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Article

Addaura  

David Trump

Cave site in the northern slope of Monte Pellegrino 8 km north of Palermo on the north coast of Sicily. It contains a number of prehistoric figures engraved in the surface of a smooth slab of rock on the left-hand side, which were revealed when a layer of stalagmite was detached by exploding ammunition in the 1940s. The earliest, lightly incised group includes horses, cattle, a hind and a woman carrying a bundle. The main group consists of ten male figures, each about 250 mm high, and a larger figure of a deer. The outlines of the former are bold and assured, though the heads are invariably crude, often animal- or bird-like; hands and feet were simply omitted. Later two bovids were added; these are much more roughly drawn. All had been covered by the stalagmite, which must have taken many centuries, if not millennia, to form. A date of ...

Article

Paul G. Bahn

Cave site near the coast of northern Spain, 2 km south of Santillana del Mar, Santander. It is important for its cave art of the Late Upper Palaeolithic period (c. 20,000–c. 10,000 bp; see also Prehistoric Europe, §II, 1). The cave of Altamira, nicknamed the ‘Sistine Chapel of Rock Art’, was decorated at various times c. 16,000–14,000 bp (see fig.). Material from excavations in the cave, including the engraved shoulder-blades of deer, is housed in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, and in the Museo de las Cuevas de Altamira at the site.

First discovered by a hunter in 1868, the cave was visited in 1876 by a local landowner, Don Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, who noticed some black painted signs on a wall. He returned to excavate in 1879, and it was on this occasion that his daughter spotted a cluster of polychrome paintings of bison on the ceiling. The figures seemed to have been executed with a fatty paste, and de Sautuola noticed a close similarity in style between these huge figures and the small examples of portable prehistoric art that he had seen at an exhibition in Paris. He therefore deduced that the cave art was of a similar age, but his attempts to present this discovery to the academic establishment met with widespread rejection. The validity of de Sautuola’s claim was not established until the early 20th century, years after his premature death in ...

Article

Amorgos  

R. L. N. Barber

Greek island at the south-east extremity of the Aegean Cyclades. Survey work in the 1980s increased the number of known sites of all periods on the island. Most of the Bronze Age finds date from the Early Cycladic (ec) period (c. 3500/3000–c. 2000 bc) and come from cemeteries, although a settlement at Markiani is being excavated; there is also some Middle Cycladic (mc) and Late Cycladic (lc) pottery from graves at Arkesine, and Mycenaean vases were found at Xilokeratidi. The primary investigations were mainly the work of C. Tsountas, and the more recent of L. Marangou and others, although Dümmler published important material from Amorgos in the 1880s. The small but attractive museum on the island (in Chora) has good prehistoric pottery and (mostly fragmentary) marble objects.

The Dokathismata cemetery on Amorgos has given its name to an important category of Cycladic folded-arm stone ...

Article

David Trump

Group of 35 tombs cut in a sandstone bluff overlooking the Filibertu River, 10 km north of Alghero, Sardinia. The village to which they belonged has not been located, but the tombs, excavated in 1907–8 by A. A. Taramelli, shed valuable light on the form and decoration of the houses of the living. There are no radiocarbon dates for the tombs, but they have been dated to the 3rd millennium bc by the archaeological material recovered from them and now held in the Museo Nazionale G. A. Sanna in Sassari. These finds include Neolithic Ozieri and Bell Beaker pottery, a few copper daggers, flint and obsidian arrowheads and a variety of personal ornaments, beads and amulets of stone, bone and shell. The most notable artefacts are some stylized female statuettes in marble. The Ozieri pottery is well made and highly decorated with a variety of designs, of which hatched spirals are the most distinctive. The Bell Beaker pots are bell-shaped vessels of fine, hard-textured red pottery covered with neat, impressed ornament....

Article

Paul G. Bahn

[Roc aux Sorciers]

Site in Vienne, France. It is important for its rock art of the Late Upper Palaeolithic period (c. 20,000–c. 10,000 bp; see also Prehistoric Europe, §II, 1). The rock-shelter of Angles-sur-l’Anglin runs for c. 50 m along the foot of a south-facing cliff, 20 m above the right bank of the Anglin river. Excavations by Dorothy Garrod and Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin in 1952 led to the discovery of some Palaeolithic sculpture dating to c. 14,000 bp. Subsequent investigation revealed that the entire back wall and ceiling of the shelter had originally been sculpted, but that the roof had collapsed and buried them in rubble and sediment. The finds from the site are housed in the Musée des Antiquités Nationales at St Germain-en-Laye, where some of the finest carved blocks from the shelter roof are displayed.

Two areas were cleared by the excavators: in the first, the Cave Taillebourg, a carved bison figure 700 mm in length remained ...

Article

Clay Mathers

District of Málaga, Spain, best known for its megalithic communal tombs of the later 4th millennium and the 3rd millennium bc. Located 2 km east of the town of Antequera and 70 m apart are Cueva de Menga and Cueva de Viera, while Cueva del Romeral lies 2 km to the north-east of these. Each tomb was partly recessed in a rock-cut trench and covered by a large, artificial mound. Cueva de Menga was first noted in 1675 and was excavated by Rafael Mitjana in 1842. It has a parallel-sided passage (8.7×2–3 m) leading to an ovoid chamber (16.25×2.2–5.4×3.2 m). The largest roof slab (6×8 m) weighs c. 170 tonnes. Engraved lines on the underside of the roofing slabs were used to position them accurately above the chamber and passage, and three pillars along the central axis of the chamber served to distribute the enormous weight of the roof. One orthostat in the passage is decorated with engravings of four anthropomorphic figures and a five-pointed star. Cueva de Viera and Cueva del Romeral were discovered by the ...

Article

R. L. N. Barber

[Andiparos; anc. Oliaros]

Small Greek island just to the south-west of Paros, in the Aegean Cyclades. It is the site of a number of finds from the Greek Bronze Age (c. 3600–c. 1100 bc), many of which come from excavations carried out by Tsountas and Bent in the 19th century (e.g. the cemetery of Krassades, which yielded important objects from the Early Cycladic (ec) i period), and in the 20th century by the Greek Archaeological Service. Items found by Bent, including a rare lead figurine, are in the British Museum, London.

The nearby islet of Saliagos is the site of the earliest excavated settlement in the Cyclades, dating to the Final Neolithic period (c. 4000–c. 3500/3000 bc). Among the finds were marble figurines, reflecting both the previous Neolithic tradition of squatting figures (e.g. the ‘Fat Lady of Saliagos’; Paros, Archaeol. Mus.) and a standard ...

Article

Asine  

Robin Hägg

[now Kastraki]

Coastal site in the north-eastern Peloponnese in southern Greece, 8 km south-east of Navplion. Centred around an easily defended rocky promontory (acropolis), the settlement is remarkable for its long, almost uninterrupted history of habitation, from at least c. 4000 bc to c. ad 400. It flourished during the Bronze Age (c. 4000–c. 1050 bc) and in the Geometric and Hellenistic periods (c. 900–c. 725 bc and 336–27 bc). First mentioned in the Homeric epic The Iliad (II.560; Catalogue of Ships), it was identified in modern times by E. Curtius in 1852 and excavated by Swedish expeditions in 1922–30 and 1970–90. The finds are in the Navplion Archaeological Museum, among them a terracotta head of less than life-size from the 12th century bc, known as the Lord (or Lady) of Asine (see Helladic, §V, 2, (i)).

On the north-west slope of the acropolis there was an almost continuous habitation: especially remarkable are an apsidal house of the Early Helladic period (...

Article

Avebury  

Rob Jameson

Village in Wiltshire, south-west England, the site of a Late Neolithic ceremonial complex, including a massive Henge and stone circle (see fig.; see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2, (iv), (a); Megalithic architecture, 2). The Avebury monuments are close to the contemporary earthwork at Silbury Hill, the earlier causewayed camp at Windmill Hill and the megalithic tomb at West Kennet. Alexander Keiller excavated and partially restored Avebury in the 1930s.

At the centre of the complex is the great henge, consisting of a ditch (originally 9 m deep) and an outer bank. Sherds of Windmill Hill ware, Peterborough ware and Grooved ware pottery were excavated from the bottom of the ditch. No material from Avebury has yet been dated by radiocarbon analysis, but finds of these pottery types and comparison with other large henges in the locality (such as Durrington Walls) suggest that construction began after c. 2500 bc. The ditch may have been dug in sections allotted to gangs of workers, which would explain irregularities in the shape of the earthworks, as well as the barely circular layout of the stone ring (diam. ...

Article

Banshan  

Julia M. White

[Pan-shan]

Site in the Tao River valley near Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China. First excavated in 1924 by the Swedish archaeologist johan gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it gives its name to a phase (c. 2800–c. 2300 bc) of the Neolithic-period Western or Gansu Yangshao culture.

Four sites make up Banshan: Waguanzui, Banshan proper, Bianjiagou and Wangjiagou. Excavations in the region have shown that the Banshan cultural phase includes a range of sites extending north from Lanzhou to Wuwei and Yongchang in Gansu Province and as far west as the Guide Basin in Qinghai Province. Banshan was the source of a large number of painted ceramic vessels, many now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm. Since the major archaeological excavations of the 1970s and 1980s, museums and research institutes in China, particularly the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou and the Qinghai Provincial Museum in Xining, have acquired large collections of Banshan pottery. Initial finds of Banshan ceramics were exclusively funerary wares, leading experts to believe that the painted designs, especially the black, swirling ‘death pattern’, were associated with ritual burial practice. Later, vessels with an identical serrated pattern were found in habitation sites as well, and the designs are no longer interpreted only in connection with death....

Article

P. R. Giot

Site of Neolithic multiple-chambered tomb in Brittany, France, 13 km north of Morlaix (see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2, (v), (b)). Discovered in 1851 and excavated and restored between 1955 and 1968, this monument is typical of the complex cairns of the region. It is trapezoidal in form, measuring 72 m long and up to 27 m wide and 8 m high, and it is constructed of dry-stone masonry. There were two principal phases of construction. The primary cairn, on the east, contains five passage graves arranged side by side and had two concentric revetment walls. Charcoal from Chamber G, the passage of which was well blocked, has yielded a radiocarbon date in the later 5th millennium bc after calibration, equivalent to the oldest known dates for passage graves of the Atlantic seaboard. Chamber H has an antechamber and five orthostats with pecked decoration. The capstone of the easternmost tomb has a carved figure in an abnormal position indicating that it is a reused stone from an older monument. Few grave goods have been recovered from this primary cairn. The secondary cairn extended the first towards the west and down a slope, so the number of supporting revetment walls had to be increased from four to six in places. It contains six more passage graves, most of which have yielded early Neolithic radiocarbon dates and grave goods, although two also had some later material. The internal passages are of dry-stone masonry supporting capstones; there are some orthostats, but these do not have a structural function. Most of the chambers are of dry-stone corbelling, although two have capstones and supports. Local dolerite was used for the smaller blocks and stones in the cairns, while granite from an island 2 km away was chosen for the megalithic slabs and for the outer blocks of the secondary cairn. The Barnenez monument demonstrates a keen sense of grandiose architectural design among its builders, who maintained continuity over the several generations it took to complete. Naturally, there were some slight changes during the successive accretions; the western extremity of the secondary cairn, in particular, is somewhat prow-shaped and ostentatious, but it is clear that the limiting structures were built to be seen as stepped tiers. The obstruction of certain passages was also important, and a small part of the forecourt between two passage entrances had accumulated offerings of pottery. The main holdings of material from the site are housed in the Musée Préhistorique Finistérien, Penmarch....

Article

A. F. Harding

Site of Bronze Age settlement with fortified tower ( Nuraghe) in central-southern Sardinia, Italy. The tower of Su Nuraxi near Barumini is one of the most spectacular and fully developed of all the Sardinian nuraghi. Lying at a height of 238 m above sea-level on a terrace overlooking a fertile plain, it controlled an important route from the Campidano plain near Cagliari to the interior of the island. The site occupies about 1350 sq. m, of which the nuraghe takes up about one third. Excavations were carried out by Giovanni Lilliu in 1940 and between 1949 and 1954.

The history of the fortified elements of the site is complex. An initial tower of simple form, originally 18.6 m high and 10 m in diameter, lies eccentrically to the succeeding defensive conglomeration. The external walls, of uniform gradient, are formed of massive polyhedral basalt blocks in the lower courses and squared blocks in the upper. The tower contains three vaulted rooms, one above the other, the lowest having an entrance corridor with niches and a staircase opening. A radiocarbon date of 3410±200 ...

Article

A. F. Harding

Early Bronze Age round burial mound on Normanton Down, near Stonehenge, Wilts (Wilsford G.5 in L. V. Grinsell’s numbering). The Bush Barrow grave finds represent the finest flowering of Early Bronze Age craftsmanship in Britain. When excavated by William Cunnington in 1808, it contained ‘the skeleton of a tall and stout man’ and a variety of grave goods, including a bronze flanged axe, three bronze daggers, a stone macehead with bronze fitting, cylindrical bone mounts with toothed edges, a gold belt-hook cover, two lozenge-shaped plates of gold foil and a number of ‘brass rivets intermixed with wood’ (London, BM; on loan from Devizes Mus.). The grave and its objects are taken as typical of the Wessex Culture, identified from a group of burial finds centred on central-southern England and dating to the mid-2nd millennium bc. The site’s position within sight of Stonehenge lends weight to the suggestion that it was a major centre for social, artistic and religious activity during this period....

Article

Butmir  

Alasdair Whittle

Prehistoric settlement and cultural typesite of the 6th–5th millennia bc, on the fringes of the Vinča culture, in the upper Neretva Valley, near Sarajevo in Bosnia. The Late Neolithic site has yielded interesting handmade decorated pottery and plain fired clay figurines with unusually realistically modelled heads. It was partially excavated in 1893–6 by Viclav Radimský and his colleagues, and material recovered is in the National Museum, Sarajevo. Pottery from Butmir and other more recently excavated sites such as Obre, near Zenica, comprises a range of globular and pear-shaped vessels with spiral motifs incised and painted in red and white after firing. There are also small fired clay anthropomorphic figurines in the general Balkan tradition, but some are distinctive for having realistically modelled heads. Foreheads, eyes, lips and chins are delineated as well as noses and ears. Most archaeologists, however, would regard these primarily as cult or ritual objects rather than artistic representations; some suggest that they represent figures in a pantheon of deities....

Article

Carnac  

P. R. Giot

Region of north-west France, centre of the principal concentration of prehistoric megalithic monuments (see Megalithic architecture, §2) in Brittany. Situated south-west of Vannes, the area includes the parishes of Carnac and Locmariaquer, extending to Quiberon. The monuments include more than a hundred passage graves (dolmens) and many standing stones (menhirs) arranged singly or in groups including large alignments (see also Dolmen and Menhir). Curiously, these numerous and often huge stones did not attract the attention of scholars before the 18th century.

The typical large alignments, three of which are at Carnac and another at Erdeven, have one or two oval structures of contiguous stones at each end. Between these, ten to twelve apparently parallel lines of more or less equally spaced stones extend over a distance that can exceed a kilometre (see fig.). In reality, these lines are irregular and undulating, and the structures are very ruined; some stones are missing, while others have been restored. The stones decrease in size from the ends of the alignments towards their centres. Neolithic-period material, including flints, stone axes and pottery, has been found in the packing around their bases. The blocks are of local granite; a few are quite large and heavy. Wild speculations concerning their alignments’ ritual or symbolic significance have flourished, particularly in the 19th century, when the first theories about astral worship and astronomical use originated. The alignments differ in orientation, however, and there is no scientifically conclusive evidence to support even the most recent hypotheses, although some large isolated menhirs could have served as foresights for solar or lunar observation....

Article

A. F. Harding

Site of an Early Bronze Age settlement and cemetery in south-east Sicily, near the modern village of the same name some 25 km inland from Noto, and the typesite of the Castelluccio culture. The remains of a prehistoric settlement with rich rubbish pits was found on a high spur of land running north–south. Cut into the nearby hillsides are numerous rock-cut tombs, often less than 1 m in diameter, some of which have a small antechamber. In some cases the façades have pillars carved out of the rock flanking the doors. The doorways were closed with dry-stone walling or stone slabs, some of the latter being decorated with relief designs, mainly spirals. These represent the only stone-carving known from Bronze Age Sicily and are reminiscent of the rather earlier relief slabs found in Maltese temples. Cemeteries with tombs of this type are found over much of south-eastern Sicily, and in some cases there are settlement sites near by. Less elaborate rock-cut tombs of the same age are found also in central-southern Sicily....

Article

Paul G. Bahn

Cave site in northern Spain, near the village of Puente Viesgo, Santander. It is the most important of several caves in the hill of Monte Castillo that contain cave art of the Upper Palaeolithic period (c. 40,000–c.10,000 bp; see also Prehistoric Europe, §II, 1). El Castillo is at an elevation of 197 m and was discovered in 1903 by Hermilio Alcalde del Rio (1866–1947), who published the first studies of its art. Material recovered from excavations in the 20-m thick layer of Palaeolithic deposits at the cave mouth includes a major collection of engravings on the shoulder-blades of deer, now housed in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid.

Although only c. 164 m in length, the cave contains c. 1 km of galleries. These can be divided into two main parts: the first comprises a large initial chamber (the ‘Gran Sala’), measuring 30×25 m, and its side passages, and the second a series of corridors and galleries. These two parts are separated by an enormous mass of large blocks, which in prehistoric times left only two narrow connecting passages. Since the deposits at the cave entrance span the entire Palaeolithic period, with the earliest occupation levels dating back at least 100,000 years, some scholars believe that the art is quite heterogeneous, belonging to a number of different phases and thus defining El Castillo as a ‘multiple sanctuary’. Proponents of this theory have distributed the attribution of the 155 animal figures in the cave across all the cultures from the Aurignacian to the Upper Magdalenian. The French scholar ...

Article

J. V. S. Megaw and M. Ruth Megaw

Style of European Iron Age art (see also Prehistoric Europe, §VI). The term is used to describe the distinctive art produced by the La Tène culture (named after the site of La Tène in Switzerland), which flourished c. 450–c. 50 bc in temperate continental Europe, extending to c. ad 600 in Britain and Ireland. (The Iron Age or Celto-Iberian art of Spain and Portugal is not considered here; see Iberian art.) The term Celtic art is also sometimes considered to include the later phase of the Hallstatt culture (c. 750–c. 450 bc) and the much later Early Christian art of Britain and Ireland (c. ad 450 onwards), which was greatly influenced by prehistoric La Tène art (see Insular art).

The Celts, according to Greek and Roman writers, were one of the great barbarian peoples of Europe. They cannot be easily defined on a racial or linguistic basis; indeed, the very name Keltoi was imposed on them by outsiders and not generally used by themselves. Although it is usually assumed that the material culture of the ...

Article

Alasdair Whittle

Site of prehistoric cemetery of the late 6th–early 5th millennium bc in eastern Romania. It is significant for the range of Late Neolithic artefacts it has yielded, especially two notable fired clay figurines. Cernavoda is in the lower Danube Valley on the western side of the Dobrogea region, south of the Danube Delta. The cemetery was excavated in 1957 by Dimitri Berciu, and the material recovered is held by the Museum of Antiquities in Bucharest. The cemetery belongs to the Hamangia culture, named after a site in the north of the Dobrogea region. The status of this culture is unclear; it may represent an expansion of agricultural populations or a fusion with indigenous communities. Separate from contemporary settlements there are cemeteries, of which Cernavoda, with up to 400 graves, is the largest known; some of the artefacts found there are demonstrably different from material from the settlements. Men and women were buried in an extended position in shallow earth-cut graves. They were usually accompanied by a fine black burnished pot—rather different from the fine shell-impressed bowls and dishes found in settlements—and often by beads of stone and ...

Article

Cîrna  

A. F. Harding

Site of a large Bronze Age cremation cemetery beside a lake in the Danube flood plain in southern Oltenia, south-west Romania. The site and its art have been difficult to date precisely. A date between 1500 and 1300 bc is most likely. Rescue excavations have recovered 116 graves out of a probable total of more than 200. Each grave contained three or four vases on average, including a cinerary urn with an inverted-bowl lid. Most of the graves were single.

More than 500 vases were found in the cemetery. The main forms are: urns with a conical body and a cylindrical or flaring neck; storeyed vases, in which the body is composed of two sections or steps; biconical vases with two high handles; conical bowls, usually carinated, often with ‘peaks’ or points on the rim; and a variety of small one-handled cups and jugs, spouted vessels, double vessels etc. Nine figurines, ranging in height from 150 to 230 mm, were found in the urns or on their ‘shoulders’. They are highly stylized, the upper part of the body consisting of a more or less flat circular clay disc with a knob-like projection for the neck, joined to a hollow bell-like base apparently representing a flounced skirt. A few examples have a slot in the neck for the addition of a head-piece, though no such heads were found. On some pieces, the arms are represented folded on the chest, and though there is no clear indication of sex, the overall impression conveyed is female. The decoration includes depictions of objects probably worn by women at the time—belts, necklaces, discs, lunate pendants and so on. Some of the designs may represent woven textile motifs....