Grupo de investigación RNM-177
Universidad de Sevilla
PAIDI. Junta de Andalucía

W. Wheatley D., García Sanjuán L., Murrieta Flores P., Márquez Pérez J. The megalithic phenomenon in southern Spain: approaching the landscape dimension. Oxford Journal of Archaeology. 2010; 29-4: 387–405.

Summary

Although the megalithic phenomenon in southern Iberia hasreceived attention since the mid-nineteenth century, there has been very littleattention paid to the role that megalithic structures played in the organizationof prehistoric landscapes. Just as in other areas of Europe, however, southernIberian megalithic structures must have played complex roles in the socialorganization of landscapes that go far beyond their use as funerary containers.Using examples from our work in southern Iberia, we employ GIS-basedspatial analysis to explore for the first time various aspects of the landscapedimension of these monuments. We discuss three case-studies for which freshfield data have been recently made available. In the first (Almadén de la Plata)we find patterns of association between medieval transhumance routes andmegaliths, and we use cost-surface modelling to suggest that medieval routesmay reflect earlier, prehistoric patterns of movement which in turn suggest thatmegalithic structures functioned in this area as waypoints within an emergingmobility system for people and livestock. In the second case (Aroche) we showcorrelations between the locations of megaliths and theoretical territoriesdefined by isochrones and contrast this pattern with the distribution of non-megalithic funerary sites of the Early Bronze Age, concluding that the spatialdistribution of megaliths in this region may relate to their role as landmarks.Lastly we describe a far more specific relationship which we have encounteredin the Antequera region, where we believe we have identified a relationshipbetween the orientation of the megalithic structure of Menga, a prominentnatural feature and several newly discovered prehistoric sites. Together, thesethree examples suggest that the current focus on typology, chronology andcontents in the study of Iberian megaliths needs to be matched with efforts toidentify and interpret the often highly complex structure of the prehistoriclandscapes of which they form an integral part.

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