Monday, March 19, 2012
Gematria: Newark Lizard Mound, Earth Mother and the Mound Bu...: Newark Lizard Mound, Earth Mother and the Mound Builder's Numerology What has been called the "Alligator mound" "Lizard Mound" and even ...
Thursday, March 1, 2012
WHO WERE THE MEGALITHIC BUILDERS,
AND WHENCE DID THEY COME?
The origin of the megaliths found around the world can be traced back to the Biblical Levant and the peoples known as the Nephilim or Amorites. The spread of these stone structures corresponds to the beginning of the Copper and later Bronze Age. An age that was dominated by the Amorite metal traders.
Modern discussion of the origin of the megalithic monuments may be said to date from Bertrand's publication of the French examples in 1864. In this work Bertrand upheld the thesis that "the dolmens and allées couvertes are sepulchres; and their origin seems up to the present to be northern." In 1865 appeared Bonstetten's famous Essai sur les dolmens, in which he maintained that the dolmens were constructed by one and the same people spreading over Europe from north to south. At this time the dolmens of North Africa were still unstudied. In 1867 followed an important paper by Bertrand. In 1872 two events of importance to the subject occurred, the publication of Fergusson's Rude Stone Monuments in All Countries, and the discussion raised at the Brussels Congress by General Faidherbe's paper on the dolmens of Algeria. Faidherbe maintained the thesis that dolmens, whether in Europe or Africa, were the work of a single people moving southward from the Baltic Sea.
The question thus raised has been keenly debated since. At the Stockholm Congress in 1874 de Mortillet advanced the theory that megalithic monuments in different districts were due to different peoples, and that what spread was the custom of building such structures and not the builders themselves. This theory has been accepted by most archæologists, including Montelius, Salomon Reinach, Sophus Müller, Hoernes, and Déchelette. But while the rest believe the influences which produced the megalithic monuments to have spread from east to west, i.e. from Asia to Europe, Salomon Reinach holds the contrary view, which he has supported in a remarkable paper called Le Mirage Oriental, published in 1893.
The questions we have to discuss are, therefore, as follows: Are all the megalithic monuments due to a single race or to several? If to a single race, whence did that race come and in what direction did it move? If to several, did the idea of building megalithic structures arise among the several races independently, or did it spread from one to another?
We shall consider first the theory that the idea of megalithic building was evolved among several races independently, i.e. that it was a phase of culture through which they separately passed.
On the whole, this idea has not found favour among archæologists. The use of stone for building might have arisen in many places independently. But megalithic architecture is something [much more than this. It is the use of great stones in certain definite and particular ways. We have already examined what may be called the style of megalithic architecture and found that the same features are noticeable in all countries where these buildings occur. In each case we see a type of construction based on the use of large orthostatic slabs, sometimes surmounted by courses of horizontal masonry, with either a roof of horizontal slabs or a corbelled vault. Associated with this we frequently find the hewing of underground chambers in the rock. In almost all countries where megalithic structures occur certain fixed types prevail; the dolmen is the most general of these, and it is clear that many of the other forms are simply developments of this. The occurrence of structures with a hole in one of the walls and of blocks with 'cup-markings' is usual over the whole of the megalithic area. There are even more remarkable resemblances in detail between structures in widely separated countries. Thus the Giants' Tombs of Sardinia all have a concave façade which forms a kind of semicircular court in front of the entrance to the tomb. This feature is seen also in the temples of Malta, in the tomb of Los Millares in Spain, in thenaus of the Balearic Isles (where, however, the curve is slight), in the Giant's Grave of Annaclochmullin and the chambered cairn of Newbliss in Ireland, in the tomb of Cashtal-yn-Ard in the Isle of Man, in the ]barrow of West Tump in Gloucestershire, and in the horned cairns of the north of Scotland. These parallels are due to something more than coincidence; in fact, it is clear that megalithic building is a widespread and homogeneous system, which, despite local differences, always preserves certain common features pointing to a single origin. It is thus difficult to accept the suggestion that it is merely a phase through which many races have passed. The phases which occur in many races alike are always those which are natural and necessary in the development of a people, such as the phase of using copper. But there is nothing either natural or necessary in the use of huge unwieldy blocks of stone where much smaller ones would have sufficed.
Horned tumulus at Garrywhin, Caithness
Horned tumulus at Garrywhin, Caithness
There are further objections to this theory in the distribution of the megalithic buildings both in space and time. In space they occupy a very remarkable position along a vast sea-board which includes the Mediterranean coast of Africa and the Atlantic coast of Europe. In other words, they lie entirely along a natural sea route. It is more than accident that the many places in which, according to this theory, the megalithic phase independently arose all lie in most natural sea connection with each other, while not one is in the interior of Europe.
In time the vast majority of the megalithic monuments of Europe seem to begin near the end of the neolithic period and cover the copper age, the later forms continuing occasionally into that of bronze. Here again it is curious that megalithic building, if merely an independent phase in many countries, should arise in so many at about the same time, and with no apparent reason. Had it been the use of worked stones that arose, and had this followed the appearance of copper tools, the advocates of this theory would have had a stronger case, but there seems to be no reason why huge unworked stones should simultaneously begin to be employed for tombs in many different countries unless this use spread from a single source.
For these reasons it is impossible to consider megalithic building as a mere phase through which many nations passed, and it must therefore have been a system originating with one race, and spreading far and wide, owing either to trade influence or migration. But can we determine which?
Great movements of races by sea were not by any means unusual in primitive days, in fact, the sea has always been less of an obstacle to early man than the land with its deserts, mountains, and unfordable rivers. There is nothing inherently impossible or even improbable in the suggestion that a great immigration brought the megalithic monuments from Sweden to India or vice versa. History is full of instances of such migrations. [According to the most widely accepted modern theory the whole or at least the greater part of the neolithic population of Europe moved in from some part of Africa at the opening of the neolithic age. In medieval history we have the example of the Arabs, who in their movement covered a considerable portion of the very megalithic area which we are discussing.
On the other hand, many find it preferable to suppose that over this same distance there extended a vast trade route or a series of trade routes, along which travelled the influences which account for the presence of precisely similar dolmens in Denmark, Spain, and the Caucasus. Yet although much has been written about neolithic trade routes little has been proved, and the fact that early man occasionally crossed large tracts of land and sea in the great movements of migration does not show that he also did so by way of trade, nor does it prove the existence of such steady and extensive commercial relations as such a theory of the megalithic monuments would seem to require. Immigration is often forced on a race. Change of climate or the diverting of the course of a great river may make their country unfit for habitation, or they may be expelled by a stronger race. In either case they must migrate, and we know from history that they often covered long distances in their attempt to follow the line of least resistance. Thus there ]is nothing a priori improbable in the idea that the megalithic monuments were built by a single invading race.
There are other considerations which support such a theory. It will be readily admitted that the commonest and most widely distributed form of the megalithic monument is the dolmen. Both this and its obvious derivatives, the Giant's Grave, the allée couverte, and others, are known to have been tombs, while other types of structure, such as the Maltese temple, the menhir, and the cromlech, almost certainly had a religious purpose. It is difficult to believe that these types of building, so closely connected with religion and burial, were introduced into all these regions simply by the influence of trade relations. Religious customs and the burial rites connected with them are perhaps the most precious possession of a primitive people, and they are those in which they most oppose and resent change of any kind, even when it only involves detail and not principle. Thus it is almost incredible that the people, for instance, of Spain, because they were told by traders that the people of North Africa buried in dolmens, gave up, even in isolated instances, their habit of interment in trench graves in favour of burial in dolmens. It is still more impossible to believe that this unnatural event happened in one country after another. It is true that the use of metal was spread by means of commerce, but here there [was something to be gained by adopting the new discovery, and there was no sacrifice of religious custom or principle. An exchange of products between one country and another is not unnatural, but a traffic in burial customs is unthinkable.
Perhaps, however, it was not the form of the dolmen which was brought by commerce, but simply the art of architecture in general, and this was adapted to burial purposes. To this there are serious objections. In the first place it does not explain why exactly the same types of building (e.g. the dolmen), showing so many similarities of peculiar detail, occur in countries so far apart; and in the second place, if what was carried by trade was the art of building alone, why should the learners go out of their way to use huge stones when smaller ones would have suited their purpose equally well? That the megalithic builders knew how to employ smaller stones we know from their work; that they preferred to use large ones for certain purposes was not due to ignorance or chance, it was because the large stone as such had some particular meaning and association for them. We cannot definitely say that large stones were themselves actually worshipped, but there can be no possible doubt that for some reason or other they were regarded as peculiarly fit to be used in sanctified places such as the tombs of the dead. It is impossible that the men who possessed the skill to lay the horizontal upper courses of the
Hagiar Kim temple should have taken the trouble to haul to the spot and use vast blocks over 20 feet in length where far smaller ones would have been more convenient, unless they had some deep-seated prejudice in favour of great stones.
Hagiar Kim temple should have taken the trouble to haul to the spot and use vast blocks over 20 feet in length where far smaller ones would have been more convenient, unless they had some deep-seated prejudice in favour of great stones.
Such are the main difficulties involved by the influence theory. On the other hand, objections have been urged against the idea that the monuments were all built by one and the same race. Thus Dr. Montelius in his excellent Orient und Europa says, "In Europe at this time dwelt Aryans, but the Syrians and Sudanese cannot be Aryans," the inference being, of course, that the European dolmens were built by a different race from that which built those of Syria and the Sudan. Unfortunately, however, the major premise is not completely true, for though it is true that Aryans did live in Europe at this time, there were also people in Europe who were not Aryans, and it is precisely among them that megalithic buildings occur.
The French archæologist Déchelette also condemns the idea of a single race. "Anthropological observations," he says, "have long since ruined this adventurous hypothesis." He does not tell us what these observations are, but we presume that he refers to the occurrence of varying skull types among the people buried in the megalithic tombs. Nothing is more natural than that some variation should occur. We are dealing with a race which made enormous journeys, and thus became contaminated by the various other races with which it came in contact. It may even have been a mixed race to start with. Thus even if we found skulls of very different types in the dolmens this would not in the least disprove the idea that dolmen building was introduced into various countries by one and the same race. It would be simply a case of the common anthropological fact that a race immigrating into an already inhabited country becomes to some extent modified by intermarriage with the earlier inhabitants. The measurements given in the last chapter would seem to show that despite local variation there is an underlying homogeneity in the skulls of the megalithic people.
It thus seems that the most probable theory of the origin of the megalithic monuments is that this style of building was brought to the various countries in which we find it by a single race in an immense migration or series of migrations. It is significant that this theory has been accepted by Dr. Duncan Mackenzie, who is perhaps the first authority on the megalithic structures of the Mediterranean basin.
One question still remains to be discussed. From what direction did megalithic architecture come, and what was its original home? This is clearly a point which is not altogether dependent on the means by which this architecture was diffused. Montelius speaks in favour of an Asiatic origin. He considers that caves, and tombs accessible from above, i.e. simple pits dug in the earth, were native in Europe, while tombs reached from the side, such as dolmens and corridor-tombs, were introduced into Europe from the east. Salomon Reinach, arguing mainly from the early appearance of the objects found in the tombs of Scandinavia and the rarity of the simpler types of monument, such as the dolmen, in Germany and South Europe, suggests that megalithic monuments first appeared in North Europe and spread southwards. Mackenzie is more inclined to believe in an African origin. If he is right it may be that some climatic change, possibly the decrease of rainfall in what is now the Sahara desert, caused a migration from Africa to Europe very similar to that which many believe to have given to Europe its early neolithic population. The megalithic people may even have been a branch of the same vast race as the neolithic: this would explain the fact that both inhumed their dead in the contracted position.
It is probable that the problem will never be solved. The only way to attempt a solution would be to show that in some part of the megalithic area the structures were definitely earlier than in any other, and that as we move away from that part in any direction they become later and later. Such a means of solution is not hopeful, 4]for the earliest form of structure, the dolmen, occurs in all parts of the area, and if we attempt to date by objects we are met by the difficulty that a dolmen in one place which contained copper might be earlier than one in another place which contained none, copper having been known in the former place earlier than in the latter.
It still remains to consider the question of the origin of the rock-hewn sepulchre and its relation to the megalithic monument. The rock-tomb occurs in Egypt, Phoenicia, Rhodes, Cyprus, Crete, South Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, Pianosa, the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Isles, and France. In all these places there are examples which are certainly early, i.e. belong to the neolithic or early metal age, with the exception of Malta and perhaps Rhodes and Phoenicia. Two types are common, the chamber cut in the vertical face of rock and thus entered from the side, sometimes by a horizontal passage, and the chamber cut underground and entered from a vertical or sloping shaft placed not directly over the chamber, but immediately to one side of it. It is unlikely that these two types have a separate origin, for they are clearly determined by geological reasons. A piece of country where vertical cliffs or faces of rock abounded was suited to the first type, while the other alone was possible when the ground consisted of a flat horizontal surface ]of rock. We frequently find the two side by side and containing identically the same type of remains. In South-East Sicily we have the horizontal entrance in the tombs of the rocky gorge of Pantalica, while the vertical shaft is the rule in the tombs of the Plemmirio, only a few miles distant.
Two curious facts are noticeable with regard to the distribution of the rock-hewn tombs. In the first place they are all in the vicinity of the Mediterranean, and in the second some occur in the megalithic area, while others do not. The examples of Egypt, Cyprus, and Crete show that this type of tomb flourished in the Eastern Mediterranean. Was it from here that the type was introduced into the megalithic area, or did the megalithic people bring with them a tradition of building rock-tombs totally distinct from that which is represented by the tombs of Egypt, Cyprus, and Crete?
The question is difficult to answer. One thing alone is clear, that in certain places, such as Malta and Sardinia, the megalithic people were not averse to reproducing in the solid rock the forms which they more usually erected with large stones above ground. The finest instance of this is the Halsaflieni hypogeum in Malta, where the solid rock is hewn out with infinite care to imitate the form and even the details of surface building.
Similarly we have seen that both in Sardinia [and in France the same forms of tomb were rendered in great stones or in solid rock almost indifferently.
There can therefore be no doubt that the hewing out of rock was practised by the megalithic people, and that they were no mean exponents of the art. We have no proof that they brought this art along with them from their original centre of dispersion, though if they did it is curious that they did not carry it into other countries where they penetrated besides those of the Mediterranean. It may be that early rock-tombs will yet be found in North Africa, but it seems improbable that, had they existed in the British Isles, in North Germany, or in Scandinavia, not a single example should have been found.
On the other hand, if the megalithic people did not bring the idea of the rock-tomb with them we must suppose either that it evolved among them after their migration, or that they adopted it from the Eastern Mediterranean. The last supposition is particularly unlikely, as it would involve the modification of a burial custom by foreign influence.
We have, in fact, no evidence on which to judge the question. Perhaps it is least unreasonable to suppose that the idea of the rock-tomb was brought into the megalithic area by the same people who introduced the megalithic monuments, and did not result from contact with the Eastern [Mediterranean. Similarly we ought perhaps to disclaim any direct connection between the corridor-tombs of the megalithic area and the great tholoi of Crete and the Greek mainland. At first sight there is a considerable similarity between them. The Treasury of Atreus at Mycenæ with its corbelled circular chamber and long rectangular corridor seems very little removed, except in size and finish, from the tombs of Gavr' Inis and Lough Crew. Yet there are vital points of difference. The two last are tombs built partly with upright slabs on the surface of the ground, entered by horizontal corridors, and covered with mounds. The Treasury of Atreus is simply an elaborated rock-tomb cut underground with a sloping shaft; as the ground consisted only of loose soil a coating of stone was a necessity, and hence the resemblance to a megalithic monument.
THE BUILDERS OF THE MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS,
THEIR HABITS, CUSTOMS, RELIGION, ETC.
With regard to the date of the megalithic monuments it only remains to sum up the evidence given in the previous chapters. It may be said that in Europe they never belong to the beginning of the neolithic age, but either to its end or to the period which followed it, i.e. to the age of copper and bronze. The majority date from the dawn of this latter period, though some of the chambered cairns of Ireland seem to belong to the iron age. Outside Europe there are certainly megalithic tombs which are late. In North Africa, for example, we know that the erection of dolmens continued into the early iron age; many of the Indian tombs are clearly late, and the corridor-tombs of Japan can be safely attributed in part at least to the Christian era.
With what purpose were the megalithic monuments erected? The most simple example, the menhir or upright stone, may have served many purposes. In discussing the temples of Malta we saw reason for believing that the megalithic peoples were in the habit of worshipping great stones as such. Other stones, not actually worshipped, may mark the scene of some great event. Jacob commemorated a dream by setting up the stone which had served him as a pillow, and Samuel, victorious over the Philistines, set up twelve stones, and called the place "Stones of Deliverance." Others again perhaps stood in a spot devoted to some particular national or religious ceremony. Thus the Angami of the present day in Assam set up stones in commemoration of their village feasts. It seems clear from the excavations that the menhirs do not mark the place of burials, though they may in some cases have been raised in honour of the dead.
The question of the purpose of stone circles has already been dealt with in connection with those of Great Britain. Alignements are more difficult to explain, for, from their form, they cannot have served as temples in the sense of meeting-places for worship. Yet they must surely have been connected with religion in some way or other. Possibly they were not constructed once and for all, but the stones were added gradually, each marking some event or the performance of some periodic ceremony, or even the death of some great chief. The so-called "Canaanite High Place" recently found at Gezer consists of a line of ten menhirs running north and south, together with a large block in which was a socket for an idol or other object of worship. Several bodies of children found near it have suggested that the monument was a place of sacrifice.
Other megalithic structures can be definitely classed as dwellings or tombs, as we have seen in our separate treatment of them. It is not improbable that, if we are right in considering the dolmen as the most primitive form of megalithic monument, megalithic architecture was funerary in origin. Yet, as we find it in its great diffusion, it provides homes for the living as well as for the dead. In their original home, perhaps in Africa, the megalithic race may have lived in huts of wattle or skins, but after their migration the need of protection in a hostile country and the exigencies of a colder climate may have forced them to employ stone for their dwellings. In any case, in megalithic architecture as seen in Europe the tomb and the dwelling types are considerably intermixed, and may have reacted on one another. This, however, does not justify the assertion so often made that the megalithic tomb was a conscious imitation of the hut. It is true that some peoples make the home of their dead to resemble that of the living. Among certain tribes of Greenland it is usual to leave the dead man seated in his hut by way of burial. But such a conception does not exist among all peoples, and to say that the dolmen is an imitation in stone of a hut is the purest conjecture. Still more improbable is Montelius's idea that the corridor-tomb imitates a dwelling. It is true that the Eskimos have a type of hut which is entered by a low passage often 30 feet in length, but for one who believes as Montelius does that the corridor-tomb is southern or eastern in origin such a derivation is impossible, for this type of house is essentially northern, its aim being to exclude the icy winds. In the south it would be intolerably close, and its low passage besides serving no purpose would be inconvenient.
There is really no reason to derive either the dolmen or the corridor-tomb from dwellings at all. Granted the use of huge stones, both are purely natural forms, and the presence of the corridor in the latter is dictated by necessity. The problem was how to cover a large tomb-chamber with a mound and to leave it still accessible for later interments, and the obvious solution was to add a covered passage leading out to the edge of the mound.
A remarkable feature of the megalithic tombs is the occurrence in many of them of a small round or rectangular hole in one of the walls, usually an end-wall, more rarely a partition-wall between two chambers. Occasionally the hole was formed by placing side by side two upright blocks each with a semicircular notch in its edge. Tombs with a holed block or blocks occur in England, instances being the barrows of Avening and Rodmarton, King Orry's Grave in the Isle of Man, Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall, and Plas Newydd in Wales, which has two holes. There are also examples in Ireland, France, Belgium, Central Germany, and Scandinavia, where they are common. Passing further afield we find holes in the Giants' Graves of Sardinia, and in Syria, the Caucasus, and India, where half the dolmens in the Deccan are of this type. The holes are usually too small to allow of the passage of a human body. It has been suggested that they served as an outlet for the soul of the deceased, or in some cases as a means of passing in food to him.
Attention has been frequently drawn to curious round pits so often found on the stones of dolmens and usually known as cup-markings. They vary in diameter from about two to four inches, and are occasionally connected by a series of narrow grooves in the stone. They vary considerably in number, sometimes there are few, sometimes many. They occur nearly always on the upper surface of the cover-slab, very rarely on its under surface or on the side-walls.
Some have attempted to show that these pits are purely natural and not artificial. It has been suggested, for instance, that they are simply the casts of a species of fossil sea-urchin which has weathered out from the surface of the stone. This explanation may be true in some cases, but it will not serve in all, for the 'cups' are sometimes arranged in such regular order that their artificial origin is palpable. These markings are found on dolmens and corridor-tombs in Palestine, North Africa, Corsica, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Great Britain. In Wales there is a fine example of a dolmen with pits at Clynnog Fawr, while in Cornwall we may instance the monument called "The Three Brothers of Grugith" near Meneage.
There is no clue to the purpose of these pits. Some have thought that they were made to hold the blood of sacrifice which was poured over the slab, and from some such idea may have arisen some of the legends of human victims which still cling round the dolmens. Others have opposed to this the fact that the pits sometimes occur on vertical walls or under the cover-slabs, and have preferred to see in them some totemistic signification or some expression of star-worship. It is possible that we have to deal with a complex and not a simple phenomenon, and that the pits were not all made to serve a single purpose. Those which cover some of the finest stones at Mnaidra and Hagiar Kim are certainly meant to be ornamental, though there may be in them a reminiscence of some religious tradition. In any case, it is worth while to remember that cup-markings also occur on natural rocks and boulders in Switzerland, Scandinavia, Great Britain (where there is a good example near Ilkley in Yorkshire), near Como in Italy, and in Germany, Russia, and India.
Of the builders of the megalithic monuments themselves we cannot expect to know very much, especially while their origin remains veiled in obscurity. Yet there are a few facts which stand out clearly. We even know something about their appearance, for the skulls found in the megalithic tombs have in many cases been subjected to careful examination and measurement. Into the detail of these measurements we cannot enter here; suffice it to say that the most important of them are the maximum length of the skull from front to back and its maximum breadth, both measures, of course, being taken in a straight line with a pair of callipers, and not round the contour of the skull. If we now divide the maximum breadth by the maximum length and multiply the result by 100 we get what is known as the cephalic index of the skull. Thus if a skull has a length of 180 millimetres and a breadth of 135, its cephalic index is 135/180 X 100, i.e. 75. It is clear that in a roundish type of head the breadth will be greater in proportion to the length than in a narrow elliptical type. Thus in a broad head the cephalic index is high, while in a narrow head it is low. The former is called brachycephalic (short-headed), and the latter dolichocephalic (long-headed).
This index is now accepted by most anthropologists as a useful criterion of race, though, of course, there are other characteristics which must often be taken into account, such as the height and breadth of the face, the cubic capacity of the skull and its general contour. At any rate, if we can show that the skulls of the megalithic tombs conform to a single type in respect of their index we shall have a presumption, though not a certainty, that they belong to a single race.
For Africa the evidence consists in a group of twenty skulls from dolmen-tombs giving cephalic indices which range from 70.5 to 84.4. The average index is 75.27, and the majority of the indices lay within a few units of that number. Ten skulls from Halsaflieni in Malta have cephalic indices running from 66 to 75.1, the average being 71.84. Of a series of 44 skulls from the rock-tombs of the Petit Morin in France, 12 had an index of over 80, 22 were between 75 and 80, and 10 were below 75. But in the dolmens of Lozère distinctly broad skulls were frequent. A series of British neolithic skulls, mostly from barrows, ran from 67 to 77.
The builders of the megalithic monuments thus belonged in the main to a fairly dolichocephalic race or races, for the large majority of the skulls measured are of a long-headed type. There are, however, in various localities, especially in France, occasional anomalous types of skull which are distinctly brachycephalic, and show that contamination of some kind was taking or had taken place.
Of the state of civilization to which the builders of the megalithic monuments had attained, and of the social condition in which they lived, there is something to be gathered. It is clear in the first place from the evidence of the Maltese buildings that they were a pastoral people who domesticated the ox, the sheep, the pig, and the goat, upon whose flesh they partly lived. Shellfish also formed a part of their diet, and the shells when emptied of their contents were occasionally pierced to be used as pendants or to form necklaces or bracelets.
Whether these people were agricultural is a question more difficult to answer. It is true that flat stones have been found, on which some kind of cereal was ground up with the aid of round pebbles, but the grain for which these primitive mills were used may have been wild and not cultivated. No grain of any kind has been found in the Maltese settlements.
The megalithic race do not seem to have been great traders. This is remarkably exemplified in Malta, where there is not a trace of connection with the wonderful civilization which must have been flourishing so near at hand in Crete and the Ægean at the time when the megalithic temples were built. The island seems to have been entirely self-sufficing, except for the importation of obsidian, probably from the neighbouring island of Linosa. Of copper, which wide trade would have introduced, there is no sign.
Some writers, however, have argued the existence of extensive trade-relations from the occurrence of a peculiar kind of turquoise called callaïs in some of the megalithic monuments of France and Portugal. The rarity of this stone has inclined some archæologists to attribute it to a single source, while some have gone so far as to consider it eastern in origin. For the last theory there is no evidence whatsoever. No natural deposit of callaïs is known, but it is highly probable that the sources of the megalithic examples lay in France or Portugal.
It would of course be foolish to suppose that the megalithic people received none of the products of other countries, especially at a time when the discovery of copper was giving a great impetus to trade. No doubt they enjoyed the benefits of that kind of slow filtering trade which a primitive tribe, even if it had wished, could hardly have avoided, but they were not a great trading nation as were the Cretans of the Middle and Late Minoan Periods, or the Egyptians of the XIIth and XVIIIth Dynasties. We know nothing of their political conditions, of the groups into which they were divided, or the centres from which they were governed. That there were strong centres of government is, however, clear from the very existence of such huge monuments, many of which must have required the combined and organized labour of large armies of workers, in the gathering of which the state was doubtless strongly backed by religion.
We have seen that the megalithic peoples frequently dwelt in huts of great stones. Yet in the majority of cases their huts must have been, like those of most primitive races, of perishable material, such as wood, wattle, skins, turf, and clay. As for their form there was probably a continual conflict between the round and the rectangular plan, just as there was in the stone examples. Which form prevailed in any particular district was probably determined almost by accident. Thus in Sardinia the round type was mostly kept for the huts and nuraghi, while the rectangular was reserved for the dolmens and Giants' Graves. Even here the confusion between the two types is shown by the fact that near Birori there are two dolmens with a round plan. Again, in Pantelleria the huts of the Mursia are rectangular, while the sesi, which are tombs, are roughly circular. It is therefore probable that the round and rectangular types of building were both in use among the megalithic people before they spread over Europe.
Within their huts these people led a life of the simplest description. Their weapons and tools, though occasionally of copper, were for the most part of stone. Flint was the most usual material. In Scandinavia it was often polished, but elsewhere it was merely flaked. The implements made from it were of simple types, knives, borers, scrapers, lanceheads, and more rarely arrowheads. Many of these were quite roughly made, no more flaking being done than was absolutely necessary to produce the essential form, and the work being, when possible, confined to one face of the flint.
In the Mediterranean obsidian, a volcanic rock, occasionally took the place of flint, especially in Sardinia and Pantelleria. Axes or celts were often made of flint in Scandinavia and North Germany, but elsewhere other stones, such as jade, jadeite, and diorite were commonly used.
We can only guess at the way in which the megalithic people were clothed. No doubt the skins of the animals they domesticated and of those they hunted provided them with some form of covering, at any rate in countries where it was needed. Possibly they spun wool or flax into a thread, for at Halsaflieni two objects were found which look like spindle-whorls, and others occur on sites which are almost certainly to be attributed to the megalithic people. There is, however, nothing to show that they wove the thread into stuffs.
The love of personal decoration was highly developed among them, and all branches of nature were called upon to minister to their desire for ornament. Shells, pierced and strung separately or in masses, were perhaps their favourite adornment, but close on these follow beads and pendants of almost every conceivable substance, bone, horn, stone, clay, nuts, beans, copper, and occasionally gold.
One small object assumes a great importance on account of its wide distribution. This is the conical button with two converging holes in its base to pass the thread through. This little object, which may have served exactly the purpose of the modern button, occurs in several parts of the megalithic area. There are examples in Malta made of stone and shell. Elsewhere it is most usually of bone. It occurs in Sardinia, in France, in the rock-tombs of Gard, and in the corridor and rock-tombs of Lozère and Ardèche, in Portugal in the allée couverte of Monte Abrahaõ, in Bohuslän (Sweden), and at Carrowmore in Ireland. Outside the megalithic area it has been found in two of the Swiss lake-dwellings and in Italy.
The pottery of the megalithic people was of a simple type. It was all made by hand, the potter's wheel being still unknown to the makers. Pottery with painted designs does not occur outside Sicily, except for a few poor and late examples in Malta. The best vases were of fairly purified clay, moderately well fired, and having a polished surface, usually of a darkish colour. On this surface were often incised ornamental designs, varying both in type and in the skill with which they were engraved. As a rule the schemes were rectilinear, more rarely they were carried out in curves. Sardinia furnishes some fine examples of rectilinear work, while the best of the curved designs are found in Malta, where elaborate conventional and even naturalistic patterns are traced out with wonderful freedom and steadiness of hand.
The pottery of the megalithic area is not all alike; it would be surprising if it were. Even supposing that the invaders brought with them a single definite style of pottery-making this would rapidly become modified by local conditions and by the already existing pottery industry of the country, often, no doubt, superior to that of the new-comers. Nevertheless, there are a few points of similarity between the pottery of various parts of the megalithic area. The most remarkable example is the bell-shaped cup, which occurs in Denmark, England, France, Spain, Sardinia, and possibly Malta (the specimen is too broken for certainty). Outside the area it is found in Bohemia, Hungary, and North Italy. Here, as in the case of the conical button, we cannot argue that the form was actually introduced by the megalithic race, though there is a certain possibility in favour of such a hypothesis.
That the megalithic people possessed a religion of some kind will hardly be doubted. Their careful observance of the rites due to the dead, and their construction of buildings which can hardly have been anything but places of worship, is a strong testimony to this. We have seen that in the Maltese temples the worship of baetyls or pillars of stone seems to have been carried on. Several stone objects which can scarcely have been anything but baetyls were found in the megalithic structures of Los Millares in Spain, but none are known elsewhere in the megalithic area.
There is some reason for thinking that among the megalithic race there existed a cult of the axe. In France, for instance, the sculptured rock-tombs of the valley of the Petit Morin show, some a human figure, some an axe, and some a combination of the two. This same juxtaposition of the two also occurs on a slab which closed the top of a corbelled chamber at Collorgues in Gard. A simple allée couverte at Göhlitzsch in Saxony has on one of its blocks an axe and handle engraved and coloured red. There are further examples in theallée couverte of Gavr'inis and the dolmen called La Table des Marchands at Locmariaquer.
These sculptured axes call to mind at once the numerous axe-shaped pendants of fine polished stone (jade, jadeite, etc.) found in Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, and France, and apparently used as amulets. The excavation of Crete has brought to light a remarkable worship of the double axe, and it has been argued with great probability that one of the early boat signs figured on the pre-dynastic painted vases of Egypt is a double axe, and that this was a cult object. It seems very probable that in the megalithic area, or at least in part of it, there was a somewhat similar worship, the object of cult, however, being not a double but a single axe, usually represented as fitted with a handle. It need not be assumed that the axe itself was worshipped, though this is not impossible; it is more likely that it was an attribute of some god or goddess.
Among the rock-hewn tombs of the valley of the Petit Morin in the department of Marne, France, were seven which contained engravings on one of the walls. Several of these represent human figures (Fig. 13). The eyes are not marked, but the hair and nose are clear. In some the breasts are shown, in others they are omitted. On each figure is represented what appears to be a collar or necklace. Similar figures occur on the slabs of some of the allées couvertes of Seine et Oise, and on certain blocks found in and near megalithic burials in the South of France. Moreover, in the departments of Aveyron, Tarn, and Hérault have been found what are known as menhir-statues, upright pillars of stone roughly shaped into human semblance at the top; they are of two types, the one clearly female and the other with no breasts, but always with a collar or baldric.
It has been argued that these figures represent a deity or deities of the megalithic people. Déchelette, comparing what are apparently tattoo marks on a menhir-statue at Saint Sermin (Aveyron) with similar marks on a figure cut on a schist plaque at Idanha a Nova (Portugal) and on a marble idol from the island of Seriphos in the Ægean, seems inclined to argue that in France and Portugal we have the same deity as in the Ægean. This seems rather a hazardous conjecture, for we know that many primitive peoples practised tattooing, and, moreover, it is not certain that the French figures represent deities at all. It is quite as likely, if not more so, that they represent the deceased, and take the place of a grave-stone: this would account for the occurrence of both male and female types. This was almost certainly the purpose of six stones that remain of a line that ran parallel to a now destroyed tomb at Tamuli (Sardinia). Three have breasts as if to distinguish the sex of three of those buried in the tomb. We must not therefore assume that any of the French figures represents a 'dolmen-deity.'
The method of burial observed in the megalithic tombs is almost universally inhumation. Cremation seems to occur only in France, but there it is beyond all doubt. The known examples are found in the departments of Finistère, Marne, and Aisne, and in the neighbourhood of Paris. In Finistère out of 92 megalithic burials examined 61 were cremations, 26 were inhumations, and 5 were uncertain. It is extremely curious that this small portion of France should be the only part of the megalithic area where cremation was practised. It is generally held that cremation was brought into Europe by the broad-headed 'Alpine' people, who seem to have invaded the centre of the continent at some period in the neolithic age. It is possible that in parts of France a mixture took place between the megalithic builders and the Alpine race. Intermarriage would no doubt lead to confusion in many cases between the two rites.
In all other cases the builders of the megalithic monuments buried their dead unburned. Often the body was lying stretched out on its back, or was set in a sitting position against the side of the tomb; but most frequently it was placed in what is known as the contracted position, laid on one side, generally the left, with the knees bent and drawn up towards the chin, the arms bent at the elbow, and the hands placed close to the face. Many explanations of this position have been suggested. Some see in it a natural posture of repose, some an attempt to crowd the body into as small a space as possible. Some have suggested that the corpse was tightly bound up with cords in order that the spirit might not escape and do harm to the living. Perhaps the most widely approved theory is that which considers this position to be embryonic, i.e. the position of the embryo previous to birth. None of these explanations is entirely convincing, but no better one has been put forward up to the present.
This custom, it must be noted, was not limited to the megalithic peoples. It was the invariable practice of the pre-dynastic Egyptians and has been found further east in Persia. It occurs in the neolithic period in Crete and the Ægean, in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and other parts of Europe, and it is one of the facts which go to show that the builders of the megaliths were ethnologically connected, however remotely, with their predecessors in Europe.
At Halsaflieni, in Malta, we have perhaps examples of the curious custom of secondary interment; the body is buried temporarily in some suitable place, and after the flesh has left the bones the latter are collected and thrown together into a common ossuary. That the bones at Halsaflieni were placed there when free from flesh is probable from the closeness with which they were packed together (see p. 111). There are also possible examples in Sicily (see p. 79). The custom was not unknown in neolithic days, especially in Crete. It is still occasionally practised on the island and on the Greek mainland, where, after the dead have lain a few years in hallowed soil, their bones are dug up, roughly cleaned, and deposited in caves.
Nephilim Megaliths in Syria
In the south-east of Europe lie three groups of dolmens which are no doubt in origin more closely connected with those of Asia than with those of the rest of Europe. The first group lies in Bulgaria, where no less than sixty dolmens have been found north of Adrianople. The second consists of a few dolmens which still remain in the Crimea, and the third lies in the Caucasus in two divisions, one to the south-east and the other to the south-west of the town of Ekaterinodar. These last are made of slabby rock, and thus have a finished appearance. A dolmen near Tzarskaya has a small semicircular hole at the bottom of one of its end-slabs, while another in the valley of Pehada has sides consisting of single blocks, placed so as to slant inwards considerably, and a circular hole in the centre of the slab which closes one of its ends.
In Asia megalithic monuments are not infrequent. We first find them in Syria, they have been reported from Persia, and in Central and South India they exist in large numbers. Corridor-tombs occur in Japan, but they are late in date, ]and there is no evidence to show whether they are connected with those of India or not.
|Fig. 22. Dolmen with holed stone at Ala Safat.|
In a good example at Ala Safat (Fig. 22) the floor of the tomb is formed by a single flat slab of stone. The great cover-slab rests on two long blocks, one on either side, placed on edge. The narrow ends are closed up with smaller slabs, one of which, that which faces north, has a small hole pierced in it. A similar closure slab with a hole is also found in certain rock-tombs quite close to this dolmen. Apparently none of these dolmens have been systematically excavated, and nothing is known of their date.
Menhirs, too, are not wanting in Syria. Perrot and Chipiez figure an example from Gebel-Mousa in Moab which is quite unworked, except for a shallow furrow across the centre of the face. In many cases the menhir is surrounded by one or more rows of stones. Thus at Der Ghuzaleh a menhir about 3 feet in height is set in the centre of what when complete must have been a rectangle. In other cases the enclosure was elliptical or circular in form. In an example at Minieh the menhir stands in the centre of a double (in part triple) circle of stones, on which abuts an elliptical enclosure. In some cases the circle has no proper entrance, in others it has a door consisting of a large slab resting on two others. The largest of the circles attains a diameter of 600 feet, and has a double line of stones.
Within these circles and near them are found large numbers of monuments consisting each of a large flat slab resting on two others. On the upper surface of the top slab are often seen a number of basin-shaped holes, sometimes connected by furrows. Many of the slabs are slightly slanting, and it has been suggested that the series of holes and furrows was intended for the pouring a libation of some kind. In a monument of this type at Ammân the cover-slab slopes considerably; the upper part of its surface is a network of small channels converging on a hole 11 inches deep about the centre of the slab. Here, again, no excavations have been carried out, and we do not even know what was the purpose of these structures. It is, however, probable that these trilithons were not, like the dolmens, tombs, but served some religious purpose, possibly connected with the worship of the menhirs.
In the Jaulân, where the rock consists of a slabby type of basalt, there are many dolmens of fine appearance. They often lie east and west, and are often broader at the west end. Many are surrounded by a double circle of stones. In one of them two copper rings were found. At Ain Dakkar more than 160 dolmen-tombs are visible from a single spot. They are built on circular terraces of earth and stones about 3 feet high. The Arabs call them Graves of the Children of Israel. Most of them lie east and west, and are broader at the west. In the eastern slab there is often a hole about 2 feet in diameter. Near Tsîl are several corridor-tombs of simple type. Each consists of a long rectangular chamber with only one cover-slab, that being at the west end. In a well-known example of this type at Kosseir there is a hole in one of the two uprights which support the cover.
These examples will serve to show the importance and variety of the Syrian monuments. They present analogies with those of many parts of the megalithic area, and we therefore await anxiously the publication of Mackenzie's promised article on his own explorations in this district.
MEGALITHIC BUILDERS IN ITALY AND ITS ISLANDS
Italy cannot be called a country of megalithic monuments. In the centre and north they do not occur, the supposed examples mentioned by Dennis in his Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria having been proved non-existent by the Italian Ministry of Education. It is only in the extreme south-west that megalithic structures appear. They are dolmens of ordinary type, except that in some cases the walls are formed not of upright slabs, but of stones roughly superposed one upon another. On the farm of the Grassi, near Lecce, are what appear to be two small dolmens at a distance of only 4 feet apart; they are perhaps parts of a single corridor-tomb. In the neighbourhood of Tarentum there is a dolmen-tomb approached by a short passage, and at Bisceglie, near Ruvo, there is an even finer example, the discovery of which is one of the most important events which have occurred in Italian prehistoric archæology during the last few years. The tomb is a simple rectangular corridor 36 feet in length, lying east and west. Only one cover-slab, that at the west end, remains, and the exact disposition of the rest of the tomb is uncertain. In one of the side uprights which supports this slab is a circular hole, which, however, seems to be the work of Nature, though its presence may have led to the choice of the stone. The tomb was carefully excavated, and the remains of several skeletons were found, one of which lay in the contracted position on the right side. Three of the skulls were observed by an expert to be dolichocephalic, but their fragile condition prevented the taking of actual measurements. Burnt bones of animals, fragments of pottery, a terra-cotta bead, and a stone pendant were also found, together with flint knives and a fragment of obsidian.
These discoveries show that the heel of Italy fell under the influence which caused the spread of the megalithic monuments, whatever that influence may have been. The same influence may also have been responsible for the bronze age rock-hewn tombs of Matera in the Basilicata, each of which is surrounded by a circle of fairly large stones.
Geographical considerations would lead one to suppose that the same conditions existed in Sicily, and it is possible that this was the case. Yet it is an affirmation which must be made with great reserve. Megalithic monuments in the ordinary sense of the term are unknown in Sicily. There are, however, four tombs in the south-east of the island which show some affinity to megalithic work. Two of these were found by Orsi at Monteracello. They were rectangular chambers built of squared slabs of limestone set on edge. At one end of the finer of the two was a small opening or window cut in the upright slab. This same grave contained a skeleton lying on the right side with the legs slightly contracted. These two tombs can hardly be described as dolmens; they seem to have had no cover-slabs, and the blocks, which were small, were let into the earth, scarcely appearing above the surface. Taken by themselves the Monteracello tombs would hardly prove the presence of the megalithic civilization in Sicily. However, in the valley called Cava Lazzaro there is a rock-hewn tomb where the vertical face of the rock in which the tomb is cut has been shaped into a curved façade, a very usual feature of megalithic architecture. This is ornamented on each side of the entrance of the tomb with four pilasters cut in relief in the solid rock, each pair being connected by a semicircular arch also in relief. On the pilasters is incised a pattern of circles and V-shaped signs. A somewhat similar arrangement of pilasters is seen in two rock-tombs at Cava Lavinaro in the same district. This work forcibly recalls the work of the megalithic builders in the hypogeum of Halsaflieni in Malta (see Chap. VII), and on the façades of the Giants' Tombs in Sardinia (see below). It affords, at any rate, a presumption that in all three islands we have to deal with the same civilization if not the same people.
Such a presumption is not weakened by the fact that in Sicily the usual form of tomb was the rock-hewn sepulchre, which, as will be seen later, is very often a concomitant of the megalithic monument, and in many cases is proved to be the work of the same people. In the early neolithic period in Sicily, called by Orsi the Sicanian Period, rock-hewn tombs seem not to have been used. It is only at the beginning of the metal age that they begin to appear. In this period, the so-called First Siculan, the tomb-chamber was almost always circular or elliptical, entered by a small door or window in the face of the rock. The dead were often seated round the wall of the chamber, evidently engaged in a funerary feast, as is clear from the great vase set in their midst with small cups for ladling out the liquid. A single tomb often contained many bodies, especially in cases where the banquet arrangement was not observed; one chamber held more than a hundred skeletons, and it has been suggested that the bodies were only laid in the tomb after the flesh had been removed from the bones, either artificially or as the result of a temporary burial elsewhere. Such a custom is not unknown in other parts of the megalithic area. With these bodies were found large quantities of painted pottery, a few implements of copper and many of flint. Among the ornaments which the dead carried—for they seem to have been buried in complete costume—were several axe-shaped pendants of polished stone, precisely similar to those of Sardinia, Malta, and France. The most important cemeteries of this period are those of Castelluccio, Melilli, and Monteracello. Near this last site was also found a round hut based on a course of orthostatic slabs of typically megalithic appearance.
In the full bronze age, called the Second Siculan Period, burial in rock-tombs still remained the rule. The tomb-form had developed considerably. The circular type was still usual, though beside it a rectangular form was fast coming into favour. The main chamber often had side-niches, and was usually preceded by a corridor which sometimes passed through an antechamber. Occasionally we find an elaborate open-air court outside the façade of the tomb, built very much after the megalithic style. Large vertical surfaces of rock were carefully sought after for tombs, and the almost inaccessible cliffs of Pantalica and Cassibile are literally honeycombed with them. Where such surfaces of rock were unobtainable a vertical shaft was sunk in the level rock and a chamber was opened off the bottom of it. The tradition of the banquet of the dead is still kept up, but the number of the skeletons in each tomb steadily ]decreases. The sitting posture is still frequent, though occasionally the body lies flat on one side with the legs slightly contracted. Flint is now rare, but objects of bronze are plentiful. The local painted pottery has almost entirely given place to simpler yet better wares with occasional Mycenean importations.
It is impossible to decide whether this Sicilian civilization ought to be included under the term megalithic. If, as seems probable, the idea of megalithic building was brought to Europe by the immigration of a new race it is possible that a branch of this race entered Sicily. In that case I should prefer to think that they came not at the beginning of the First Siculan Period as we know it, but rather earlier. Certain vases found with neolithic burials in a cave at Villafrati and elsewhere in Sicily resemble the pottery usually found in megalithic tombs; one of them is in fact a bell-shaped cup, a form typical of megalithic pottery. It is thus possible that an immigration of megalithic people into Sicily took place during the stone age, definitely later than the period of the earliest neolithic remains on the island, but earlier than that of such sites as the Castelluccio cemetery. This, however, is and will perhaps remain a mere conjecture, though it is quite possible that there are in the interior of Sicily dolmens which have not yet come to the notice of the archæologist; in this connection it is worth [while to remember that up to five years ago the existence of dolmens in both Sardinia and Malta passed unnoticed.
If the inclusion of Sicily in the megalithic area is doubtful there is fortunately no question about the island of Sardinia. Here we have one of the chief strongholds of the megalithic civilization, where the architecture displays its greatest variety and flexibility. The simplest manifestation of megalithic building, the dolmen, was up till lately thought to be absent from Sardinia, but the researches of the last few years have brought to light several examples, of which the best known are those of Birori, where the chamber is approximately circular in plan.
The monuments, however, for which Sardinia is most famous are the nuraghi. A nuraghe is a tower-like structure of truncated conical form, built of large stones laid in comparatively regular courses (Pl. II, Fig. 2). The stones are often artificially squared, and set with a clay mortar. The plan and arrangement of a simple nuraghe are usually as follows (Fig. 17): The diameter of the building is generally under 30 feet. A door of barely comfortable height even for an average man and surmounted by a single lintel-block gives access to a narrow passage cut through the thickness of the wall. In this passage are, to the right, a small niche (c) just large enough to hold
|Plate II, Fig. 1. Mnaidra, Doorway of Room H|
|Plate II, Fig. 2. The Nuraghe of Madrone in Sardinia|
|To face p. 82|
|Fig. 17. Elevation, section and plan of anuraghe.|
(Pinza, Monumenti Antichi.)
]a man, and, on the left, a winding staircase in the wall (d) leading to an upper storey. The passage itself leads into the chamber (a), which is circular, often with two or three side-niches (b b), and roofed by corbelling, i.e. by making each of the upper courses of stones in its wall project inwards over the last. The upper chamber, which is rarely preserved, is similar in form to the lower.
Considerable speculation has been indulged in concerning the purpose of the nuraghi. For many years they were regarded as tombs, a view which was first combated by Nissardi at the International Congress in Rome in 1903. Further exploration since that time has placed it beyond all doubt that the nuraghi were fortified dwellings. The form of the building itself is almost conclusive. The lowness of the door would at once put an enemy at a disadvantage in attempting to enter; it is significant that in the nuraghe of Su Cadalanu, where the doorway was over 6 feet in height, its breadth was so much reduced that it was necessary to enter sideways. Arrangements were made for the closing of the entrance from inside by a heavy slab of stone, often fitted into grooves. The niche on the right of the passage clearly served to hold a man, who would command the passage itself and the staircase to the upper floor; he would, moreover, be able to attack the undefended flank of an enemy entering with his shield on his left arm. To the same effort at impregnability we may safely ascribe the fact that the staircase leading to the upper room did not begin on the floor-level of the passage, but was reached through a hole high up in the wall. Many of thenuraghi are surrounded by elaborate fortifications consisting of walls, towers, and bastions, sometimes built at the same time as the dwelling itself, sometimes added later. Those of Aiga, Losa, and s'Aspru are among the most famous of this type. All the nuraghi stand in commanding situations overlooking large tracts of country, and the more important a position is from the strategical point of view the stronger will be the nuraghe which defends it. All are situated close to streams and springs of good water, and some, as for instance that of Abbameiga, are actually built over a natural spring. At Nossiu is a building which can only be described as a fortress. It consists of a rhomboidal enclosure with nuraghe-like towers at its corners and four narrow gateways in its walls. It is surrounded by the ruins of a village of stone huts. There cannot be the least doubt that in time of danger the inhabitants drove their cattle into the fortified enclosure, entered it themselves, and then closed the gates.
Each nuraghe formed the centre of a group of stone huts. Mackenzie has described such a village at Serucci, where the circular plan of the huts was still visible. The walls in one case stood high enough to show, from the corbelling of their upper courses, that the huts were roofed in the same fashion as the nuraghi themselves. Another village, that which surrounds the nuraghe of Su Chiai, was protected by a wall of huge stones.
It is thus clear that the nuraghi were the fortified centres of the various villages of Sardinia. Probably each formed the residence of the local chieftain; that they were actually inhabited is clear from the remains of everyday life found in them, and from the polish which continual use has set on the side-walls of some of the staircases. In general appearance and design the nuraghi recall the modern truddhi, hundreds of which dot the surface of Apulia and help to beguile the tedium of the railway journey from Brindisi to Foggia. Thetruddhi, however, are built in steps or terraces and have no upper chamber.
Who were the foes against whom such elaborate preparations for defence were made? Two alternatives are possible. Either Sardinia was a continual prey to some piratical Mediterranean people, or she was divided against herself through the rivalry of the local chieftains.
The second explanation is perhaps the more probable. Mackenzie seems to adopt it, and fancies that in the growth of the largest nuraghi we may trace the rise to power of some of these local dynasts at the expense of their neighbours. He suggests that the existence of the fortified enclosure of Nossiu, where there is no sign of a true nuraghe, may mean that there were certain communities which succeeded in maintaining their independence in the face of these powerful rulers. But here, as he himself is the first to admit, we are in the realm of pure conjecture.
|Fig. 18. Giant's Tomb at Muraguada, Sardinia.|
(Mackenzie, Papers of the British School of Rome, V.)
It is now established that in the Giants' Tombs of Sardinia we are to see the graves of the inhabitants of the nuraghe villages. Every Giant's Tomb lies close to such a village, and almost every village has its Giants' Tombs, one or more in number according to its size. A Giant's Tomb consists of a long rectangular chamber of upright slabs roofed by corbelled masonry (Fig. 18). The slab which closes one end of the tomb is of great size, and consists of a lower rectangular half with a small hole at the base and an upper part shaped like a rounded gable. There is a raised border to the whole slab, and a similar band in relief marks out the two halves. This front slab forms the centre-piece in a curved façade of upright slabs. The chamber is covered with a coating of ashlar masonry, which is shaped into an apsidal form at the end opposite to the façade. Occasionally more than 50 feet in length, the Giants' Tombs served as graves for whole families, or even for whole villages. Mackenzie has shown that the form is derived from the simple dolmen, and has pointed out several of the intermediate stages.
The inhabitants of Sardinia in the megalithic period also buried their dead in rock-hewn sepulchres, of which there are numerous examples at Anghelu Ruju. The contents of these graves make it clear that they are the work of the same people as the Giants' Graves. Were further proof needed it could be afforded by a grave at Molafà, where a Giant's Grave with its façade and gabled slab has been faithfully imitated in the solid rock. There is a similar tomb at St. George. Two natural caves in Cape Sant' Elia on the south of the island contain burials of this same period.
The neighbouring island of Corsica also contains ]important megalithic remains. They consist of thirteen dolmens, forty-one menhirs, two alignements, and a cromlech. They fall geographically into two groups, one in the extreme north and the other in the extreme south of the island.
The stones used are chiefly granite and gneiss. The dolmens, which are of carefully chosen flat blocks showing no trace of work, are all rectangular in plan, and usually consist of four side-walls and a cover-slab. The finest of all, however, the dolmen of Fontanaccia, has seven blocks supporting the cover, one at each short end, three in one of the long sides, and two in the other. None of the dolmens are covered by mounds.
Of the alignements, that of Caouria seems to consist, in part at least, of two parallel lines of menhirs, the rest of the plan being uncertain. There are still thirty-two blocks, of which six have fallen. The other alignement, that of Rinaiou, consists of seven menhirs set in a straight line. The cromlech is circular and stands on Cape Corse.
On the small island of Pianosa, near Elba, are several rock-hewn tombs of the æneolithic period which ought perhaps to be classed with the megalithic monuments of Sardinia and Corsica.