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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

Huastec  

Beatriz de la Fuente

Region and culture of Mesoamerica, that produced distinctive Pre-Columbian architecture, sculpture, pottery and shell ornaments. From the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc) to the Late Post-Classic period (c. ad 1200–1521) the Huastec people occupied the Gulf Coast of Mexico; today they inhabit southern Tamaulipas, northern Veracruz, eastern San Luis Potosí and parts of Querétaro, Hidalgo and Puebla.

Few Huastec buildings survive, and these only partially. Their most common characteristic is a circular floor plan. One of the oldest is in El Ebano in Tamaulipas; it may date from the Middle Pre-Classic period and has a circular floor plan (diam. 57 m), on top of which is a sort of hemispherical cap, 3 m high. The area of the Tamuín River was the most densely populated, and among the best-known sites are Tamtok and Tamuín, both Late Classic (c. ad 600–c. 900...

Article

Prespa  

N. Moutsopoulos

Region comprising two lakes, c. 30 km west of Florina, Greece: Great Prespa is shared between Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Greece and Little Prespa between Albania and Greece. Among the region’s earliest known architectural remains are those belonging to the ancient city on the island of St Achilles in Little Prespa lake. It was from here that the four sons of comes Nicholas, otherwise known as the Cometopuli, led a full-scale revolt against Byzantine occupation of the Balkans in ad 976. The youngest brother, Samuel, continued the struggle from his island base until his death in 1014. His empire survived him by only a few years. A modern village lies near the site of his capital.

Samuel also established a patriarchal see on the island (c. 990–1000), of which the first patriarch was Germanos, formerly of Tǎrnovo (Bulgaria). The patriarchal church, which was dedicated to St Achilles, whose relics were transferred to there from Larissa ...