A team of researchers from the University of Cádiz (UCA), has uncovered two megalithic dolmens at the La Lentejuela Teba necropolis, an ancient burial site near Malaga in southern Spain.
The excavations, carried out as part of the project “Monumentality, time and Society: The megalithic phenomenon in the necropolis of La Lentejuela,” employed a range of advanced technologies, including drone aerial photography, photogrammetry, 3D digital scanning, differential GNSS, and precise topography utilizing total stations, to meticulously document the ancient structures.
The La Lentejuela Teba necropolis, already recognized for its historical significance, has been a focal point of exploration. Previous excavations revealed 13 structures, each unveiling valuable insights into the lives of ancient inhabitants through artifacts such as pottery, jewelry, and tools. However, recent research has taken the site’s significance to a new level.
Dolmens, ancient megalithic structures that served various functions across cultures and regions, were typically constructed during the Neolithic period, between 4500 and 2000 BCE.
These enigmatic monuments, composed of large vertical stones supporting a massive horizontal capstone, played a crucial role in the burial practices of early agricultural societies. Although the term “dolmen” has Celtic origins, these architectural marvels predate the arrival of the Celts by centuries.
One of the newly discovered dolmens, now referred to as Funeral Structure 1, has captured the attention of the archaeological community. Professor Serafín Becerra, who led the excavation, explained that this dolmen features an angled corridor leading to an antechamber, distinguished by two vertical orthostats. This architectural arrangement is characteristic of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.
The researchers’ findings suggest that Funeral Structure 1 was originally constructed at the end of the 4th millennium BCE. However, the dolmen experienced a resurgence of activity during the Bronze Age, around the 3rd millennium BCE.
During this period, individuals of elevated social status were laid to rest within the dolmen, a testament to the perceived significance and power of these elites in the eyes of their contemporaries.
Eduardo Vijande, a prehistory professor at UCA, elaborated on the design of Funeral Structure 1, noting that the corridor’s curved shape led to an antechamber demarcated by two vertical stones. These stones, known as orthostats, separated the antechamber from the burial chamber, creating distinct compartments within the dolmen.
The practice of creating smaller spaces within the dolmen for individual or dual burials underscores the cultural nuances and practices of Bronze Age societies. Serafín Becerra emphasized that these burials were reserved for individuals of particular social importance, a fact that is further highlighted by the effort and resources invested in constructing these elaborate tombs.
The La Lentejuela Teba necropolis adds a significant contribution to the broader landscape of megalithic phenomena in Spain. The region boasts numerous dolmens, with notable concentrations in Andalusia, Extremadura, and Galicia.
Andalusia alone is home to over 1,300 dolmens, with the Antequera Dolmens Site standing as a prime example of Bronze Age megalithic construction, featuring three prominent dolmens.
The recent excavations at La Lentejuela Teba reinforce the notion that these enigmatic structures were not static monuments of the past but dynamic testaments to the evolving cultural practices and beliefs of ancient societies.
(This article is based on information from multiple reliable sources)