Iberia

One of the major megalithic sites of Spain is Los Millares (Mohen 1990, pp. 124-126,153; Sieveking 1963, pp. 300-304, 313-315). The site was once regarded as an intermediary one, transmitting ideas from the Fertile Crescent and the eastern Mediterranean to the megalithic world of northern Europe. It is now recognized as a southern manifestation of a more general and ancient megalithic tradition. The Los Millares culture has been dated to ~3000-2500 b.c. One impressive monument is a large burial mound surrounded by three concentric rings of menhirs.

The "tholos" tombs of Los Millares were so named because of similarity to the architectural style of Cretan and Myce-nean tombs, which are elaborate corbelled domes within burial mounds with large stone-faced entrances. The latter, however, are now known to be of much later date. The tholos tombs frequently have "porthole" entrances. Hoskin, Allen, and Gralewski (1995) report that of 48 tombs with measurable orientations at Los Millares, two were to the southwest, four were somewhat to the south of the midwinter sunrise point, and the rest were oriented to points between midwinter sunrise and midsummer sunrise. The 11 tholos tombs at Barranquete, southeast of Los Millares, were oriented entirely to points between the east and south. The orientations of the tholos tombs have a range similar to those of the tombs of the Montefrio area (Hoskin et al. 1995, p. S69). Azimuths of 41 tomb entrances were measured. Of these, 30 lie in a range from due east to the azimuth of midwinter sunrise, with one alignment at each extreme. Seven fell somewhat north of east and four were south of midwinter sunrise.

Elsewhere in Andalucia, there are several different kinds of burial mounds with a general resemblance to those of Brittany and the British Isles (Hoskin et al. 1995). The passage leading to the burial chamber usually has its entrance in the southeast quadrant. Many more southerly orientations are found here than at Los Millares and Montefrio. Of 198 tombs, the azimuth of which could be determined with assurance, 164 were to the southeast quadrant, 3 (of which one is doubtful) to the southwest quadrant, 1 pointed due south, and 20 to the northeast quadrant. Individually, the most remarkable single monument is the gigantic Dolmen de Menga at Antequera (Hoskin et al. 1994a, pp. S79-S80), which faces northeast. The burial chamber is 18.5 m long and 6 m wide, narrowing to a passage 5 m long and 3.5 m wide. The entire structure is roofed by only five slabs, the largest of which has a volume of 120 m3.

Hoskin et al. (1994b) think that there is no evidence in Iberian tombs of alignments to stars or to the Moon. They suggest that many tombs were aligned on the rising points of the Sun at various times of the year and that the others were aligned so that the passage of the Sun across the sky would illuminate the tomb interior. The pattern is suggestive of the alignments of medieval churches, many of which were set so that the Sun illuminated the high altar on the Saint's Day of the church (see Heilbron 1999).

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