Thursday, November 19, 2020

0444 - Folha do Ouro 1 enclosure published

 It was published a paper about the results and interpretation of the geophysics done at the Folha do Ouro 1 Chalcolithic ditched enclosure, located in Serpa, South Portugal.

Download here.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

0442 - A timber circle in the centre of Perdigões ditched enclosure.

 With significant repercussion in the media, the recent confirmation of a timber circle in the centre of Perdigões enclosure is, in fact, a major finding in Iberian archaeology, namely in the context of enclosure phenomena. Right in the centre of the large ditched enclosure of Perdigões (that has 450m diameter) there is this 20m diameter timber circle with several concentric rows of palisades and post alignments, with an apparent entrance aligned with the summer solstice (in the third part that has been exposed so far). The external rows have been dated between 2800-2600 BC.

It is the first monumental structure of this kind found in Iberia and its closest parallels are in central Europe or in YK. Which brings immediately the question of what does this find means: something unique or just a point of an unsuspected iceberg?

Independently of that, this structure confirms some earlier findings that indicate that in Iberia there was also and important prehistoric architecture in wood (and not just in stone and earth), some of them were already presented in this blog (see Outeiro Alto 2 or Estácio 6). It also reaffirms the ceremonial status of Perdigões enclosures and the significance of the centre of that natural amphitheatre, that present a recurrent with ceremonial architectures and practices during the 3rd millennium BC.

In the left, the third exposed of the timber circle; in the right, the projection of that third to have a glimpse over the dimension of the structure.

A first partial interpretative proposal.

Monday, August 10, 2020

0441 - The new magnetogram of Folha do Ouro ditched enclosure

 Another ditched enclosure was identified and prospected within the scope of the NIA-Era investigation of ditched enclosures enclosures in Alentejo. With the logistical support of the Municipality of Serpa, the geophysical prospecting of this enclosure was made, which, being larger than previously thought, was not fully covered by the prospected area. The results, interpretation and contextualization are in the press in the proceedings of the next congress of the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists: "The enclosure of Folha do Ouro 1 (Serpa) in the context of the Alentejo calcolitic moat enclosures", by António Carlos Valera, Tiago do Pereiro, Pedro Valério and António Monge Soares. Besides Tiagome and Tiago (responsible for geophysics), Nelson Almeida and Ana Catarina Basílio participated in the fieldwork. This is the 13th ditched enclosure magnetogram produced in the context of this research program.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

0439 - New Publication on Perdigões enclosure

The monographic study of Tomb 4 of Perdigões enclosure has just been published. It can be downloaded here:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

0438 - Discussing a new ditch section

Era company has been excavating a section in a new Chalcolithic ditched enclosure in Alentejo (they keep coming and coming). Here, me and Tiago, we were discussing the infilling of the ditch. This one shows a clear filling where natural processes were relevant, what is easily seen in the profile of the deposits, quite different from the horizontal deposits of anthropic origin that fill partially or totally several of the ditches of Perdigões and so many other ditches in other enclosures. The low density of materials confirms that process as well as a predominance of a side for the origin of the sedimentation. In the bottom, thin sandy layers are evidence of short and intermittent periods of  sedimentation of hydraulic origin, before a completely different processes of filling take place.  To the interpretation of the filling is now central to understand which side is the inside and the out side of the enclosure delimited by this ditch, something that the small survey does not allow to determine. Geophysics could help by providing a partial plan. And that should be the next step.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

0437 - Fraga da Pena: a cerimonial place.

Fraga da Pena. A small enclosure built against a granitic tor, in order to condition the access to a passage (truly megalithic) to the other side of the fraga, where one reaches an authentic altar over the deep valley and with a wide view over the landscape. And it constitutes a stage for those who are higher up the slope. A scenario that inspires sacredness and is conducive to ceremonial practices, which the archeological contexts involved also suggest.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

0436 - The "idol" of Salvada

This is the small marble "idol" that was collected at the surface of the 3rd millennium BC large ditched enclosure of Salvada (Beja), that is over 18 ha. An exogenous material at the site. It was published here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

0435 - Dogs at Perdigões enclosure

Like other Chalcolithic enclosures, Perdigões has several contexts where dogs or parts of dogs were deposited. From burials, to the depositions of skulls, mandibles or parts of limbs, dogs represent a specific type of deposition of animal remains at the site. Recent isotopic studies carried on in a project funded by Portuguese Science Foundation (developed by Era Arqueologia, ICArEHB-UAlg and Hércules-UÉvora) show that humans and dogs had similar diets (with dogs in the same trophic level of humans), showing an already well-established proximity between them in social terms.

Biliographic references:

Valera, A. ; Žalaitė, I. ; Maurer, A.F.; Grimes, V.; Silva, A.M.; Ribeiro, S.; Santos, J.F.; Barrocas Dias, C. (2020) -  Addressing human mobility in Iberian large prehistoric ditched enclosures: the case of Perdigões (South Portugal). Journal of Archaeological Sciences Reports. 30: 102264.

Zalaite, I.; Maurer, A.F. ; Grimes, V. ; Silva, A.M. ; Ribeiro, S.; Santos J.F.; Dias, C.B.; Valera, A.C. (2018) - Diet and mobility of fauna from Late Neolithic–Chalcolithic site of Perdigões, Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 19, p.674–685,

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

0434 - The ditched enclosure of Borralhos published

Magnetogram of Borralhos ditched enclosures. Published in Valera, Pererio 2020. You may download the publication here.

Monday, April 13, 2020

0433 - About social resistance strategies at Perdigões enclosure

This video talks a bit about the strategies of social resistance and identity management that we may detect in the funerary practices at Perdigões enclosure (in Portuguese).

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

0432 - Interpreting Borralhos

This is a proposal for the interpretation of the magnetogram of the ditched enclosure of Borralhos, South Portugal. From a paper in press at the journal Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património, coming out by the end of the month.

Friday, March 27, 2020

0431 - Paper on mobility of humans and animals at Perdigões


To access the role of mobility in the social trajectory of Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies in the South of
Portugal (Southwest Iberia) a project was design to address the human, animal and object/raw material flow
present at Perdigoes enclosure. Perdigoes, located in the inner Alentejo region, has a long chronology from Late
Middle Neolithic to Late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age (middle 4th and 3rd millennium BC). It is a large complex
of ditched enclosures (with at least 16 ditches), presenting several funerary contexts, an abundance of faunal
remains and significant concentrations of exogenous materials in tombs. In this study human and animal mobility
are addressed through 87Sr/86Sr isotopic analysis. 69 individuals dating from Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic, with provenance from 9 different archaeological contexts inside the enclosures (tombs, ditches and pits) were analysed.
Human data are presented along with previously published strontium isotope ratios from fauna (n = 28; Canis
familiaris, Bos taurus, Sus sp., Ovis/Capra, Cervus elaphus, Equus sp.) from the same chronological range and several contextual provenances (Zalaite et al., 2018). Plant samples (n = 20) that cover local and peripheral lithologies were used for establishing local bioavailable strontium isotope ranges. To compare with the Perdigoes results, 9 human samples from 3 megalithic monuments (Cebolinhos 1, Comenda 1 and Vidigueiras 2) of the local settlement network were also analysed. The results show a significant scaled mobility of humans and animals in Perdigoes, a contextual variation between the funerary contexts within the site and a significant contrast with the individuals from local megalithic monuments. These results, combined with other archaeological data at the site, agree with the interpretation of the site as a large aggregation centre integrated in large scale interaction networks.

Monday, March 23, 2020

0430 - New web-page of Perdigões enclosure

In this new web-page there is a lot of information about Perdigões ditched enclosure: research organisation, team, projects, structures, archaeological materials, main excavated contexts, bibliography, isotopic and radiocarbon data bases, etc. Explore it here.

Monday, March 16, 2020

0428 - Copper metallurgy at Perdigões enclosure

Copper metallurgy was important at Perdigões. Raw material, crucibles, slag, hammers, artefacts and  waste occur in significant numbers. Here are some examples of the tools present at the site.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

0427 - Perdigões at an exhibition of Iberian prehistoric idols

An exhibition joining some of the most fantastic Neolithic and Chalcolithic idols was organised at the MARQ (Archaeological Museum of Alicante, Spain). The ditched enclosure of Perdigões is represented with several items and a paper on the the role of these human figurines at the site was published in the catalogue of the exhibition. This is the image of the Spanish version. But an English one is in press.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

0426 - Comparative Archaeology

I thank to Gábor Szilagyi for bring to my attention these fantastic African sinuous enclosures, that present some similarities with the Prehistoric ones of the Guadiana basin. It is possible that there is here food for a project in comparative Archaeology.

The African ones.

Some of the Portuguese ones.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

0425 - "Tombs" for pots.

In the centre of Perdigões ditched enclosure there are contexts of depositions of human cremated remains dated from the middle of the 3rd millennium with no parallel in Iberia. Those remains were transported in large pots and deposited in pits. Some of the pots were broken in situ inside the pits with the humans remains. For others, small pits were opened for receiving the broken shards of these pots. That is the case of Pit 91, that received part of a big pot and a pile of shards of another bigger one. The shards were deposited in a pile and slide down, as their removing sequence shows. In the involving sediments some few human burned bones and a burned arrow head were collected (they were probably attached to the pot's walls).
This is not a funerary pit, but a pit related to the ritual (involving the braking of the transportation pots) performed in that area regarding the human cremated remains.

The big pot:

Removing the shards in their stratigraphic sequence:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

0424 - "Sun eyes"

This is one more schematic anthropomorphic figurine from the context of depositions of human cremated remains in the central area of Perdigões ditched enclosures. This one, from 2019 campaign of excavations, just missed the  exhibition of Iberian Prehistoric Idols that recently opened in Alicante, where some of its companions from the same context are present.

Friday, February 7, 2020

0423 - Experimental archaeology at Perdigões

Last campaign at Perdigões we initiated a project to value the effort involved in the digging of ditches at the site. The goal is to estimate, in more solid grounds, the amount of work involved in opening ditches, namely the relation between time / number of workers / excavated volume. We aim to have a better understanding of the social, logistic and economic impact of the big public enterprises that took place at Perdigões.
For this, the Era project had the collaboration of Pedro Cura, who built the tools according to what we know about the tools used in Prehistoric mining, and excavate a part of the geologic in Perdigões, controlling time, volume and the use of different tools. We also aim to see the effect of the work in the tools, aiming to contribute to the identification of archaeological artifacts that might have been used in these tasks.
This was just a first approach that we want to develop in the context of the Perdigões Research Project developed by Era Arqueologia.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

0431 - Permanence through periodicity and repetition

The crazy overlaps in the central area of Perdigões ditched enclosures during all the 3rd millennium BC (and between the timber constructions and the stone cairn there were 3 pits with the deposition of human cremated remains and a depositions of human cremated and none cremated remains in open air - more than 260 MNI in total).