Sunday, May 14, 2017

Antequera Rocks: Dolmens Of Antequera

We had not heard of Antequera's megalithic center until this trip. We've always been focused on the megalithic centers in France, the UK, and Ireland. But Antequera's three, probably four, sites merit attention from anyone interested in megalithic matters. They were just awarded World Heritage status in 2016. Their age ranges from 1800 BCE for the Tholos/Romerol site to 3800 BCE for the Menga and Viera sites. Give or take a few hundred years, as usual. All three are unique in their own ways. Romerol is a tholos or beehive tomb, unlike anything we have seen in the neolithic world although we saw several in the Mycenean world, in Greece. (As befits the Myceneans, their tholos are colossal, cyclopean, but much younger, Bronze Age.) The Menga and Viera dolmen at Antequera both are quite large--Menga is said to be the largest in Europe--and it is sometimes compared with Newgrange in Ireland, in size. Most importantly, while Viera has the solsticial orientation that most megalithic monuments have, Menga clearly is oriented toward a natural feature, the Penas de los Enamorados, a nearby mountain of striking prominence. Romerol is on a line from Menga to the Penas, but itself appears oriented toward the Tacul mountains back toward the city of Antequera. The presentation of it all, in the visitor center, the video, the pamphlet, and the openness of the site, is exemplary. And in English too.
In the visitor center, honoring the several archaeologists who
have worked on the Antequera dolmen; nice to see such
recognition; the video on the building of Menga was wonderful;
entirely CG, too

A little foreshadowing...that's the Penas de los Enamorados
on the left; tumulus X on the right

Walking toward Viera and Menga, a tribute to the archaeo-
astronomer Michael Hoskins

Entrance to Viera

By northern Atlantic neolithic standards, it's humongously


Vicki stands for scale in the entry

Entrance to Menga

The stones used here are limestone, presumably lighter than
the building materials one sees in the megaliths of France, UK,
and Ireland, and hence they are very large, by comparison with
those places; so large that the problem of supporting the
enormous capstones was solved by an entirely new concept:
a central post; Menga has 3 such posts, or, one might say,

Thus; the supporting posts are unique enough; the size of the
chamber, in every dimension, is larger than anything we have

Among the curiosities: toward the back of Menga, a 20m deep
well, said to be of Bronze Age origin

Standing for scale at the back of the chamber


Vicki examining the construction technique


Looking back out the entry

Meanwhile, back at the visitor center, some local kids get a
lesson in what their forebears were doing 6,000 years ago

Another curiosity; never mind the civic center in the foreground;
in the middle ground is another, much larger, unidentified tumulus, 
so I had to ask back at the visitor center whether it had been 
excavated; no, I was told, it is on private property, but the 
government of Andalusia is trying to obtain it...

2-3k up the road, we are at the entrance to Romerol, the tholos
or beehive dolmen, the youngest of the Antequera trio, another

The long dry-stone entry; again, larger than practically anything
we've seen before; note trapezoidal design (really tied things
together; had the Incas seen this?!)

There are two beehive chambers in Romerol,
only the first of which is open

Thus; note capstone above; through the
passage way you can see into the 2nd beehive
chamber with a convex mirror inside...

Via which you can see some of the interior of the second

Note huge capstone over entry

Just for a fun comparison, here is Vicki standing in a Mycenean
tholos, February, 2011

Romerol's tumulus; nicely landscaped

A last look, driving toward Malaga, at the Penas de los Emamorados

1 comment:

Tawana said...

Oh, wow. These are fabulous!