quarta-feira, 11 de maio de 2016

0032 - Perdigões and mobility research

Ditched enclosures, namely the large ones, are some of the best contexts to developed research on mobility, for they congregate numerous evidences of interaction and movement of people, animals and objects.

At an Iberian scale, Perdigões is now one of the main sites where this research is being developed.
There is a Portuguese Science Foundation project dedicated to this specific topic: “Mobility and interaction in South Portugal Recent Prehistory: the role of aggregation centers”. In this project participate the research unit of ERA Arqueologia, the research centre ICArEHB of university of Algarve and the laboratory Hércules of Évora University.

But this research has a wider projection, for this project is in articulated collaboration with several others related to the same topic.

We also integrate the project “Beyond migration and diffusion: peoples and technologies in prehistory”, financed by the Australian Research Council, and involve Era Arqueologia, the Australian National University, Griffith University and the Centro Nacional de Investigatión sobre l Evolución Humana. The goal will be research and compare mobility patterns between Prehistoric Iberia and the Pacific Islands.

Furthermore, we are establishing a partnership in this topic with another FCT project: “Beaker origins: Testing the hypothesis of late Neolithic dispersals from Iberia using both ancient and contemporary mitochondrial genomes” developed by Minho University with the collaboration of the doctoral scholarship programme at Huddersfield University (UK) entitled Genetic Journeys into History: The Next Generation (running 2015–2020).

Finally, we are engaged in other projects in phase of application, namely two on diets and mobility of animals in Iberia and another that will join the European Atlantic façade, “6,000 years of Farmers and Food: Reconnecting Atlantic Heritage” (working title), that will join institution from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, Portugal and Spain.

The participation of Perdigões complex of enclosures in all these projects, some of them already with preliminary results, puts it in a unique position (in Iberian terms) in the context of the actual focus of research in mobility in Prehistory at an international level.

But this is the result of the way the Global Program of Research of Perdigões was conceived and is being developed.

quarta-feira, 6 de abril de 2016

0030 - Perdigões at Wood Conference

In a very profitable collaboration with Hercules Laboratory of Évora University, several archaeometric projects are being developed in order to provide answers to the main problems that are being researched at Perdigões by the Nia team. In the present case we are dealing with the funerary contexts of cremated human remains and trying to know what kind of wood was used for the cremations and what temperature was achieved by analysing the charcoal remains. A poster with the first results will be presented at the meeting “Wood and Charcoal” to be held at Minho University this month.
Here is the title of our collaboration:

Random gathering or intentional wood selection? Charcoal analysis of pit 16 deposit from Perdigões archaeological site
Ginevra Coradeschi, Cristina Dias, Fernando Branco, Laura Sadori and Antonio Valera

quarta-feira, 30 de março de 2016

0029 - New collaborations

Perdigões is still enlarging its range of scientific collaborations. We are now starting a partnership with the project “Beaker origins: Testing the hypothesis of late Neolithic dispersals from Iberia using both ancient and contemporary mitochondrial genomes”,  a Portuguese Science Foudation financed project from Minho University (Environmental and Molecular Biology Center), and with a PhD thesis being made in the context of the Leverhulme Trust doctoral scholarship programme at Huddersfield University entitled Genetic Journeys into History: The Next Generation (running 2015–2020).
Meanwhile, a synthesis about the Bell Beaker phenomena at Perdigões will be presented at a meeting to be held in the University of Lisbon next May.  

quinta-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2016

0027 Ehxibition about Perdigões: the posters

For those who cannot visit the exhibition fo Perdigões in Évora here are the poster that go along with the archaeological materials.

sexta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2016

0026 - Perdigões: Conference, Workshop, Exhibition

A conference about de global research program of Perdigões, followed by a workshop about that research and public display strategies and the inauguration of an archaeological exhibition will be occur in February 11th in Évora, in the Direcção Regional de Cultura.

Here is the detailed program (starting at 15.00):
“Perdigões: a síntese de 18 anos de investigação de um sítio de excepção.”  António Carlos Valera
Workshop (16.30 – 17.30):

A divulgação dos Perdigões: limitações e potencialidades.
Miguel Lago
O arquivo antropológico dos Perdigões: avaliação a partir do caso de estudo do sepulcro 1.
Lucy Shaw Evangelista
O registo faunístico nos Perdigões: os dados que resultam de 15 000 ossos já estudados.
Claúdia Costa
A investigação dos recintos de fossos em Portugal: razões da excepcionalidade dos Perdigões.
António Carlos Valera
Exhibition inauguration.

segunda-feira, 4 de janeiro de 2016

0025 – Manipulations of human bones at Perdigões

There is new information about the manipulation of human remains at Perdigões enclosures that will be published in a paper during 2016.

Here is a glimpse into the new data: a skull from a child that presents marks that probably resulted from scalping.

quarta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2015

0024 - Paper about ideotechnic items at Perdigões

It was recently published a paper about the ideotechnic items present at Perdigões enclosure.


This paper presents a preliminary approach to the global assemblage of the Late Neolithic and Chal-colithic ideotechnic items recorded in Perdigões enclosures (Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal). An inventory of the available data is provided. These items are organized in nineteen typological categories and are ana-lyzed in terms of raw material, context and chronology. Based on the available information, some questions regarding interaction and the social role of these objects at Perdigões are discussed.


António Carlos Valera, The diversity of ideotechnic objects at Perdigões enclosure: a first enventory of items and problems. ARPI, Homenaje a Rodrigo Balbín Berhmann, 3 Extra. Universidad de Alcalá, 2015: 238-256.

sexta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2015

0022 – The new project on Perdigões

Mobility is one of the most actual issues to research in Prehistory, in the context of a socially committed Archaeology. Here is the abstract for the new research project on Mobility for Perdigões enclosure that will be financed by the Portuguese Science Foundation, led by NIA-ERA and ICArEHB for 2016-2018.


 This project aims to appraise the intensity and the social, economic and ideological role of mobility and interaction in Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies in South Portugal expressed in the development of complex aggregation centers.

Societies are based on interchange.  Mobility is, therefore, constitutive of society. This structural social role of interchange and mobility may assume many forms (from gift to regulated economic trade), it can be highly ritualized or almost totally desacralized, and address almost everything (persons, animals, objects, raw materials, ideas, beliefs, knowledge, ontological status, etc.).

The development of more complex social organizations during Recent Prehistory generated the emergence of places that intensively acted as stages or landmarks for mobility and exchange. In this context, many Prehistoric enclosures (ditched, walled or palisade enclosures) provide all through Europe evidence that suggest that role. From those that can be interpreted as aggregating places, to those that seem to mark pathways or those that concentrate large quantities of exogenous items or raw materials, or even those that involve mortuary practices, enclosures are important contexts to approach the role of mobility in the social organization of Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies, traditionally considered progressively more sedentary.

For the purpose of this research, a specific archaeological site, dated from the 4th and 3rd millennium BC was selected for its adequacy to deal with the issue: Perdigões (Reguengos de Monsaraz, Évora). It is a large (20 ha) ditched enclosure, with a long chronology (about 1400 years), with a strong background research that shows that the site has the archaeological data (several funerary contexts, abundance of faunal remains, abundance of artifacts and raw materials of foreign provenance) in quantity and in quality necessary to address the social role of mobility in these societies in the region.

This approach to mobility and interaction will be focused in the physical and geographical movement of people, animals and artifacts, by establishing local and exogenous provenances. It is aimed to establish a regional and trans-regional network of relations and characterize the social, economic and ideological role that a large ditched enclosure like Perdigões played in it. By doing so, we intend to define the part of physical mobility in the development of the global social system of these communities and its impact in identity, social cohesion or generation of inequalities, economic strategies and territorial organization.

Mobility and interaction will be established through isotopic analyses of  87Sr/86Sr  (for human and cattle), paleo diets (for humans, through isotopic analysis of d13C and d15N), archaeometric studies of specific artifacts and raw materials (ivory materials, cinnabar, large flint blades, beads, pottery, copper objects) and identification of foreign faunal species (namely mollusks), as well as through more traditional typological approaches to material culture.

Materials, human and faunal remains and contexts from previous excavations in Perdigões will be used, but new specific features will be submitted to survey in order to enlarge the data base in terms of spatiality inside the site and in terms of time range.

To analyze the performance of mobility and the network of interactions in their different components through time, a program of radiocarbon dating will be developed, which also aims to go deeper into the temporality of the enclosure.

The results will provide a set of data that will allow the characterization of interaction and mobility at Perdigões through its living time and the construction of a theoretical model that tries to combine the role played by both variables in the socio-economic organization, ideological expressions and territorial fluidity of Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic communities in South Portugal.

Finally, particular attention will be conceded to the public impact that an archaeological research project should always assume. Mobility and interaction are key issues in present social live and bring major challenges for the years to come at regional or more global scales. So, the project deals with problems that are well embedded in a present complex historical context, where new forms of social and economic mobility are being delineated and generating new social dynamics of adaptation or of resistance. By assuming an important actual social issue and try to analyze the role it assumed in the organization and developed of societies in a totally different historical context, the project helps to bring Archaeology closer to our current social life and to make it more socially meaningful and committed. Therefore a particular task was design to deal with the public display of the goals, developments and achievements of this research.

sexta-feira, 5 de junho de 2015

021 - Perdigões at Blue Week

Perdigões is present at the Blue Week event that is taking place at FIL (Feira Internacional de Lisboa).

sábado, 30 de maio de 2015

0020 – Cover of World Archaeology

Perdigões ivory figurine makes the cover of the journal World Archaeology, edited by Paul Lane and integrating a paper on Perdigões ivory productions: Valera, A.C., Schuhmacher, T.X., Banerjee, A. (2015), “Ivory in the Chalcolithic enclosure of Perdigões (South Portugal): the social role of an exotic raw material”, World Archaeology,

DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2015.1014571.

quinta-feira, 23 de abril de 2015

0019 – Presenting an archaeometric approach to stone idols

Next Monday, in the context of a meeting in Abrantes, Portugal, dedicated to interaction of objects and raw materials in the 3rd millennium BC, a first approach to the study of the provenance of stone idols and vessels from Perdigões will be presented. A collaboration of Nia-Era and the ITN-IST in the context of Charisma program. The analyses were done at the Nuclear Analysis and Radiography Department, MTA Centre for Energy Research, H-1121 Budapest, Hungary.

A general approach to the interaction in Perdigões, regarding raw materials, objects and people, was presented in Madrid in the beginning of this month, in the context of a meeting dedicated to debate the use of resources in this same period.

quarta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2014

0017 - New poster

A new poster on paleo pathologies on cremated human remains from Perdigões is available in the section of Posters.

terça-feira, 11 de novembro de 2014

0016 – Phalange Idols

A paper is being prepared about the phalange idols from funerary contexts of Perdigões enclosure. Some are decorated, others just polished and with change in their morphology to make it more anthropomorphic. While cleaning the peaces one of them presented a decoration characteristic of the anthropomorphic figurines of the 3rd millennium BC: the two solar eyes, the facial tattoos and, in this case, a horizontal belt. In the back the usual zigzag hair. Very similar to some decorated phalanges of La Pijotilla.

The paper will address the idols but also their specific support that reveals particular choices and has implications for an important issue of the period: the questions about social role of the horse.

quarta-feira, 24 de setembro de 2014

0015 - Two new posters on Perdigões

New posters on Perdigões ditched enclosures, recently presented at the World UISPP Congress, held in Burgos, are now available at the poster page (just up there).

terça-feira, 9 de setembro de 2014

0014 – New master thesis on Perdigões

A new master thesis was done in the context of the Global Program of Research of Perdigões. Daniela Pereira presented to the University of Coimbra a thesis in Biological Anthropology in which she studies a part of the cremated human remains recovered in the central area of Perdigões enclosure in the excavation of NIA-ERA Arqueologia.

New and important information about the human remains present in this unusual funerary context is now available, adding to the information from other features in the same area and that is in press at the moment.

terça-feira, 2 de setembro de 2014

0013 - A new page dedicated to posters

It is now available in this blog a page dedicated to publish posters about Perdigões research presented in scientific meetings. We start with this one, presented in 2006, and in the next days others will be available. See page above.

sexta-feira, 29 de agosto de 2014

0011 – Research in Perdigões ivory

After the papers on ivory lunulae (Valera, 2010), ivory anthropomorphic figurines (Valera and Evangelista, 2014) and ivory zoomorphic figurines (Valera, Evangelista and Castanheira, in press) a new is in preparation, summarizing and debating the ivory materials from Perdigões to be submitted to thematic volume of World Archaeology journal (António Valera, Thomas Schuhmacher and A. Banerjee will be authors).

In this context the study of figurines is being completed with this year findings at the cremation contexts. And these figurines don’t cease to amaze us. That is the case of this large head (34mm high) that presents 4 eye holes organized by two pairs. One of the eyes is still inlaid with white paste, reinforcing the argument that large and deep eye holes in some of these figurines were inlaid with some materials. In another figurine from Perdigões, one of the eyes still has a small stone fixed with some sort of clay.
(Photo by António Valera)
But this head also show us that some of these figurines were quite big. In the paper already published (Valera and Evangelista, 2014) we were able to determine the general percentage of the size of the heads relating the all body (through the measurement of several complete figurines from South Iberia). They seem to cluster in two groups, one around 18% and another around 13%. Assuming these percentages, this head would belong to a figurine with 19 cm (in the first cluster) or 26cm (in the second cluster).

So, there are some quite large ivory anthropomorphic figurines at Perdigões.

Bibliographic References:

VALERA, António Carlos (2010), "Marfim no recinto calcolítico dos Perdigões (1): "Lúnukas, fragmentação e ontologia dos artefactos", Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património, 5, Lisboa, NIA-ERA Arqueologia, p. 31-42.

VALERA, A.C. E EVANGELISTA, L.S. (2014), “Anthropomorphic figurines at Perdigões enclosure: naturalism, body proportion and canonical posture as forms of ideological language”, Journal of European Archaeology, 17(2), pp.286-300.

VALERA, EVANGELISTA AND CASTANHEIRA, in press, “Zoomorphic figurines and the problem of Human-Animal relationship in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Southwest Iberia”, Menga.

quarta-feira, 12 de março de 2014

0010 – The anthropological study of human remains from Perdigões tomb 1.

Secundary human depositions in tomb 1 of Perdigões (photo by Miguel Lago)

The Perdigões ditched enclosure has being continuously investigated since 1997 and during the last years, several funerary structures have been unearthed, with traces of a variety of mortuary practices that include inhumations and cremations found in different architectural solutions like tombs, pits or ditches. Among them is Tomb 1, a tholos type structure discovered in the eastern side of this site where a large amount of human remains were recovered.

The anthropological study of these remains is now in course at the department of Anthropology of the University of Coimbra by Lucy Evangelista that is doing a PhD with this material.

The intention with this doctoral thesis is to, through anthropological analysis of the human remains recovered from Tomb I and the identification of the funerary rules and attitudes present, contribute to the better understanding of the attitudes towards death that were taking place at Perdigões. In addition she will pursue to contextualize the information recovered from the laboratorial study within the global information already available, not only for the other funerary structures identified in the site, but also in a wider regional context where other coeval collections have been studied.

domingo, 9 de março de 2014

0009 – Constructing the temporality of Perdigões enclosure

A paper was recently published on Perdigões temporalities. It can be download here.

Based in a set of 35 radiocarbon dates, an image of progressive growing of the site is emerging. Starting with to central enclosures dating from Late Neolithic (second half of the 4th millennium), grew bigger with the intermediate wavy ditches dated from the second quarter of the 3rd millennium and finally with construction of the ditch 1 in the topo of the amphitheater slope in the second half of the 3rd millennium.

However, this image of a progressing growing must be seen as provisory, since several ditches still to be dated, namely the one that runs partially out of ditch 1 and is cut by it. If this ditch is older, Neolithic for instance, than the site was big since the beginning.

This is an important step into the Perdigões temporalities, but is still just a step. Further research is needed to provide a complete image of the diachronic development of this impressive set of enclosures 

terça-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2014

0008 – Research in Perdigões Copper Metallurgy

A "bell beaker" dagger from Perdigões.

A new general line of research has been established for Perdigões Global Program of Research focus on copper metallurgy. Although there is some research being done for some while in the context of specific sub projects of this global program mainly orientated to other issues, now it will be developed a specific project for the problematic of copper metallurgy at Perdigões as a whole.

This project will be developed through the collaboration of the Global Program of Archaeological Research of Perdigões, directed by Nia-Era, and the Hercules laboratory of the University of Évora (Portugal).
The sub-project aims to determine the chemical composition of the metal artefacts;   to perform qualitative and quantitative crystallographic analysis on slag; the identification of micro structural characteristics to inform about the techniques and efficiency of production.

The methods to be used are pXRF, OM, SEM-EDS and XRD.

The team from Hercules Laboratory, that will be working in direct relation with the Perdigões Global Research Program, is constituted by Carlo Bottaini, José Mirão, António Candeias and Nick Schiavon.

We will be providing information about the development of the project.

quarta-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2014

0007 – Stone idols and pots from funerary context: provenance and interaction

Stone idol from cremations pit 40 (Excavations NIA-ERA Arqueologia)

A new archaeometric project is being developed at Perdigões regarding the determination of the raw materials and their provenance for the stone idols and pots from some of the Perdigões funerary contexts.

In fact, the artefactual assemblages from the pits with human cremations present considerable differences when compared with those from the tholoi tombs, although the radiocarbon dating shows that these several feature were simultaneously in use for some time. Archeometric studies to determine the raw materials and their provenance can then be helpful to evaluate the nature of these differences inside Perdigões and also to further characterize the interaction network in which the site was involved.

This project will be carried out by the Nuclear and Technological Institute, Lisbon, in collaboration with the Budapest Neutron Centre. The techniques to be use in archaeological materials and raw material samples from several areas of Central-South Portugal are the Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (PGAA), Neutron Tomography, External Beam PIXE and Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS).

The work will start tomorrow, at Budapest.

sexta-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2014


Dr. Steven D. Emslie, University of North Carolina, Department of Biology and Marine Biology, and Dr.William P. Patterson, Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory, University of Saskatchewan, Canada initiated a collaboration with the Perdigões Research Project.

They propose to complete stable isotope analyses of δ13C and δ15N on human remains that have been recovered in Perdigões, in an attempt to understand past diets and variations in diets among the people that lived and circulated there. The well-preserved human bone at Perdigões will be ideal for analyzing collagen for both stable isotopes and mercury using small samples (< 5 g) from each skeleton.  These isotopes will provide information on the major trophic level from which these people were subsisting, and whether they had a diet based largely on wild plants and grains or included meat or perhaps some marine-based food sources. 

Recent research on strontium isotopes from human remains at this site suggests that the people at this site were from out site the regions where Perdigões is located.  The analyses of stable isotopes and mercury may provide additional support for this hypothesis as people migrating from different regions are likely to have considerable variation in δ13C and δ15N in their bone, averaged over a lifetime, as well as different exposures to mercury

A pilot study is undergoing using 20 small samples of human bone (from 20 individuals) from existing collections from Chalcolithic Tomb 1 and 2 and from Neolithic pit graves and Chalcolithic cremated remains.  The first results are quite surprising and will be presented at 37th Annual Meeting of the Joint Society of Ethnobiology & Society for Economic Botany Conference, Cherokee, NC, from May 11–14, 2014.

A larger sub-project will be designed for future research in the context of the Global Archaeological Research Programme of Perdigões.

sexta-feira, 3 de janeiro de 2014

0005 - Metallurgy of gold in Perdigões

It will be soon published a paper about the metallurgy of the gold small blades from tomb 2 of Perdigões. This work was presented at the 39th International Symposium of Archaeometry, in Leuven (2012), and is in press in the proceedings.  Are authors António Monge Soares, Luís C. Alves, José C. Frade, Pedro Valério, M. Fátima Araújo, António Candeias, Rui J.C. Silva and António C. Valera.

terça-feira, 24 de dezembro de 2013

0004 - Research in human figurines – 3

Decorated loom weight publishied in Milesi, 2013 (This photo copyright: A.C. Valera).

Although it is not a figurine (in the sense that is not a sculpture), this is a quite interesting piece. It is half of a loom weight that has part of an anthropomorphic figure depicted in one side and a set of zig-zag lines in the other. It was collected in Sector L of Perdigões, in the context of gate 1, in the excavations carried out by Málaga University team and was published this year (Milesi et al, 2013).

This piece has, at least, to major factors of interest.
First it has a representation of the human body in a schematic-linear style associated, in the back, to what we might interpret as the long hair that is present in many anthropomorphic figurines (see here). This could justify a connection between this two forms of anthropomorphic representation.

Secondly, the representation of the anthropomorphic figure has great similarities with other rock art depictions also using the schematic-linear style, usually with the hands and feet represented in a radiate way.
The similarities are striking with the anthropomorphic figures represented in Rocha da Hera (Vilhena e Alves, 2007) in the Mira valley, Molino de Manzánez (Collado Giraldo, 2006) and Agualta 7 (Alves, 2013), both in Guadiana valley and very close to Perdigões. The image from Agualta 7 even has two zig-zag vertical lines, suggesting the representation of the hair.

A. La Madre del Cordero, Molino de Manzánez (after Collado Giraldo, 2006); B. Agualta 7 (after Alves, 2013).

Rocha da Hera (Vilhena e Alves, 2007)

These anthropomorphic figures in schematic-linear style are not very frequent and their chronology is not easy to establish. Because they appear near proto-historic contexts they have been considered to date from Bronze Age or Iron Age. However, Agualta 7, for instance, is next to a Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic site (Moinho de Valadares).

The stylistic similarities with the representation from Perdigões shows us that this kind of anthropomorphic depictions go back to the 3rd millennium BC and that this chronology could be extended to some of the figures carved in rock art (such Agualta 7). In particular, since the middle of that millennium, when more explicit representations of the human body seams to became more frequent.

Alves, L.B. (2013), “Anexo 1. A rocha gravada de Agualta 7”, (A.C. Valera cood.), As comunidades agropastoris na margem esquerda do Guadiana. 2ª metade do IV aos inícios do II milénio AC, Memórias d’Odiana, 6, 2ª Série, p.505-538.
Collado Giraldo, H. (2006), Arte Rupestre en la Cuenca del Guadiana: el conjunto de grabados del Molino Manzánez (Alconchel – Cheles). Beja (Memória d’Odiana – Estudos Arqueológicos de Alqueva; 4).
Milesi, L.; Caro, J. L.; Fernandéz, J. (2013), "Hallazgos singulares en el  contexto de la Puerta 1 del complexo arqueológico de Perdigões", Portugal. Apontamentos de Arqueologia e Património 9/2013. Lisboa. NIA-ERA. p. 55-59
Vilhena, J. e Alves, L.B. (2007), “Subir à maior altura. Espaços funerários, lugares do quotidiano e arte rupestre no contexto da Idade do Bronze do Médio/Baixo Mira”, Vipasca, nº2, 2ª série, p.194-218.

domingo, 22 de dezembro de 2013

0003 - Research in human figurines - 2

Published in Valera, 2012 (Copyright A.C. Valera)

This is an assemblage of the so called “almeriense idols”. This kind of figurines was assumed to be Chalcolithic, but it didn’t have clear and well preserved contexts or good radiocarbon dating.

In Perdigões, this assemblage appeared in unquestionable Late Neolithic contexts: the five from the left in the bottom of ditch 12 and the one from the right in the low levels of the “hypogeum 1” structure. These contexts are characterized by Late Neolithic pottery an in ditch 12 these anthropomorphic figurines were deposited just a few centimetres from a bone that was dated between 3360-3090 cal BC (2 σ).

Although it is possible to assume that these kind of figurines were used during Chalcolithic times (first half of the 3rd millennium BC), these contexts clearly show that they emerged in a Neolithic moment and that they are part of a Neolithic ideology that, as I have been stressing, goes into the 3rd millennium BC. What we use to call Chalcolithic is not a rupture with the Neolithic. It is, in fact, the final expression of its world view. And the development of Perdigões shows this in several ways.

This assemblage was published in Valera, 2012 (see the bibliography page for a complete reference and download link)