Glossary

 

 

Dolmen – Megalithic collective tomb, comprising a chamber, generally delimited by seven large blocks set on their ends (the uprights), surmounted by a large horizontal slab (the capstone); access was by means of a passage, lower than the chamber, of variable length and its entrance systematically facing East. The structure was in turn covered by a mound of earth and stones (the barrow).

Most dolmens were built between 3500 and 3000 BC.

 

Proto-megalithic tomb – Megalithic burial monument, generally for individual use, with a structure similar to that of a dolmen, although smaller in size.

Generally earlier than dolmens, most proto-megalithic tombs were built between 4000 and 3500 BC.

 

Neolithic – Era in which the first pastoral and farming communities emerged and were consolidated; in Portugal, it can be dated to the period between the 6th and 4th millennia BC. It was in this period that pottery and polished stone artifacts began to be manufactured.

In Portugal, Neolithic innovations appear to have originated in the Near East, where they had emerged a few millennia earlier.

 

Chalcolithic (Copper Age) – The period roughly corresponding to the 3rd millennium BC, in which metallurgy and the first fortifications emerged. It was a particularly rich period in the Alentejo. Towards the end of this period, however, signs of decadence and decline appeared.

 

Bronze Age – A period generally dated from 2000 to 800 BC. In the Alentejo region, the early stages appear to have corresponded to a period of severe demographic crisis; in the Late Bronze Age (1200-800 BC) the scenario changed substantially with the appearance of large fortified settlements and strong evidence of an increasingly complex society.

 

1st Iron Age – A period which in Portugal began around the 8th century BC and corresponded to profound transformations triggered by the integration of trading circuits dominated by the Phoenicians. The most striking innovations were the spread of iron weapons, the potter's wheel, the use of writing and the planting of vines.

 

Cinerary urn – Clay vessels in which the ashes of cremated bodies were kept.

 

Carinated bowl – A composite pottery bowl, formed by two distinct parts: the lower part generally rounded and the upper part cylindrical or conical. The two parts are separated by a more or less pronounced angle (the carina or keel).

 

Mesolithic – Cultural period that corresponds to the last hunter-gatherers. Some Mesolithic societies achieve a certain level of social complexity, with broad spectrum economies, closely bound to aquatic resources, and a certain level of sedentism.

 

Shell middens – Burial structures consisting of large artificial mounds resulting from the accumulation of shells and earth over burials. They are complex monuments that herald the great Neolithic burial constructions.

 

Megalithism – An almost worldwide cultural phenomenon that consists of the use of large stones in ritual constructions (burial and other). It is common in most prehistoric European societies (from the Neolithic to the Iron Age).

 

Silo – Pit in the ground used to store cereals and other seeds in suitable conditions to prevent their spoilage.

 

 

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