Sepultura 1 da Hortinha, no final da escavação
Sepultura 2 da Hortinha, no final da escavação
Generally speaking, the proto-megalithic tombs date from a stage prior to the construction of the dolmens with which they share several characteristics in terms of structure, orientation and funerary rights.
Indeed, the most outstanding differences between these two types of monument lie precisely in their dimensions. However, the funerary remains of the proto-megalithic tombs are poorer than those of the dolmens and are almost invariably limited to smooth ceramics, geometric microlytes and polished stone instruments, always in far smaller quantities. Another fundamental difference has to do with the use of the former as individual tombs (or just a few burials), whereas the dolmens are essentially collective tombs.
Tomb 1 at Hortinha comprises a polygonal chamber and a short corridor, still with the roof slab, containing various Neolithic offerings, apparently in situ: a whole vase and three polished stone instruments; one of these was inserted into a small cavity in the centre of the chamber, surrounded by red pigment.
Use of red pigments (generally iron or hematite oxides), with obvious symbolic implications, is frequent in prehistoric funerary contexts, right from very early eras, a reference, it is thought, to a belief in life after death.
Beneath the structure of the barrow of Tomb 1 traces were also found of a Mid-Neolithic settlement, particularly a silo/fossa of small dimensions, suggesting a certain relationship between the world of the dead and the world of the living. Overlaps of this type have been discovered in recent years at a growing number of Neolithic funerary monuments, excavated using modern methods, in several parts of Europe.
This very tomb came to be used once again in the early part of the 1st Iron Age (around the 8th century BC). In this case, it involved a burial in a hand-crafted ceramic cinerary urn, accompanied by three bowls, one of which also of hand-crafted ceramic, the other two lathe-turned. The materials that were collected suggest a stage of cultural transition, involving pieces of native tradition and pieces that reflect the Phoenician colonial impact. It could be that this burial is related with the major late Bronze Age settlement of São Bartolomeu do Outeiro, near Murteiras.
The artefacts of Tomb 2, in reasonable state of preservation in structural terms, were severely affected by presumable pillaging, some Neolithic artefacts having been recovered from the ground outside the chamber.