Links between Megalithism and Hypogeism in Western Mediterranean Europe 9781407306926, 9781407336947

Among other objectives, this collection of papers investigates the role that settlements surrounding necropolises have p

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Links between Megalithism and Hypogeism in Western Mediterranean Europe
 9781407306926, 9781407336947

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Links between Megalithism and Hypogeism in Western Mediterranean Europe Edited by

Juan Antonio Cámara Serrano José Andrés Afonso Marrero Liliana Spanedda

BAR International Series 2151 2010

Links between Megalithism and Hypogeism in Western Mediterranean Europe

Edited by

Juan Antonio Cámara Serrano José Andrés Afonso Marrero Liliana Spanedda

BAR International Series 2151 2010

ISBN 9781407306926 paperback ISBN 9781407336947 e-format DOI A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library




José Andrés Afonso Marrero, Juan Antonio Cámara Serrano and Liliana Spanedda. Links between megalithism and hypogeism in Western Mediterranean Europe: an approach. ............................................. 3 María Aguado Molina. Different forms for the same symbol a theoretical reflection on monumental graves in IV-III millennia B.C. Through an ideological analysis of their architecture. .............................. 13 Simon Stoddart and Caroline Malone. Hypogea: concealed caves or constructed temples? The hypogea of Malta and their significance. .................................................................................................. 21 Antonio Manuel Montufo Martín, Juan Antonio Cámara Serrano, José Andrés Afonso Marrero and Fernando Molina González. Visibility and monumentality in western Granada's late prehistoric graves. ... 29 Liliana Spanedda. Megaliths and rock-cut tombs in northeastern Sardinia: from spatial consecration to the demarcation of territorial boundaries ..................................................................................................... 53 Victor S. Gonçalves. Building for the dead. Rock-cut tombs and passage graves in the Lisbon peninsula. Some previous readings. .................................................................................................................................... 77 Cinzia Loi. Incontro fra ipogeismo e megalitismo nel territorio del Barigadu (Sardegna, Italia)................. 95 Tomaso Di Fraia. Un particolare caso di megalitismo associato ad aspetti ipogeici nell’isola di La Maddalena (Sardegna). ............................................................................................................................... 107 Claudia Pau. Burials in Sardinian bell beaker culture .................................................................................... 121 Juan Antonio Cámara Serrano and José Andrés Afonso Marrero. Conclusions. Monumentality between strategies of concealment and exhibition. ....................................................................................................... 135


J.A. Afonso, J.A. Cámara, y L. Spanedda. Links between megalithism and hypogeism…


hypogean character, as in the Iberian case of the Upper Gualdalquivir river valley’s Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlements (Liesau et al., 2008; Lizcano Prestel et al., 2005).

Formal similarities in plan design and volumetric conception are often noted in megalithic and hypogean monuments of Mediterranean Late Prehistory (Berdichewsky, 1964; Marqués Melero et al., 1992; Montufo Martín et al., this volume). Other kinds of architectural features shared by megalithic and hypogean monuments also exist. They include the use of orthostats in hypogean monuments as a structural element or adornment (Di Fraia, this volume; Lo Schiavo 1980; Manunza 1995; Spanedda 2007). The best examples perhaps are the hypogea of Arles, with megalithic coverslabs such as La Source, that have underground trapezoidal structures with stairway access and sculpted doors of up to 43 m. Others have side niches, which were often related to the interment of numerous individuals, such as in Bounia (Provence) where, despite their small size, up to 350 cadavers were held (Guilaine 1998).

The transposition/imitation/inversion of domestic ritual content demonstrates similarities between both kinds of monuments, dolmens and hypogea, even though their primary function is generally funerary. In any case, there is evidence that they have a more complex role in places such as Malta (Anderson y Stoddart 2007; Bonnano 1996; Malone 2007; Stoddart 2007; Stoddart and Malone, this volume), and proposals have been made concerning alternative ritual uses for megaliths (D’Arragon 1996) and other monuments (Tanda 1984). In this respect, the areas surrounding dolmens and rock-cut tombs do imply ceremonial use (Barrett 1990; Cooney 2007; Molina González and Cámara Serrano 2005; Fraser 1983; Mizoguchi 1992), but the presence of passages both in megalithic and hypogean monuments also emphasizes other features such as passage rites, as has been suggested in relation to caves (Skeates 2007; Whitehouse, 1984, 2007). Finally, concealment of the sacred area, which hypogea emphasize, is also a feature of megalithic monuments, where the tumulus serves both as a landmark and as a means of protecting its interior.

Moreover, most of the southern Iberian Peninsula’s circular tombs with passages (whether or not covered by false domes) are partially hollowed out, and the excavated part of the chamber is covered with orthostatic panels. In spite of the acknowledged formal relationship between megalithism and hypogeism, distribution maps that indicate the areas where tombs were exclusively hypogean (such as Sardinia) or megalithic (such as Southwestern Iberia) have become obsolete (Cámara Serrano 2001; Cicilloni 1999; Lilliu 1998; Moravetti 1998). Thus, currently, the sole difference between megaliths and hypogea such as rock-cut tombs is the emphasis on the monuments’ visibility or concealment.

Given this data, it is apparent that social differences are very often hidden (rather than exhibited) after funerals, especially in collective burials. Only a detailed study of grave goods can show true social differences. In short, since characteristics of monumentality can provide clues about this masking process, new debate about monumentality is necessary (Cámara Serrano and Afonso Marrero, this volume).

Thus, the links between hypogeism and megalithism go beyond formal and architectural features and need to be included in the literature on how ideology is formalized within these societies (Aguado Molina, this volume). Such links might also draw upon recent interest in the connections between megalithism and rock art (Bradley 1998; Bueno Ramírez and Balbín Behrmann 2006; O'Connor 2007; Scarre 1998).

2. Session objectives

Similarities between megaliths and hypogea also are evident in the archetypal reproductions of houses, which are quite complex in some Sardinian cases (Contu 1965; Costaval 2002; Demartis 1992; Solinas 2000; Tanda 1984), and especially in many houses’ hypogean or semi-

Secondly, we examine the formal similarities and constructive convergences between tumuli and hypogea and, based on the exhibition or concealment of certain features, attempt to demonstrate whether social reproduction determined their integration within a ritual

Firstly, we attempt to demonstrate that the preponderance of megalithic phenomena in certain areas results from the greater visibility of free-standing (or partially freestanding) monuments and not from cultural differences as some suggest (Hernando Gonzalo 1994; Plantalamor Massanet and Rita 1995; Rita 1987; Solinas 1996).


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

system. In this respect, we also consider concealment and the forgetting of the concrete in relation to the destruction/sealing of certain megalithic tombs (Rojo Guerra et al., 2006, 2008) or the integration/concealment of elements (decorative or otherwise) in more recent monuments (Bueno Ramírez and Balbín Behrmann 2008; Kirk 1993). All this must be explained in the context of disintegration of individuality (Bloch 2000) and shows an apparent contradiction with the desire for permanence (Bard 1992; Bradley 1998; Fahlander and Oestigaard, 2008; Trigger 1990) that monumentality or the arrangement of grave goods pursues (Pau, this volume). Although these idea are not exempt of problems (Aamont 2006:152, 164; Fahlander and Oestigaard, 2008:7; Katz 2007:172, 172 n. 22; Miari 2006:49; Petitti et al., 2006:64).

Yll et al., 1995), and generates ongoing discussion among researchers of areas where rock-cut tombs are the main funerary monuments. For instance, research in specific zones of the Italian peninsula such as Campania or Abruzzi offer data about an oppositional model between artificial cave necropolises in the valleys (Dottarelli, 1986:273-274, 1990:306-307) and tombs that are disperse and sometimes in pits in high zones (Bailo Modesti 1988:321; Radi 1988:376). In these cases, even in the area of Rinaldone, interpretation varies from the opposition between social formations (Cocchi Genick 1985:70, 1998:361; Negroni Catacchio 1988:355) to differences between the center and periphery of the same political structure, without ruling out. In this case, the possibility of a conquest-based expansion from the core would also explain the peripheral pits greater wealth in weapons (Cocchi Genick and Grifoni Cremonesi 1988:346; Grifoni Cremonesi 1989:93). Other intepretations refer to alliances which implied women exchanges (Dottarelli 1990:307). Other cases, such as that of Lazio, have been explained in chronological terms or in relation to the expansion of different facies (Carboni 2002:286-291).

The masking of social differentiation appears to be related more to hypogean sepulchers since they do not serve as free-standing referents designed to commemorate the presence of certain ancestors and, in fact, they do not even present exterior architectonic differences, other than facades or steles, or differences in grave goods. Furthermore, in some cases of more elaborate hypogea, collectivism came to affect a large part of the interred community of a single group in an unarticulated way (Stoddart and Malone, this volume). This masking dissolved through the funerary movement of grave goods to such an extent that we have found it necessary to point out that differences in wealth are more evident in artificial caves than megaliths (Cámara Serrano 2001; Montufo Martín et al., this volume) and these differences become newly apparent with any reopening of the sepulcher.

In other areas as well, where megalithism is more evident, the point of view that emphasizes territorial compartmentalization has lead to interpretations that tend to isolate plains areas from mountainous ones as independent units that correspond to opposing communities (Aguayo et al., 1989-90; Andrés Rupérez 1990, 2000; Bergh 1987; Fernández Vega and Pérez 1989; Galán and Martín 1991-92; Jarman 1982; Martín Córdoba and Recio 1999-2000; Nocete Calvo et al., 2005; Oliveira 1997). Although integrationist approaches are not lacking (Artelius 1999; Barnatt 1998; Cámara Serrano 2001; Gonçalves 2008; Oliveira 2003; Rincón 1998; Tilley 2004; Scarre 2007).

In this respect, in numerous zones of Italy where the predominance of artificial caves (or simple cist pits) indicates a greater concern for concealment, differences, in the case of the Chalcolithic period, are especially relevant with respect to grave goods (Shennan 1982) and not only due to reasons of sex and age as some suggest (Barfield 1983, 1986; De Marinis and Pedrotti 1997:265). Even though these differences are present one finds, for instance, masculine tombs without arms (Cazzella 2006:98-101; Miari 1995:379-380), and there are differences in the presence of adornments (Carboni 2002:237, 260-261). In fact, as early as the Chalcolithic period, at least in Rinaldone, one can speak of the ideology of emulation and even of warrior grave goods (Angelis 1997:402; Cocchi Genick 2006:110).

Fourthly, this book attempts to investigate the role that settlements surrounding necropolises have played in the evolution of megalithic and hypogean graves and their relationship to the development of collective burial ritual (Montufo et al., this volume) through consideration of collective burial ritual as a means of masking social differences (Arteaga Matute 1993, 2001; Cámara Serrano 2001:236; Chambon 2000:273; García Sanjuán 2000:174; Nocete Calvo 2001:97). The intention here is to explore the relationship between collectivism and concealment (Stoddart and Malone, this volume) in relation to other forms of non-funerary ritualism.

Thirdly, we have discussed whether the two kinds of monuments (and partially excavated ones) are combined based on objectives pursued in different parts of the territory (Spanedda, this volume). This issue relates to different hypotheses about the meaning of formal differences in architectonic items, as can be seen in the archaeological studies of certain areas (Cooney 1999; Galilea Martínez 1981, 1997; Fernández Vega y Pérez 1989; Hernando Gonzalo 1994; Kaelas 1981; Sanahuja

In the Sardinian case (Spanedda 2007, this volume; Pau this volume), it appears that Domus de Janas necropolises are situated near the most important villages or those with a longer occupation (Foddai 1994-95:171180; Trump 1984:517), although sometimes they have not been located because they have hypogean structures (Spanedda 2007).


J.A. Afonso, J.A. Cámara, y L. Spanedda. Links between megalithism and hypogeism…

Finally, an examination of why certain simple hypogean structures lasted until the Bronze Age (Melis 1998, 2003), which is the case for tombs dug inside settlements in Southeastern Iberia (Lull Santiago 1983; Molina González and Cámara Serrano 2004), is beyond the scope of this study. 3. Session themes The subjects addressed in the session and compiled in this volume can be reduced to five central themes: - The exploration of formal and constructive similarities between megalithic and hypogean graves based on the analysis of specific case studies (Loi; Di Fraia). - A territorial analysis that explores the existence of territorial inclusion/exclusion in relation to both phenomena and the actual role of the tombs and their tomb-type in territorial control (Montufo et al.; Spanedda). - The relationship between the two phenomena and their co-evolution in relation to settlement patterns (Stoddart and Malone; Gonçalves; Loi). In this respect, ritual monuments can be understood only in relation to domestic sites. - The chronology, including origins, of both phenomena (Gonçalves; Pau; Loi; Stoddart and Malone). - A theoretical analysis of the functions of both types of manifestations and their relationship to contemporary rituals (Aguado; Gonçalves; Stoddart and Malone). Reference sometimes is made to differences in function (Stoddart and Malone) and in other cases the authors prefer to discuss the relationship between chronological differences (and the coexistence thereof) and their social implications (Gonçalves). In this respect, the fundamental change/opposition does not appear to be constructed/not constructed, as another article proposes (Aguado), but is rather often a shift from the constructed to the category of “concealed” (Gonçalves; Montufo et al.). As we argue at the end of this work (Cámara and Afonso), what is important here is setting the stage for social struggle.


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

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J.A. Afonso, J.A. Cámara, y L. Spanedda. Links between megalithism and hypogeism…

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Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

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DIFFERENT FORMS FOR THE SAME SYMBOL. A THEORETICAL REFLECTION ON MONUMENTAL GRAVES IN IV-III MILLENNIA B.C. THROUGH AN IDEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF THEIR ARCHITECTURE María Aguado Molina* Abstract: This paper explores the idea that dolmens and hypogea dating to the IV-III millennia BC shaped the same ritual space, expressing similar concepts about death, or the role assigned to their builders by the dominant ideology. In addition, this paper presents a theoretical reflection on other aspects related to hypogea and dolmens, including the meaning of the external shape of both types of funerary structures as well as their cultural visibility concept. Both these aspects will be useful for understanding the underlying ideology of the inequality occultation. Key words: Dolmen, Hypogeum, symbolism, ideology, formal similarities, visibility. Resumen: Este artículo explora la idea de que los dólmenes y los hipogeos de los IV-III milenios BC, conforman el mismo espacio ritual, expresan conceptos similares sobre la muerte o el papel asignado por la ideología dominante a los edificios. Además, este trabajo presenta una reflexión teórica sobre otros aspectos relacionados con los hipogeos y dólmenes, incluyendo el significado de la forma externa de ambos tipos de estructuras funerarias, así como sus conceptos de visibilidad cultural. Ambos aspectos serán útiles para comprender la ideología subyacente de la ocultación de la desigualdad. Palabras clave: Dolmen, Hipogeo, simbolismo ideología, similitudes formales visibilidad.


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Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach



Finally, in the central Mediterranean Sea, dolmens have also been found, although the casuistry is reversed because in Italy hypogea are the most characteristic burial type. The majority of researchers also consider both dolmens and burial caves as separate entities, not complementary and not integrated into the same ideological system. Thus, in our opinion, the debate is still open and new perspectives are welcome.

Formal similarities and constructive convergences between hypogea and megaliths are confirmed by recent prehistoric research. These similarities are most remarkable when both structures are analyzed in terms of their function and symbolism. Before proceeding, it is important to establish our definition of “hypogeum”. When this term is used we are referring to all different kinds of cavities used to preserve dead bodies, without specific reference to their level of structural complexity. Because both hypogea (in the general sense) and dolmens are funerary items, their ideological meaning is one of the aspects that can best be examined through archeology. Therefore, in this paper, we offer a theoretical reflection concerning these structures’ underlying ideologies, a reflection we hope will be useful for adding content to the megalithismhypogeism debate.


Analyzing architecture´s ideology

This paper explores the aforementioned thesis through a theoretical approach rather than a specific case of study. We think that the multiple-shaping phenomenon of collective ritual burials belongs to the theoretical sphere because it concerns the general view of how fourth and third millennia BC people asserted function and meaning. Herein, we analyze the kind of archaeological remains that speak directly to beliefs and cosmovision, not to a system of production. Consequently, this forced us to start from the very beginning, assessing the way we acknowledge their underlying ideology. Penetrating a non-literate society´s cognitive world is very complex and risky work because it requires us to move into speculative ground. The objection to this type of interpretation of ideology and religion in the field of prehistory is well known to all archaeologists. Nevertheless, it is also broadly accepted by scholars that this type of investigation is not only possible, but indeed necessary, in order to assess the research of cognitive concerns from diverse approaches, including the perspectives of structural anthropology and materialism. Beliefs, rituals, artistic expression, etc. are part of every society in a way that organizes the mental experiences of that culture, conforming these aspects into one specific system of thinking and imagination. This occurs on the ideological level as part of the “super-structure” (Criado 1995). So, symbolism can be interpreted from both postprocessual and materialist approaches. The dialectical relationship between “material” and “immaterial aspects” in culture should not interfere in their scientific analysis (Lucas Pellicer 1995).

Our research into the spatial relations between funerary sites in the Southern Iberian Peninsula (Aguado 2007) shows that hypogea and megaliths were built by the same people with the same purpose: to conform “sacredpolitical” territories that had an internal coherence and asserted the ideology of the inequal occultation. Our work stressed that hypogea and megaliths can have the same meaning because both played the same role in defining territories, and helped dominant ideology to sustain the social order. However, not all specialists in late prehistory do share this premise. Currently, most of them think that there are two kinds of differences for these types of graves: the functional one, wherein diverse population segments utilized them, or the symbolic one, when they were used to show different sights of the world. On the Iberian Peninsula, dolmens are often assumed to be visual structures while caves are considered the space for occultation. M.A. Blas Cortina and R. Lucas (1995) refer to visible tombs vs. hidden tombs, stressing that each type had a different semiotic dimension and, therefore, a different socio-ideological function. In addition, M.A. Blas Cortina notes the possible link between caves and dolmens, and two different territorial control models. Nevertheless, other authors, like V. Gonçalves or A.M. Muñoz Amilibia (2001), assert that caves and dolmens could have been used by the same society with a similar meaning.

B. Trigger (1995) stresses archaeology’s potential for revealing prehistoric beliefs and thinking systems, considering in a positive way some of the contributions of structuralism and contextual archaeology. However, at the same time, Trigger criticizes the lack of scientific accuracy, in a range of “idealist” re-constructions of the past. He shares with C. Renfrew and P. Bahn (1993) doubts about our ability to find the significant codes in prehistoric material culture. Together, they conclude that we can only make small inroads because these symbols are always polisemic and, even in the past, were under permanent reformulation.

In Scandinavia, there could have been diversity to the social roles of those buried in dolmens and caves, according to Shanks and Tilley (1982). In the whole Atlantic territory, both kinds of tombs are analyzed independently of one another. While it is clear that, in this area funerary caves are few, they do appear here as well as in other parts of Europe.

On the other hand, we should recognize the meaningful role of ideology (and mentality in general) that is


M. Aguado. Different forms for the same symbol. A theoretical reflection on monumental graves…

necessary for a society to construct itself. Human beings respond to survival, the need for internal organization, or imbalances not only by changing technology, production conditions, property models, etc., but also by designing belief systems. Transformations in those systems can be implied in historic change processes. So, material culture can be considered to be a social product as well as the formal expression of several aspects of any particular society, from the economical to the symbolic level. The dominant mentality is always dialectically influencing social relationships (Camara Serrano 2001).

material culture and theoretically reflecting as a means of obtaining indirect deductions. 3.

Different forms for the same symbol?

Generally speaking, examining the architecture of past societies is a good way to look for some ideological aspects. In terms of the structures we are focusing on now (the first architecture we can consider like that in Europe), its relationship with the dominant rites and religious concepts of the area makes it even more necessary to reflect on its nature by three fundamental aims:

Every human community defines itself throughout an elaborate construction of identity, social rules, or phenomenology, and makes that construction part of its social relationship net. According to P. Scarduelli (1988), this mental part of the puzzle is one of the conditions necessary for the formation of social relationships. Thus, any aspect of a society´s structure can be acknowledged without considering the rest of it, regardless as to whether that aspect is technologic, sociological or ideological, or some other type. Therefore, it is possible to approach this latter aspect, by analyzing archaeological evidence like buildings commemorating death.

The Ritual space: relationships between form and function Most hypogea and megaliths were built to endure in time and space. They were built to mark the first real distinction between the space of life and the space of death. Additionally, the majority of these structures, were places for the same kinds of funerary ritual and contained the same kinds of funerary furnishings. Both shaped the same ritual space.

In societies like those of the 4th-3rd millennia BC, which were in the process of developing hierarchies and power relationships, ideology was likely a product as well as a condition, and one expression of the dominant social model. To improve our knowledge about the archaeological evidence that contributes to our perception of these societies, it can help to interpret their way of life both generally and specially, including the way dominant classes arose up.

Funerary architecture in this period seems to place its identity in the functional aspects, not in the formal one. Its constructive norms would have been defined from the inside, and would have depended on their utility in the accomplishment of dolmens-hypogea mean function: to allow death to pass into the other life, to transform themselves from corpse status to the status of the ancestors. As stated above, this kind of architecture shows a high formal heterogeneity and remarkable technical eclecticism. The most highlighted formal and technical dissimilarity has been placed (until now) on the digging or the lifting of the monument. However, current archaeological literature contains examples of a mix of both digging and lifting in just one funerary building, as is the case of Los Castillejos de Montefrío (Granada) or Sierra Martilla (Loja, Granada) and El Tardón de Antequera (Malaga). It is also interesting to find digspaces like caves perfectly reproduced inside volumes and shapes of dolmens, like in the La Pileta and Alcaide caves, in Málaga, Spain. Finally, it is possible to correlate, in a contemporary stage, dolmens and caves in many necropolis, as we did in our doctoral research work (Aguado 2007) in areas like Cerro de las Canteras (VélezRubio, Murcia) or Haza del Trillo (Peal del Becerro, Jaén).

Additionally, ideology shows us not only aspects of one specific social system but also how it was used for manipulation. In Neolithic and Calcolithic times, ideology could have been used by the emerging, powerful class in order to legitimize exploitation and to influence the people regarding the reality of deep social transformations in a way that favored changes for the beneficiaries. According to J.A. Camara Serrano (2001), every ritual manifestation allows the use of material culture in an ideological way. In summary, we believe it is possible to increase our knowledge about the ideology underlying collective ritual funerary sites. As stated above, ideology is dialectically linked to other spheres of social organization; thus, it is possible to make indirect deductions from material culture in order to reach the most probable interpretation of what that architecture meant for its builders. It is true that we never will be certain of how people of the 4th-3rd millennia BC explained their own society, their origins, their identity, or their relationships with the sacred world. We will also never be entirely certain what dolmens and funerary caves represented for those people. However, we can approach answers to these questions by analyzing the

At the same time, the analysis of dolmens-caves in the Southern Iberian Peninsula led us to one more conclusion: it was possible to integrate both kinds of tomb typologies into big funerary landscapes that were designed by a specific community and, as such, were part of its political and sacred territory. Some of the areas


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

where dolmens and caves could have been built with similar function and for the same community were: Totana-Lorca (Murcia), El Malagón (Río Cúllar), Montefrío-Loja (Granada), Marroquíes (Jaén, Alto Guadalquivir), Valencina de la Concepción (Sevilla), Antequera (Málaga) or Véjer-Tarifa, and Jeréz de la Frontera (Cádiz). We cannot here go into details regarding these territories’ characteristics their integrity, and their internal coherence. However, we consider this interesting for the thesis developed in this paper, as a reference to one research project consisting of concrete archaeological data that helps to reinforce our reasoning (with all the necessary awareness).

External feature: the sacred mountains The secret and closed character of funerary rituals performed inside the monuments could explain the principle meaning being conferred to internal volumes. Therefore, exploring the meaning of the external image is also very important. In spite of what is obvious, we think that hypogea and megaliths could have had the same external image with a unique difference in size. The orthostats we observe today were the skeleton of megalithic graves. The people who built them left externally only the tumulus, which looks like a small, artificial mountain.

Nevertheless, by determining that megalithic tombs and funerary caves internally were similar ritual spaces, with a univocal meaning, we can deduce that the symbolic value should have been imposed on the hidden ritual space of the interior, while the architectural framework would remain meaningless. The internal volumes always reproduce a defined scheme: one corridor to access the tomb, one chamber for the bodies and the ossuary, and small holes and hidden rooms for the offerings, libations, etc. Funerary schematic paintings and engravings are found inside both kinds of “buildings” too (Figure 1).

For that reason we believe it is possible that the external shape of the IV-III millennia BC multiple burial pantheons could have been representations of mountains. These sacred, symbolic mountains would have been representative of a real mountain, even if it were the hypogea excavated or the dolmen with the artificial tumulus. If we accept that the people who built the tombs believed in ultra-tomb space and time that could be reached by going through specific points in the landscape, then it is possible that dolmens were built to be the artificial “metaphysical doors” to that space in the same way that caves were the natural entrances to the earth. Dolmens could have been interpreted as the internal “scaffolding” of a sacred artificial mountain (the tumulus) erected in the landscape in order to domesticate it in both real and imaginary dimensions (Figure 2).

As such, we can conclude that, for the builders, both dolmens and hypogea were the same type of construction; the formation of the internal space was ideologically relevant, not the technique or the materials used for the building’s creation. Collective tomb (pantheon) architecture seems to have fixed ritual spaces typology, along with their volumes, image, and meaning, while material choice and techniques were less regulated.

1. Tholos of El Barranquete, Spain (Drawing by M.J. Almagro)

2. Artificial Caves of Cerro del Greal,Spain (personal drawing)

Figure 1. Comparison of internal structures in both models of funerary buildings


M. Aguado. Different forms for the same symbol. A theoretical reflection on monumental graves…

Even more so, we wonder if the symbolic value of those “mountains” could be related to a kind of farmer society’s myths. A. Whittle (2003) stresses the significant links occurring between the different farmer groups he studied as they try to explain, through mythology, the origin of the world and its relationship to the formation of the clans. According to Whittle, myths in these kinds of societies do not attempt to give explanations for how the Universe came to be or what is sacred in the world. Rather, they try to explain the social order and the formative moral rules that are linked to the structure of clans. By showing the community the origins of the clans and the hero figure who founded each one, they are able to empower the rules of social behavior. Additionally, myths played an important role in constructing their past. Myths turn what every individual remembers into a collective memory, helping to consolidate the dominant ideology. In general, these societies have many ways for building their past; as such it would have been under a permanent processes of manipulation. In general, these societies used normativism and the ritualization of memory in order to remember (Connerton 1989). Commemorative ceremonies were the most efficient way to build one collective historical memory and one identity rooted in the past. Some artifacts and buildings, like the two we are exploring here, stored social memory. Ceremonies performed there would have revealed the link between identity and ancestors.

From all that we can infer about the inhabitants of one specific territory the ability of recognizing the tombs throughout other elements, such as oral tradition, reutilization of tombs, permanent rituals performed in them, any kind of external imagery, etc. Thus, it would be necessary for there to be a second view, only possible with particular clues for decoding the message. On the other hand, this supports the idea of not conferring substantial meaning to the constructive techniques and materials (such as partially-dug chambers or the use of rough stonework, instead of orthostats). We do not mean, however, to diminish diversity and multiplicity are inherent characteristics of these collective tombs, in addition to being characteristics of the thinking underlying them, as stresses L. Van Berg, (1997). Currently, it is widely accepted that part of the tombs’ symbolic values lie in their being recognized as landscape. However, perhaps the clues for this recognition were linked to their meaning and not to their visual impact. Thus, their visibility likely had a cultural characteristic and was dependent on a code created by their builders. The tombs’ monumentalities were placed in both the constructive efforts and the visibility (expressed not in spatial terms but in a cultural way of looking at them), in the internal volumes and in their schematic signs (which were the only things visible, and even then only by a minority). The role of the commemorative monuments would correspond to a certain criteria given by the community and not to geographic visibility as we understand it today.

Additionally, it is possible that the artificial/natural “mountain” constructed over the dolmens and caves could have been some kind of commemorative version of the “creation myth.” Whittle stresses that certain farmer societies he studied shared the idea that the origin of the world, and especially the origins of clans, was somehow linked to a mountain in their oral traditions. They present the “sacred mountain” as the home of the Hero/founder of the clan, the place where life is given. That is why it is possible to interpret dolmens/tumulus and funerary caves/natural hills as the ancestral home, a metaphor of one mythical “sacred mountain” placed in the landscape by human hands.



In summary, this paper explored the formal, functional, symbolic, and visual aspects of the IV-III millennia BC funerary architecture, making speculative but useful conclusions and using new trends in research to evaluate the Calcolithic way of thinking. We stressed here that funerary architecture in this period could have combined formal diversity with a (probable) standardized symbolism. Both hypogea and megaliths would have expressed the same concept of death, of the human´s role in it, and the dominant ideology of that society. This ideology would have been correlated with archaeologically-verified uniformity in grave goods, funerary rituals, or schematic signs from the interiors of those tombs.

The concept of “cultural visibility” Finally, we introduce the “visibility debate” due to the special meaning it has for several authors previously mentioned. Starting with the premise of the external image of the “metaphoric mountain” shared by both kinds of tombs, it would appear that their visual impact should also be similar in terms of “cultural visibility.” It is possible to think that builders could have been executing the same kind of “building” but using different scales. Maybe the clues for their use of graves in defining their landscape were in the way they conferred meaning – what they were symbolic of - not in their physical visual impact.

As such, we find it interesting to ask ourselves if this standard symbolism could be also related to one ideology created to standardize a society’s own image, and whether that imposed uniformity would have helped to hide a growing social diversity and inequality. Both types of funerary spaces are not revealing previously developed power relationships. Rather, they are telling us about an image created to preserve a new social order by denying change and difference.


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

3. West Kennet Long Barrow, England (

4. Silbury Hill, England (

5. Uley Long Barrow, England (Photo by Martin Burke)

6. Dolmen of Granja de Toriñuelo, Spain (

Figure 2. The external image of dolmens: tumulus like mountains.


M. Aguado. Different forms for the same symbol. A theoretical reflection on monumental graves…

5. References Aguado Molina, M. 2007. La evolución de la estructura social en las sociedades campesinas del sur Peninsular. El mundo funerario del IV y III milenios a.C. Unpublished PhD thesis, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Blas Cortina, M. A. 1987. La ocupación megalítica en el borde costero cantábrico: el caso particular del sector asturiano. In VVAA (ed.), El Megalitismo en la Península Ibérica, 127, 141. Falta Ciudad, Falta editorial. Cámara Serrano, J. A. 2001. El ritual funerario en la Prehistoria Reciente en el Sur de la Península Ibérica. BAR International Series 913. Oxford, BAR Publishing. Connerton. 1989. How societies remember. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Cocchi, D. 1994. Manuale di Prehistoria. Vol II. Neolítico. Florencia. Octavo Ed. Criado Boado, F. 1995. El mundo ritual y religioso. Problemática general. In Víctor Hurtado (ed.), El Calcolítico a Debate, 128-149. Sevilla, Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura. Lucas Pellicer, R. 1995. El mundo ritual y religioso. Problemática general, Debate contributions. In V. Hurtado (ed.), El Calcolítico a Debate. 117-122, Sevilla, Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura. Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. 1993. Arqueology. Theory, Methods and Practice. Madrid, Akal. Robb, J.E. 1999. Great Persons and Big Men in the Italian Neolithic. Journal of European Archaeology, 1999, 111-121. Scarduelli, P. 1988. Dioses, espíritus, Ancestros. Elementos para la comprensión de los sistemas rituales. México, Siglo XXI. Shanks, M. and Tilley, C. 1982. Ideology, symbolic power and ritual communication: a reinterpretation of Neolithic mortuary practices. In I. Hodder (ed.), Symbolic and Structural Archaeology, 129-154. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Trigger, B. 1995. Expanding middle-range theory. Antiquity 69, 449-458. Van Berg, P.L. 1997. Arts géometriques et societés dans le Megalithisme Atlantique. In Rodríguez, A.A. (ed.), O Neolítico Atlántico e as orixes do Megalitismo, Santiago de Compostela, Actas do Coloquio Internacional, 739-762. Santiago de Compostela, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. Whittle , A. 2003. The Archaeology of People. Dimensions of Neolithic Life. London and New York, Routledge.



Abstract This paper situates the employment of the term hypogeum in its Maltese context, emphasising the very specific use of the term in Maltese prehistory: as an underground monument for numerous human remains. Another key elements of the Maltese experience is a particular historical trajectory to arrive at this monumental focus, developing in tandem with inferred changes in society. A continuing debate is the status of the buried: whether an elite subset of the whole community or staged ritual for the whole community. Within these continuing debates the regularities of Maltese burial practice are presented, set within what we define as memory monuments which can only be understood in a wider landscape and cosmological context. The contrasting and common qualities of the built environment of prehistoric Malta is also outlined, as alluded to in the title of the paper. Key words: Memory; cosmology; monument; Malta; human remains; hypogeum; landscape. Resumen Este artículo contextualiza el uso del término hipogeo en Malta, enfatizando el uso muy específico que el término ha tenido en la Prehistoria de Malta como un monumento subterráneo para numerosos restos humanos. Otro elemento clave del uso del término en Malta es una trayectoria histórica particular que lleva a esa salida monumental, desarrollada en unión con cambios sociales. Un debate recurrente es el estatus de los inhumados, si se trataba de la élite o de un ritual para el conjunto de la comunidad. En estas discusiones se presentan las regularidades del enterramiento maltés, incluido dentro de lo que definimos como monumentos de la memoria que sólo pueden ser comprendidos en un contexto cosmológico y paisajístico más amplio. También se delinean aquí las cualidades comunes y contrastantes del medioambiente construido de la Malta prehistórica, como se sugiere en el título del artículo. Palabras clave: Memoria; cosmología; monumento; Malta; restos humanos; hipogeo; paisaje.

Departament of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, [email protected] Queen's College, University of Belfast, [email protected]



Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

The meaning of the word hypogeum in varieties of the English language has evolved over time from its original Greek roots (‘underground’) (Phillips 1706), into an association with burial from Etruria (Muሷller 1850), to a very specific association with large-scale communal burial in Malta (Zammit 1910). The term hypogeum in prehistoric Malta thus has a very particular significance in the English language attached to the discovery of the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni (Figure 1B), originally filled with numerous, largely disarticulated, human remains. This underground monument has dominated all understanding of prehistoric underground burial in the Maltese islands.

where smaller hypogea were generally employed for funerary practices. In other words, in Malta, the term hypogeum generally indicates an extreme subset of hypogeum practices compared with the rest of the Mediterranean, at least in colloquial terms. Another key characteristic of the Maltese region is the chronological development of hypogea practices. Chronological sequences are always subject to refinement, but it does appear that underground burial in Malta emerged out of simpler rock tombs which became relatively common at the close of the fifth millennium BC, as in the rest of the Mediterranean region. These appear to have been small family tombs containing in the order of 20 to 40 individuals in each chamber. This pattern seems to have remained fairly constant until the first half of the third millennium BC (during the Tarxien period) when the intensity of mortuary ritual increased considerably and was concentrated on fewer locales. At this stage, the two main monuments (in the locations of Hal Saflieni and Xaghra) record greatly increased densities of human remains. The densities from Hal Saflieni remain difficult to assess beyond the estimates of Zammit. However, the densities from Xaghra (Malone, et al. 2009a) in the Tarxien period (3000 -2400 BC) can be estimated as representing between at least 450 and 900 individuals (depending on the treatment of stratigraphy in relationship to calculations of minimum numbers of individuals), drawn from a full biological community.

As a consequence, the Maltese English term hypogeum is redolent of large scale disarticulated human remains, famously estimated by Zammit to represent several thousand (Zammit 1925: 35) or even 7,000 individuals based on the excavation of the remains of a minimum number of 119 individuals from a nearly 4m3 area (Zammit 1909-10; Zammit 1910: 35-37), and applied to the rest of the already cleared site. The impact of this architecturally impressive monument can be recorded anecdotally. When a similar monument, the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra (Fig. 1A) was excavated in the 1980s and 1990s (Malone, et al. 2009a), there was initially resistance to the use of the term hypogeum for any other monument. However, it is now clear that in at least these instances, a major characteristic of the Maltese islands was the practice of long-term accumulation of significant numbers of disarticulated individuals placed in large underground architectural spaces, where retained articulation was a minority practice. It is this characteristic of the Maltese islands that probably distinguishes Malta from other regions in this volume

A major debate remains over the participation of the human remains manipulated by their active agents, the living, in the mortuary ritual. Was the underground hypogeum a stage set for the passing ancestors of the

Figure 1. Sections of the two main hypogea known in the Maltese islands: A: The Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra. B: Hal Saflieni on Malta.


S.K.F. Stoddart and C. Malone. Hypogea: Concealed caves or constructed temples?...

whole community or the permanent resting place of a relatively small elite? The ability to distinguish between these two possibilities remains a major dilemma in the treatment of the evidence and its interpretation. Seventeen radiocarbon dates have been successfully extracted so far from the funerary remains at the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra (Malone et al. 2009b). A much more elaborate programme of dating would be one means of trying to distinguish between these two alternatives. Another much more costly approach would be an attempt to find further means of assessing the number of individuals present. Refitting of body parts is a daunting process. The implementation of DNA analysis may be impossible, given some of the difficulties in extracting radiocarbon dates up to modern standards. A key further question is whether other smaller burial hypogea are currently under-represented, perhaps forming other stages in the mortuary practice. These

locations may be less visible to us because they are less monumental. The two surviving sites retain much monumentality. Hal Saflieni was preserved under a modern urban landscape. Although it thus lost its probable monumentality on the surface, its monumentality underground was impressively preserved as carved architectural structures on three levels in more than thirty separate spaces. The Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra continued to be set in a modern rural landscape, preserving the monumental enclosing wall (Fig. 2) which contained the ceremonial structures above and within the natural cave system, still populated by the remains of the dead, even if partly disturbed by nineteenth century activity. We consider the deliberate enclosing of the dangerous dead and their spirits to be highly significant within the cosmological world picture of the prehistoric Maltese (see below).

Figure 2. Engraving by Jean Houel (1782-87) and interpretation of engraving to show the monumental enclosure around the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra.


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

If the burial enclosure was a theatrical framework for a mere part of the funerary process, then many of the human remains have not been preserved. We have been left merely with a mainly disarticulated residue of what we may define tentatively as a liminal phase of the ritual, between actual death and physical annihilation, before the final disposal of the human remains.The upper parts of the stratigraphy would then contain human remains in state of transition not only from this world to the next but also between full bodily representation and material disintegration in this world. The lower parts of the stratigraphy containing small numbers of articulated skeletons would have escaped the normal fate of most of the deceased. Under these conditions, the whole community could have been involved, with unrestricted access to the funerary process. On the other hand, the funerary remains could represent a relatively self-contained ritual practice, concentrated on one principal location, even if there might have been preliminary processions through the landscape perhaps from the neighbouring above ground monuments or temples. Under these conditions, significant ancestral individuals (Fig. 3) would have been kept intact deep in the stratigraphy, whereas their descendants would have been ritually processed, classified initially by their constituent parts (skulls, limbs and residuals) and then merged into a collective ancestry. We consider it no accident that these deeply bedded individuals are all male. If this is the mortuary practice, then the patterns reveal a masked elite (or at least distinctively treated subgroup) separated from the rest of the population by the mere mortuary treatment and preservation of their bodily remains. For even if we estimate a number of buried much above the maximum estimated minimum number of individuals of 900, many too few body remains have survived to match the number of living over the period concerned (Stoddart 2007).

Figure 3. A significant ancestral male individual deeply bedded in the stratigraphy.

The process of the funerary ritual probably started with open display in the centre of the site, next to screened area where ritual objects were stored. In this area at least five bodies remained substantially articulated. The disarticulated remains were accompanied by distinctive combinations of objects, sometimes in discrete concentrations. Some twenty out of the forty five figurines found in the Circle were in this deposit. The funerary ritual concluded either with preservation in the lower levels of the site or distribution of the bodies into the constituent part of skull, limb bones and deposits relatively dominated by residual parts. The whole process of the reworking of the bones may have replicated the cycle of life. This interpretation is suggested both by the active liturgical artefacts and by the distribution of the bones themselves. One supportive example is that some of the liturgical artefacts appear to be in different states of becoming, that is of completion, most notably in the case of a set of stick figures found together as a group (Figure 4) (Stoddart 2007). Another supportive example is that young individuals do not appear to be buried in the inner recesses of the cave, zones which are disproportionately the preserve of individuals who have had a more

The specific treatment of human remains within Maltese hypogea during the Tarxien period is becoming much clearer thanks to the discoveries at the Brochtorff Circle. In the site, the majority of bones were disarticulated but nevertheless fifteen substantially articulated bodies (Stoddart, et al. 2009) supplement the one known from Hal Saflieni (also Tarxien period ?) (Zammit 1925: 36). From this we can suggest that most bodies (e.g Fig. 3) were originally placed in a crouched position (75%) on their right side (nearly 70%), but other forms of orientation were much more varied. Each of these bodies may have been originally introduced with a distinctive Tarxien offering bowl since an estimate of the number of offering bowls (c. 400) is within the range of the lower minimum estimate of deceased adult individuals introduced into the Brochtorff Circle (c. 450). Another possibility is that the corpses were shrouded with an animal pelt since some select locations have a disproportionate number of heads and feet of animals (sheep and pig). One elderly woman had a headdress of cowrie shells.


S.K.F. Stoddart and C. Malone. Hypogea: Concealed caves or constructed temples?...

complete life. Many other examples could be given of the repetitive emphasis on the entwined cycles of life.

The monuments of life (temples) and death (hypogea) are best understood in their landscape context (Fig. 5). The temples appear to mediate the relationship, to act as portals, between the Mediterranean world and the agricultural fields. The hypogea appear to mediate, and similarly act as portals, between the temples and that other inaccessible world after death. These relationships were played out in the landscape and probably formed part of a more complex cosmological map which extended vertically as well as horizontally. These spheres of ritual activity were focused on what we would like to define as memory monuments, locations which played and replayed the cycle of life and gave material form to the construction of unwritten history. In practice this would most probably have taken the form of processions from the temples into the mortuary enclosures from the significant east, facing the setting sun to the west. Elements of the art, until now less recognised and studied, point to a parallel distinction between the feathered (birds) in the skies, the warm blooded, furred creatures in the agricultural world of the living and the cold blooded, scaly creatures in the dark world of the dead: as represented by some of the rich art of early Malta. The Maltese hypogeum thus offers rich opportunities of interpretation integrated within a landscape context.

A final very distinctive characteristic of Maltese hypogea is their relationship to non burial monuments. Community activity in the fourth millennium BC was concentrated on large monumental structures (“temples”) which contained no human remains but which were foci of ritual activity that appear to have intensified in the third millennium BC, at the same time as the intensification of mortuary activity. In the third millennium BC there were clear links between these spheres of ritual activity, which can be readily identified in the common and distinctive material culture. Human representation was larger and more static in the temples, smaller and more portable in the funerary caves (Stoddart and Malone 2008). Some types of pottery were preferentially used in each location, but were stylistically similar. There were shared (left/right, storage) and different (lines of sight, degree of depth, orientation) elements of space. The hypnotic penetration of the earth to bury the dead within a closed circle was, however, a strongly distinctive element of the hypogeum. Thus, the hypogea exhibit a tension of purpose between concealed (and yet marked) cave and constructed temple; there is something of both in a Maltese hypogeum.

Figure 4. The cycle of life actively represented by the transformation of liturgical artefacts.

Figure 5. Diagram showing the relationship between temples and burial circles that contain the main hypogea. 25

Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

Malta provides a remarkable example of hypogea development, redolent with symbolic artistic representation. Few other areas of the Mediterranean or temperate Europe are so rich in the same period. Perhaps they provide, nevertheless models to extend to the less well preserved examples of hypogea activity elsewhere. Firstly there is the integration with landscape and the understanding of placement and orientation (view, access,visibility) which can be applied to the wider location of any hypogea discussed in this volume. Secondly, there is the complex issue of the understanding of disarticulated human remains which can be transformed by appropriate methodologies into a ritual process. Thirdly, and following on from this, human remains can be considered as part of the active material culture in the construction of ritual together with animal and food remains, ceramic containers and figurative art. The full details of this mortuary analysis are to be found in the recent publication of the Brochtorff Circle (Malone et al 2009) and the fuller context will be discussed in a forthcoming volume (Malone and Stoddart in preparation).


S.K.F. Stoddart and C. Malone. Hypogea: Concealed caves or constructed temples?...

References Houel, J. P. 1782-87. Voyage pittoresque des isles de Sicile: de Malte et de Lipari, où l'on traite des antiquités qui s'y trouvent encore; des principaux phénomènes que la nature y offre; du costume des habitans, & de quelques usages. Paris. Imprimerie de Monsieur. Malone, C. A. T., Stoddart, S. K. F., Trump, D., Bonanno, A. and Pace, A. (eds). 2009a. Mortuary ritual in prehistoric Malta. The Brochtorff Circle excavations (1987-1994). Cambridge, McDonald Institute. Malone, C. A. T., Stoddart, S. K. F. and Cook, G. 2009b. Dating Maltese Prehistory. In C. A. T. Malone, S. K. F. Stoddart, D. Trump, A. Bonanno and A. Pace (eds), Mortuary ritual in prehistoric Malta. The Brochtorff Circle excavations (1987-1994), 341-346. Cambridge. McDonald Institute. Malone, C.A.T. and Stoddart, S.K.F. in preparation. Art and Ritual in Prehistoric Malta. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Muሷller, K. O. 1850. Ancient art and its remains : or, A manual of the archaeology of art. Translated by J. Leitch. London A., Fullarton and co. Phillips, E. 1706. The new world of words: or, universal English dictionary. Containing an account of the original or proper sense, and various significations of all hard words derived from other languages, ... Together with a brief ... explication of all terms relating to any of the arts and sciences, ... To which is added, the interpretation of proper names of men and women, ... Compiled by Edward Phillips, Gent. Sixth edition revised by J Kersey ed. London, Printed for J. Phillips; H. Rhodes; and J. Taylor. Stoddart, S., Barber, G., Duhig, C., Mann, G., O’Connell, T., Lai, L., Redhouse, D., Tykot R. H. and Malone C. 2009. The Human and Animal Remains. In Malone, C. A. T., Stoddart, S. K. F. and Cook, G. 2009b Dating Maltese Prehistory. In C. A. T. Malone, S. K. F. Stoddart, D. Trump, A. Bonanno and A. Pace (eds), Mortuary ritual in prehistoric Malta. The Brochtorff Circle excavations (1987-1994), 315-340. Cambridge, McDonald Institute. Stoddart, S. K. F. 2007. The Maltese Death Cult in context. In D. A. Barrowclough and C. A. T. Malone (eds) Cult in Context, 54-60. Oxford. Oxbow. Stoddart, S. K. F. and Malone, C. A. T. 2008. Changing beliefs in the human body in prehistoric Malta 5000-1500 BC. In D. Boric and J. Robb (eds) Past Bodies. Body-Centred Research in Archaeology, 19-28. Oxford, Oxbow Books. Zammit, T. 1909-10. Prehistoric period. Annual Report of the Curator of the Valletta Museum for the financial year 1911, no pages. Zammit, T. 1910. The Ħal-Saflieni Prehistoric Hypogeum at Casal Paula, Malta. (The Small Objects and the Human Skulls found in the Ħal-Saflieni Prehistoric Hypogeum, etc.) First report. Malta, Government of Malta. Zammit, T. 1925. The Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum “Casal Paula-Malta”. A short description of the Monument with plan and illustrations. Valletta, Giov. Muscat.


VISIBILITY AND MONUMENTALITY IN LATE PREHISTORY GRAVES OF WESTERN GRANADA. A GIS ANALYSIS Antonio Manuel MONTUFO MARTÍN∗ Juan Antonio CÁMARA SERRANO** José Andrés AFONSO MARRERO** Fernando MOLINA GONZÁLEZ** Abstract Although different types of late prehistoric tombs are found in the western part of the province of Granada (Andalusia, Spain), they all have certain hypogean features. Even in the famous megalithic necropolis Las Peñas de los Gitanos (Montefrío), semi-hypogean characteristics are apparent in its deep foundations. In other cases, such as those of Zujaira (Pinos Puente) and Sierra Martilla (Loja), the hypogean character is more obvious. Additionally, visibility to and from tombs did not play an important role in tomb’s location, except in the case of Sierra Martilla, while hidden graves can be found in all of the necropolises, as visibility analysis using GIS indicates. A discussion of the true functions and monumentality of graves thus becomes necessary. We suggest that placement of most tombs is not based on territorial control, even if they are located in cultivation areas. The main function of funerary ritual may be related to avoiding the risks that visible differences in wealth and resource mobilization in funerals could potentially have in a rapidly changing society. Thus, funerary ritual emphasizes secrecy and masking of social differences. Key words: Late Prehistory, Western Granada, Megalithism, Hypogeism, visibility, concealment, monumentality. Resumen Aunque se han localizado diferentes clases de tumbas de la Prehistoria Reciente en el oeste de la provincia de Granada (Andalucía, España), todas ellas tienen ciertos rasgos hipogeicos. Incluso en la famosa necrópolis megalítica de Las Peñas de los Gitanos (Montefrío), las características semihipogeicas quedan patentes en sus profundas cimentaciones. En otros casos como los de Zujaira (Pinos Puente) y Sierra Martilla (Loja), el carácter hipogeico es más evidente. Además, con la excepción de Sierra Martilla, la visibilidad entre y desde las tumbas no fue buscada y sepulturas especialmente ocultas pueden encontrarse en todas las necrópolis como queda demostrado en relación con el ambiente circundante y las otras tumbas a través del uso de un análisis de visibilidad usando programas basados en técnicas SIG. Se ha considerado así necesario establecer una discusión sobre la monumentalidad y las verdaderas funciones de las tumbas. Sugerimos que el emplazamiento de la mayoría de las sepulturas no tiene que ver con el control territorial, incluso cuando se sitúan en áreas de cultivo, sino que el ritual funerario estaría destinado fundamentalmente a evitar los potenciales riesgos de transformación social que provocaban las diferencias en riqueza visibles en la movilización de recursos en el funeral. Así, el ritual funerario enfatiza el secreto y el enmascaramiento de las diferencias sociales. Palabras clave: Prehistoria Reciente, oeste de Granada, megalitismo, hipogeismo, visibilidad, ocultación, monumentalidad.

Consejería de Cultura. Junta de Andalucía ** Universidad de Granada, HAR 2008-04577, Cronología de la consolidación del sedentarismo y la desigualdad social en el Alto Gruadalquivir [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

1. Introduction

suggested that their density cannot be expected to be very high, as they appear to be associated only with the most important villages and grouped in necropolises rather than scattered over extended territories (Cámara Serrano, 2001). Toward the southwest, around the Guadalquivir valley, in addition to the abundance of truly hypogean structures (Berdichewski, 1964; Castañeda Fernández et al., 1999; Cruz-Auñón Briones, 1991; Mata Almonte, 1993; Posac Mon, 1975; Ramos Muñoz et al., 1998), the semi-hypogean character of numerous sepulchers of the central necropolises needs to be highlighted, along the lines of what is covered in this article. This is particularly evident in the second level sepulchers of Valencina de la Concepción (Arteaga Matute and Cruz-Auñón Briones, 1999b), although they possibly also can encompass large sepulchers on either riverbank (Hurtado Pérez and Amores Carredano, 1984; Ruiz Moreno and Martín Espinosa, 1993; Vargas Jiménez and Sagrera Pérez 2007). The artificial cave necropolises of the Upper Guadalquivir (Carriazo Arroquia, 1925; Espantaleón Jubes, 1957, 1960; Lucas Pellicer, 1968; Lizcano Prestel et al., 2005; Zafra de la Torre, 2007) and, in general, of Upper Andalusia (Pellicer Catalán, 1957-58; Molina González, 1983; Marqués Merelo et al., 1992; Carrasco Rus et al., 1993; Navarrete Enciso, 2003; Spanhi, 1958) are more evident.

Artificial caves are regarded as the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic Guadalquivir Valley’s most characteristic type of sepulcher (Berdichewski, 1964), although interment also has been known to occur in natural caves and dolmens in the immediate mountainous zones. General catalogues of dolmens (Leisner and Leisner, 1943) and artificial caves (Rivero Galán, 1986; Berdichewski, 1964) would seem to confirm this impression. However, it has been pointed out that the main characteristics of artificial cave necropolises are concealment and the fact that they are concentrated near the main villages, which emphasizes such villages’ capital status (Cámara Serrano, 2001). So perhaps there is no true morpho-functional contrast between the two types of sepulchers (Aguado Molina, 2007) nor does a cultural opposition exist, as has been claimed (Hernando Gonzalo, 1994). Regarding specifically the zonal distribution we should point out that the megalithic sepulchers at the northern limits of the valley clearly tend to mark communication routes (through their alignment) and specific points of the cultivation territory (through their visual preeminence). These aspects have been better studied in the westernmost part of Andalusia (Piñón Varela, 1987, 2004; Nocete Calvo, 2004; Nocete Calvo et al., 1997, 2001; García, 1999b, 2006; Romero, 1999; Lacalle, 2000) than in the eastern area (Cepillo, 1997; Gavilán Ceballos et al., 1991; Marfil, 1997; Martín de la Cruz et al., 2002), while information regarding the eastern edge is extremely limited (Castilla Segura and Ruiz Sánchez, 1990; Cámara Serrano et al., 2007).

This study focuses on Granada province’s northwestern zone, in relation to a part of the Guadalquivir river basin and, therefore, to the rivers that eventually flow into the Atlantic Ocean. It is an area characterized by the coexistence of artificial caves and megaliths and, on the other hand, by megalithic sepulchers built up by orthostatic slabs with an important hypogean component (Las Peñas de los Gitanos, Montefrío) (Cámara Serrano, 2001; Cámara Serrano et al., forthcoming) and vice versa (Sierra Martilla, Loja) (Carrasco Rus et al., 1993; Navarrete Enciso, 2003).

The valley’s southern section has a lower density of megalithic monuments, especially on the western side, although they do extend from one end of the region to the other (Ferrer Palma, 1987; Ferrer Palma et al., 1988; Carmona Ávila and Moreno, 1992; Arribas Palau and Ferrer Palma, 1997; Ramos Muñoz et al., 1997; Ferrer Palma et al., 2004; Zafra de la Torre, 2007) and there are certain areas of concentration (Mergelina y Luna, 194142), such as the River of Gor (García Sánchez and Spanhi, 1959; Castellano Gámez et al., 2001; Afonso Marrero et al., 2006, 2008).

2. Objectives and Hypotheses This study has two main objectives. Firstly, it seeks to determine the function of the tombs in relation to territorial control and social differentiation (their concealment or exhibition). Furthermore, it focuses in determining the concrete forms in which these functions take place (the aspects implicated in their attainment) in order to read them within the context of the society that used them. In this sense, what we are concerned with here is discovering the causes and implications of the differences between artificial caves and megaliths.

As is widely known, they also can be found outside the Guadalquivir in the river valleys flowing into the Mediterranean (Martín Córdoba and Recio Ruiz, 19992000; Marquez Romero, 2000), with particular density in the southeast, comparable to the northern part (Ayala Juan, et al., 2000; Leisner and Leisner, 1943; Lomba Maurandi, 1999; Maldonado Cabrera et al., 1997; Román Díaz et al., 2000, 2005; Cámara Serrano, 2001; Cámara Serrano and Molina González, 2004; San Nicolás del Toro, 1994).

To do so, we contrast two different hypotheses: 1. Tombs that emphasize visibility (from and/or towards them) have to do with territorial control. 2. Hidden tombs have to do with the concealment of social differences.

The data on artificial caves is scarcer, largely because of their limited perceptibility, although it also has been


A. Montufo, J.A. Cámara et al. Visibility and monumentality in Late Prehistory graves…

Figure 1: Regional map with location of necropolis Subsequently two possible consequences must be tested: ` Both kind of tombs can perform the same function, especially when concealment and monumentality features can be found within the same sepulchers, whether in a part of the tomb (the separation of areas, longitudinal development, the combination of techniques, etc.) or in the cluster as a whole (underground foundations, barrow development, placement in depressed or striking areas). ` Function (and, consequently, those features suggesting concealment) does not have to do with the predominantly hypogean or megalithic character of the sepulcher but rather their topographical site and the development (or not) of certain secondary features.

disappearance, and even relocation, as in the case of the Pantano de los Bermejales (Arenas del Rey). Las Peñas de los Gitanos (Montefrío) Las Peñas de los Gitanos is the best known of the necropolises included in this study. The first references to the different groups of tombs in which we can divide the necropolis (El Rodeo, La Camarilla and Figure 1: Regional map with location of necropolis Los Guirretes Castellón-Hoyón of the Virgin) are already in the work of M. Gongora y Martinez (1868:82-85), although the first analysis is due to M. Gomez-Moreno Martinez (1905:123) As early as 1907 he made reference to decreasing size of the graves, always of modest dimensions, to the west, from the group of El Rodeo to La Camarilla (Gomez-Moreno, 1907:352). The site first tomb typology was established by G. and V. Leisner (1943).

3. Study Sample and Preliminary Considerations Introduction

These early works contain references to cairns (GómezMoreno Martínez, 1907:352; Mergelina y Luna, 194142:67), which had practically disappeared by the time the University of Granada’s Department of Prehistory and Archaeology made their interventions in 1971 and 1974 (Arribas Palau and Molina González, 1977; Molina Gonzalez, 1983). All of the clusters have in common sepulcher placement in depressed passages situated between various karst outcrops that create a terraced setting facing the valley. The location of the passages at a

Among Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic sepulchers known in the western zone of Granada (Figure 1), we decided to begin our study with the Las Peñas de los Gitanos (Montefrío) (Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42), Sierra Martilla (Loja) (Carrasco Rus et al., 1993) and Zujaira (Pinos Puente) (Molina González, 1983) necropolises. Other sites were excluded (Ferrer Palma, 1980, 1981; Jabaloy Sánchez et al., 1982; Arribas Palma and Ferrer Palma, 1997) because of the sepulchers’ dispersion,


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

lower height with respect to the surrounding terraces, whether to the north or south, creates a limitation in visibility, even for those sepulchers near the highest parts. The sepulchers are constructed by digging a trench to partially fit the stone slabs. The tombs consist of a trapezoidal chamber preceded by a short, generally trapezoidal, passage that sometimes is segmented and has a sort of vestibule (Molina González, 1983:62) (Figure 2). In some cases, the passage has large tombstones that alternate with stretches of masonry (Molina González, 1983) or small braces that are constructed using the same technique (Gómez-Moreno Martínez, 1907:353). The chamber and passageways are comprised of doors obtained by perforating a large stone slab or by making opposing notches in two slabs to act as jambs (Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42:85, 104) (Figure 3). Some of the Montefrío dolmens have ornamentation in relief (horns) (Gómez-Moreno Martínez, 1907:353; Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42:99) or engravings (zoomorphic, geometric) (Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42:67-68) (Figure 4) within their chambers. Despite the age of the excavations, which became relatively systematic only in the 1920s (Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42), certain findings such as bracelets made on pectunculum shells (Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42:77, 94) suggest that the sepulchers were initially used in Neolithic times (fourth millennium B.C.).

Figure 2. Peñas de los Gitanos dolmen 9

Three scales of concealment that are complementary and articulated can be distinguished in the Las Peñas de los Gitanos megaliths: the concealment of funerary space (chambers and passages as containers), the concealment of the overall structure of the dolmen and the concealment of the entire constructed structure. Firstly, the chamber is always situated beyond a narrow passage; both can be accessed by means of narrow openings defined by very close stone jambs or by doors perforated in one or two of the slabs (Mergelina y Luna, 1941-42). This system is common among the tholoi and certain tombs of the Southeast (Almagro Gorbea and Arribas Palau, 1963; Molina González and Cámara Serrano, 2005) and is also present in other monuments no related to burials (Edmonds, 1993; Barnatt, 1998; Hartwell, 1998, 2002). In our case, this limited access is accentuated by the trapezoidal form of the passage and chamber, with the widest part toward the rear. Undoubtedly, the present image is partially distorted by the collapse of upright stones resulting from the surrounding sediments’ pressure and the absence of interior filling, especially following clandestine removals and archaeological interventions. This has been related to secrecy and restriction in the access to funerary rituals (Camara Serrano, 2001)

Figure 3. Peñas de los Gitanos dolmen 23 with a bored gate


A. Montufo, J.A. Cámara et al. Visibility and monumentality in Late Prehistory graves…

graves placement on terraces that gently slope toward the inner part, near the remains of the small quarries from which the construction material was extracted, such that they too became fully concealed. The conjuction of graves scatter in small clusters and low barrows generates a relatively continuous hilly terrain that also contributes to the megaliths' concealment.

Figure 5. Las Peñas de Los Gitanos dolmens 7 and 8 Considering these three concealment systems, we need to ask ourselves about the specific form of “monumentality” present in the megalithic tombs of the Las Peñas de los Gitanos, and whether monumentality does exist, since, in addition, the sepulchers' dimensions are not very large.

Figure 4. Engraved geometric motifs. Las Peñas de Los Gitanos dolmen 23 In the second place, the sepulchers’ aforementioned semihypogean character accentuates the difficulties of access that must be surmounted through placement of a ramp between the various spaces or stretches and a vestibule situated at the height of the exterior surface.

Certainly, the distinction of these structures from their surroundings is minimized and, undoubtedly, their concealment, materials and construction method allow guarantee their permanence. Additionally, they give rise to a new space through their association with the local geographical traits, a landscape in the sense of a perceivable element and a territory as a constructed space designed for a social function: masking by concealment (Cámara Serrano, 2001; Rojo Guerra et al., 2006) but also appropriation by placement (Criado Boado, F., 1998; Cooney, G., 1999; Kolb, M.J., 2005).

In some cases, concealment is achieved not by digging a pit to build up the chamber and passage but rather by placing them over the rocky outcrops of a hillside. In this way the semi-hypogean character is maintained, as can be seen not only in the excavation of the orthostats’ foundation (which is also necessary for the building’s stability given the barrows’ characteristics) but also in the chamber placement which, once again, is deeper than the passage (Figure 5).

Zujaira (Pinos Puente)

Similarly, the entire funerary structure is covered by very low barrows that, instead of highlighting the monument (nevertheless, something partially achieved by a perimetric ring of bioclastic limestone), actually conceal it, given the placement of most of the megalithic tombs on the hillsides.

The Zujaira necropolis (Figure 6) was not an object of archaeological investigation but, rather, had been continually pillaged by poachers and partially destroyed because of development in the neighboring quarries. The concealment strategies at Zujaira, located in a narrow and relatively deep gully, are different and yet similar to those established in Montefrío. In fact, the entire funerary space concealment is more accentuated in this case by its underground character, which and, once again, the chamber is made remote by the building of antechambers/passages, nowadays very ruined. Furthermore, visibility to and from the tombs is clearly

Finally, the geographical distribution of the funerary structures over the landscape of Las Peñas de los Gitanos and their specific location generate a relative concealment that, as GIS analysis indicates, can be defined first by their aforementioned setting against rocky outcrops on the hillside. The concealment is also achieved by the


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

limited by their location halfway up the hillside and distribution along the gully. Nonetheless, certain features link these structures to the megalithic world (beyond similarities in the distribution of internal space). Firstly, emphasis is on the entryway, which lies horizontally at the entrance of a passage rather than beginning from a pit like in the silos of archaic artificial burial-caves, and is visible as long as it is not closed-camouflaged. Secondly, genuine façades were developed in certain cases that were destined for exposure (Figure 7). Finally, and this is profoundly different from the megalithic tombs of Montefrío, preparation of the rocky surroundings to create a demarcated funerary area (or the imitation of a much eroded barrow). This implies a demarcation that contrasts with concealment and only today appears to be hardly noticeable as a result of erosion and the growth of vegetation. In this sense and, in contrast to the relative concealment of a particular tomb and its incapacity for territorial control or perceptibility from a distance, the whole necropolis becomes fully visible to those who are sufficiently close.

due to the proximity of the orthostats that lie perpendicular to the tomb axis, creating a threshold at the two jambs. Moreover, a reduction in the rock sometimes can be appreciated where the slab used to close the door should have been set, a feature that can also be observed opposite the excavated doors. More frequently, chamber (and passage) covers were made from a large cut slab while, in contrast, modification of the tombs’ surroundings, especially of the most elaborate ones, created a false barrow (Figure 9) that, as we suggested in the Zujaira case, doubtless conferred greater visibility to the tombs.

Figure 6. Zujaira rock cut tomb Sierra Martilla (Loja) Figure 7. Zujaira rock-cut tomb façade

The Sierra Martilla tombs, which also have suffered looting since ancient times, have been systematically studied (Carrasco Rus et al., 1993). These last researches have led to the interpretation that some tombs were possibly constructed during later periods of the fifth millennium B.C., and some were reused in the Iron Age and even readapted to industrial use in more recent times (Carrasco Rus et al., 1993; Navarrete Enciso, 2003).

In this respect also, the Sierra Martilla necropolis is different because, although some tombs are oriented parallel to the slope, others offer access from it, which in turn, in a site of great visibility, allowed for the localization of the access from far away, assuming it was not camouflaged by being closed. This, together with the surrounding modifications, facilitated identification of the necropolis zone where access into the interior of the sepulchers nevertheless was made difficult by the hindrances and closure. If one can speak of monumentality, then this is certainly the most spectacular case of those studied and, despite even its underground character, the terraced chambers and passages covered by slabs (and perhaps by a real earthen barrow in addition to the imitation one) facilitated the visibility of certain structures (Figure 10). In any case, the tombs’ visual control is different and even when visible from the rest,

Regarding their design, attention should be paid not only to the striking differences in form and dimensions between sepulchers but also to specific characteristics, which are recurrent above all in the tombs of greater size. These features are, first, the frequent use of orthostatic elements to form passages and, in some cases, antechambers (Figure 8), second, the restricted access, whether through perforated doors (in the case of truly hypogean areas wherein the rock wall is perforated) or


A. Montufo, J.A. Cámara et al. Visibility and monumentality in Late Prehistory graves…

and with the development of the aforementioned demarcation strategies, the tombs situated at lower heights do not exercise control over the surroundings.

4. GIS Analysis of Visibility Variables Methodological Considerations The analysis of visibility as indicator of territorial occupation by past societies has been simplified by the availability of computing tools that allow the rapid and automatic calculation of the visual relationship between different sites in a given territory. Since the 1990s, research that uses GIS to study areas of visual dominion to or from archaeological sites has become widespread, with the so-called Cumulative Viewshed Analysis (CVA) gaining particular relevance. This analytical method allows the examination of the relationships of visibility between different archaeological sites and their territories by means of individual maps obtained of the viewsheds of each of the sites. They are then combined to obtain a final map that indicates in each cell the number of sites from which is visible. Since Ruggle’s initial work (Ruggles et al., 1993) and, fundamentally, David Wheatley’s research (1995, 1996, Gillings and Wheatley 2001), this type of analysis has been applied to the study of megalithic sepulchers’ settlement and distribution patterns, towers and other sites of territorial control. In the Andalusian case, these analyses have been used to understand prehistoric settlement patterns of the Cordovan landscape (Martín de la Cruz et al. 2004) from the Turdetani and Roman Era of the Lower Guadalquivir (Keay et al., 2001; Zamora Merchán, 2002) and the distribution of megalithic monuments in Western Sierra Morena (García Sanjuán et al., 2006, 2009).

Figure 8. Sierra Martilla tomb 3

Cumulative Viewshed Analysis (CVA) allows the establishment of intervisibility relationships between archaeological sites and their comparison to the general intervisibility characteristics of the territory in order to identify the existence of patterns of site selection based on their visibility or lack of it from other archaeological sites. In the case of the study of necropolises located in small-scale landforms, such as these analyzed in this paper, CVA also allows the exploration of complementarity among the sepulchers’ individual viewsheds. Nevertheless, CVA has practical limitations in assessing visibility from a given number of locations, since archaeological knowledge of the territory analyzed then becomes a critical factor and the entire study is founded on the correct identification of the locations from which visibility is computed. On the other hand, by centering the analysis on viewshed calculation from specific points, the global valorization of the sites’ visual relevance becomes greatly limited since it does not base itself on the entire territory analyzed in its globality but rather upon those calculation points taken into consideration. Figure 9. Sierra Martilla tomb 7


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

Likewise, the size and orientation of the sepulchers’ individual viewsheds can be assessed by comparing them to those obtained from a set of random points. The digital elevations models used in this analysis were obtained from the Digital Elevations Model (DEM) produced by Andalusia’s Cartography Institute with a 20 m. resolution. The study area for each necropolises was established, using as limit a 5 km buffer from each of the farthest sepulchers of each necropolis. The location of the graves was established through fieldwork, including data collection using a Leica GX1230 GPS with differential correction. In Montefrío’s necropolis case, another task undertaken was to correlate the located sepulchers with those identified and numbered in the bibliography about the site. The following variables were used in this analysis: - The visual prominence for each necropolis’ location. - The individual viewshed of each grave. - The cumulative viewshed for each necropolis Visual Prominence of the Necropolis’ Location The first variable to be analyzed is the visual prominence of each necropolis’ location. To fulfill this task a calculation was made of the total viewshed of the whole landscape where the necropolis is located, using a 5 km buffer as the limit for the study area. This results on extensive study areas to be analyzed.

Figure 10. Sierra Martilla tomb 2 The so-called Total Viewshed or Inherent Viewshed is a variant of visibility analysis that can avoid the aforementioned limitations (Llobera, 2003, Llobera et al., 2004). In this case, the viewshed is calculated by taking each cell of the Digital Elevations Model (DEM) and combining them to obtain a map that represents “a first description of the visual structure for an entire terrain” (Llobera, 2003:34).

Then a systematic cumulative visual analysis of the entire territory was undertaken by calculating the individual viewsheds from each of the DEM points to obtain a final layer in which the value of each pixel indicates the number of points from which it is visible. This analytical methodology requires a very long calculation time, since it generates numerous individual viewsheds that then must be processed. For instance, in the case of Las Peñas de los Gitanos more than 25.000 viewsheds were calculated.

Archaeologists have rarely used this analytical modality up today mainly due to “the very high computational intensity required to calculate them” (Llobera et al., 2004). The pioneering work by Llobera et al. (2004) establishes an effective methodology for this type of analysis, as exemplified by the study of Avebury's prehistoric funerary monuments. The combined application of this technique and traditional cumulative analysis led to the finding that certain sepulchers were located in areas of poor visual global relevance, areas that nonetheless became very relevant when visibility was regarded solely from the funerary monuments.

Once the final map is obtained, the values' distribution can be analyzed and a classification of visual relevance can be established to identify areas of visual prominence. Although it is possible to indicate an altitude offset representing the approximate height of a monument or an observer, we preferred not to introduce this variable. Despite the existence of diverse forms of classifying quantitative variable ranges, we choose the use of standard deviation as it allows the assessment of those sites that in relative terms assume a visual prominence greater or less than average within the study area.. The visibility maps obtained were classified into nine classes and were represented using a two-colored ramp that emphasizes values above (shown in green) and below (shown in red) the mean.

In this paper, we make use of both techniques in order to, on the one hand, assess the global visual relevance of the necropolis sites under consideration and, on the other hand, analyze the relationships established between the necropolises’ megaliths, thereby identifying the possible complementarity of the sepulchers’ individual viewsheds to obtain the global visual control over the territory.


A. Montufo, J.A. Cámara et al. Visibility and monumentality in Late Prehistory graves…

The Zujaira necropolis’ territory (Figure 11) is characterized by low relief orography, with southernfacing longitudinal valleys that converge in the depression of Granada’s low-lying land, the Vega de Granada. The general intervisibility of this area is limited, and there are no remarkable landmarks that claim particular visual dominion. The necropolis is located in a site of very limited visual prominence in the territory. After the total viewshed analysis, the values obtained range between 223 and 1258, meaning that the necropolis site is visible from a maximum of 1258 points, which is 7,6% of the territory under consideration. The minimum value obtained in the analysis corresponds to Tomb 1, which is only visible from 223 points (1,34% of the area analyzed). To better assess the results obtained at the tombs within a general context of the territory’s visual relevance, we can indicate that the sites of greatest visual prominence in this area, unoccupied bytombs, are visible from 55% of the territory, with absolute values greater than 9200.

that of Zujaira as they were erected in a zone of great visual prominence, dominating 26% of the territory under consideration. The number of points from which the necropolis site can be seen ranges between 4139 and 4605, which represents 26% of the total points analyzed. This value takes on a greater dimension when considering that the most visible point of the entire zone studied, where no evidence of tombs has been located, only reaches a value of 6191, or 36% of the total calculated points. The visual prominence of the necropolis is therefore evident and clearly opposite to the characterization of the Zujaira necropolis. At Las Peñas de Los Gitanos (Figure 13) an intermediate situation is documented since the tombs are found in sites with visual relevance values between those of Zujaira and Sierra Martilla. In this case, the characterization of the territory analyzed is of a relatively low intervisibility wherein the Sierra of Parapanda, located to the southeast of the study zone, stands out as one of the landscape’s referents and visually dominates this territory, which offers considerable intervisibility to the southeastern sector.

The territory of the Sierra Martilla necropolis is defined by the presence of the sierra itself (Figure 12) because it is a visual referent that dominates a gully zone with various fluvial valleys facing northeast and southeast and whose territory drains into the valley of the Genil and Pesquera Rivers. The tombs represent a case opposite to

In contrast, the characterization of the northwestern zone is of an uneven landscape with crossing valleys and poor intervisibility because of its orographic configuration.

Figure 11. Zujaira: Visual prominence of the necropolis location


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

Figure 12. Sierra Martilla: Visual prominence of the necropolis location The tombs are mostly located near the chalky escarpment of Las Peñas de los Gitanos, which forms a significant visual referent within this territory. Nonetheless, the riverbeds where the tombs are distributed have intervisibility much inferior to that of the rocky outcrops dominating the landscape. This characteristic of poor visibility repeats itself with the sepulchers located to the west, in the area of Hoyón de la Virgen.

individual graves must be assessed by identifying the total surface visible from the tomb and placing it in relation to the theoretical viewshed. Although certain variations exist in the bibliography concerning the maximum limit of visual perception, a limit of 3 km radius from a given point is used in this paper, as it has already been used in other analyses of megalithism in western Andalusia (García Sanjuán et. al., 2006). The maximum potential viewshed (PV) can thus be established at 28 km2.

Having accounted for the number of tombs and their organization within four recognizable necropolises, we decided to assess the average values of visual relevance of each one. So the Los Guirretes and Hoyón de la Virgen necropolises clearly stood out with very low indexes of visual relevance wherein the tomb sites were only visible from 7,76% and 5,34%, respectively, of the computed points. In contrast to the Camarilla and Los Guirretes tombs, which were visible from 14,68% and 15,88%, respectively, of the territory. In order to assess these quantitative indexes, we need only to highlight that the most visible enclave of the territory analyzed has a visual relevance index of 54,26%, which clearly demonstrates the selection of a site of limited visual dominion.

To determine the significance of the archaeological sites’ viewsheds, the values obtained are contrasted with the viewsheds obtained from random points. Both samples undergo statistical analysis, generally the Mann-Whitney test, which checks for the existence of significant differences between the values corresponding to the archaeological sites and the random control points. Unlike in other cases in the archaeological literature, we decided to establish sampling points in the same landform where the necropolis is situated, an aspect that a priori could possibly favor the attainment of a negative result since the visual dominion from points within a restricted geographic area a priori could be homogeneous. However, as argued below, in each case the results were positive, thereby demonstrating.

Individual Viewsheds from graves Once the visual relevance of the necropolis location in the nearby territories is analyzed, the visibility from


A. Montufo, J.A. Cámara et al. Visibility and monumentality in Late Prehistory graves…

Figure 13. Las Peñas de los Gitanos: Visual prominence of the necropolis location the existence of significant differences in the sizes of graves’ viewsheds and those of the control points located in the corresponding landforms.

and has a 95 per cent significance interval, which lends credence to the alternative hypothesis (H1). Tomb

The size of the Zujaira tombs’ viewsheds is very limited. Tomb 1 stands out with a theoretical viewshed of 0,72 km2, barely 2,5% of the potential viewshed and, consequently, an extremely low value (figure 14). The average size of the viewsheds in this necropolis’ tombs is 2,44 km2, 8,62% of the PV, which is clearly inferior to other published data such as that of the Almadén de la Plata (15,46%) or Aracena (11,88%) dolmens, although this last case is affected by the presence of a reservoir which prevents an effective calculation of the viewsheds’ shadows (García Sanjuan et al., 2006).

Potential Viewshed (km2) 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24

Actual Viewshed (km2) 0,72 2,36 2,61 2,53 2,64 3,75 2,44 7,59 3,20 3,51 4,17 4,01

1 2 2b 3 4 5 Average Sample 1 28,24 Sample 2 28,24 Sample 3 28,24 Sample 4 28,24 Sample 5 28,24 Average Sampling 4,29 Figure 14. Zujaira tombs data

The viewsheds calculated from control points have considerably greater dimensions, with an average surface of 4,5 km2 (15,79% of the PV), which is almost double the necropolises’ average. Overall, these are relatively small viewsheds, which is unsurprising since the previous analysis shows the selection of a landform characterized by scarce visual relevance for the necropolis location (figure 14).

% Theoretical Viewshed 2,55 8,37 9,26 8,95 9,34 13,26 8,62 26,86 11.33 12,43 14,76 14,21 15,17

The tombs of Sierra Martilla represent the opposite phenomenon. They are located in an area of significant visual dominion over the territory, with an average viewshed of six km2, which is 21,28. The size of individual viewsheds is very homogeneous, and only

The Mann-Whitney test resulted in a p-value of 0.009, which is below the significance threshold situated at 0,05,


Links between megalithism and hypogeism in western Mediterranean Europe: a first approach

Tomb 7 appears to be clearly different, with values that are 50% lower than those of the rest of the tombs, as is shown in the following table (figure 15). Tomb 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Tomb Average Sample 1 Sample 2 Sample 3 Sample 4 Sample 5 Sample 6 Sample 7 Average Sampling

Potential Viewshed (km2) 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24

Actual Viewshed (km2) 6,56 6,98 6,83 6,51 6,22 6,19 3,31 5,48 6,01

% Theoretical Viewshed 23,22 24,73 24,17 23,06 22,03 21,92 11,72 19,40 21,28

28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24

0,88 6,61 1,02 4,82 2,26 1,28 5,64

3,13 23,42 3,61 17,07 8,00 4,53 19,98


11,b 39

The size of viewsheds from control points show a considerably greater variability, ranging from viewsheds of less than 0,9 km2 (3,25% of the PV) to others of dimensions comparable to those of the sepulchers. The average size of control viewsheds is of 3,22 km2 (11,39% of the PV). As in the previous case, the statistical analysis indicates the existence of significant differences between the distributions of the two villages, with a p-value of 0,029, which is below the significance threshold situated at 0,05. In the case of the Las Peñas de Los Gitanos necropolises (Figure 16), and considering their complexity given the number of sepulchers and diversity of geographic sites that can lead to significant differences in viewshed size, we decided to present the average values obtained in each of the recognizable necropolises, as is shown in the following table (figure 17). The analysis undertaken shows the low visibility from graves in the Hoyón de la Virgen group, which barely exerts visual dominion in the direction of the valley drained by the Molinos and Las Peñas de Los Gitanos streams. Nor is there visibility towards the Sierra of Parapanda, a dominant element in this territory on the southeastern slope, facing Granada’s low-lying lands, the Vega de Granada, as well as to the northeast, facing the Montes region. The average size of the viewsheds of this necropolis’ tombs is 2,43 km2, hardly 8,6% of the PV’s surface.

Figure 15. Sierra Martilla tombs data

Figure 16: Las Peñas de los Gitanos: Individual viewsheds


A. Montufo, J.A. Cámara et al. Visibility and monumentality in Late Prehistory graves…

Group El Rodeo El Hoyón Camarilla Guirretes Sample test

Potential Viewshed (km2) 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24 28,24

Actual Viewshed (km2) 4,68 2,43 4,76 4,09 7,18

of Parapanda, which constitutes a dominant visual referent within this area. This factor alters the viewsheds, increasing their size, as most of visible areas within the viewsheds correspond to Sierra de Parapanda while intervisibility of tombs and visual dominion of the necropolis area is scarce. The resulting p-value upon performing the Mann-Whitney test is