Sunday, December 29, 2013

0235 – Enclosures in 2013

Central area of the complex of encosures of Monte da Conteda (magnetogram from Helmut Becker). A very complex site, with more than 20 ditched enclosures with very different layouts and chronologies. 

In the 1st of January of 2013 I wondered if this year would be a good year for Portuguese Prehistoric enclosures research. And it certainly was so. Apart from the development of research project and rescue excavations on sites already known, this year saw the discovery of several new enclosures in Alentejo hinterland. Monte das Cabeceiras 2, Herdade da Corte, Monte da Contenda, Figueira, Borralhos, Folha do Ouro 1, Nobre 2, Lobeira de Cima, Coelheira 3, Montoito are ten new enclosures detected in 2013.
Eight of them were discovered in the context of a research program and two were already submitted to geophysical prospection with very good results.

In a time of decay of the investment in archaeological research in Portugal, these results, for Alentejo’s Recent Prehistory, are not bad at all.

Monday, December 23, 2013

0234 – Barranco de Rio Seco 4 ditched enclosure

Location: Ferreira do Alentejo municipality, Beja district, Alentejo, South Portugal)
Chronology: Late Neolithic or Chalcolithic
Bibliographic references: (Neves et al., 2013)

Ditch from Barranco de Rio Seco 4 (after Neves et al., 2013)

Surveyed in the context of Edia water supply network, this site presents a small ditch with 1m wide and 0,90m deep, associated (as usual) to several pits. The authors attribute these contexts to Chalcolithic, although the pottery collected does not present a clear chronological ascription: the described pottery shapes could also be present in a Late Neolithic context.
It might be another small enclosure, like others identified in the region, like Muteira 6 or Coelheira 3.


Neves, C.; Martins, A.; Andrade, M.; Pinto, A. e Magalhães, B. (2013), “Estratégias de povoamento das comunidades do Neolítico Final e Calcolítico no Vale da Ribeira do Alfundão (Ferreira do Alentejo, Portugal)”, Arqueologia em Portugal – 150 anos. Actas do I Congresso da AAP, Lisboa, AAP, p.361-372.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

0233 – Winter solstice day

To celebrate the winter solstice day here are two Portuguese ditched enclosures that, some 4,5 thousand years ago, commemorated this solar event through their architecture. Both have their gates orientated to the sun rise at this particular day.

Xancra (Cuba, Beja).

Outeiro Alto (Serpa, Beja)

 Natal is rooted in quite earlier times…

Thursday, December 19, 2013

0232 - New blog on Perdigões enclosure

Dedicated to the Perdigões Research Program:

0231 - Quinta da Fé (a new ditched enclosure ?)

Location: Vidigueira municipality, Beja district, South Portugal)
Chronology: Unknown
Bibliographic references: Unpublished.

Discovered on Bing Maps! Apparently Google Earth is not the only tool to find new enclosures.
This one appears to be circular in shape, with a lobule heading southwest, resembling another enclosure, namely Outeiro Alto 2 (Valera & Filipe,2010; Valera et alli, 2013), although Outeiro Alto’s faces southeast.
 Measuring approximately 77 meters maximum diameter, it seems to be a double enclosure – the inner ditch measuring approximately 20 meters diameter.

It is interesting to notice the fact that the site is located at about 500 meters from the well-known pre-historic site of Mangancha (Gonçalves, 1994).

GONÇALVES, V.S. (1994) - Distrito de Beja, Vidigueira : Monte da Mangancha. Informação Arqueológica. nº 9 (1994). p. 109-110
VALERA, A.C.; FILIPE, V. (2010) – O Outeiro Alto 2 (Brinches, Serpa): Nota Preliminar sobre um Espaço Funerário e de Socialização do Neolítico  à Idade do Bronze. Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património.nº5 (2010). p. 49-56
VALERA, A.C.; FILIPE, V.; CABAÇO, N. (2013) - O Recinto de Fosso de Outeiro Alto 2 (Brinches, Serpa). Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património.nº9 (2013). p. 21-35

By Rui Godinho

Monday, December 16, 2013

0230 – “Drawing” ditched enclosures

The idea has been suggested earlier by others, but was stressed again recently by Coimbra (2013): some concentric circles present in rock art may represent the depiction of enclosures. In this case, the rock 132 from Fratel (middle Tagus river, central Portugal) really resembles a ditched enclosure with a gate with its “crab pincers”, reminding Perdigões outer gates, Xancra or many others from France.

(image taken from F. Coimbra, 2013, Ruptejo. Arqueologia rupestre da bacia do Tejo)

Gate 2 of Perdigões

Enclosure of Chez-Reine (France)

As I put it recently, a same general idea can be expressed in an architectonic design, in a decoration of a pot, in pattern of a textile, in a motive of an art composition. Does this particular association of the motive on rock 132 to an enclosure depiction makes sense? Why not?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

0229 – A glimpse into Montoito

The results of Montoito geophysics are very good and confirm entirely the presence of a ditched enclosure. Well, in fact they are at least three enclosures. The inside is a wavy one, surrounded by two concentric ones. For the moment, here is a glimpse of one gate in the southeast side of the outer ditch (smiling).

A gate that reminds the gates of the outside ditch of Perdigões and the inner gates of Xancra (see here).

The geophysics are from Helmut Becker, done in the context of the NIA-Era project on ditched enclosures plans and orientations directed by me (and with the participation of Tiago do Pereiro, that detected this enclosure in Google Earth).

Monday, December 9, 2013

0228 - Monte da Contenda may have begun in Neolithic

After the first campaign of geophysics at Monte da Contenda (where we discovered that the site is much bigger than previously suspected), we started to clean the section made by the road that cut several ditches (in the context of the project of Nia-Era to define and characterize plans of ditched enclosures). Today we just roughly defined the section of one of the outer ditches of the concentric set of ditches that we can see in the geophysics (but others run outer of this one). 

It needs a better definition of the profile, but it is about 1,20 / 1,50 meters deep and about 2 meters wide (difficult to define since the ditch was cut in the diagonal).

But what is more interesting is that the provided materials suggest a Neolithic chronology (until now, the surface material pointed to an exclusive Chalcolithic chronology), and maybe not a recent one: pot rims are mainly from globular bowls, with walls “almagradas” (a red/orange clayish layer in the pot walls). There is a lot of faunal remains that will allow radiocarbon dating.

If this chronological attribution is correct, than the site would have begun in Neolithic times and it would have been big since the beginning. In fact, it would be the biggest Neolithic ditched enclosure with its plan know in southern Portugal.

We shall see. This is, in fact, a quite promising site.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

0227 - Montoito is (partially) done

We finished yesterday this year campaign of geophysics at the ditched enclosure of Montoito, just 8 klms north of Perdigões. 

Cleaning the field so Helmut Becker could measure was a hard task. 

I would like to thank Rui Mataloto and the Municipality of Redondo for their support and also to the volunteer students of FLUL that collaborated in this arduous ”archaeological” task. Without these collaborations the work simply couldn’t have been done.

Now we just have to wait for the first layout of the measured area to confirm that our “google eye” is sharp. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

0226 - A glimpse into Monte da Contenda

Monte da Contenda is much bigger and complex than we expected. The image suggests several enclosures with ditches and palisades, sometimes overlapping and with several going out of the surveyed area, announcing a quite large enclosure (about 300 or 400 meters diameter). There are linear wavy designs and the number of enclosing structures is bigger than in Perdigões. It is another amazing site and more food for thought about Portuguese Ditched Enclosures. And it shows that we are doing a good job with the identification of enclosures through Google Earth.

Part (about ¼) of the magnetogram of Monte da Contenda done by Helmut Becker in the context of the NIA project on ditched enclosures directed by me (it is raw data, steel needing a lot of work from Helmut to produce a clearer image of the enclosures).