terça-feira, 24 de dezembro de 2013

0004 - Research in human figurines – 3

Decorated loom weight publishied in Milesi, 2013 (This photo copyright: A.C. Valera).

Although it is not a figurine (in the sense that is not a sculpture), this is a quite interesting piece. It is half of a loom weight that has part of an anthropomorphic figure depicted in one side and a set of zig-zag lines in the other. It was collected in Sector L of Perdigões, in the context of gate 1, in the excavations carried out by Málaga University team and was published this year (Milesi et al, 2013).

This piece has, at least, to major factors of interest.
First it has a representation of the human body in a schematic-linear style associated, in the back, to what we might interpret as the long hair that is present in many anthropomorphic figurines (see here). This could justify a connection between this two forms of anthropomorphic representation.

Secondly, the representation of the anthropomorphic figure has great similarities with other rock art depictions also using the schematic-linear style, usually with the hands and feet represented in a radiate way.
The similarities are striking with the anthropomorphic figures represented in Rocha da Hera (Vilhena e Alves, 2007) in the Mira valley, Molino de Manzánez (Collado Giraldo, 2006) and Agualta 7 (Alves, 2013), both in Guadiana valley and very close to Perdigões. The image from Agualta 7 even has two zig-zag vertical lines, suggesting the representation of the hair.

A. La Madre del Cordero, Molino de Manzánez (after Collado Giraldo, 2006); B. Agualta 7 (after Alves, 2013).

Rocha da Hera (Vilhena e Alves, 2007)

These anthropomorphic figures in schematic-linear style are not very frequent and their chronology is not easy to establish. Because they appear near proto-historic contexts they have been considered to date from Bronze Age or Iron Age. However, Agualta 7, for instance, is next to a Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic site (Moinho de Valadares).

The stylistic similarities with the representation from Perdigões shows us that this kind of anthropomorphic depictions go back to the 3rd millennium BC and that this chronology could be extended to some of the figures carved in rock art (such Agualta 7). In particular, since the middle of that millennium, when more explicit representations of the human body seams to became more frequent.

Alves, L.B. (2013), “Anexo 1. A rocha gravada de Agualta 7”, (A.C. Valera cood.), As comunidades agropastoris na margem esquerda do Guadiana. 2ª metade do IV aos inícios do II milénio AC, Memórias d’Odiana, 6, 2ª Série, p.505-538.
Collado Giraldo, H. (2006), Arte Rupestre en la Cuenca del Guadiana: el conjunto de grabados del Molino Manzánez (Alconchel – Cheles). Beja (Memória d’Odiana – Estudos Arqueológicos de Alqueva; 4).
Milesi, L.; Caro, J. L.; Fernandéz, J. (2013), "Hallazgos singulares en el  contexto de la Puerta 1 del complexo arqueológico de Perdigões", Portugal. Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património 9/2013. Lisboa. NIA-ERA. p. 55-59
Vilhena, J. e Alves, L.B. (2007), “Subir à maior altura. Espaços funerários, lugares do quotidiano e arte rupestre no contexto da Idade do Bronze do Médio/Baixo Mira”, Vipasca, nº2, 2ª série, p.194-218.

domingo, 22 de dezembro de 2013

0003 - Research in human figurines - 2

Published in Valera, 2012 (Copyright A.C. Valera)

This is an assemblage of the so called “almeriense idols”. This kind of figurines was assumed to be Chalcolithic, but it didn’t have clear and well preserved contexts or good radiocarbon dating.

In Perdigões, this assemblage appeared in unquestionable Late Neolithic contexts: the five from the left in the bottom of ditch 12 and the one from the right in the low levels of the “hypogeum 1” structure. These contexts are characterized by Late Neolithic pottery an in ditch 12 these anthropomorphic figurines were deposited just a few centimetres from a bone that was dated between 3360-3090 cal BC (2 σ).

Although it is possible to assume that these kind of figurines were used during Chalcolithic times (first half of the 3rd millennium BC), these contexts clearly show that they emerged in a Neolithic moment and that they are part of a Neolithic ideology that, as I have been stressing, goes into the 3rd millennium BC. What we use to call Chalcolithic is not a rupture with the Neolithic. It is, in fact, the final expression of its world view. And the development of Perdigões shows this in several ways.

This assemblage was published in Valera, 2012 (see the bibliography page for a complete reference and download link)

sexta-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2013

0002 – Research in human figurines - 1

The recent excavation of pits with the deposition of human cremated remains provided quite important new information about funerary practices in chalcolithic Perdigões (and in Chalcolithic Iberia). Associated to these depositions (still in excavation) there were several human figurines, well known in South Iberia, but until now absent in Portugal. They are made of ivory and the majority is burned and fragmented, suggesting that they were submitted to fire with the human remains (as well as other materials).

Published in Valera & Evangelista, in press. (Copyright A.C.Valera)

This assemblage of figurines was recently studied and a paper will be published in the Journal of European Archaeology. More than discuss what they might represent, the paper focus on the pattern, realism and postures of the figurines and on their possible social role.

This is the abstract:
“Based on a set of anthropomorphic figurines, this paper suggests that the search for realistic human proportion and canonical posture in the carving of those objects as means of expressing ideology through body postures, in a context of diversified forms of manipulation of the bodies in funerary practices.      
It is argued that, against a background of predominantly schematic art, the more realistic and canonical anthropomorphic representation of the human body is used to communicate, a set of ideological statements in a more controlled and immediate way, possibly of ideological and social nature, in a period of ontological and cosmological transition.”


António Carlos Valera and Lucy Shaw Evangelista, “Anthropomorphic figurines at Perdigões enclosure: naturalism, body proportion and canonical posture as forms of ideological language.” in press.

quinta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2013

0001 – Perdigões Research Program

This new web page is dedicated to the public display of Perdigões Research Program. Here, the visitor can get information about the organization of the program, collaborating researchers and institutions and developments of the project. A list of complete bibliographic references (with links to online papers), newsletters and images of the site, excavations and archaeological materials will be available.

The page will be regularly actualized, so be in touch with Perdigões.