Grave excavation provides new data for approaching contexts of the 3rd millennium BC

11/03/2022 - Grave excavation provides new data for approaching contexts of the 3rd millennium BC

Research based on the data obtained from the archaeological excavation carried out by an ERA team in a prehistoric grave in the Beja region has provided important new data for approaching the social and cultural contexts of the late 3rd millennium BC in southern Portugal.

This grave included a male individual, aged between 41 and 65 at death. It is part of a type of funerary practice (Ferradeira Type) from this period, characterised by single, individual burials associated with a set of artefacts made up of copper utensils, wrist guards and undecorated ceramics. The assemblage in this grave exclusively included weapons, namely a dagger and three Palmela-type arrowheads.

The chemical analysis carried out on this metal assemblage is consistent with the data known for metallurgy in the second half of the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC. In fact, it confirms that this period can be considered a transitional step between a purer copper-based metallurgy, typical of earlier contexts, and an arsenical copper production more characteristic of the Middle Bronze Age.

Its placement at the entrance to an enclosure delimited by ditches, from an earlier chronology, follows a pattern of reuse by certain communities of significant places and monuments from the past. This seems to be an important aspect of funerary practices from this period of accelerated social change, with contradictory tendencies that characterise the complexity of the process.

In short, this burial expresses a new ideological discourse associated with the individualisation of graves, which progressively ceased to be collective, and the specificities of votive ensembles. Thus, the intentional exclusion of decoration from the bell-shaped vase should be understood as a statement rather than just a simple cultural particularism.

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