The Megalithic Architectures of Europe [Hardback]

Luc Laporte (Editor); Christopher Scarre (Editor)

ISBN: 9781785700149 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2015 | Language: English 248p, H279 x W215 (mm) colour & black /white illustrations

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Paperback - ISBN: 9781789258097 - £ 35.00

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The Megalithic Architectures of Europe


Megalithic monuments are among the most striking remains of the Neolithic period of northern and western Europe and are scattered across landscapes from Pomerania to Portugal. Antiquarians and archaeologists early recognised the family resemblance of the different groups of tombs, attributing them to maritime peoples moving along the western seaways. More recent research sees them rather as the product of established early farming communities in their individual regions. Yet the diversity of the tombs, their chronologies and their varied cultural contexts complicates any straightforward understanding of their origins and distribution.

Megalithic Architectures provides new insight by focusing on the construction and design of European megalithic tombs – on the tomb as an architectural project. It shows how much is to be learned from detailed attention to the stages and the techniques through which tombs were built, modified and enlarged, and often intentionally dismantled or decommissioned. The large slabs that were employed, often unshaped, may suggest an opportunistic approach by the Neolithic builders, but this was clearly far from the case. Each building project was unique, and detailed study of individual sites exposes the way in which tombs were built as architectural, social and symbolic undertakings. Alongside the manner in which the materials were used, it reveals a store of knowledge that sometimes differed considerably from one structure to another, even between contemporary monuments within a single region.

The volume brings together regional specialists from Scandinavia, Germany, Britain, France, Belgium and Iberia to offer a series of uniquely authoritative studies. Results of recent fieldwork are fully incorporated and much of the material is published here for the first time in English. It provides an invaluable overview of the current state of research on European megalithic tombs.

Table of Contents

1. Preface: megalithic architecture in Europe
Luc Laporte & Chris Scarre
Section 1: The megalith-builders
2. Menga (Andalucia, Spain): the biography of an exceptional megalithic monument
Leonardo Garcia Sanjuan & José Antonio Lozano Rodríguez
3. Structural functions and architectural projects within the long monuments of Western France
Luc Laporte
4. Megalithic building techniques in the Languedoc region of southern France: recent excvations at two dolmens in Hérault
Noisette Bec Drelon
5. Megalithic constructional techniques in north-west France: cairn III at Prissé-la-Charrière
Florian Cousseau
6. A monumental task: building the dolmens of Britain and Ireland
Vicki Cummings & Colin Richards
7. The megalithic construction process and the building of passage graves in Denmark
Torben Dehn
8. Accident or design? Chambers, cairns and funerary practices in Neolithic western Europe
Chris Scarre
9. Dolmens without mounds in Denmark
Palle Eriksen and Niels H. Anderson
10. In the eye of the beholder
Jørgen Westphal
Section 2: Cemeteries and sequences
11. Building forever or just for the time being? A view from north-western Iberia
Ramón Fábregas Valcarce & X.I. Vilaseco Vázquez
12. The megalithic architecture of Huelva (Spain): typology, construction and technical traditions eastern Andévalo
Jose Antonio Linares Catela
13. The clustering of megalithic monuments around the causewayed enclosures at Sarup on Funen, Denmark
Niels H. Andersen
14. Two types of megaliths and an unusual dolmen at Lønt (Denmark)
Anne Birgitte Gebauer
15. Common motivation, different intentions? A multiscalar approach to the megalithic architecture of the Funnel Beaker North Group
Franziska Hage, Georg Schafferer & Martin Hinz

Section 3: Chronologies and context
16. Between East and West: megaliths in the centre of the Iberian peninsula
Primitiva Bueno Ramirez, Rosa Barroso Bermejo & Rodrigo de Balbín Behrmann
17. Megalithic hollows: rock-cut tombs between the Tagus and the Guadiana
Leonor Rocha
18. Houses of the dead and natural rocks: new evidence from western France
Philippe Gouezin
19. The stone rows of Hoedic (Morbihan) and the construction of alignments in western France
Jean-Marc Large & Emmanuel Mens
20. Paintings in the megalithic monuments of Brittany
Primitiva Bueno Ramirez, Rodrigo de Balbín Behrmann, Luc Laporte, Philippe Gouezin, Rosa Barroso Bermejo, Antonio Hernanz Gismero, José M. Gavira-Vallejo & Mercedes Iriarte Cela
21. Stability in a changing world: insights from settlement intensity patterns and archaeobotany
Martin Hinz & Wiebke Kirleis

Part 4: Conclusion
22. Ostentation, power, and megaliths: the example of Easter Island
Nicolas Cauwe
23. A southern point of view
Primitiva Bueno Ramirez & Luc Laporte
24. A northern point of view
Chris Scarre & Torben Dehn

Reviews & Quotes

"Individually excellent, the contributions in this book are also hugely heterogeneous… This should not detract from the fascinating range of material presented or the considerable achievement of bringing together Iberian, French, Scandinavian and British researchers with a common purpose. It is also gratifying that the production quality is exceptionally high throughout: the volume is extensively and beautifully illustrated, with numerous maps, plans and plates."
David Wheatley
Landscape History (15/05/2017)

"The volume is a well-crafted piece of work. The editors have carefully adhered to the theme in hand. In terms of tangible quality, Oxbow Books have yet again produced a high-quality product."
Dr. George Nash
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (06/03/2017)

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