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I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Jul 19, 2004
Out of Bounds
A survey conducted on a proposed avocado plantation discovered Spain's largest megalithic site, including a variety of stone structures and arrangements.
Giant Megalithic Complex of 500 Standing Stones Is Among The Largest in Europe

A huge megalithic complex of more than 500 standing stones has been discovered in southern Spain which could be one of the largest in Europe, archaeologists told AFP Thursday.

The stones were discovered on a plot of land in Huelva, a province which flanks the southernmost part of Spain's border with Portugal, near the Guadiana River.

Spanning some 600 hectares (1,500 acres), the land had been earmarked for an avocado planation.

But before granting the permit, the regional authorities requested a survey in light of the site's possible archaeological significance – and revealed the presence of the stones.

"This is the biggest and most diverse collection of standing stones grouped together in the Iberian peninsula," said Jose Antonio Linares, a researcher at Huelva University and one of the project's three directors. ...

It is likely that the oldest standing stones at the La Torre-La Janera site were erected during the second half of the sixth or fifth millennium BCE, he said. ...

At the site, they found a large number of various types of megaliths, including standing stones, dolmens, mounds, coffin-like stone boxes called cists, and various enclosures. ...

Most of the menhirs were grouped into 26 alignments and two cromlechs, both located on hilltops with a clear view to the east for viewing the sunrise during the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes, the researchers said.

Many of the stones are buried deep in the earth.

They will need to be carefully excavated with the work scheduled to run until 2026 ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/giant-...tanding-stones-is-among-the-largest-in-europe
Here are the (English-translated) bibliographic details and abstract from the published report. The full report is accessible at the link below.

Linares-Catela, J. A. ., Mora Molina, C. ., López López, A. ., Donaire Romero, T. ., Vera-Rodríguez, J. C. ., & Bueno Ramírez, P. . (2022).
The megalithic site of La Torre-La Janera (Huelva): Prehistoric monumentalities in the Lower Guadiana.
Trabajos De Prehistoria, 79(1), 115–130.

Research on the megalithic site of La Torre-La Janera, located in the Lower Guadiana (Huelva), has integrated several non-invasive techniques of sampling, analysis and documentation: prospections, geoarchaeology, geographic information technologies and photogrammetry. The most important results have been: a) the discovery of a large number of various types of megaliths (standing-stones, dolmens, mounds, cists and enclosures) from different chrono-cultural periods built in greywacke, some of which are new to the area; b) the presence of monuments integrating outcrops as architectural and symbolic elements; c) the probable synchrony between standing-stones and funerary structures. This research contributes to the advancement of the knowledge of the megalithism in the Iberian Peninsula, opening up future lines of study, new problems and other ways of interpreting the genesis and complexity of prehistoric monumentality.

SOURCE: https://tp.revistas.csic.es/index.php/tp/article/view/881
Another important find in Southern Spain.

Archaeologists have discovered a 5,400-year-old megalithic tomb near a prominent lone mountain in southern Spain, suggesting the peak may have been meaningful to prehistoric people there.

The area, in the countryside near the city of Antequera, is renowned for its megaliths — prehistoric monuments made from large stones — and the newly found tomb seems to solve one of the mysteries of their alignment.

The tomb was designed to funnel light from the rising midsummer sun into a chamber deep within — much like the contemporary megalithic tomb built more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away at Newgrange in Ireland, suggesting both places shared similar beliefs about the afterlife more than 5,000 years ago.

The tomb was constructed about 3400 B.C. with a passage aligned to sunrise on the summer solstice that cast light onto decorative rocks on the walls of a chamber within. (Image credit: Courtesy of ATLAS research group, University of Seville)

"Newgrange is much bigger and more complex than the tomb we have discovered [in Spain], but they have something in common — the interest of the builders to use sunlight at a specific time of the year, to produce a symbolic — possibly magic — effect," Leonardo García Sanjuán, an archaeologist at the University of Seville, told Live Science.

The bedrock at the site is tilted away from the position of the sunrise on the solstice at midsummer, so the builders deliberately constructed a cavity to admit its light, according to a study by García Sanjuán and his colleagues published April 14 in the journal Antiquity(opens in new tab).

"They worked very cleverly to make an arrangement of stones, which were engraved and possibly painted," he said. "These were sacred things placed so that the sunrise on the [summer] solstice would go straight into the back of the chamber." ...

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The Most Marvelous Megalithic Menga dolmen

A team of archaeologists, geologists and historians affiliated with several institutions in Spain has found that the Menga dolmen represents one of the greatest engineering feats of the Neolithic. In their study, published in Scientific Reports, the group used new technology to learn more about the stone that was used to create the ancient burial site and to explore how wood and rope would have been used in its construction.

The Menga dolmen is an ancient burial mound located near Antequera, Málaga, Spain. It has been dated to approximately 5,700 years ago and is one of the largest known megalithic structures to be built in Europe. It was built into the top of a hill using large stones, the largest of which weigh more than 100 tons. In this new effort, the research team took a closer look at the composition of the stones used to build the burial mound, where they came from and how they were transported.

To learn more about the makeup of the stones, the research team used petrographic and stratigraphic analysis techniques, which showed that the stones were mostly calcarenites, a type of detrital sedimentary rock. In the modern age, they are known as soft stones due to their fragility. According to the researchers, such a soft type of rock would have been difficult to transport without causing damage—a finding that suggests a certain level of engineering sophistication.

Closer look at the Menga dolmen shows it was one of the greatest engineering feats of the Neolithic

(a) Geological map of tectonic jointing on DTM, showing the location of Menga and Viera and the likely quarrying areas at Cerro de la Cruz. (b) Stereographic representation of the groups of joints. (c) Overview of the tectonic fracturing present in quarry areas #2 and #3. (d) Groups of joints observed in Quarry #1. (e) Example of a possible discarded megalithic stone at Quarry #1. Credit: Scientific Reports (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-47423-y

Moving and placing such large stones, they state, would have involved massive planning and engineering, particularly for the capstone, which, as its name implies, was laid across the top of the chamber to serve as a roof. The researchers say it weighs approximately 150 tons. They point out that placing such large rocks would have involved the use of scaffolds and ropes, and transporting them would have required level roads.