Sessions

Surveying the past: geomatics in the study of megaliths and tumuli
Hugo Pires (CEAU, Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto, Portugal)

Geomatic technologies are playing an increasingly significant role in archaeological mapping and recording. The costly high-end applications from the late XXth century aimed at government agencies and large corporations have evolved to more available and affordable solutions. In the last decades there have been countless case-studies in archaeology and cultural heritage fields that have lead to enhanced insights of archaeological sites and artefacts. This session aims to be a forum for sharing ideas, best practices, and state of the art knowledge within the field of geomatics applied to the study of Megaliths and Tumuli, ranging from aerial and satellite remote sensing for the detection and mapping of humanized landscapes to innovative surveying techniques for rock art. Researchers are invited to present their work in areas related to these topics (not exclusively): Aerial and terrestrial 3D scanning 3D Recording and documentation UAV applications Mobile Mapping Applications GIS tools and applications 3D Modelling methods for archaeology Data analysis and visual representation Low-cost sensors and open-source software.

Geophysical methods in archaeology and cultural heritage
António Correia (Institute of Earth  Sciences, University of Évora, Portugal)

Geophysical methods have been playing an important role in archaeology and in cultural heritage management. Geophysical methods are non-invasive and allow locating and delineating archaeological structures as well as mapping anthropic activities in the past. Geophysical prospecting in archaeological sites is particularly useful for diagnostic, consolidation, and restoration works. In this session, we are looking from contributions on the use of geophysical and visualization methods applied to archaeological prospecting and cultural heritage management. We welcome contributions with examples of successful use of geophysical methods as well as examples where geophysical methods proved to give no insight about archaeological structures found to exist after excavation. Successful stories of fusion of geophysical methods with other methods as well as recent advances in visualization and modeling techniques are also welcome to the session which aims to be interdisciplinary.

Decoding the spatial significance of mound landscapes

Maria-Magdalena Stefan (National Museum of Eastern Carpathians, Romania) Valeriu Sirbu (Institute of Archaeology Bucharest, Romania)

Funerary mounds had been one of the earliest and also enduring forms of landscape monumental transformation, infusing the nature with a sacred significance recognized by various people entering in contact with them, even many generations subsequent to the initial building. The monumental individual tumuli or the tumuli cemeteries become land structuring elements with active impact over the neighboring communities. Either as a form of ancestor worship, elevated status-representation, or as a way to claim imaginary identity by referencing to past heroes and expression of land ownership, the building and honoring of mound graves was practiced in many areas and periods. The session welcomes contributors interested in exploring how the morphology and spatial organization of mound landscapes (without restriction of geographical or time affiliation) may reveal patterns of social and ritual representation, with a focus on understanding the meaning of location as a symbolic part of the funerary discourse and on enhancing the prolonged time impact of such monuments. Examples of appropriate topics: • signalizing mounds by free-standing monuments or other markings • relation between tumuli cemeteries and ancient roads • analysis of the spatial relation between tumuli cemeteries and neighboring settlements • centrality of founding heroes graves • analysis of tumuli spatial distribution as a way to understand the idealized social hierarchies of communities • longue-durée impact of tumuli graves – how they generate surrounding ritual or funerary structures, even after long periods • reevaluation of older graves and integration in later ancestors cult practices.

Mounds architectures: no more than heaps?
Primitiva Bueno Ramírez (Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Spain) Luc Laporte (CNRS, France)

Whether they are built with earth or stone materials, and whatever the shape of the sepulchral space they cover (from wooden cist to imposing megalithic chambers), most tumuli now appear in the landscape as artificial hills. Some were actually built to appear as such, but others were initially built with any other devices now collapsed (such, for example, the facade of some megalithic monuments from Western Europe). Some of these mounds seal underlying funerary structures, with pieces decorated or not, where others only encompass them and sometimes superimpose themselves in the context of a real succession of architectural projects, and sometimes ornamental transformations. From Japan to the Atlantic shores of Europe, via the Black Sea or Central Asia, many works have also concerned the construction techniques used, often much more meticulous and sophisticated than one might have imagined (and sometimes accompanied by engraved and/or painted images). The restitution of elevations is often the subject of some debates, now supported by powerful digital tools in 3D. We invite authors who have been confronted with each of these points for types of construction, materials, or in the most diverse places possible, to submit a proposal for a communication within the framework of this session.

Burial Monuments and Rock Art
Luiz Oosterbeek (Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Portugal) Guillaume Robin (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom) Chris Scarre (Durham University, United Kingdom)

The relationship between burial monuments (mounds, cairns, megalithic tombs) and rock art is a long-discussed topic. Both were sometimes integrated within a single ritual project, as in the case of painted or engraved megalithic tombs. But this relationship can also be more complex, when for instance rock art sites are physically separate from (undecorated) monuments within landscapes, or in the case of those burial monuments whose complex biography includes the incorporation of reused decorated stones. The relationship between burial monuments and rock art has indeed been approached from various perspectives, focussing on spatial distribution (vicinity, superimposition, parallel manifestations), chronology (sequence, re-use, incorporation), function (landscape markers, social processes, ideological shifts), motifs (artefacts and iconographic parallels), and visual impact (monumentality, association with geomorphological features). This session invites contributions that explore these relationships within regional contexts, beyond that of single case-studies based on individual sites. Contributions should aim to discuss processes operating at wider geographical scales, and to identify trends and potential regional networks of interaction or segregation. They should also consider the methodologies required for analysis at this larger scale, and they should consider the main drivers of interpretation.

New data, new insights: recent developments on funerary practices, gestures, and life of late Neolithic/ Chalcolithic communities
Maria João Neves (CIAS - University of Coimbra, Portugal) Ana Maria Silva (CIAS - Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal) Cristina Tejedor-Rodríguez (CSIC, Spain) Marta Diàz Zorita Bonilla (Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Tübingen, Germany)

In the past decade, many megalithic sites have been excavated and studied in the Iberian Peninsula. Excavations, oriented towards an archaeothanatological exploitation, biological anthropological studies of ancient series housed in museums, genetics and radiocarbon dating of series of individuals deposed in a single or several monuments, have produced a serious amount of data that allow us to look in far more detail to past collective funerary practices. These approaches also permit to discuss with rigorous data, monuments biography, periods of construction, use, rebuilt and abandonment, thus their biographies.
In this session, we aim to gather a set of presentations that reflect the last decade developments regarding funerary practices, gestures, and life of late Neolithic/ Chalcolithic collective funerary monuments. Results that come from mobility studies based on isotopic data, and DNA analysis that inlight the past lives of these communities are welcome.

Local and non-local raw material selection, transportation, processing and use in the construction of tumuli, megaliths, and artifacts
Telmo Pereira (Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, UNIARQ - Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal) José Mirão (Laboratório HERCULES, Universidade de Évora, Portugal) Patricia Moita Laboratório HERCULES - Universidade de Évora, Portugal) Carlos Odriozola Lloret (Universidad de Sevilla, UNIARQ - Universidade de Lisboa), Miriam Cubas (Aranzadi Society of Sciences, Spain)

Chronology and characteristics of funerary rituals show a wide range of idiosyncrasies along Eurasia since the Neolithic. One common aspect is the spread of different megalithic structures used as funerary monuments. The recording of human bones, grave goods and construction materials from these structures, allows addressing questions focused on core concepts of these populations that build these monuments. Some of these questions are related with their dynamics and social organization, procurement strategies, human mobility patterns, social and economic interaction, raw material economics, human cognition and social complexity. The application of analytical techniques related to the identification of raw materials used in the production of grave goods allow us to recognize the exchange networks and social implications. Such studies are commonly focused on materials, either rare or common, that allow pinpointing their geological origin in a landscape. Furthermore, research on Prehistoric materials is commonly focused on production and distribution of specific artifacts such as pottery and personal adornment. Not so common to Prehistoric archaeology, but not the less, are the study of tumuli and megaliths building materials. The later are commonly focused on slab characterization and more rarely on clays and “mortars” used as building materials of the mounds that support the base and the structure of these monuments.

This session welcomes studies using high-resolution methods on raw material sourcing, selection, transportation, processing and use. The submissions should focus either on artifacts or building materials. Particular interest will be placed on those crossing different high-resolution methods and techniques for establishing the provenance of grave goods and construction materials. We encourage essays making connections with their social implications in order to set avenues towards the scientific investigation and heritage preservation of evidence and monuments.

Measuring the time of burial structures: searching for the oldest dates

Session proposed by the Organization

From the second half of the 20th century, the use of radiocarbon dating demanded a drastic change in theories on the genesis of the megalithic phenomenon. The preservation of charred plant and animal remain, their greater availability in funerary contexts, and the progressive reduction in costs contributed to its increased use in Prehistoric funerary contexts. However, radiocarbon dating has limitations and factors of subjectivity. Dating of plant, animal or human bone remains is dependent on site formation processes (as not always these elements are preserved), and almost always refers to the times when the funerary structures were used and not necessarily to the first use or construction.
Therefore, other methods that approach sediments such as Optically Stimulated Luminescence, provide an opportunity to reach these times, linked to the construction of the funeral monuments. This session welcomes the presentation of case studies that discuss this problem by presenting new methods and results of dating the use and construction of tumuli and megaliths in Eurasia.

Ways of public appreciation of megalithic monuments: from local to global
Session proposed by the Organization

The representation of death is a cultural expression of unquestionable social and economical value. Outstanding examples of that are the monumental tombs of Giza, one of the most visited monuments in the World. Across Eurasia, sites as Stonehenge, Carnac, Marathon, Trialeti, Zhane, Pazyryk, Karashoky, Gochang or Daisen, are some of the many examples of megalithic and mound architecture constructions. Besides funerary, they are also examples of ritual and symbolic behaviour. Centuries after, they became also landmarks for identity, culture, learning and tourism. The recovering and cultural outreach for these monuments has allowed their use in multiple porpoises, after their scientific study. Among these porpoises one can point out cultural animation, leisure, and tourism. This gives benefits to local economical agents, mostly through national and international visitors.
Such opening to the people gives a universal value to these monuments without prejudice of their role for the local entities. There have been multiple methodological options for the qualification of these monuments in order to be understood by visitors. In the same way, there have been plenty of different offers, such as their inclusion in site museums, interpretation centers, heritage routes, activities of Prehistoric recreation. Examples of that are The European Route of Megalithic Culture (European Council) or the European Day of Megalithic Culture. Therefore, it is fundamental to present and discuss innovative solutions and best practices used in the qualification and promotion of these sites. This is particularly important when considered the scope of the social, economical changes, values and believes of the 21st Century.

Tumuli and Megaliths in the Eurasian Steppe and Eastern Europe: regional groups, complexity differences and affinities
General session proposed by the Organization

The wide steppe from Eurasia and Eastern Europe are marked by a plethora of strong differences and affinities that set the complexity of the regional groups. These affinities and complexity have reflex on their material culture across time and space, including the construction of funerary monuments. In this session we invite researchers to present their investigation, results from innovative methods and techniques, and new interpretations of the realities from this wide landscape.

South and East Asian megaliths
K.P. Rao (Department of History, University of Hyderabad, India)

South and East Asia is a vast territory with a large variety of landscapes. In these, megaliths and the archaeological record associated have a wide expression and richness. This session aims to bring together researchers developing their investigation in the large variety of contexts from regions such as Indonesia, China, South Korea and North Korea. Overall presentations of these regions or territories within, of results from new lab and field work, and of rituals and construction details are welcome.

Establishing landscape patterns around later prehistoric burial-ritual sites of Atlantic islands
George Nash (Welsh Rock art Organisation, Geosciences Centre, University of Coimbra and IPT, Portugal)

There has been antiquarian and archaeological interest in later prehistoric burial-ritual monuments of the Western British Isles and Ireland since at least the 18th century. The antiquarian interest has largely focused on the monument itself, usually involving unrecorded unofficial excavations of the chamber areas; evidence of which is witnessed by the removal of the tomb architecture. During the mid-19th century a more systematic approach to archaeological excavation occurred. However, with both groups of investigators the focus was on monument and not the immediate landscape. This type of approach continued well into the 20th century with a limited number of sites being excavated using modern scientific techniques including radiocarbon dating. It was not until the latter part of the 20th century and the advent of post-processual archaeology that attention turned towards landscape. As a result, many of the heritage agencies such as Cadw, English Heritage and the Heritage Council of Ireland began to extend their exclusion zones around many megalithic monuments. Advances in geophysical, surveying and remote sensing techniques such as LiDAR have exposed complex buried prehistoric geographies, and revealed through targeted excavation are buried monuments such as barrows, henges, hengiforms, recumbent monoliths and tumuli suggest a complex landscape existed and shows that individual monuments cannot be looked at in isolation. This session will concentrate of those later prehistoric ritual landscapes that have been located around burial-ritual sites using various geotechnical techniques. Evidence shows that a set of complex histories existed suggesting continuity in ritual activity. Scholars are invited to present interpretative as well archaeological fieldwork results.

Funerary architectures in the Mediterranean
General session proposed by the Organization

The Mediterranean region is characterised by funerary architectures wide a wide diversity but also regional and chronological standards. These realities have been focus of studied for almost two centuries. In this session we invite researchers to gather towards the presentation of different overviews, approaches and research projects that focus this geographic space.

Mechanisms of ritual and landscape: How rock art interacts with dearth and burial

George Nash (Welsh Rock art Organisation, Geosciences Centre, University of Coimbra and IPT, Portugal) Sara Garcês (Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Portugal)

When considering the role of megalithic structures in western Europe there is a realisation that the structure per se cannot be looked at in isolation.  Previously the archaeological literature tended to focus purely on the architecture of the monument and the contents that were recovered from excavation.  Frustratingly, the archaeological literature was also heavily focused on architectural traits elsewhere, suggesting very tenuous links between certain monuments that were sometimes hundreds of kilometres apart.  Missing from this enormous data base were concepts such as landscape, philosophical discourse and, pertinent to this session, the association with rock art.  

In the recent past scholars have begun to address these and other issues.  Clearly, monument building, use and abandonment were the foci of complex interactions between individuals, groups and the movement of ideas.  The use of rock art within the moment record still evokes much debate with questions such as: Was rock art incorporated into monument building or was it part of a later tradition that was added to within an already-established monument?  What did the rock art mean and what was its relationship with death, burial and ritual? Finally, how did certain motifs such the simple cupmark and the concentric circle venture from the internal spaces of a Neolithic monument to the open landscape of the Bronze Age?

In this session we ask these questions and more.  Scholars are invited to submit abstracts that deal with monument architecture and the relationship it had with rock art.  We are particularly interested in changes in rock art location during later prehistory along the Atlantic Façade, from the Iberian Peninsula to southern Scandinavia.

Monumental sites in the landscape: multiscale and multimethods approach

Vincent Ard (CNRS – UMR 5608 TRACES – University Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France) Vivien Mathé (UMR 7266 LIENSs – University La Rochelle, France) Emmanuel Mens (CNRS – UMR 5608 TRACES – University Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France) Marylise Onfray (UMR 8215 Trajectoires, France)

​The landscape was for the first time modified and shaped by the Neolithic farmers, who invented new architectural expressions such as megaliths. Generally considered as the main form of Neolithic monumentality in Europe, the megalith phenomenon, with its multiple expressions (tumulus, dolmens, stelae including some engraved ones), must today be put back into perspective by comparing it to other forms of monumentality. These can belong to the world of the dead or the world of the living: funerary enclosures, causewayed enclosures, or long houses. All these architectures reflect profound social changes, remarkable innovation capacities, and constant and renewed adaptation to the mineral and vegetal environment. The ambition of this session is to confront these monumental architectures in a systemic approach from the chamber to the landscape in different contexts to better understand the emerging conditions and the development of this phenomenon in Europe but also in more distant context of Asia.

Like the ongoing French project MONUMEN, these issues require a three-dimensional analysis of these sites, and re-integrate them within a landscape perspective by relying on thorough knowledge of geomorphological and environmental contexts. In order to do so, multiple approaches (geology, technology, geoarchaeology…) and tools (3D, GIS, geophysics, LIDAR, satellite and aerial multispectral imagery…) will be used. This session will favour multidisciplinary approach integrating megaliths into their landscape.

Geoarchaeological and environmental assessment of megalithic mounds: site formation and subsequent modifications
Pierluigi Rosina, Cristiana Ferreira, Hugo Gomes, Opeyemi Adewumi (Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Portugal)

While earlier attention to megalithic constructions tended to focus on the stone architecture and associated artifacts, neglecting the relevance of the tumuli as secondary and primarily technical support features (e.g. as ramparts or support for moving the capstones), interest on earth constructions in general, and on mounds in particular, rose in the most recent years. In fact, the construction, decay, and occasionally rebuilding, of earthen megalithic structures is a complex and very relevant process, not only for technical, but also symbolic and social reasons. Their assessment requires a robust set of geoarchaeological methodologies (to better understand natural and anthropic agents) and environmental data (to better understand the possibilities and constraints of the former). Petrographic characterisation of slabs, combined with sedimentological, micromorphological and other geo-analysis, benefit from a detailed assessment of the surrounding vegetation and fauna for a landscape picture. This sessions calls for papers presenting case-studies where a wide range of geoarchaeological and paleoenvironmental methodologies and techniques have been combined and applied.

Monumental miscellany

General session proposed by the Organization

​Not finding what you are looking for? Take a pick here.

Besides all the aspects that will be approached in the above sessions, there are important areas of study for which were not submitted specific sessions. To ensure these investigations will also be presented, the organization decided to create the session Monumental miscellany. This was because we know that many other subjects are being found, done, analyzed, think and discuss; new technological means are being exploited and developed, and some geographic areas are not covered at all. We also know that many works are innovative and will shortly be the frontline the future avenues of research, and others that, despite being "old school", go deep into the root of fundamental pillars. This combination makes the session Monumental miscellany an exciting cauldron of ideas, putting together younger and senior researchers, exploiting and combining known and new ideas.

So, if your work can fill these or other gaps, please send your presentation to us through this session.

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