1-7 of 7 results  for:

  • Architecture and Urban Planning x
  • Prehistoric Art x
Clear all

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

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

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...

Article

Kea  

R. L. N. Barber

revised by Gordon Campbell

[Keos; Ceos; Zea]

Greek island at the north-western extremity of the Aegean Cyclades. It has several Bronze Age sites, by far the most important of which, in terms of both architecture and finds, is the settlement of Ayia Irini, on a small promontory in the sheltered western bay of Ayios Nikolaos. First identified (1956) as an important prehistoric site by K. Scholas, it was excavated (1960–c. 1971) by the late J. L. Caskey for the University of Cincinnati. Ayia Irini was occupied for most of the Bronze Age. Some houses date from the Early Cycladic (ec) period (c. 3500/3000–c. 2000 bc), while the chief Middle Cycladic (mc; c. 2000–c. 1600 bc) remains are of fortifications—one system with horseshoe-shaped bastions and a later one with square towers (see Cycladic §II 2.). There are some cists and more elaborately built tombs of the ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

A distinctively Macedonian type of monumental chamber-tomb, consisting of a built chamber roofed with a barrel-vault, sometimes also preceded by an antechamber, and covered by an earth tumulus. The type emerged some time in the 4th century bc, and was widely used in Macedonia and its sphere of influence well into the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc).

Inhumations and cremations were practised contemporaneously in Macedonia, and are often found in the same tomb; it seems that the choice was a matter of personal preference or family tradition. Cremated remains were deposited inside a chest (larnax) made of stone, metal or wood, or a metal or clay hydria (water-jug). The tombs were furnished with couches, thrones, stools, chests, tables, benches etc reproducing actual interiors. The furniture presumably had a practical as well as symbolic role as it may have been used in funerary rituals. Movable offerings were also deposited to accompany the deceased in the afterlife, offering a glimpse into a world of skilful extravagance and sophisticated luxury....

Article

Anna Ritchie

Neolithic chambered tomb, dated to c. 2700 bc, on the Orkney mainland, Scotland, c. 14.5 km west of Kirkwall. Maes Howe is among the finest examples of Neolithic architecture in western Europe (see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2). It is the type site for a local group of at least 11 passage graves, all characterized by a long passage leading to a large vaulted chamber with side-cells. Although these tombs are associated with carved megalithic decoration related to the art of Irish passage graves (see Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 3, (i)), the Neolithic art at Maes Howe is confined to a series of engraved chevrons on the south-west buttress, comparable to decoration at the contemporary settlement of Skara Brae, also in Orkney.

The builders of Maes Howe handled the local flagstone with finesse to achieve a dry-stone structure of outstanding sophistication: together with its proximity to the stone circles of Brodgar and Stenness, the size and quality of the tomb suggest that it was intended to house the burial of a pre-eminent chieftain. The mound was first broken into in the 12th century ...