from the sixth to fourth millennia cal BC
Niels Andersen (Copenhagen University, Denmark)
Were the causewayed enclosures and the megalithic monuments of the Funnel Beaker Culture in Denmark places for special deposits of fragmented, funeral materials?
Alex.M. Gibson (Bradford University, UK)
Burial & Enclosure in Middle Neolithic Britain: some observations and some problems of continuity.
Jean-Noël Guyodo & Audrey Blanchard (Nantes University, France)
The place of funerary practices in Late Neolithic ditched and walled enclosures in the West of France.
António Valera (NIA-ERA Arqueologia S.A., Portugal)
Funerary practices in the Perdigões enclosure: time, diversity and cosmogony in the treatment  conceded to the dead.
Filipa Rodrigues (Crivarque, Lda., Portugal)
Skeletons in the ditch: funerary activity in ditched enclosures of Porto Torrão (Ferreira do Alentejo,
Ana Maria Silva & Cláudia Cunha (Coimbra University, Portugal)
Human Bones, Burials and Funerary practices at Perdigões Enclosure
Michael Kunst (German Archaeological Institute, Madrid, Spain), João L. Cardoso (Univer. Aberta, Lisbon) &
A. J. Waterman (Department of Natural and Applied Sciences Mount Mercy University USA
Human Bones from Chalcolithic Walled Enclosures of Portuguese Estremadura: examples of Zambujal  and Leceia.
Susana Oliveira Jorge (Oporto University, Portugal)
Enclosures and funerary practices: about an archaeology in search for the symbolic dimension of social relations.
Andrea Zeeb-Lanz (Cultural Administration of Erbe Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)
Human sacrifices with cannibalistic practices in a pit enclosure? The extraordinary early Neolithic site of Herxheim (Palatinate, Germany)
André Spatzier (Halle – Wittenberg University, Germany)
Warriors and victims? Gendered burial at a henge like enclosure near Magdeburg, Central Germany.

Cosmin Suciu (Lucian Blaga din Sibiu University, Romania)

Turdas Eneolithic enclosure system and its funerary practices.

Giulia Recchia (University of Foggia, Italy)
The Copper Age ditched settlement at Conelle di Arcevia (central Italy)
Leonardo García Sanjuán (Seville University, Spain)
Funerary practices in the Copper Age settlement of Valencina de la Concepción (Seville): formal  diversity and social rank.
Patricia Ríos, Corina Liesau & Concepción Blasco (University Autónoma of Madrid, Spain)
Death areas in the ditched enclosure of Camino de Las Yeseras.  A reference site in the center of the Iberian Peninsula.
Victor Hurtado & Carlos Odriozola (Seville University, Spain)
Ditched enclosures in La Pijotilla and San Blas (Badajoz, Spain)
J. E. Marquéz Romero & Víctor Jiménez Jaiméz (Malaga University, Spain)
Meeting synthesis

Field trip:
Perdigões enclosure (Reguengos de Monsaraz); Santa Vitória enclosure (Campo Maior); Évora city.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

0115 - New papers on Portuguese ditched enclosures

With free download here.

Helmut Becker e António Carlos Valera
Luz 20 (Mourão, Évora): preleminary results of geophysical survey (caesium magnetometry)

Helmut Becker, António Carlos Valera e Patrícia Castanheira
Monte do Olival 1 (Ferreira do Alentejo, Beja). Caesium magnetometry in a ditched enclosure from the 3rd millennium BC.

António Carlos Valera
“Almeriense Idols” from Neolithic contexts of the enclosures complex of Perdigões

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

0114 - What to do with them

This is a question that should be asked more often. There are too many enclosures excavated and neglected, with their structures exposed to the natural elements and anthropic ones. This is not a specificity of prehistoric enclosures, but it is a major problem in their communication. Difficult to interpret and to communicate to the general public, the conditions of the few that are available for public visiting in Portugal are depressing, and definitely not concurring for public awareness of the importance of this kind of heritage and public mobilization for its value, defence and preservation.

When we follow a sign and find this...

Walled enclosure of Monte da Tumba (Torrão), visited two weeks ago.

... what really should we think? If we cannot afford the preservation of an enclosure for public visiting in positive conditions, than we should be aware that presenting them in unacceptable conditions is just stupid, for we will be sending all the wrong messages I can imagine.  This situation is generalized. Sometimes we can see that local authorities take some care of this heritage, but generally with local resources, not using experts on the matter. But even that is rare. Abandonment is the norm.

If the country doesn’t have the means for keeping these sites presentable, because there is no money, because there is not enough cultural market for archaeological heritage, then maybe it is better to cover some of them: the ones that don’t have any kind of regular concern.
Maybe confronted with that, local, regional and national spirits would have a different attitude to find the means or assume that is just impossible.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

0113 - Dating ditches and funerary practices

Tomorrow, at the VI Archaeological Meeting of Southwest Iberia, a paper will be presented about a radiocarbon sequence of dates for Perdigões set of enclosures.

“Valera, A.C, Silva, A.M. & Márquez Romero, J.E., “The temporality of Perdigões enclosures: absolute chronology of structures and practices”.

This sequence, of 34 dates, was obtained in the course of three projects integrated in the Global Programme of Research of Perdigões, coordinated by the NIA-ERA: a project of NIA-ERA aiming precisely to established the temporalities of the set of enclosures; a project of the Department of Anthropology of Coimbra University in collaboration with NIA-ERA dedicated to funerary practices in Perdigões; a project of the Malaga University developed in the NE gate of the outside enclosure.

The sequence reveals an occupation of more than a millennia, between 3360 and 2100 BC, corresponding to the Late Neolithic, Chalcolithic and transition to the Bronze Age. It also reveals a provisory image of progressive enlargement of the site during this time span and the progressive diversity of funerary practices, especially during the third millennium BC.

We will be coming back to this important chronological sequence during the meeting taking place in next November in Lisbon on enclosures and funerary practices.

And we hope to publish it next year.