Friday, June 9, 2017

Hunebedden, Dolmen and Menhirs

Drenthe Province, Netherlands
Old interests of mine are “hunebedden”, dolmen and menhirs. On my trip to the Old World last May, I managed to see a good number in the Netherlands, France and Spain (or maybe I should say Béarn and the Basque Country).
Signpost "State Hunebed", Drenthe, Netherlands
A dolmen is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone ("table"), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic (4000–3000 BC). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact.
Inside dolmen in Buzy, Béarn, France
It remains unclear when, why, and by whom the earliest dolmens were made. The oldest known dolmens are in Western Europe, where they were set in place around 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists still do not know who erected these dolmens, which makes it difficult to know why they did it. They are generally all regarded as tombs or burial chambers, despite the absence of clear evidence for this. Human remains, sometimes accompanied by artifacts, have been found in or close to the dolmens which could be scientifically dated using radiocarbon dating. However, it has been impossible to prove that these remains date from the time when the stones were originally set in place.
Basque shepherds are thought to have built dolmen too, here in the Basque Museum in Bayonne

What fascinates me most is that these gigantic monuments are almost identical from the Netherlands, to Iberia, to the Caucasus; built at a time that even the wheel was unknown to most of these people. 
Near Vitoria Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain

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