terça-feira, 22 de maio de 2018

0038 - New PhD thesis about Perdigões

Lucy Evangelista presented her PhD thesis to the University of Coimbra.

For this study, the human bone sample recovered from Tomb I was analysed from a bioarchaeological perspective with the aim of contributing towards a better understanding of the Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic individuals that used the Perdigões prehistoric enclosures (Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal) as a burial site, and their attitudes towards death.
To achieve this, four main research objectives were defined:
(I) the analysis of the human remains exhumed from Tomb I, in order to characterize demographic, morphologic and pathological aspects of the population(II) based on physical anthropological analysis and the archaeological register, identification of funerary rules and attitudes, relating them to mental constructions towards death through a study of: the conception and form of deposition of human remains; the organization of the internal space of the tomb; evidence of ritualization; signs of management of the funerary space (III) to understand how the specific mortuary practices identified in Tomb I fit into the global funerary practices already known for the rest of the important archaeological site of Perdigões (IV) Tomb I was also understood within the context the history of the use of other tholoi type structures in the territory that is now referred to as South Portugal.
Tomb I is a tholos type structure from Perdigões Archaeological Complex, dated from the first half of the 3rd millennium BC and excavated between 1997 and 2001.The sample was in poor state of conservation and highly fragmented, and skeletonized elements were found completely disarticulated. Anthropic and natural taphonomic alterations were limiting factors of the study.
A two-fold approach was applied to the study of the skeletal sample from this funerary structure. First, it was studied according to the archaeological phases defined after field work, which sought to understand possible differentiated uses of the tomb through time. The skeletal sample was then studied as a whole, regardless of phases of use. The data obtained through this latter anthropological study were utilized for the paleodemographic reconstruction and for the identification of potential patterns in mortuary practices and for further comparison of this monument with other funerary structures inside and outside Perdigões Archaeological Complex. Both approaches mirror the same reality: the collective, commingled use of this tomb for deposition of human remains from both sexes and individuals of all ages.
A total of 61926 bone fragments and 1579 teeth were studied. The paleodemographic approach estimated an MNI of 103 individuals for this structure: 55 adults and 48 non-adults (below 15 years of age at death). Results showed both sexes were represented, while non-metric trait data, highly limited by the conditions of the sample, delivered few results.
Calculus was identified on 20,6% of the analysed teeth (289/1399) and linear enamel hypoplasia on 10,4% (143/1369) of the tooth sample, making them the most frequently represented dental pathologies for permanent teeth. Average tooth wear in this sample was low: 1,9 (n=1428) very close to the level of wear obtained for deciduous dentition: 1,8 (n=84). Cariogenic lesions were found on only 0,5% of the 1406 permanent teeth analysed and antemortem tooth loss was identified in 5,3% (n=29/539) of the observable alveoli. Skeletal pathological changes related mostly to joint disease, found mainly on upper and lower limb bones and the spine. The presence of enthesopathies were most commonly found on the lower limb and foot bones. Some evidence other diseases, such as infectious, congenital, metabolic and traumatic conditions, was found, but in low frequencies. However, the rarity of some of these pathologies for prehistoric contexts must be highlighted, as the probable case of Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna identified on an individual from Phase 2C.
The analysis of the use of the chamber for funerary depositions throughout the different phases revealed that different physical areas were used for the depositions of human remains and artefacts. In terms of Funerary Anthropology, Tomb I constitutes a burial site where an obvious and intense manipulation of the skeletal remains took place. No anatomical connections were identified and evidence suggests the secondary use of this funerary structure, although the possible presence of primary depositions at some point of its life cannot be overruled.
Comparison with other tholos/tholoi type structures made it possible to record differences in demographic, morphological and pathological features between coeval populations.

sexta-feira, 9 de fevereiro de 2018

0037 - New Master Thesis about Perdigões

A thesis about the social role of Bell Beakers at Perdigões: an adding to a social trajectory, rather than any kind of rupture.

terça-feira, 6 de junho de 2017

0036 - New paper on the social role of molluscs and shells at Perdigões

New paper on Perdigões enclosure. This one about the social role of molluscs and mollusc shells in the site. The main conclusion is that the consumption of molluscs and shells is mainly an issue of ideology, rather than subsistence, in the context of transregional interaction and use of exogenous materials. The majority are sea or estuarine species and, of those, it was the shell (not the mollusc) that circulated the most. Pecten maximus is one of the main presences, but in different contexts according to chronology: in depositions in ditches and pits in the Neolithic Perdigões, and a lot in funerary contexts during the chalcolithic. These and some other interesting aspects of molluscs use at a local and regional scales are discussed in the paper (in Portuguese), where large ditched enclosures show differences regarding smaller open or walled sites.

quinta-feira, 15 de dezembro de 2016

0034 - Collaboration with project of archaeogenetics

Auroch horn from Neolithic pit 48 of Perdigões

The project Perdigões PTDC/EPH-ARQ/0798/2014 – MOBINTER - "Mobility and interaction in South Portugal Recent Prehistory: the role of aggregation centers” is collaborating with the project ARCHAIC. The archaeogenetics Of Iberian Cattle: investigating their origins, evolution and improvement” (see information here: http://archaic.campus.ciencias.ulisboa.pt/Archaic/home.html).

In this context sixty samples (30 of Bos taurus – domestic cattle -and 30 of Bos primigenius – auroch) will be selected for DNA analysis from Neolithic and Chalcolithic contexts of Perdigões. 

quinta-feira, 27 de outubro de 2016

0033 - New master thesis on Perdigões

In October 18th, a new master thesis on Perdigões enclosures was presented: 

“Exploring Chalcolithic diet and mobility of humans and animals from Perdigões site”, by Indre Zalaite.

It was presented at University of Évora, in ARCHMAT program (ERASMUS MUNDUS MASTER IN ARCHaeological MATerials Science) and was also part of the project on mobility at Perdigões enclosures (see here) approved and financed by the Portuguese Science Foundation.

It is a first output of that project, which results will soon be published, product of the collaboration of the three institutions involved in the project integrated in the Global Program of Archaeological Research of Perdigões: ERA Arqueologia, Hércules Laboratory – Uévora and ICArEHB-UAlg. Center.

quarta-feira, 11 de maio de 2016

0032 - Perdigões and mobility research

Ditched enclosures, namely the large ones, are some of the best contexts to developed research on mobility, for they congregate numerous evidences of interaction and movement of people, animals and objects.

At an Iberian scale, Perdigões is now one of the main sites where this research is being developed.
There is a Portuguese Science Foundation project dedicated to this specific topic: “Mobility and interaction in South Portugal Recent Prehistory: the role of aggregation centers”. In this project participate the research unit of ERA Arqueologia, the research centre ICArEHB of university of Algarve and the laboratory Hércules of Évora University.

But this research has a wider projection, for this project is in articulated collaboration with several others related to the same topic.

We also integrate the project “Beyond migration and diffusion: peoples and technologies in prehistory”, financed by the Australian Research Council, and involve Era Arqueologia, the Australian National University, Griffith University and the Centro Nacional de Investigatión sobre l Evolución Humana. The goal will be research and compare mobility patterns between Prehistoric Iberia and the Pacific Islands.

Furthermore, we are establishing a partnership in this topic with another FCT project: “Beaker origins: Testing the hypothesis of late Neolithic dispersals from Iberia using both ancient and contemporary mitochondrial genomes” developed by Minho University with the collaboration of the doctoral scholarship programme at Huddersfield University (UK) entitled Genetic Journeys into History: The Next Generation (running 2015–2020).

Finally, we are engaged in other projects in phase of application, namely two on diets and mobility of animals in Iberia and another that will join the European Atlantic façade, “6,000 years of Farmers and Food: Reconnecting Atlantic Heritage” (working title), that will join institution from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, Portugal and Spain.

The participation of Perdigões complex of enclosures in all these projects, some of them already with preliminary results, puts it in a unique position (in Iberian terms) in the context of the actual focus of research in mobility in Prehistory at an international level.

But this is the result of the way the Global Program of Research of Perdigões was conceived and is being developed.

quarta-feira, 6 de abril de 2016

0030 - Perdigões at Wood Conference

In a very profitable collaboration with Hercules Laboratory of Évora University, several archaeometric projects are being developed in order to provide answers to the main problems that are being researched at Perdigões by the Nia team. In the present case we are dealing with the funerary contexts of cremated human remains and trying to know what kind of wood was used for the cremations and what temperature was achieved by analysing the charcoal remains. A poster with the first results will be presented at the meeting “Wood and Charcoal” to be held at Minho University this month.
Here is the title of our collaboration:

Random gathering or intentional wood selection? Charcoal analysis of pit 16 deposit from Perdigões archaeological site
Ginevra Coradeschi, Cristina Dias, Fernando Branco, Laura Sadori and Antonio Valera

quarta-feira, 30 de março de 2016

0029 - New collaborations

Perdigões is still enlarging its range of scientific collaborations. We are now starting a partnership with the project “Beaker origins: Testing the hypothesis of late Neolithic dispersals from Iberia using both ancient and contemporary mitochondrial genomes”,  a Portuguese Science Foudation financed project from Minho University (Environmental and Molecular Biology Center), and with a PhD thesis being made in the context of the Leverhulme Trust doctoral scholarship programme at Huddersfield University entitled Genetic Journeys into History: The Next Generation (running 2015–2020).
Meanwhile, a synthesis about the Bell Beaker phenomena at Perdigões will be presented at a meeting to be held in the University of Lisbon next May.  

quinta-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2016

0027 Ehxibition about Perdigões: the posters

For those who cannot visit the exhibition fo Perdigões in Évora here are the poster that go along with the archaeological materials.

sexta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2016

0026 - Perdigões: Conference, Workshop, Exhibition

A conference about de global research program of Perdigões, followed by a workshop about that research and public display strategies and the inauguration of an archaeological exhibition will be occur in February 11th in Évora, in the Direcção Regional de Cultura.

Here is the detailed program (starting at 15.00):
“Perdigões: a síntese de 18 anos de investigação de um sítio de excepção.”  António Carlos Valera
Workshop (16.30 – 17.30):

A divulgação dos Perdigões: limitações e potencialidades.
Miguel Lago
O arquivo antropológico dos Perdigões: avaliação a partir do caso de estudo do sepulcro 1.
Lucy Shaw Evangelista
O registo faunístico nos Perdigões: os dados que resultam de 15 000 ossos já estudados.
Claúdia Costa
A investigação dos recintos de fossos em Portugal: razões da excepcionalidade dos Perdigões.
António Carlos Valera
Exhibition inauguration.

segunda-feira, 4 de janeiro de 2016

0025 – Manipulations of human bones at Perdigões

There is new information about the manipulation of human remains at Perdigões enclosures that will be published in a paper during 2016.

Here is a glimpse into the new data: a skull from a child that presents marks that probably resulted from scalping.

quarta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2015

0024 - Paper about ideotechnic items at Perdigões

It was recently published a paper about the ideotechnic items present at Perdigões enclosure.


This paper presents a preliminary approach to the global assemblage of the Late Neolithic and Chal-colithic ideotechnic items recorded in Perdigões enclosures (Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal). An inventory of the available data is provided. These items are organized in nineteen typological categories and are ana-lyzed in terms of raw material, context and chronology. Based on the available information, some questions regarding interaction and the social role of these objects at Perdigões are discussed.


António Carlos Valera, The diversity of ideotechnic objects at Perdigões enclosure: a first enventory of items and problems. ARPI, Homenaje a Rodrigo Balbín Berhmann, 3 Extra. Universidad de Alcalá, 2015: 238-256.

sexta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2015

0022 – The new project on Perdigões

Mobility is one of the most actual issues to research in Prehistory, in the context of a socially committed Archaeology. Here is the abstract for the new research project on Mobility for Perdigões enclosure that will be financed by the Portuguese Science Foundation, led by NIA-ERA and ICArEHB for 2016-2018.


 This project aims to appraise the intensity and the social, economic and ideological role of mobility and interaction in Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies in South Portugal expressed in the development of complex aggregation centers.

Societies are based on interchange.  Mobility is, therefore, constitutive of society. This structural social role of interchange and mobility may assume many forms (from gift to regulated economic trade), it can be highly ritualized or almost totally desacralized, and address almost everything (persons, animals, objects, raw materials, ideas, beliefs, knowledge, ontological status, etc.).

The development of more complex social organizations during Recent Prehistory generated the emergence of places that intensively acted as stages or landmarks for mobility and exchange. In this context, many Prehistoric enclosures (ditched, walled or palisade enclosures) provide all through Europe evidence that suggest that role. From those that can be interpreted as aggregating places, to those that seem to mark pathways or those that concentrate large quantities of exogenous items or raw materials, or even those that involve mortuary practices, enclosures are important contexts to approach the role of mobility in the social organization of Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies, traditionally considered progressively more sedentary.

For the purpose of this research, a specific archaeological site, dated from the 4th and 3rd millennium BC was selected for its adequacy to deal with the issue: Perdigões (Reguengos de Monsaraz, Évora). It is a large (20 ha) ditched enclosure, with a long chronology (about 1400 years), with a strong background research that shows that the site has the archaeological data (several funerary contexts, abundance of faunal remains, abundance of artifacts and raw materials of foreign provenance) in quantity and in quality necessary to address the social role of mobility in these societies in the region.

This approach to mobility and interaction will be focused in the physical and geographical movement of people, animals and artifacts, by establishing local and exogenous provenances. It is aimed to establish a regional and trans-regional network of relations and characterize the social, economic and ideological role that a large ditched enclosure like Perdigões played in it. By doing so, we intend to define the part of physical mobility in the development of the global social system of these communities and its impact in identity, social cohesion or generation of inequalities, economic strategies and territorial organization.

Mobility and interaction will be established through isotopic analyses of  87Sr/86Sr  (for human and cattle), paleo diets (for humans, through isotopic analysis of d13C and d15N), archaeometric studies of specific artifacts and raw materials (ivory materials, cinnabar, large flint blades, beads, pottery, copper objects) and identification of foreign faunal species (namely mollusks), as well as through more traditional typological approaches to material culture.

Materials, human and faunal remains and contexts from previous excavations in Perdigões will be used, but new specific features will be submitted to survey in order to enlarge the data base in terms of spatiality inside the site and in terms of time range.

To analyze the performance of mobility and the network of interactions in their different components through time, a program of radiocarbon dating will be developed, which also aims to go deeper into the temporality of the enclosure.

The results will provide a set of data that will allow the characterization of interaction and mobility at Perdigões through its living time and the construction of a theoretical model that tries to combine the role played by both variables in the socio-economic organization, ideological expressions and territorial fluidity of Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic communities in South Portugal.

Finally, particular attention will be conceded to the public impact that an archaeological research project should always assume. Mobility and interaction are key issues in present social live and bring major challenges for the years to come at regional or more global scales. So, the project deals with problems that are well embedded in a present complex historical context, where new forms of social and economic mobility are being delineated and generating new social dynamics of adaptation or of resistance. By assuming an important actual social issue and try to analyze the role it assumed in the organization and developed of societies in a totally different historical context, the project helps to bring Archaeology closer to our current social life and to make it more socially meaningful and committed. Therefore a particular task was design to deal with the public display of the goals, developments and achievements of this research.

sexta-feira, 5 de junho de 2015

021 - Perdigões at Blue Week

Perdigões is present at the Blue Week event that is taking place at FIL (Feira Internacional de Lisboa).

sábado, 30 de maio de 2015

0020 – Cover of World Archaeology

Perdigões ivory figurine makes the cover of the journal World Archaeology, edited by Paul Lane and integrating a paper on Perdigões ivory productions: Valera, A.C., Schuhmacher, T.X., Banerjee, A. (2015), “Ivory in the Chalcolithic enclosure of Perdigões (South Portugal): the social role of an exotic raw material”, World Archaeology,

DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2015.1014571.

quinta-feira, 23 de abril de 2015

0019 – Presenting an archaeometric approach to stone idols

Next Monday, in the context of a meeting in Abrantes, Portugal, dedicated to interaction of objects and raw materials in the 3rd millennium BC, a first approach to the study of the provenance of stone idols and vessels from Perdigões will be presented. A collaboration of Nia-Era and the ITN-IST in the context of Charisma program. The analyses were done at the Nuclear Analysis and Radiography Department, MTA Centre for Energy Research, H-1121 Budapest, Hungary.

A general approach to the interaction in Perdigões, regarding raw materials, objects and people, was presented in Madrid in the beginning of this month, in the context of a meeting dedicated to debate the use of resources in this same period.

quarta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2014

0017 - New poster

A new poster on paleo pathologies on cremated human remains from Perdigões is available in the section of Posters.

terça-feira, 11 de novembro de 2014

0016 – Phalange Idols

A paper is being prepared about the phalange idols from funerary contexts of Perdigões enclosure. Some are decorated, others just polished and with change in their morphology to make it more anthropomorphic. While cleaning the peaces one of them presented a decoration characteristic of the anthropomorphic figurines of the 3rd millennium BC: the two solar eyes, the facial tattoos and, in this case, a horizontal belt. In the back the usual zigzag hair. Very similar to some decorated phalanges of La Pijotilla.

The paper will address the idols but also their specific support that reveals particular choices and has implications for an important issue of the period: the questions about social role of the horse.

quarta-feira, 24 de setembro de 2014

0015 - Two new posters on Perdigões

New posters on Perdigões ditched enclosures, recently presented at the World UISPP Congress, held in Burgos, are now available at the poster page (just up there).

terça-feira, 9 de setembro de 2014

0014 – New master thesis on Perdigões

A new master thesis was done in the context of the Global Program of Research of Perdigões. Daniela Pereira presented to the University of Coimbra a thesis in Biological Anthropology in which she studies a part of the cremated human remains recovered in the central area of Perdigões enclosure in the excavation of NIA-ERA Arqueologia.

New and important information about the human remains present in this unusual funerary context is now available, adding to the information from other features in the same area and that is in press at the moment.

terça-feira, 2 de setembro de 2014

0013 - A new page dedicated to posters

It is now available in this blog a page dedicated to publish posters about Perdigões research presented in scientific meetings. We start with this one, presented in 2006, and in the next days others will be available. See page above.

sexta-feira, 29 de agosto de 2014

0011 – Research in Perdigões ivory

After the papers on ivory lunulae (Valera, 2010), ivory anthropomorphic figurines (Valera and Evangelista, 2014) and ivory zoomorphic figurines (Valera, Evangelista and Castanheira, in press) a new is in preparation, summarizing and debating the ivory materials from Perdigões to be submitted to thematic volume of World Archaeology journal (António Valera, Thomas Schuhmacher and A. Banerjee will be authors).

In this context the study of figurines is being completed with this year findings at the cremation contexts. And these figurines don’t cease to amaze us. That is the case of this large head (34mm high) that presents 4 eye holes organized by two pairs. One of the eyes is still inlaid with white paste, reinforcing the argument that large and deep eye holes in some of these figurines were inlaid with some materials. In another figurine from Perdigões, one of the eyes still has a small stone fixed with some sort of clay.
(Photo by António Valera)
But this head also show us that some of these figurines were quite big. In the paper already published (Valera and Evangelista, 2014) we were able to determine the general percentage of the size of the heads relating the all body (through the measurement of several complete figurines from South Iberia). They seem to cluster in two groups, one around 18% and another around 13%. Assuming these percentages, this head would belong to a figurine with 19 cm (in the first cluster) or 26cm (in the second cluster).

So, there are some quite large ivory anthropomorphic figurines at Perdigões.

Bibliographic References:

VALERA, António Carlos (2010), "Marfim no recinto calcolítico dos Perdigões (1): "Lúnukas, fragmentação e ontologia dos artefactos", Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património, 5, Lisboa, NIA-ERA Arqueologia, p. 31-42.

VALERA, A.C. E EVANGELISTA, L.S. (2014), “Anthropomorphic figurines at Perdigões enclosure: naturalism, body proportion and canonical posture as forms of ideological language”, Journal of European Archaeology, 17(2), pp.286-300.

VALERA, EVANGELISTA AND CASTANHEIRA, in press, “Zoomorphic figurines and the problem of Human-Animal relationship in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Southwest Iberia”, Menga.

quarta-feira, 12 de março de 2014

0010 – The anthropological study of human remains from Perdigões tomb 1.

Secundary human depositions in tomb 1 of Perdigões (photo by Miguel Lago)

The Perdigões ditched enclosure has being continuously investigated since 1997 and during the last years, several funerary structures have been unearthed, with traces of a variety of mortuary practices that include inhumations and cremations found in different architectural solutions like tombs, pits or ditches. Among them is Tomb 1, a tholos type structure discovered in the eastern side of this site where a large amount of human remains were recovered.

The anthropological study of these remains is now in course at the department of Anthropology of the University of Coimbra by Lucy Evangelista that is doing a PhD with this material.

The intention with this doctoral thesis is to, through anthropological analysis of the human remains recovered from Tomb I and the identification of the funerary rules and attitudes present, contribute to the better understanding of the attitudes towards death that were taking place at Perdigões. In addition she will pursue to contextualize the information recovered from the laboratorial study within the global information already available, not only for the other funerary structures identified in the site, but also in a wider regional context where other coeval collections have been studied.

domingo, 9 de março de 2014

0009 – Constructing the temporality of Perdigões enclosure

A paper was recently published on Perdigões temporalities. It can be download here.

Based in a set of 35 radiocarbon dates, an image of progressive growing of the site is emerging. Starting with to central enclosures dating from Late Neolithic (second half of the 4th millennium), grew bigger with the intermediate wavy ditches dated from the second quarter of the 3rd millennium and finally with construction of the ditch 1 in the topo of the amphitheater slope in the second half of the 3rd millennium.

However, this image of a progressing growing must be seen as provisory, since several ditches still to be dated, namely the one that runs partially out of ditch 1 and is cut by it. If this ditch is older, Neolithic for instance, than the site was big since the beginning.

This is an important step into the Perdigões temporalities, but is still just a step. Further research is needed to provide a complete image of the diachronic development of this impressive set of enclosures