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'Woodhenge' discovered in prehistoric complex in Portugal

Archaeological excavations in the Perdigoes complex, in the Evora district, have identified "a unique structure in the Prehistory of the Iberian Peninsula", Era -Arqueologia announced.

'Woodhenge' discovered in prehistoric complex in Portugal
Aerial photograph of the Perdigoes complex in Portugal where the Neolithic 'Woodhenge'
was recently found [Credit: Perdigoes Research Program]

Speaking to the Lusa agency, the archaeologist in charge, Antonio Valera, said that it was "a monumental wooden construction, of which the foundations remain, with a circular plan and more than 20 metres in diameter".

'Woodhenge' discovered in prehistoric complex in Portugal
Remains of the Neolithic 'Woodhenge' were found at the centre of a number of extensive circular ditches
[Credit: ERA Archueologia]
It is "a ceremonial construction", a type of structure only known in Central Europe and the British Isles, according to the archaeologist, with the designations as 'Woodhenge', "wooden versions of Stonehenge", or 'Timber Circles' (wooden circles).

'Woodhenge' discovered in prehistoric complex in Portugal
The entrance aligns with the sun rise in the summer months, as well as during the winter solstice
and is the first of its kind to be discovered in the country [Credit: ERA Archueologia]

The structure now identified is located in the centre of the large complex of ditch enclosures in Perdigoes and "articulates with the visibility of the megalithic landscape that extends between the site and the elevation of Monsaraz, located to the east, on the horizon".

'Woodhenge' discovered in prehistoric complex in Portugal
Two of the circular ditch dig sites at the Perdigoes complex in Portugal
[Credit: Perdigoes Research Program]
"A possible access to the interior of this structure is oriented towards the summer solstice, reinforcing its cosmological character", said Valera, stressing that "this situation is also known in other European countries as 'woodhenges' and 'timber circles', where astronomical alignment entrances are frequent, underlining the close relationship between these architectures and the Neolithic views of the world ".

'Woodhenge' discovered in prehistoric complex in Portugal
Called ‘timber circles,’ the circular structures dating back 4,500 years were once
used for ceremonial rituals [Credit: ERA Archueologia]

The archaeologist stressed that "this discovery reinforces the already high scientific importance of the Perdigoes enclosure complex in the international context of European Neolithic studies while increasing its heritage relevance", which was recognised in 2019 with the classification as a National Monument.

This site has been excavated for 23 years by the company and has brought together collaborations from various institutions and national and foreign researchers.

The site has a chronology of about 1400 years, since the end of the Middle Neolithic (around 3400 BC) and the beginning of the Bronze Age (around 2000 BC).

Source: The Portugal News [August 05, 2020]


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