Menhir of Almendres, Portugal 10/2013

November 4, 2013

Leaving the narrow streets of Évora, we looked on the map for someplace a little quieter to camp and saw that we were near the historic site of the largest single megalithic monument on the Iberian Peninsula, dating back some 7000 years. Located in a relatively remote area away from civilization on a dirt track, we figured it might be a quiet place for the night.

The Menhir (standing stones) of Almendres are some of most ancient monuments of humankind. Archaeological research has shown that they occurred throughout the Neolithic period, somewhere between the 6th and 4th millennia BC. By comparison, this makes them about 2000 to 4000 years older than Stonehenge in England.

A second feature or phenomenon of the area are the Dolmens whose function was clearly funerary, but there is ongoing discussion of how they were shaped and lifted into place.

Invoking the same amount of amazement we felt when visiting the Sacsayhuaman ruins above Cusco, Peru, one must wonder how these stones were shaped and moved without the use of the wheel or steel tools. The second question remains in discussion. Why? Some seem to correspond to the elementary astronomic alignment of the sunrise on the summer solstice. Was that just a coincidence?

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