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Tombs, landscapes and settlement in the Tagus hill-country.

Scarre, Chris and Oosterbeek, Luiz and French, Charles (2011) 'Tombs, landscapes and settlement in the Tagus hill-country.', in From the origins : the prehistory of the inner Tagus region. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 83-91. British Archaeological Reports International Series. (2219).


The role of Neolithic monuments in the establishment of farming communities has long been the focus of considerable debate. The use of megalithic slabs taken from visible rock outcrops will in many cases have provided a direct link with the local landscape. The schist orthostats of the Anta da Lajinha near Mação, for example, were derived from the pillar-like outcrops that traverse the nearby hillsides. The visual link between megalithic chamber and natural outcrop will have served to anchor the tomb within its setting. Recent excavations at Lajinha and neighbouring Cabeço dos Pendentes indicate that the megalithic structures of these tombs were not entirely hidden within a mound or cairn. A similar conclusion had already been suggested by the excavation of Anta 1 de Val da Laje, in the Zêzere valley. Thus the relationship between tomb and outcrop would have been externally visible. Palaeoenvironmental studies in the surrounding valleys suggest that this cannot have been a heavily cultivated or densely settled region and lead us to consider alternative scenarios. On the one hand, these tombs may have been built by local mobile pastoral communities, but it is also possible that this relatively rugged terrain was visited for burial by populations settled in more distant fertile zones such as the Tagus valley.

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Record Created:16 Apr 2012 12:20
Last Modified:06 Jun 2012 15:04

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