Thursday, April 27, 2017

0369 - Back to Perdigões

The excavations return to Perdigões ditched enclosure next week. The 20th campaign is about to begin. The work will be focus in the excavation of Tomb 3, in the eastern limits of the enclosure, and in the central area, continuing the excavation of the contexts detected there last season.
As usually, the results may be followed in a daily basis in here

Sunday, April 23, 2017

0368 - Salvada in the press

The impact in the large enclosure of Salvada, that was discussed here some posts ago, is in the front page of a national paper and has a significant report inside. As it happens in many other things in life, only when some bad happens things get to the front page. That is the criteria of the media, maybe because that is the criteria of the majority of the public.

Nevertheless, it is an important report for the Portuguese Prehistoric Enclosures, for they dramatically need this public exposure to be known, protected and start to be socially active as the important heritage and economic and cultural resource they are.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

0367 - In fact, they are TWO

Just side by side. A closer look, with some colour control, shows another smaller enclosure just next to the bigger one (that show 4 and not just 3 diches). This is another important site to deal with the problem of the temporalities of enclosures and their periodic rhythms.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

0366 - A new one: number 75

A new ditched enclosure (Monte de Corte Ribas 5) was identified in the context of a Master thesis (Silva, 2015). It presents at list 3 concentric ditches. It is of Chalcolithic chronology. It is number 75 in my inventory.


Silva, C. (2015), O povoado do Monte das Cabeceiras 2. O estudo dos interfaces negativos e análise da componente artefactual das Fossas 13, 16 e 54. Tomar.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

0365 - Dramatic and continued

Salvada. 2/3 afected by a deep ploughing.

The partial destruction of prehistoric enclosures in Portugual continues. The large enclosure of Salvada (around 18 ha) is the later victim. In Alentejo region, after the construction of the large dam of Alqueva, a water supply network is being built. Many archaeological sites have been identified in the context of the assessment programs of that project that dramatically changed the knowledge about the Prehistory of inner Alentejo.

But a new problem emerged. One that has not an adequate response from the responsible institutions. The supply of water is generating a profound change in the agriculture in Alentejo. The region is being invaded by vineyards and especially by olive tries fields that have a huge impact in the soil, because the ploughing is deep and very destructive.  

But if the water supply channels, or highways, or high voltage powerlines, have to do impact assessment studies (and assume mitigating measures for heritage), these agricultural transformations have not. And the municipality plans for territorial management (PDM) are not being attended. The result is obvious. Heritage is being destroyed at an increasing rhythm, and prehistoric enclosures are one of the main victims.

An example of the absurd ways of a “law state” (Estado de Direito) or of the hypocrisy of the modern times. Meanwhile, sites after sites are being destroyed. Small cerebral veins shutting down until the final collapse of memory.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

0364 - They keep appearing.

At Perdigões enclosure we are now studying the several funerary structures in the context of the project “Mobility and Interaction in South Portugal RecentPrehistory: the role of aggregation centers”. One of the structures is Pit 40, where cremated human remains were deposited. There are thousands of small fragments of burned bones that are being studied in anthropological terms, and among them fragments of ivory items, also burned, keep appearing.
Several represent parts of anthropomorphic figurines like the ones from the same general context already studied and published (Valera & Evangelista, 2014).
Here is the head of one that lost its face. It presents the hair, the ears and even the final traces of the facial tattoos.

A head like the best preserved one, only smaller.

Number of these figurines is now higher than what it was published and will probably grow as the study of the bone fragments progress. The figurines, like the human bodies, are all in small fragments and burned. Would have this analogy been intentional?

On the contrary, the exception above, when deposited, was intentionally completed in a broken leg with a burned white bone (see publication). Body segmentation and body integrity, parts and wholes. Or windows to the Neolithic mind. Something to be discussed in a coming workshop in Lisbon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

0363 - Astronomic orientation of gates: also documented in Spain

Orientation of NE gate at Camino de las Yeseras (After Liesau 2013-2104).

The cosmological and astronomic bond of ditched enclosures architectures in Iberia was first addressed in Portugal (Valera 2008; Valera, Becker 2011, Valera 2013). In the context of that research, it was noted that several ditched enclosures present topographical locations towards East and that several of them have their gates aligned with the solstices and/or equinoxes at sunrise and/or sunset. Those are the cases of Perdigões, Santa Vitória, Outeiro Alto 2, Xancra or Bela Vista 5 (see issues in the lateral bar).

These perspectives and analysis have now also been developed for a ditched enclosure in Central Iberia. At Camino de las Yeseras a NE gate seems to be orientated to the Summer solstice at sunrise, and the sections of the ditches that define that entrance show evidences of intentional depositions interpreted as foundation rituals (Liesau et al., 2013-2014).

Something that will become more frequent, once we have access to more complete plans of enclosures and have in mind that architecture tends to be holistic
Bibliographic Referece:

Liesau, C.; Vega, J., Daza, A.,  Rios, P., Menduiña, R., Blasco, C. (2013-2014), Manifestaciones simbólicas en el acceso Noreste del Recinto 4 de Foso en Camino de las Yeseras (San Fernando de Henares, Madrid), SALDVIE, 13-14: 53-69. 

Valera, A.C., (2008), “Mapeando o Cosmos. Uma abordagem cognitiva aos recintos da Pré-História Recente”, Era Arqueologia, 8, Lisboa, p.112-127.

Valera, A.C. e Becker, H. (2011), “Cosmologia e recintos de fossos da Pré-História Recente: resultados da prospecção geofísica em Xancra (Cuba, Beja)”, Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património, 7, Lisboa, NIA-ERA Arqueologia, p.23-32

Valera, António Carlos (2013), “Breve apontamento sobre a dimensão cosmogónica dos recintos de fossos da Pré-História Recente no Interior Alentejano”, Cadernos do Endovélico, Nº1, Colibri/CMA, p.51-63

Friday, February 24, 2017

0362 - Ditch of Carrascal 2 presentation

Ditches do not always enclose. At May 15th it will be presented the study of a ditch that was used as an atrium to access several funerary hypogea and was itself used for secondary depositions of human remains, some cremated and some don’t. It is dated from the Chalcolithic and is located next to the large complex of enclosures of Porto Torrão (South Portugal).

Friday, February 10, 2017

0361 - A new possible ditched site in Lisbon

In excavation by ERA Arqueologia, there is a new prehistoric site in the center of Lisbon, possibly Neolithic, that shows a small irregular ditch, very similar to the ones excavated in the Neolithic site of Senhora da Alegria (Combra, central Portugal).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

0359 - Addressing interaction at Perdigões – the shells (1).

Patella candei (Lapa Mansa) proveniente do Sepulcro 1 dos Perdigões

The Portuguese large Prehistoric enclosures present many differences regarding the smaller ones: apart from size, they have longer and more complex biographies, evidences of a multitude of social practices (including manipulation of human and animal remains and funerary practices) and show that they were engaged in large interregional networks of circulation of people, animals and exotic goods.

Perdigões is a good example of this large scale interaction developing from the second half of the 4th millennium BC and increasing during the 3rd. A paper addressing the exogenous at Perdigoes is about to get published, but another is being written specifically about one item: the shells. A significant number are shells from salty water molluscs, with probable provenance in the coast of Alentejo and the estuaries of the Tagus and Sado rivers.

Though, this shell of Patella candei, with 8,4x6,7cm, is not from those areas. This species is from warmer waters of Madeira and Canarias islands and the coast of Magreb. Like the ivory already analysed, its origin is probably in Northwest of Africa, documenting that at Perdigões enclosure exogenous items of extra peninsular origin were arrinving.

PS – Last week we just found out that there is also Amber at Perdigões, reinforcing this picture.

Saturday, January 7, 2017