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Cultural Continuity and Social Resistance: The Chronology of Megalithic Funerary Practices in Southern Iberia

  • Gonzalo Aranda Jiménez (a1), Águeda Lozano Medina (a1), Marta Díaz-Zorita Bonilla (a2), Margarita Sánchez Romero (a1) and Javier Escudero Carrillo (a2)...
Abstract

Inspired by the biographical approach to the study of material culture, a radiocarbon dating programme was undertaken to explore the chronology and temporality of the megalithic monuments in south-eastern Iberia. Instead of one or two dates per tomb, the normal way of approaching this complex issue, we carried out a complete radiocarbon dating series of single tombs based on human remains. We focused our attention on four tholos-type tombs in the cemetery of El Barranquete (Almería, Spain). According to the new radiocarbon series modelled in a Bayesian framework, four main conclusions can be drawn: that the cemetery shows a very long period of funerary activity, which began in the late fourth millennium and ended in the last centuries of the second millennium cal bc; that continuity of ritual practices attained an unexpected importance during the Bronze Age; that interments, which fall into cultural periods that would be unthinkable if only the typological properties of the grave goods were considered, occurred; and that each tomb had a complex and very different biography.

Inspiré par l'approche biographique dans l'étude de la culture matérielle, un programme de datation radiocarbone a été mis en œuvre afin d'explorer la chronologie et la temporalité des monuments mégalithiques du sud-est de la Péninsule ibérique. Au lieu d'obtenir une ou deux dates par sépulture, la façon habituelle d'approcher cette problématique, des séries complètes de datations radiocarbone sur des restes humains correspondant à des sépultures individuelles ont été élaborées. Notre étude a porté sur quatre tombes de type tholos de la nécropole d'El Barranquete (Almería, Espagne). La nouvelle série de datations modelée par l'analyse Bayésienne nous a permis d'en tirer quatre conclusions principales: l'utilisation funéraire de la nécropole a duré très longtemps, au moins depuis la fin du quatrième millénaire jusqu'aux derniers siècles du deuxième millénaire cal bc; la pratique continue des rituels funéraires prit une importance particulière pendant l'âge de Bronze; des inhumations furent pratiquées au cours de périodes culturelles qui seraient restées invisibles si l'on avait seulement examiné les caractéristiques typologiques des objets funéraires; enfin, chaque tombe s'est révélée complexe, chacune avec sa propre biographie. Translation by the authors

Angeleitet durch den geographischen Ansatz des Studiums der materiellen Hinterlassenschaften, wurde ein 14C Datierungsprogramm durchgeführt, um verschiedene chronologische Aspekte der Megalithkultur im Südosten der Iberischen Halbinsel zu erfassen. Im Gegensatz zur herkömmlichen Herangehensweise, die in der Regel eine oder zwei 14C Daten pro Grab betraf, wurde in dieser Studie, auf der Basis von anthropologischen Resten, eine ganze Serie von Datierungen innerhalb einer Grabstätte unternommen. Wir konzentrierten unseren Forschungen auf vier tholos Gräber in der Nekropole von El Barranquete (Almería, Spanien). Nach den neuen 14C Daten und deren Bayesschen Modell, können wir vier wesentliche Schlussfolgerungen ziehen: die Nekropole wurde sehr lange als Begräbnisstätte genutzt, und zwar vom Ende des vierten Jahrtausends bis in die letzten Jahrhunderte des zweiten Jahrtausends cal bc; die lange Belegungsdauer und Fortführung der Bestattungsriten weisen auf eine unerwartet große Bedeutung dieser Anlagen während der Bronzezeit; die Belegungsdauer der Bestattungen wäre nicht durch reine Anwendung typologischen Einordnungen der Grabbeigaben zu erschließen gewesen; durch diese Studie erhielten wir weitreichende Kenntnisse über die komplexe und unterschiedliche Belegungsgeschichte der einzelnen Grabstätten. Translation by the authors

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European Journal of Archaeology
  • ISSN: 1461-9571
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