The spatial structure of Galician megalithic landscapes (NW iberia): A case study from the Monte Penide region

Publication date: August 2019

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 108

Author(s): Miguel Carrero-Pazos, Andrew Bevan, Mark W. Lake


It is well known that Neolithic megalithic landscapes are the result of complex locational logics governing where communities chose to site their funerary monuments. These logics in turn respond to broader environmental and cultural affordances, and the relationship between these has been a major topic in the megalithic archaeological literature for the last few decades. Thanks to new approaches in spatial statistical modelling, there is now considerable opportunity to revisit traditional megalithic locational concepts from a more systematic point of view, not least in Galician studies (NW Iberian Peninsula). In the paper that follows, we apply such a modelling approach to a large set of megalithic monuments located in the south of Galicia (Monte Penide and surroundings) with a view to exploring locational choices, spatial hierarchy and territoriality in these funerary landscapes. The results indicate that the distribution of megalithic mounds in this region reflects a preference for locations with particular environmental properties, while at a more local scale the spacing of these mounds seems to reflect some kind of social partitioning of the landscape. Via spatial cluster analysis and a further novel method for testing site hierarchy, we conclude that the mound sizes within nine different mound clusters exhibits a non-random hierarchical structure, with a larger mound per group and smaller ones around that, and with what appears to be a preference for the large monument to be at or near the meeting point of several watersheds and upland ridge-routes.