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Approaching the landscape dimension of the megalithic phenomenon in Southern Spain

Approaching the landscape dimension of the megalithic phenomenon in Southern Spain
Approaching the landscape dimension of the megalithic phenomenon in Southern Spain
Although the megalithic phenomenon in southern Iberia has received attention since the mid 19th century, there has been very little attention paid to the role that megalithic structures played in the organisation of prehistoric landscapes. Just as in other areas of Europe, however, southern Iberian megalithic structures must have played complex roles in the social organisation of landscapes that go far beyond their use as funerary containers. Using examples from our work in southern Iberia, we employ GIS-based spatial analysis to explore for the first time various aspects of the landscape dimension of these monuments. We discuss three case studies for which fresh field data have been recently made available. In the first (Almadén de la Plata) we find patterns of association between medieval transhumance routes and megaliths and we use cost-surface modelling to suggest that medieval routes may reflect earlier, prehistoric patterns of movement which in turn suggests that megalithic structures functioned in this area as waypoints within an emerging mobility system for people and livestock. In the second case (Aroche) we show correlations between the locations of megaliths and theoretical territories defined by isochrones and contrast this pattern with the distribution of non-megalithic funerary sites of the Early Bronze Age, concluding that the spatial distribution of megaliths in this region may relate to their role as landmarks. Lastly we describe a far more specific relationship we have encountered in the Antequera region where we believe we have identified a relationship between the orientation of the megalithic structure of Menga, a prominent natural feature and several newly-discovered prehistoric sites. Together, these three examples suggest that the current focus on typology, chronology and contents in the study of Iberian megaliths needs to be matched with efforts to identify and interpret the often highly complex structure of the prehistoric landscapes of which they form an integral part.
0262-5253
387-405
Wheatley, David
58266ad0-4ea1-4b1b-a8c3-9fd902931828
García Sanjuán, Leonardo
174dbd15-6e39-411a-a1cf-255b528af14c
Murrieta Flores, Patricia
39bab252-e26a-44c2-a5bb-27230b6de9fb
Márquez Pérez, Joaquín
0ef6d3d0-aca5-4699-8239-685691b0200a
Wheatley, David
58266ad0-4ea1-4b1b-a8c3-9fd902931828
García Sanjuán, Leonardo
174dbd15-6e39-411a-a1cf-255b528af14c
Murrieta Flores, Patricia
39bab252-e26a-44c2-a5bb-27230b6de9fb
Márquez Pérez, Joaquín
0ef6d3d0-aca5-4699-8239-685691b0200a

Wheatley, David, García Sanjuán, Leonardo, Murrieta Flores, Patricia and Márquez Pérez, Joaquín (2010) Approaching the landscape dimension of the megalithic phenomenon in Southern Spain. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 29 (4), 387-405. (doi:10.1111/j.1468-0092.2010.00354.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Although the megalithic phenomenon in southern Iberia has received attention since the mid 19th century, there has been very little attention paid to the role that megalithic structures played in the organisation of prehistoric landscapes. Just as in other areas of Europe, however, southern Iberian megalithic structures must have played complex roles in the social organisation of landscapes that go far beyond their use as funerary containers. Using examples from our work in southern Iberia, we employ GIS-based spatial analysis to explore for the first time various aspects of the landscape dimension of these monuments. We discuss three case studies for which fresh field data have been recently made available. In the first (Almadén de la Plata) we find patterns of association between medieval transhumance routes and megaliths and we use cost-surface modelling to suggest that medieval routes may reflect earlier, prehistoric patterns of movement which in turn suggests that megalithic structures functioned in this area as waypoints within an emerging mobility system for people and livestock. In the second case (Aroche) we show correlations between the locations of megaliths and theoretical territories defined by isochrones and contrast this pattern with the distribution of non-megalithic funerary sites of the Early Bronze Age, concluding that the spatial distribution of megaliths in this region may relate to their role as landmarks. Lastly we describe a far more specific relationship we have encountered in the Antequera region where we believe we have identified a relationship between the orientation of the megalithic structure of Menga, a prominent natural feature and several newly-discovered prehistoric sites. Together, these three examples suggest that the current focus on typology, chronology and contents in the study of Iberian megaliths needs to be matched with efforts to identify and interpret the often highly complex structure of the prehistoric landscapes of which they form an integral part.

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Published date: 2010

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 157855
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/157855
ISSN: 0262-5253
PURE UUID: db1e8696-f7f2-4cf5-b9f2-fb4d2da98d7b

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Date deposited: 11 Jun 2010 09:11
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:40

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