[< Gallery Home | Latest Images | Top 100 | Submit Picture >]
<< Previous Picture | Next Picture >>
| Vila Real |
[375 x 500 jpg]
Unless otherwise stated, this image is the copyright of the submitter. Contact them for permission to reproduce it.
|Description ||Vilarinho de Samardã, Vila Real|
This engraved anthropomorphic stele now forms part of a wall in a field about eighty metres distant from a set of two Neolithic funerary monuments.
The smaller of the set has been all but destroyed but the larger appears to be in better shape. It has been violated but never excavated. Anecdotal evidence and the presence of other rock slabs from the same source in the wall confirm that the stele was once part of the smaller dolmen.
The idol is around 1.5 metres high and 80 centimetres at its widest point. It looks to be late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age and around five thousand years old.
Nothing quite like it has been found in this area before.
The general shape is as zoomorphic as it is anthropomorphic and the facial features are more bird like than human. But the form suggests a figure in a hooded cloak. Although it bears a ‘V’ it doesn’t have any distinct feminine features and the lack of detail on the head and face probably rules out the ‘warrior’ hypothesis.
If it isn’t a warrior or a goddess, what can it be?
I think the stele represents a (bird)-masked figure, with a (feather) cloak. If the dead were provided with tools and utensils for use in their new ‘territory’, it’s also possible that this particular tribe of ancestors were provided with a life-size replica of a shaman to carry out normal rites and provide a means of communicating with the living.
The stele may also have a (later) inscription in what looks like Levantine Iberian script.: mBn
This is similar script to that allegedly found on artefacts from a nearby dolmen by Padre Brenha in the very early nineteenth century.
This partially vindicates the authenticity of the padre’s finds. It may indicate a period of re-usage of the tombs around 500BC, or a systematic looting.
An excavation of the remaining monument might clarify some of the points above, which are of necessity speculative.
1 The wall is about thirty years old. Dating the stele is guesswork.
2 The Sabugal, or Crasto de Barrega, idol is probably later. The mark stone of Barrela, (Parente. O Castro de S. Bento e o seu Ambiente Arqueológico) bears a slight resemblance but is larger and has obviously been Christianised.
3 The 'V' is reported to be a shorthand version of the pubic triangle (represents shape of the fallopian tubes) which is found on many bird figurines, which are in turn associated with the Goddess. Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess, 1989, Thames and Hudson. This type of symbolism dates from the Palaeolithic.
Warriors tend to be more realistic e.g. those found at Sanfins de Douro.
4 It is also possible that the idol served another, non-funerary, purpose before being re-cycled for use in the tomb structure. See note above.
5 J.Brenha, Dólmenes ou antas no concelho de Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Portugalia, 1 (4), Porto 1903, pp691-706. Est.XXXXIV, fig.76
6 There seem to be five large slabs at various places in the field wall. That’s enough for one dolmen, so the second may still be largely intact.
No comments. Why don't you go ahead and post one!
To post comments first you must Register!
Megalithic Portal eGallery, images of megaliths and prehistoric sites worldwide, free to view.