Archaeologists have discovered a huge megalithic complex of more than 500 standing stones in southern Spain that could be one of Europe’s largest, on a plot of land near the Guadiana River. The stones were found on a property in Huelva, a province that adjoins the Spanish border with Portugal and is located near the Guadiana River.
The property, which spans about 600 hectares (1,500 acres), was to be used for an avocado plantation. In light of the site’s possible archaeological significance, the regional authorities requested a survey prior to issuing the permit. The stones were discovered during the investigation.
“This is the biggest and most diverse collection of standing stones grouped together in the Iberian peninsula,” said José Antonio Linares, a researcher at Huelva University and one of the project’s three directors. It was probable that the oldest standing stones at the La Torre-La Janera site were erected during the second half of the sixth or fifth millennium BC, he said. “It is a major megalithic site in Europe.”
They discovered a huge range of different sorts of megaliths at the site, including standing stones, dolmens, mounds, coffin-shaped stone boxes known as cists, and enclosures.
“Standing stones were the most common finding, with 526 of them still standing or lying on the ground,” said the researchers in an article published in Trabajos de Prehistoria, a prehistoric archaeology journal. The stones were between three and nine feet tall. There are around 3,000 megaliths at the Carnac Megalithic Site in northwest France.
A huge #megalithic complex of more than 500 standing stones across 1,500 acres has been discovered in S. Spain, perhaps one of the largest in Europe. Dating to c.5500- 4000 BC, many faced east, aligned on sunrise at the solstices and equinoxes. #prehistory https://t.co/OOifxT9eSO— Prof Susan Oosthuizen (@DrSueOosthuizen) August 18, 2022
“One of the most striking things was finding such diverse megalithic elements grouped together in one location and discovering how well preserved they were,” said Primitiva Bueno, co-director of the project and a prehistory professor at Alcalá University, near Madrid.
“Finding alignments and dolmens on one site is not very common. Here you find everything all together – alignments, cromlechs, and dolmens – and that is very striking,” she said, hailing the site’s “excellent conservation”.
An alignment is a row of vertical standing stones arranged along a common axis. A cromlech is a stone circle, and a dolmen is a type of megalithic tomb made from two or more upright stones with a large flat capstone on top.
The researchers discovered that the menhirs were organized into 26 alignments and two cromlechs, both of which were perched on hilltops with a panoramic view of the east for viewing the sunrise during the summer and winter solstices and equinoxes, as well as the spring and fall equinoxes.
Many of the stones are buried deep in the earth and will need to be carefully excavated. The work is scheduled to continue until 2026., but “between this year’s campaign and the start of next year’s, there will be a part of the site that can be visited”, Bueno said.
Source the Guardian