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Archaeology

Complex funerary monument found at foot of La Peña de los Enamorados

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A team of archaeologists have found a complex megalithic funerary monument at Piedras Blancas, located at the foot of La Peña de los Enamorados (“Lovers Rock”), a mountain near the city of Antequera in Andalusia, Spain.

The results of the excavation, published in the journal Antiquity, has revealed the monument to be part natural, part built, part hypogeum, and part megalith.

La Peña de los Enamorados is a limestone massif which towers at 880m above the Antequera plain. The area is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the influence the mountain and the peaks of El Torcal played in the development of Late Neolithic and Copper Age sites, such as Menga, Viera and El Romeral from the 3rd and 4th millennia BC.

Excavations at Piedras Blancas revealed a tomb built on a small hill of calcarenite limestone, in which the structure is embedded in the geological substrate and matches the direction of the mountain’s north-east plane.

Image Credit : M. Díaz-Guardamino

According to the researchers: “The tomb is part natural monument, part hypogeum, part megalith. It consists of a pseudo-rectangular cavity, 4.5m long and 1.45m wide, which was cut into the bedrock through the removal of the local calcarenite rock and then delimited, to the east and west, by a series of medium-sized slabs”.

The builders deliberately utilised the naturally folded geology, integrating the structure into the surrounding landscape. The naturally occurring calcarenite rocks are vertically oriented due to the anticline fold that forms the long sides of the structure towards the north and south.

Although there is no conclusive evidence indicating the existence of a roof, some significant broken slabs discovered in the upper portion of the tomb’s fill may be the remnants of capstones.

Two slabs delimiting the entrance and two at the back of the chamber are made of locally available stone and have been carefully selected and carved with decorated engraved motifs.

The builders also used slabs of marine sedimentary rocks that has natural ripples which is also found at the megalithic monument of El Romeral, suggesting that these structures were built according to a shared set of ideas.

Another remarkable architectural discovery consists of two triangular dressed stones fixed to the chamber’s floor with a mud mortar that are orientated with the summer solstice sunrise.

According to the study authors: “The fill of the tomb included a substantial assemblage of human bone, some faunal remains, knapped lithics and ceramics. A large number of stones (988kg), used to create specific features and spaces within the burial chamber, was also recorded. The stratigraphic evidence and carbon dating of the human remains suggests that the tomb was used over three major periods.”

The tomb has enabled the researchers to expand our understanding of the Antequera World Heritage site, the importance of La Peña de los Enamorados as a focus of Neolithic activity, and reveals further insights into the sophisticated arrangement through which the carving of rocks (either as stelae, as astronomical devices, or as canvasses decorated with natural motifs of marine origin) was coupled with the natural orientation of the geological substrate to ‘domesticate’ sunlight.

Antiquity

https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2023.35

Header Image Credit : M. Ángel Blanco de la Rubia

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Archaeology

Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”

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Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact

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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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