Perdigões enclosures have a small museum located at the medieval tower of Herdade do Esporão (Reguengos de Monsaraz). In this page, images of archaeological materials and excavated contexts will be displayed. Please respect the copyrights and references.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

0026 - Neolithic pipes

(Photo copyright António Valera, Era Arqueologia)

This possible pipes made of clay are from the Late Neolithic phase of Perdigões enclosure. The one of the left had ashes inside. It is possible they were completed with "tubes" made of  hollow bones. This kind of "tubes" are known in some Iberian sites, like in Cueva de L'Or.

They were published here.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

0025 - Almerinse/Cruciforme figurines

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

These figurines are classified in Portuguese archaeological literature as "Almeriense idols". In the Spanish one they are called "cruciformes", and they were thought to be of Chalcolithic origin (that is, from the 3rd millennium BC).

At Perdigões, though, they occur in a ditch deposition that is dated from the Late Neolithic (Ditch 12), between 3300 - 3100 cal BC. It is, so far, the oldest dated (in absolute terms) context where these figures appear in Iberia. Important, because it clearly shows that the 3rd millennium social trajectory, namely in terms of iconography and ideology, started in the second half of the 4th millennium BC. A frontier between the Late Neolithic and the Chalcolithic that, in terms of social trajectories, just doesn't make sense anymore, at least in the Iberian Southwest.

Published here.

Monday, 4 March 2019

0027 - Integrality

Many archaeological studies are dealing with the issues of fragmentation and its social roles in the context of Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies (for a Portuguese recent perspective see here). But fragmentation cannot be approach apart from its opposite, "integrality", for the two oppositions are a duality: they implicate each other.

That we can see in the anthropomorphic figurines present in the deposition of cremated remains in Perdigões central area. If the majority of figurines are burned and broken in peaces, just like the human remains, revealing the intention of fragmentation and dilution of the unity of the body, the deposition of this figurine, just next to the cremated remains, shows the importance conceded to completeness, establishing a dialogue between part / whole: the broken leg was intentionally completed with a fragment of a human calcined bone.

The publication of this context and its discussion can be found here.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / C. Cunha - Era Arqueologia)

Friday, 22 February 2019

0026 - Cup marks

Cup marks are very common in Alentejo's prehistory and their meanings are still a mystery. They appear isolated or in clusters in outcrops, menhirs or passage graves monoliths. This granitic bloc, with an oval shape, is covered with these cup marks in a quite unique way. It is at the surface, inside Perdigões enclosure.   

(Photo copyright Miguel Lago / Era Arqueologia)

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

Photos published here.

Monday, 18 February 2019

0025 - Deers in Perdigões (2)

The deer was a special animal in Recent Prehistory. Its representation in rock art, in pottery decoration or the ceremonial use of its antlers and of its phalanges for carving anthropomorphic figurines leave few doubts about their important role in the imaginary of Prehistoric communities.

Here is a small figurine of a deer, carved in ivory, collected in Tomb 2 of Perdigões.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

For further information and interpretation of these figurines see here.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

0024 - Hybridism

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

These are two animal half mandibles. One of a Equus sp. (horse), at right, the other of Sus sp. (a pig or boar). They were deposited like that in the top of Pit 84 of Perdigões. Joined but facing opposite directions. The horse mandible pointing to North and the other to South.

                                        (Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

They were close to an agglomeration of small stones and left of a small Adz. In a recent paper, this careful and intentional deposition was interpreted as an example of the hybridism and fluidity that characterizes the ontologies and world views of Late Prehistoric communities. The way things are deposited, how they are combined and organized in the depositions, communicate. They are a sort of writing.

It is published here.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

0023 - "Horn idol"

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

This "horn idol" was collected at Hypogeum 1, in Perdigões, dating from the Late Neolithic (last quarter of the 4th millennium BC). It is decorated with incised lines, suggesting the attribute of other figurines interpreted as facial tattoos. 

Published here.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

0022 - "Hut" 1 of Perdigões: scaling down the site.

This structure is in the center of Perdigões enclosures.  It slightly overcomes a semicircle, presenting a large overture open to East. It has 10,5 m diameter and a central post hole. The small ditch that defines the semicircle has wedges inside, showing that posts were set along the ditch, forming a circular wall.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia - pits are earlier and later)

Who was inside would have the visibility limited by the structure to North, South and West, and opened to East, just like it happens with the natural theater where Perdigões is located. This structure reproduces the site visibility: to East, to an horizon limited by both solstices, being therefore a annual calendar at sunrise. This structure seems to scale down the site, but maintaining its visual relation with the local landscape.

(Image copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

It is dated from the middle third millennium BC, and integrates the grate monumental complexity of structures present at the center of the enclosures.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

0021 - Ocher

Red ocher is common in funerary contexts, as powder spread over votive materials and bones. At Perdigões, it is present at Tombs 1 and 2. But this concentration in the bottom of a pot occur in a large Late Neolithic pit, in a none funerary context, but where several ideotechnic objects were also present: a decorated "horn idol", decorated schist plaques, an "almeriense" figurine, a possible mask with deer antlers, apart from several structure depositions of ceramic fragments, particularly halves of pots. Remains of ritualized practices.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / ERA Arqueologia)

Publicated here.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

0020 - Decorated Phalanx

Anthropomorphic figurines made out of phalanges are common in the Southwest Chalcolithic. Perdigões has the larger collection of these peaces in Portugal and possibly in Iberia (around a hundred). They are made of deer or horse phalanges, sometimes carved or painted with the attributes that also occur in other types of figurines of the period or in the "symbolic decoration" of pots (eyes, facial tattoos, zig-zag hair, arms, etc.).

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

This is a shaped and carved horse phalanx, with the zig-zag hair represented at the back and the eyes and arms in the front, under a layer of concretions. It is broken in two halves, one collected at the surface of Tomb 2 and the other at the surface of Tomb 3, some 24m away.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

0019 - Trivia beads

These are some of the beads made out of Trivia shells.They are part of an assemblage of more than 50 trivia beads collected at the depositions of cremated human remains in the central area of Perdigões. Trivia beads occur at Perdigões since the Neolithic phase. And, during the Chalcolithic, they are also present in the tholoi type tombs in the eastern limits of the site. But is in the context of the deposition of cremated human remains that they have their major concentration. Dated from the middle / third quarter of the 3rd millennium BC.
Naturally, being a sea shell, they are an exogenous item at Perdigões. One of many.

(Photo copyrights A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia SA.)

To get more information about exogenous sea shells at Perdigões, see here.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

0018 - Cinnabar

Cinnabar is an exogenous item at Perdigões and at the inner Alentejo region. It circulates there at least since the late Middle Neolithic (recorded at the hypogeum of Quinta da Abóbada). At Perdigões, it is present during the Chalcolithic in tombs 1 and 2. Usually it appears in funerary contexts, spread over human remains and votive materials, as part of the ritual procedures.

Cinnabar over human mandible in Tomb 1 (Photo copyright Miguel Lago / Era Arqueologia)

Cinnabar, as the origin of Mercury, seems also responsible for the Mercury contamination of many people that have their remains in the site. Used in rituals, possibly inhaled or even eaten, or in tattoos or body paintings, cinnabar might be the responsible for the high concentrations of mercury in many human bones. The isotopic studies already done show that the cinnabar found at Perdigões had its origin at Almaden mines, in Ciudad Real, around 350km away.

For more information see here.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

0017 - A large first blade

A first blade (lâmina de crista) of flint. Integrating the concentrated assemblage of more than 80 large blades recorded in Tomb 3 of Perdigões, this blade corresponds to a first extraction from a prepared core, and therefore it present in its surface the marks of the preparation of the core for the knapping. It was the first of a sequence of extractions.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

But these extractions occurred elsewhere. They were not produced at Perdigões. These long blades (several have more than 30 cm, like this one) are exogenous objects at the site and document the integration of Perdigões in large scale networks of circulation of exotic and valued materials. Some of these blades are of oolithic flint and have their probable origin in the central Andalusia, in the Betic mountains, some 600 km away from Perdigões.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

0016 - Small stone pot

This is a typical stone pot, sometimes called mortar or grail, from the Chalcolithic. 25 of them were collected so far in Perdigões, some made of limestone and others made of marble. They are ideotechnic objects (related to the sacred) and come mainly from funerary contexts: 15 from Tomb 1, 7 from Tomb 2, 1 from the large pit with cremated remains (Pit 40). The remaining 2 are from surface collecting and from Pit 87 (the only two not directly related to funerary contexts). This is the one from Pit 40 (made of marble).

(Photo copyright Mafalda Capela / Era Arqueologia)

To know more about ideotechnic objects at Perdigões see here.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

0015 - Beaker dagger

This copper dagger, typical of Bell Beaker assemblages, was collected at the surface of Perdigões in 2010, during the geophysical surveys. It was found in the central area of the enclosures, where there is the major concentration of beakers at the site.

(Photo copyrights A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

Published here (contextual analysis) and here (metallurgical analysis).

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

0014 - Mini pots

These two very small pots were collected in the Late Neolithic contexts of Perdigões. They are rely small, and inside only a fingers head can enter. It is difficult to propose a functionality for such pots. Something resembling a modern toy status could be an explanation. But if we think that miniaturization, as form of scaling down objects to be handled in symbolic contexts (as it happens with animals and human figures), is one of the practices of the period, then these miniatures may be seen from a different perspective. Handled as thoughts in the mind, to quote (by memory) Tim Ingold about the small figurines.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

They were first published here.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

0013 - Bell Beaker

Commemorating the winter solstice, certainly an important period at Perdigões enclosures, here is a Bell Beaker collected in the excavations of 2018. Geometric style, with the decoration impressed using a comb.

(photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

See more information about Perdigões Bell Beakers here.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

0012 - Deer antler

Deer were animals with particular symbolism in Prehistory. They were depicted in rock art, in pottery decoration, were carved in small figurines and their antlers were used for tools but also in ritual depositions in funerary contexts or in other ceremonial practices. Most of these "ceremonial antlers" were collected after being naturally lost by the animals, showing just the base and not the parts of the skull where they were attached, meaning that they do not result from hunting. That is the case of this antler from an adult deer that was deposited in Tomb 2 of Perdigões, in an assemblage of human bones. This assemblage is dated from the third quarter of the 3rd millennium BC.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia S.A.)

For more information see here.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

0011 - Phalanx and beads

This horse phalanx was carved and polished to be transformed in a anthropomorphic figure. It was deposited with cremated human remains in Pit 40. It might have been close to a necklace, because several beads made of shell remained attached by concretions. Is dated from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

0010 - Ivory

Ivory is usually abundant in Perdigões Chalcolithic tombs. Many and diversified objects were collected in the tholos type tomb 1 and tomb 2 and in the pits with secondary depositions of human cremated remains. But there, also fragments of tusks were recovered, showing that ivory raw material was also circulating and arriving to Perdigões and not just finished objects.
Some of this ivory was analyzed and the provenance is the African Bush Elephant  (Loxodonta africana).

This fragment of tusk is from Pit 40, a major feature with the deposition of human cremated remains, dated from the middle 3rd millennium BC.

For more information see publication here.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

0009 - Local object exogenous raw material

That is the case of the staff collected in Tomb 1 of Perdigões. Staffs are an  ideotechnic object present in the inner Alentejo megalithic tradition. This exemplar of Perdigões, made of ivory and dated from the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, combines a regional object with an exogenous raw material. This combination captures,in a way, the spirit of times of the 3rd millennium BC, when local and regional areas were integrated in wide networks of social interaction. And this is also seen in the decoration of this peace, that resembles the patterns that can be observed in other materials of the period. Mixtures. A concept that can very well characterize these times of prime of the Neolithic way in the Southwest Iberia.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

0008 - Sun eyes

This is one of the most complete pots with the so called symbolic decoration from Perdigões. It was collected at the atrium of Tomb 2 and is dated from the third quarter of the 3rd millennium BC. It presents two sun eyes and over them two nipples. In each side of the nipples there are the zigzag facial tattoos. The decoration is completed with vertical stripes of lunulae.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia) 

(Drawing copyright Carlos Lemos / Era Arqueologia)

These well decorated pots, presenting several of the attributes of Chalcolithic symbolic iconography, can be found spread all over south Iberia.

Picture and drawing first published here.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

0007 - Carving marble

There are several betils from Pit 40 of Perdigões, the one with the deposition of cremated human remains. Most of them are made of marble, a raw material that archaeometric studies suggest to have its origin 30/40km north of Perdigões, in the area of Borba / Vila Viçosa.

This is one of them, decorated with the radial eyes, eyebrows, facial tattoos and, in the back, the zigzag hair. Dated from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia)

Sunday, 25 November 2018

0006 - Birds of ivory (1)

In Perdigões there are several bird figurines collected in funerary contexts, namely in Tombs 1 and 2.
This is one of the best carved in ivory, from Tomb 2. It represents a bird with grate detail and in a very realistic or naturalistic way. Its length is about 3cm.

(Photo copyright J.P. Ruas)

For more informations about animal figurines at Perdigões see here.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

0005 - Faces

Faces of anthropomorphic figurines made of ivory from Perdigões. Four of a minimum number of 16 figurines, associated to the human cremated remains in a pit located in the center of the enclosures. They are dated between 2600-2400 BC.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / M. Capela, Era Arqueologia)

For more information see here.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

0004 - Ivory box

Decorated ivory box from Tomb 2. This is a typical decoration present in many boxes made of different (ivory, bone, limestone) materials that occur in the Southern half of Iberia. In Portugal, they are frequent in Estremadura. In Perdigões there are several exemplars from Tombs 1 and 2.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera / Era Arqueologia).

For more information about Perdigões ivories see here.

0003 - Amber at Perdigões

Amber bead recovered inside a skull from Tomb 2 of Perdigões. Amber beads were also present at Tomb 1, and were made of Sicilian amber. The one from Tomb 2 will be analyzed soon, to determine the provenance of the amber.

(Photo copyright A.C. Valera/Era Arqueologia)

One more evidence, among so many others, of the interaction networks of  exotic materials where Perdigões was involved in.

More information here.

0002 - Ivory lunulae

Ivory "lunulae" from tomb 2. Published in Valera, 2010 (Photo copyright A.C.Valera/Era Arqueologia)

0001 - Deers in Perdigões

Pottery fragment from a chalcolithic pit in Sector I. Two heads of male deer are depicted. Published in Valera e Godinho, 2009. (Photo copyright: A.C.Valera/Era Arqueologia).