Perdigões synopsis

The site of Perdigões comprises a set of ditched enclosures located in the municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz, Évora district, in the Alentejo hinterland (South Portugal). 

It is located in a natural amphitheatre, open to East, towards the valley of the Ribeira do Álamo, where intense human occupation during Recent Prehistory has been documented comprising more than a hundred megalithic monuments dating from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic (middle 4th and 3rd millennium BC).

Several enclosures were defined at the site comprising 12 roughly concentric ditches, with the inner circuits set in the lower central area of the amphitheater and the outer ditches running near the top of the slopes. Inside, several hundred circular pits were identified in the magnetogram but only about fifty of them have been excavated to date. It has an area of about 20 ha.

The ditches are broadly circular, but two of the inner ones break this trend by having a straight line in one of the sides of the gates. In general the ditches are simply curved but some are sinuous in lay-out. The two longest circuits run parallel to each other at the top of the slopes, forming an apparently double ditched system. In the eastern limit, where the amphitheatre opens to the valley, the outside ditch makes a semicircular detour to embrace an earlier necropolis where two of several tombs have been excavated. A megalithic cromlech is located just a few meters from those tombs, once again to the East.

The correlation of the topographical location with the design of the enclosures and gate orientations denotes an astronomic imperative, orientated towards the sun-rise and sun-set at the summer and winter solstices.
The archaeological record and absolute chronology show that Perdigões was a site of long duration, beginning in the Late Neolithic (second half of the 4th millennium BC) and reaching the transition Chalcolithic/ Bronze Age (last quarter of the 3rd millennium BC). During this time span many episodes of opening and closing of negative features took place at the site, its spatiality changed but it maintained the same general relationship with topography and landscape. Specific areas saw modification or change in the activities that took place there and in their social roles; funerary behaviors diversified in practices, structures and spaces. By the middle of the 3rd millennium the use of tholoi type tombs for secondary depositions, the depositions of scattered human bones in ditches and the deposition of cremated remains in pits and in open air were taking place in different parts of the site.

The site has been studied since 1997 under NIA-ERA coordenation (see here) and has already a long list of publications, regarding specific contexts, material studies, faunal and anthropological studies, geophysics and general synthesis (see here). 

A site museum can be visited at Herdade do Esporão (Reguengos de Monsaraz).

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