Excavations 2017

This is a temporary blog for presenting the excavations of 2017 at Perdigões. Posts from 2011 to 2016 are still available.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

069 – Post scriptum

At the office, comparing material from this year excavation with materials from previous campaigns, a head of an ivory figurine collected this year found its body collected two years ago.

But more than that. Carefully analyzed, it revealed something I have suggested before: that the eyes had inlays of small stones (looks likes a quartz stone) fixed with a “white clay”.
In fact, the large and deep eye holes from other figurines of the type suggested that they may have inlayed material to give a more dramatic expression to the faces. That idea seems now to be true, at least in some of those figurines. More detailed analyses will now be done.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

068 - Team 2

,,, and see you next year.

Friday, 8 August 2014

067 – New feature type

In sector Q a new type of feature, previously unknown in Perdigões, was recorded this year.

At the NW of survey 1 we have an overlapping of several structures. After some Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic pits, a large and apparently circular structure, with a depth of 30/40 cm, was excavated in the bedrock, cutting the previous features. Inside, at one meter from that cutting interface and running parallel to it, there was a narrow ditch. With a circular shape, it was defined in a quarter of a circle (also cutting previous structures), suggesting a structure with 8 m of diameter. Inside the ditch there were stones that might been used to sustained post.

It is soon to interpret this structure, but, being partially excavated in the bedrock, it seems to be a positive feature. Maybe a hut or maybe a small enclosed space of a different nature. Next year we will enlarge the survey in this area, for this is an important structure to understand in Perdigões.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

066 – Ditch 7

To get to the bottom was an objective. But layers like these make it impossible. Layers of stones, pottery and faunal remains like this one take a lot of time to define and record.  To understand the filling processes of ditches is not cheap.

But when they are present and well recorded, we can appreciate the complexity and intentionality of filling processes. And that is food for thought.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

065 – A Button?

It is a cylinder made of polished ivory and it has a V shape perforation in the middle. It looks like one of those buttons of some winter coats, but much longer. Is it really a button or something else?

One thing is certain. Is the first ivory object contextualized recovered at Perdigões not associated with funerary contexts. It comes from Chalcolithic ditch 7.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

064 – After about 4500 years…

… it was lifted  from the bed of stones where it was put, probably with a similar care, but certainly with a different meaning.

And next to it there was a half plate. Especially for those who realize the importance of fragmentation and of half parts for these communities.

Monday, 4 August 2014

063 – Daily tasks

Recording at the field…

… and cleaning and classifying materials at home.

Daily tasks of an archaeological excavation that is made of something else besides interesting or spectacular findings.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

062 – Excavating pit 50…

… on a quiet Saturday afternoon. The pot deposited over a layer of small stones and, in the next layer, fragments of plate, possibly corresponding to an half part.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

061 – Here comes the Sun… or a comet

Some jump into the interpretation of a Sun representation. Others argue that some may represent comets.

I just listen to the arguments and start to be convinced that these depictions may represent a variety of astronomic events.

And this shard, from Perdigões Chalcolithic ditch 7 and collected yesterday, may very well sugest a tail and the shining (dots inside the circle) of a comet.

Found especially for you, Paulo.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

060 – A thing about ditches…

… they change along their perimeter.

This year excavation of ditch 5 in survey 1 of Sector Q show a totally different section (in profile and depth) from the section in the same ditch obtained in survey 2 (about 50m apart), confirming the idea that a section of a ditch speaks for itself and not for the entire ditch.

Ditch 5. Survey 1 in the left; Survey 2 in the right.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

059 –Some more news

In Sector P, part of the team continues to work in ditch 7. Today we finally defined the bottom of the recutting filled with three separated layers of stones.
At sector Q, another idol show up: a small polished schist peace with a craved neck, that gives it an anthropomorphic shape by defining a head.

Finally, in sector O, it is now clear that the entire pot of pit 50 was placed in a bed of small stones, just at the top of the pit, in front of the gate in ditch 10.  

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

058 - Ivory Figurines

Two parts of chests of two ivory anthropomorphic figurines from pit 40.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Sunday, 27 July 2014

055 – Reassembling pottery

Using a resting day to reassemble some pottery. It must have been an astonishing pot.

054 - Team 1

Friday, 25 July 2014

053 - A big horn...

... of a Bos primigenius in the bottom of pit 48.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

052 – A busy day

Today we had a visit of local children. 80 of them. It was children’s open day at Perdigões. We must not forget to whom we are working for and that that the interest for heritage is not something that is in the air: you have to work it.

As to the excavation, things are in progress in several areas. But pit 40 had some interesting developments.

After excavating the layer with no cremated bones, we reach the bottom of the pit. But there we could see de continuation of the Late Neolithic ditch 5, that was cut by the pit.  Because this pit was not deep enough, the bottom part of the ditch was preserved. You can easily see the continuation of the ditch behind the pit.

But at the bottom of pit 40 it was also possible to detect a semi circular small ditch that was previous to it.

Finally, two post pits were detected in the centre of pit 40, They are still ion excavation, but are filled with ashes and cremated remains, showing that the pit had a roof while it was in use for the deposition of the cremated remains. It was not just pit reused for these depositions. It seems to have been a “tomb”, regularly used and protected by a roof.  


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

051 - Pits and pots

From Pit 40:

From pit 50:

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

050 - Pit 40

Today, we finally reached a level with no cremated bones at Pit 40. Is it the end of the funerary contexts in this pit? Or is it an intermediate layer, just to reveal another funerary deposit underneath?  

When we started to excavate it, parts of a decorated vessel start to appear. Symbolic decoration in what seems to be a bell beaker shape pot.
Part of it is steel in place in the pit. And it is burned, like the rest of the materials in the deposits with the cremated remains. So, maybe we are just in an interval, and the massive depositions of humans bones will return soon. We´ll see.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

049 – Gate cleaned

We finish cleaning sector O, the one with a gate in ditch 10. The ditch seems to be filled by deposits with lots of archaeological material, mainly pottery, faunal remains, lithics, but also with copper and decorated bone.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

048 – Advancing

In sector O we are now cleaning, but results are already good: the presence of a gate there in ditch 10 is confirmed. Next step is finishing the cleaning and start a survey to determine de chronology of the ditch.

Cleaning a heavy soil

The gate with the setting Sun in my back.

But the work continues in other sectors, such in sector Q: example of pit 40 (the cremations one).


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

047 – With all areas in work

We are now with the full team and with all areas in work.
Sector Q
Sector P.
Sector O. Opening a new survey area by removing the ploughed layer.
In sector Q, with the enlargement of the excavated area to North, is now clear the development of the Late Neolithic ditches, later cut by the Chalcolithic large circular feature in which filling deposits the pits with cremated remains were opened.
Ditch 5 cut by the chalcolithic features, in the area of pit 40 (the one with cremated remains).
And in that same area some new pits are now under excavation.

Excavating a new pit.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

046 – A complex process of depositions.

A complex stratigraphy is revealing in a complex process of depositions in Pit 40. It is now clear that after previous depositions of cremated remains (left in the picture), an irregular depression was excavated in the western part of Pit 40. In that depression were deposited, over a layer apparently with no bones, parts of human bodies in partial anatomical connection. Then, these connections were covered by layers with an enormous density of cremated remains in sediments with ashes and votive materials (ivory, bone, limestone and marble idols, beads, arrow heads). And other interferences in the previous deposits were also identified.

It is now possible to identify several moments of depositions of human cremated remains in this pit, showing that this context was not a result of a single episode of deposition.
But we still do not know how deep is the pit and how many more surprises are there waiting for us.

Tomorrow, with a larger team, we will start to work other contexts.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

045 – Burned bones in pit 40


They are thousands. This amount of bags full of those cremated bones gives a good image of the density of fragments of cremated human bones collected in five days of excavation in pit 40..

An incredible context that reveals the importance of cremation as a funerary procedure in middle 3rd millennium BC. And there are a lot more there, to be excavated in the next few weeks.

Friday, 11 July 2014

044 – Fragmented human bodies

They are being defined. There is not just an individual, but anatomical parts of several individuals. As we have argued in several occasions, human bodies were being butchered apart and then parts of different individuals were deposited in a same space.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

043 – Huge depositions of cremated remains

The excavation of pit 40 is going with a good rhythm. We are detecting a complex stratigraphy, with several moments of deposition of cremated remains and later partial re-excavation of previous deposits. But we are still amazed with the quantity of burned human bones.

Pit 40

In terms of archeological materials, today we recorded some of the common from this context: beads, arrow heads and ivory.
Detail of the cremated remains
But the anatomical connections started to be defined. Tomorrow there will be some nice pictures (I suppose).