HOME

TheInfoList




A megalith is a large
stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, th ...
that has been used to construct a prehistoric structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, located widely from Sweden to the Mediterranean sea. The word was first used in 1849 by the British antiquarian
Algernon Herbert Algernon Herbert (12 July 1792 – 11 June 1855) was an English antiquary 's cabinet of curiosities, from ''Museum Wormianum,'' 1655 An antiquarian or antiquary (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic ...
in reference to
Stonehenge Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, west of Amesbury. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each around high, wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting ho ...

Stonehenge
and derives from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
words
mega Mega or MEGA may refer to: Science * mega-, the SI prefix for one million (106, symbol M) * Mega (number), a certain very large integer in Steinhaus–Moser notation * "mega-" a prefix meaning "large" that is List of commonly used taxonomic affi ...
for great and lithos for stone. Most extant megaliths were erected between the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period (although earlier
Mesolithic The Mesolithic (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

Mesolithic
examples are known) through the
Chalcolithic period The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic period
and into the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
.


Types and definitions

While "megalith" is often used to describe a single piece of stone, it also can be used to denote one or more rocks hewn in definite shapes for special purposes. It has been used to describe structures built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods. The most widely known megaliths are not
tomb A tomb ( grc-gre, τύμβος ''tumbos'') is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be called ''immuremen ...

tomb
s.


Single stones

;Menhir:
Menhir Dry Tree menhir – a standing stone at Goonhilly Downs Cornwall">Goonhilly_Downs.html" ;"title="Dry Tree menhir – a standing stone at Goonhilly Downs">Dry Tree menhir – a standing stone at Goonhilly Downs Cornwall A menhir (from Britton ...

Menhir
is the name used in
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
for a single upright stone erected in
prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study ...

prehistoric
times; sometimes called a "standing stone". ;Monolith: Any single standing stone erected in prehistoric times. ;Capstone style: Single megaliths placed horizontally, often over burial chambers, without the use of support stones.


Multiple stones

;Alignments: Multiple megaliths placed in relation to each other with intention. Often placed in rows or
spirals In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...

spirals
. Some alignments, such as the
Carnac Stones The Carnac stones (Breton language, Breton: ''Steudadoù Karnag'') are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites near the south coast of Brittany in northwestern France, consisting of stone alignments (rows), dolmens (stone tombs), t ...
in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
consist of thousands of stones. ;Megalithic walls: Also called ''Cyclopean walls'' ;Stone circles: In most languages
stone circles A stone circle is a circular alignment of standing stone A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, l ...

stone circles
are called "cromlechs" (a word in the
Welsh language Welsh ( or ) is a Brittonic language of the Celtic language family The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European language family. The term "Celtic" ...
); the word "
cromlech A cromlech (sometimes also spelled "cromleh" or "cromlêh") is a megalithic A megalith is a large pre-historic Rock (geology), stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are ...
" is sometimes used with that meaning in English. ;Dolmen: A
Dolmen A dolmen () is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, l ...

Dolmen
is a megalithic form created by placing a large capstone on two or more support stones creating a chamber below, sometimes closed in on one or more sides. Often used as a tomb or burial chamber. ;Cist: A
Cist Cist A cist ( or ; also kist ; from grc-gre, κίστη, Middle Welsh Middle Welsh ( cy, Cymraeg Canol, wlm, Kymraec) is the label attached to the Welsh language of the 12th to 15th centuries, of which much more remains than for any earlier ...
is a small stone-built coffin-like box or
ossuary An ossuary is a chest, box, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary , then after some years the skeletal rema ...
used to hold the bodies of the dead. Burials are megalithic forms very similar to dolmens in structure. These type of burials were completely underground. ;Portals, doors, and gates:


Timeline


Mesolithic

* 7400 BC: A 12 m long
monolith Monolithos fortress on Greece.html"_;"title="Rhodes,_Greece">Rhodes,_Greece_ A_monolith_is_a_geological_feature_consisting_of_a_single_massive_rock_(geology).html" "title="Greece">Rhodes,_Greece_.html" ;"title="Greece.html" ;"title="Rhodes, ...
probably weighing around 15,000 kg found submerged 40 m under water in the
Strait of Sicily The Strait of Sicily (also known as Sicilian Strait, Sicilian Channel, Channel of Sicily, Sicilian Narrows and Pantelleria Channel; it, Canale di Sicilia or the Stretto di Sicilia; scn, Canali di Sicilia or Strittu di Sicilia, ar, مضيق ص ...
south-west of
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
. Its origin and purpose are unknown.


Neolithic

* 9000 BC: Constructions in Asia Minor (
Göbekli Tepe Göbekli Tepe (, "Potbelly Hill"; known as ''Girê Mirazan'' or ''Xirabreşkê'' in Kurdish languages, Kurdish) is a Neolithic archaeological site near the city of Urfa, Şanlıurfa in Southeastern Anatolia Region, Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. ...

Göbekli Tepe
,
Nevalı Çori Nevalı Çori ( tr, Nevali Çori) was an early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
and other sites); perhaps proto- Hattian, a yet to be named culture (the oldest discovered ceremonial structures in the world). * 7000 BC: Construction in
proto-Canaanite Proto-Canaanite is the name given to :(a) the Proto-Sinaitic script Proto-Sinaitic (also referred to as Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite when found in Canaan, the North Semitic alphabet, or Early Alphabetic) is considered the earliest trace of alphabet ...
Israel (
Atlit Yam Atlit Yam is an ancient submerged Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12, ...
). * 6000 BC: Constructions in Portugal (
Almendres Cromlech The Cromlech of the Almendres ( pt, Cromeleque dos Almendres/Cromeleque na Herdade dos Almendres) is a megalithic A megalith is a large pre-historic Rock (geology), stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or ...
,
Évora Évora ( , ; cel-x-proto, Ebora) is a city and a municipalities of Portugal, municipality in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 56,596, in an area of 1307.08 km². It is the historic capital of the Alentejo and serves as the seat of the ...

Évora
) - Possibly first standing stones in Portugal. * 5000 BC: Emergence of the Atlantic
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period, the age of agriculture along the western shores of Europe during the sixth millennium BC pottery culture of
La AlmagraLa Almagra (red ochre Ochre ( ; from grc, ὤχρα, from , , pale), or ocher in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the E ...
, Spain nearby, perhaps precedent from Africa. * 4800 BC: Constructions in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
(
Barnenez
Barnenez
) and
Poitou Poitou (, , ; Poitevin dialect, Poitevin: ''Poetou'') was a Provinces of France, province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers. Geography The main historical cities are Poitiers (historical capital city), Châtellerault (Fran ...

Poitou
( Bougon). * 4500 BC: Constructions in south
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
(
Nabta Playa Nabta Playa was once a large internally drained basin in the Nubian Desert 280px, Fragment of Nubian Desert seen from space The Nubian Desert ( ar, صحراء النوبة, ''Şaḩrā’ an Nūbyah'') is in the eastern region of the Sahara Des ...
). * 4300 BC: Constructions in south
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
( Dolmen de Alberite,
Cádiz Cádiz (, also , ; see more below) is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight that make up the autonomous community of Andalusia Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost ...

Cádiz
). * 4000 BC: Constructions in Brittany (
Carnac Carnac (; br, italic=no, Karnag, ) is a Communes of France, commune beside the Gulf of Morbihan on the south coast of Brittany in the Morbihan Departments of France, department in north-western France. Its inhabitants are called ''Carnacois'' ...

Carnac
), Portugal ( Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro, Évora), France (central and southern),
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
, Spain (
Galicia Galicia may refer to: Geographic regions * Galicia (Spain), a region and autonomous community of northwestern Spain ** Gallaecia, a Roman province ** The post-Roman Kingdom of the Suebi, also called the Kingdom of Gallaecia ** The medieval Kingdom ...
), England and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
, Constructions in Andalusia, Spain ( Villa Martín, Cádiz), Construction in
proto-Canaanite Proto-Canaanite is the name given to :(a) the Proto-Sinaitic script Proto-Sinaitic (also referred to as Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite when found in Canaan, the North Semitic alphabet, or Early Alphabetic) is considered the earliest trace of alphabet ...
Israel c. 4000~3000 BC: Constructions in the rest of the proto-Canaanite
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, e.g.
Rujm el-Hiri Rujm el-Hiri ( ar, رجم الهري, ''Rujm al-Hīrī''; he, גִּלְגַּל רְפָאִים ''Gilgal Refā'īm'' or ''Rogem Hiri'') is an ancient megalithic monument consisting of concentric circles of stone with a tumulus at center. It is ...
and
dolmens A dolmen () is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, l ...

dolmens
. * 3700 BC: Constructions in Ireland ( Knockiveagh and elsewhere). * 3600 BC: Constructions in
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
(
Skorba The Skorba temples are remains on the northern edge of , in , which have provided detailed and informative insight into the earliest periods of Malta's culture. The site was only excavated in the early 1960s, rather late in comparison to other ...

Skorba
temples). * 3600 BC: Constructions in England ( Maumbury Rings and
Godmanchester Godmanchester ( ) is a town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and count ...
), and
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
(
Ġgantija Ġgantija (, "Giantess") is a megalith A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, located widely from ...

Ġgantija
and
Mnajdra Mnajdra ( mt, L-Imnajdra) is a megalithic A megalith is a large stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition an ...

Mnajdra
temples). * 3500 BC: Constructions in Spain (
Málaga Málaga (, ) is a municipality of Spain, capital of the Province of Málaga , population_note = , blank_name_sec2 = Parliament , blank_info_sec2 = Cortes Generales The Cortes Generales (; en, Spanish Parliament, lit ...

Málaga
and
Guadiana The Guadiana River (, also , , ), or Odiana, is an international river defining a long stretch of the Portugal-Spain border, separating Extremadura and Andalusia (Spain) from Alentejo and Algarve (Portugal). The river's basin extends from the eas ...

Guadiana
), Ireland (south-west), France (
Arles Arles (, also , ; oc, label= Provençal, Arle ; Classical la, Arelate) is a city and commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: ...

Arles
and the north), Malta (and elsewhere in the Mediterranean), Belgium (north-east), and Germany (central and south-west). * 3400 BC: Constructions in Sardinia (circular graves), Ireland (
Newgrange Newgrange ( ga, Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archa ...

Newgrange
), Netherlands (north-east), Germany (northern and central) Sweden and Denmark. * 3300 BC: Constructions in France (
Carnac stones The Carnac stones (Breton language, Breton: ''Steudadoù Karnag'') are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites near the south coast of Brittany in northwestern France, consisting of stone alignments (rows), dolmens (stone tombs), t ...
) * 3200 BC: Constructions in Malta (
Ħaġar Qim Ħaġar Qim (; "Standing/Worshipping Stones") is a megalithic temple, temple complex found on the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean island of Malta, dating from the Megalithic Temples of Malta#Ġgantija phase (3600–3200 BC), Ġgantija phase (36 ...

Ħaġar Qim
and
Tarxien Tarxien ( mt, Ħal Tarxien) is a town in the South Eastern Region The South Eastern Region ( mt, Reġjun Xlokk) is one of five Regions of Malta, regions of Malta. The region includes the southeastern part of the Malta (island), main island of M ...

Tarxien
). * 3100 BC: Constructions in Russia ( Dolmens of North Caucasus) * 3000 BC: Constructions in Sardinia (earliest construction phase of the prehistoric altar of Monte d'Accoddi), France (
Saumur Saumur () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to ...

Saumur
,
Dordogne Dordogne ( , or ; ; oc, Dordonha ) is a large rural department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivi ...

Dordogne
,
Languedoc Languedoc (; , ; oc, Lengadòc ) is a former province of France The Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France, frm, Royaulme de France, french: link=no, Royaume de France) was a medieval and early modern monarchy ...

Languedoc
,
Biscay Biscay (; eu, Bizkaia ; es, Vizcaya ) is a Provinces of Spain, province of Spain, lying on the south shore of the Bay of Biscay, eponymous bay. The name also refers to a historical territory of the Basque Country (autonomous community), Basque ...
, and the Mediterranean coast), Spain ( Los Millares), Sicily, Belgium (
Ardennes The Ardennes ( ; french: Ardenne ; nl, Ardennen ; german: Ardennen; wa, Årdene ; lb, Ardennen ), also known as the Ardennes Forest or Forest of Ardennes, is a region of extensive forest A forest is an area of land dominated b ...

Ardennes
), and
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
, as well as the first
henge There are three related types of Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Hu ...
s (circular earthworks) in Britain.


Chalcolithic

* 2500 BC: Constructions in Brittany (
Le Menec
Le Menec
,
Kermario
Kermario
and elsewhere), Italy (
Otranto Otranto (, , ; scn, label=Salentino Salentino is a dialect of the Sicilian language spoken in the Salento peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border wh ...

Otranto
), Sardinia, and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
(northeast), plus the climax of the megalithic
Bell-beaker culture The Bell Beaker culture (or, in short, Beaker culture) is an archaeological culture An archaeological culture is a recurring Assemblage (archaeology), assemblage of types of Artifact (archaeology), artifacts, buildings and monuments from a specifi ...

Bell-beaker culture
in
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a penin ...

Iberia
, Germany, and the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

British Isles
(stone circle at
Stonehenge Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, west of Amesbury. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each around high, wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting ho ...

Stonehenge
). With the bell-beakers, the Neolithic period gave way to the
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
, the age of copper. * 2500 BC: Tombs at
Algarve The Algarve (, , , ) is the southernmost region of continental Portugal Continental Portugal ( pt, Portugal continental; ) or mainland Portugal comprises the bulk of the Portuguese Republic, namely that part on the Iberian Peninsula and so ...

Algarve
,
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
. Additionally, a problematic dating (by
optically stimulated luminescence In physics, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) is a method for measuring doses from ionizing radiation Ionizing radiation (ionising radiation) consists of subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves that have sufficient energy to ionizatio ...
) of Quinta da Queimada Menhir in western Algarve indicates "a very early period of megalithic activity in the Algarve, older than in the rest of Europe and in parallel, to some extent, with the famous Anatolian site of Göbekli Tepe" * c. 2400 BC: The Bell-beaker culture was dominant in Britain, and hundreds of smaller
stone circles A stone circle is a circular alignment of standing stone A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, l ...

stone circles
were built in the British Isles at this time.


Bronze Age

* 2000 BC: Constructions in Brittany (
Er Grah
Er Grah
), Italy : (
Bari Bari ( , ; nap, label= Barese, Bare ; lat, Barium; grc, Βάριον, translit=Bárion) is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari The Metropolitan City of Bari ( it, Città Metropolitana di Bari) is a Metropolitan cities of Italy, ...

Bari
); Sicily (
Cava dei Servi, Cava Lazzaro Cava may refer to: People Sports * José Luis Cabrera Cava (born 1982), a Spanish retired footballer * Michela Cava, a Canadian-born women's ice hockey player * Nicholas la Cava (born 1986), an American rower * Tony LaCava (1961), an American pr ...
);, and Scotland (
Callanish Callanish ( gd, Calanais) is a village (township) on the west side of the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides The Outer Hebrides () or Western Isles ( gd, Na h-Eileanan Siar or ; sco, Waster Isles), sometimes known as ("islands of the ...

Callanish
). The Chalcolithic period gave way to the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
in western and northern Europe. * 1800 BC: Constructions in Italy (
Giovinazzo Giovinazzo ( Barese: ) is a town, ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides many of the basic civil ...
, in Sardinia started the nuragic civilisation). * 1500 BC: Constructions in Portugal (
Alter Pedroso
Alter Pedroso
and
Mourela
Mourela
). * 1400 BC: Burial of the
Egtved Girl The Egtved Girl (c. 1390–1370 BC) was a Nordic Bronze Age The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Nordic Bronze Age emerged about ...
in Denmark, whose body is today one of the best-preserved examples of its kind. * 1200 BC: Last vestiges of the megalithic tradition in the Mediterranean and elsewhere come to an end during the general population upheaval known to ancient history as the Invasions of the Sea Peoples. Megalithic construction persisted in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
into the Iron Age.


Geographic distribution of megaliths


Megalithic sites in Turkey


Göbekli Tepe

At a number of sites in southeastern Turkey, ceremonial complexes with large T-shaped megalithic
orthostat This article describes several characteristic architectural elements typical of European megalithic ( Stone Age) structures. Forecourt In archaeology, a forecourt is the name given to the area in front of certain types of chamber tomb. Forecour ...
s, dating from the
Pre-Pottery Neolithic The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It i ...
(PPN, 9600–7000 cal BC), have been discovered. At the most famous of these sites,
Göbekli Tepe Göbekli Tepe (, "Potbelly Hill"; known as ''Girê Mirazan'' or ''Xirabreşkê'' in Kurdish languages, Kurdish) is a Neolithic archaeological site near the city of Urfa, Şanlıurfa in Southeastern Anatolia Region, Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. ...

Göbekli Tepe
, parts of the oldest level (III) have been C14-dated as far back as to the mid-10th millennium BC (cal). On this level, 20 great stone circles (up to 20 meters in diameter) with standing stones up to 7 meters high have been identified. At least 5 of these circles have so far (as of 2019) been excavated. Many of the standing stones are richly ornamented with carved reliefs of " ars, boars, snakes, foxes, wildcats, aurochs, gazelle, quadruped reptiles, birds, spiders, insects, quadrupeds, scorpions" and other animals; in addition, some of the stones are carved in low profile with stylized human features (arms, hands, loincloths, but ''no heads''). On the younger level (II) rectangular structures with smaller megaliths have been excavated. In the surrounding area, several village sites incorporating elements similar to those of Göbekli Tepe have been identified. Four of these have Göbekli Tepe's characteristic T-shaped standing stones, though only one of them,
Nevalı Çori Nevalı Çori ( tr, Nevali Çori) was an early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
, has so far been excavated. At Göbekli Tepe itself, no traces of habitation have so far been found, nor any trace of agriculture or cultivated plants, though bones of wild animals and traces of wild edible plants, along with many grinding stones, have been unearthed. It is thus assumed that these structures (which have been characterized as the first known ceremonial architecture) were erected by
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s. Göbekli Tepe's oldest structures are about 7,000 years older than the
Stonehenge Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, west of Amesbury. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each around high, wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting ho ...

Stonehenge
megaliths, although it is doubtful that any of the European megalithic traditions (
see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by The Rascals, on the album ''See'' ** See (Tycho song), "See" (Tycho song), song by Tycho * T ...
) are derived from them.


Middle Eastern megaliths

Dolmens A dolmen () is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, l ...

Dolmens
and
standing stones A megalith is a large pre-historic stone A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. ...
have been found in large areas of the Middle East starting at the
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...

Turkish
border in the north of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
close to
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 ...

Aleppo
, southwards down to
Yemen ) , image_map = Yemen on the globe (Yemen centered).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Sana'a Sanaa ( ar, صَنْعَاء, ' , Yemeni Arabic: ; Old South Arabian: 𐩮 ...

Yemen
. They can be encountered in
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
, Syria,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
,
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
, and
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
. The largest concentration can be found in southern Syria and along the
Jordan Rift Valley The Jordan Rift Valley, also Jordan Valley ( he, בִּקְעָת הַיַרְדֵּן Bik'at HaYarden, ar, الغور Al-Ghor or Al-Ghawr), also called the Syro-African Depression, is an elongated Depression (geology), depression located in mo ...
; these are threatened with destruction. They date from the late Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age. Megaliths have also been found on
Kharg Island Khark Island ( fa, جزیره خارک) is a continental island in the Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=Xalij-e Fârs, lit=Gulf of Fars, ) is a mediterranean sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected t ...
and Pirazmian in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, at Barda Balka in Iraq. A semicircular arrangement of megaliths was found in Israel at
Atlit Yam Atlit Yam is an ancient submerged Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12, ...
, a site that is now under the sea. It is a very early example, dating from the 7th millennium BC. The most concentrated occurrence of dolmens in particular is in a large area on both sides of the
Jordan Rift Valley The Jordan Rift Valley, also Jordan Valley ( he, בִּקְעָת הַיַרְדֵּן Bik'at HaYarden, ar, الغور Al-Ghor or Al-Ghawr), also called the Syro-African Depression, is an elongated Depression (geology), depression located in mo ...
, with greater predominance on the eastern side. They occur first and foremost on the Golan Heights, the Hauran, and in Jordan, which probably has the largest concentration of dolmen in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, only very few dolmen have been identified so far in the Hejaz. They seem, however, to re-emerge in Yemen in small numbers, and thus could indicate a continuous tradition related to those of Somalia and Ethiopia. The standing stone has a very ancient tradition in the Middle East, dating back from Mesopotamian times. Although not always 'megalithic' in the true sense, they occur throughout the area and can reach 5 metres or more in some cases (such as at Al Karak, Ader in Jordan). This phenomenon can also be traced through many passages from the Old Testament, such as those related to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, who poured oil over a stone that he erected after his famous dream in which angels climbed to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22). Jacob is also described as putting up stones at other occasions, whereas Moses erected twelve pillars symbolizing the tribes of Israel. The tradition of venerating standing stones continued in Nabatean times and is reflected in, e.g., the Islamic rituals surrounding the Kaaba and nearby pillars. Related phenomena, such as cupholes, rock-cut tombs and circles, also occur in the Middle East.


European megaliths

The most common type of megalithic construction in Europe is the portal tomb—a chamber consisting of upright stones (
orthostat This article describes several characteristic architectural elements typical of European megalithic ( Stone Age) structures. Forecourt In archaeology, a forecourt is the name given to the area in front of certain types of chamber tomb. Forecour ...
s) with one or more large flat capstones forming a roof. Many portal tombs have been found to contain human remains, but it is debated if their primary function was use as burial sites. The megalithic structures in the northwest of France are believed to be the oldest in Europe based on radiocarbon dating. Though generally known as "dolmens", the term most accepted by archaeologists is "portal tomb". Local names for portal tombs exist in multiple locations, such as ''anta'' in
Galicia Galicia may refer to: Geographic regions * Galicia (Spain), a region and autonomous community of northwestern Spain ** Gallaecia, a Roman province ** The post-Roman Kingdom of the Suebi, also called the Kingdom of Gallaecia ** The medieval Kingdom ...
and Portugal, ''stazzone'' in Sardinia, ''hunebed'' in the Netherlands, ''Hünengrab'' in Germany, ''dysse'' in Denmark, and ''cromlech'' in
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
. It is assumed that most portal tombs were originally covered by earthen mounds. The second-most-common tomb type is the passage grave. It normally consists of a square, circular, or cruciform chamber with a slabbed or corbelling, corbelled roof, accessed by a long, straight passageway, with the whole structure covered by a circular mound of earth. Sometimes it is also surrounded by an external stone kerb. Prominent examples include the sites of Bru na Boinne, Brú na Bóinne and Carrowmore in Ireland, Maes Howe in
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
, and Gavrinis in France. The third tomb type is a diverse group known as gallery graves. These are axially arranged chambers placed under elongated mounds. The Irish court tombs, British long barrows, and German ''Steinkisten'' belong to this group. Standing stones, or menhirs as they are known in France, are very common throughout Europe, where some 50,000 examples have been noted. Some of these are thought to have an astronomical function as a marker or foresight. In some areas, long and complex "alignments" of such stones exist, the largest known example being located at
Carnac Carnac (; br, italic=no, Karnag, ) is a Communes of France, commune beside the Gulf of Morbihan on the south coast of Brittany in the Morbihan Departments of France, department in north-western France. Its inhabitants are called ''Carnacois'' ...

Carnac
in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, France. In parts of Britain and Ireland a relatively common type of megalithic construction is the stone circle, of which examples include
Stonehenge Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, west of Amesbury. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each around high, wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting ho ...

Stonehenge
, Avebury, Ring of Brodgar and Beltany stone circle, Beltany. These, too, display evidence of astronomical alignments, both solar and lunar. Stonehenge, for example, is famous for its solstice alignment. Examples of stone circles are also found in the rest of Europe. The circle at Lough Gur, near Limerick in Ireland has been dated to the Beaker period, approximately contemporaneous with Stonehenge. The stone circles are assumed to be of later date than the tombs, straddling the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
and the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
s.


Tombs

Megalithic tombs are aboveground burial chambers, built of large stone slabs (megaliths) laid on edge and covered with earth or other, smaller stones. They are a type of chamber tomb, and the term is used to describe the structures built across Atlantic Europe, the Mediterranean, and neighbouring regions, mostly during the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
period, by Neolithic farming communities. They differ from the contemporary long barrows through their structural use of stone. There is a huge variety of megalithic tombs. The free-standing single chamber dolmens and portal dolmens found in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden,
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
, and elsewhere consist of a large flat stone supported by three, four, or more standing stones. They were covered by a stone cairn or earth tumulus, barrow. In Italy, dolmens can be found especially in Sardinia. There are more than 100 dolmen dating to the Neolithic (3500–2700 BC) and the most famous is called ''Dolmen di Sa Coveccada'' (near Mores, Sardinia, Mores). During the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
, the Nuragic civilization built c. 800 Giants' grave, a type of megalithic gallery grave that can be found throughout Sardinia with different structures. The earliest megalithic tombs in Sardinia are the circular graves of the so-called Arzachena culture, also found in
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
, southern France and eastern Spain. Dolmens are also in Apulia and in Sicily. In this latter region, they are small structures located in Mura Pregne (Palermo), Sciacca (Agrigento), Monte Bubbonia (Province of Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta), Butera (Caltanissetta), Cava Lazzaro (Syracuse, Sicily, Siracusa), Cava dei Servi (Ragusa, Italy, Ragusa), Avola (Siracusa), and Argimusco in Montalbano Elicona (Messina). Dating to the Early Bronze Age (2200–1800 BC), the prehistoric Sicilian buildings were covered by a circular mound of earth. In the dolmen of Cava dei Servi, archaeologists found numerous human bone fragments and some splinters of Castelluccian ceramics (Early Bronze Age) which confirmed the burial purpose of the artefact. Examples with outer areas, not used for burial, are also known. The Court Cairns of southwest
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
and northern Ireland, the Severn-Cotswold tombs of southwest England and the transepted gallery graves of the Loire region in France share many internal features, although the links between them are not yet fully understood. That they often have antechambers or forecourts is thought to imply a desire on the part of the builders to emphasize a special ritual or physical separation of the dead from the living. Megalithic tombs appear to have been used by communities for the long-term deposition of the remains of their dead, and some seem to have undergone alteration and enlargement. The organization and effort required to erect these large stones suggest that the societies concerned placed great emphasis on the proper treatment of their dead. The ritual significance of the tombs is supported by the presence of Pre-historic art, megalithic art carved into the stones at some sites. Hearths and deposits of pottery and animal bone found by archaeologists around some tombs also implies that some form of burial feast or sacrificial rites took place there. Further examples of megalithic tombs include the stalled cairn at Midhowe Chambered Cairn, Midhowe in Orkney and the passage grave at Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey. There are also extensive grave sites with up to 60 megaliths at Louisenlund (Bornholm), Louisenlund and Gryet on the Danish island of Bornholm. Despite its name, the Stone Tomb in Ukraine was not a tomb but rather a sanctuary.


Other structures

In association with the megalithic constructions across Europe, there are often large Earthworks (archaeology), earthworks of various designs—ditches and banks (like the Dorset Cursus), broad terraces, circular enclosures known as henges, and frequently artificial mounds such as Silbury Hill in England and Sassari, Monte d'Accoddi in Sardinia (the prehistoric step pyramid).


Spread of megalithic architecture in Europe

In Europe megaliths are, in general, constructions erected during the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
or late Stone Age and
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
or Copper Age (4500–1500 BC). The megalithic structures of
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
are believed to be the oldest in Europe. Perhaps the most famous megalithic structure is
Stonehenge Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, west of Amesbury. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each around high, wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting ho ...

Stonehenge
in England. In Sardinia, in addition to dolmens, menhirs and circular graves there are also more than 8000 megalithic structure made by a Nuragic civilisation, called Nuraghe: buildings similar to towers (sometimes with really complex structures) made using only rocks. They are often near giants' grave, giant's grave or the other megalithic monuments. The French Comte de Caylus was the first to describe the
Carnac stones The Carnac stones (Breton language, Breton: ''Steudadoù Karnag'') are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites near the south coast of Brittany in northwestern France, consisting of stone alignments (rows), dolmens (stone tombs), t ...
. Pierre Jean-Baptiste Legrand d'Aussy introduced the terms ''menhir'' and ''dolmen'', both taken from the Breton language, into antiquarian terminology. He mistakenly interpreted megaliths as Gallic tombs. In Britain, the antiquarians John Aubrey, Aubrey and William Stukeley, Stukeley conducted early research into megaliths. In 1805, Jacques Cambry published a book called ''Monuments celtiques, ou recherches sur le culte des Pierres, précédées d'une notice sur les Celtes et sur les Druides, et suivies d'Etymologie celtiques'', where he proposed a Celtic stone cult. This unproven connection between druids and megaliths has haunted the public imagination ever since. In Belgium, there are the Wéris megaliths at Wéris, a little town situated in the
Ardennes The Ardennes ( ; french: Ardenne ; nl, Ardennen ; german: Ardennen; wa, Årdene ; lb, Ardennen ), also known as the Ardennes Forest or Forest of Ardennes, is a region of extensive forest A forest is an area of land dominated b ...

Ardennes
. In the Netherlands, megalithic structures can be found in the northeast of the country, mostly in the province of Drenthe. Knowth is a passage grave of the Brú na Bóinne neolithic complex in Ireland, dating from c. 3500–3000 BC. It contains more than a third of the total number of examples of megalithic art in all Europe, with over 200 decorated stones found during excavations.


African megaliths


North Africa

Nabta Playa Nabta Playa was once a large internally drained basin in the Nubian Desert 280px, Fragment of Nubian Desert seen from space The Nubian Desert ( ar, صحراء النوبة, ''Şaḩrā’ an Nūbyah'') is in the eastern region of the Sahara Des ...
at the southwest corner of the western Egyptian desert was once a large lake in the Nubian Desert, located 500 miles south of modern-day Cairo. By the 5th millennium BC, the peoples in
Nabta Playa Nabta Playa was once a large internally drained basin in the Nubian Desert 280px, Fragment of Nubian Desert seen from space The Nubian Desert ( ar, صحراء النوبة, ''Şaḩrā’ an Nūbyah'') is in the eastern region of the Sahara Des ...
had fashioned an astronomical device that accurately marks the summer solstice. Findings indicate that the region was occupied only seasonally, likely only in the summer when the local lake filled with water for grazing cattle. There are other megalithic stone circles in the southwestern desert. At
Nabta Playa Nabta Playa was once a large internally drained basin in the Nubian Desert 280px, Fragment of Nubian Desert seen from space The Nubian Desert ( ar, صحراء النوبة, ''Şaḩrā’ an Nūbyah'') is in the eastern region of the Sahara Des ...
, located in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and broader region of the Eastern Sahara, there is a megalithic cultural complex (e.g., Animal sacrifice, sacrificed cow burial site, solar calendar, altar) that dates between 4000 BCE and 2000 BCE. Likely part of Copper Age and Bronze Age Traditional Berber religion#Megalithic culture, cultural traditions of megalith-building, megaliths (e.g.,
dolmens A dolmen () is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb A megalith is a large pre-historic stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone, l ...

dolmens
) were constructed in Mediterranean Basin, Mediterranean North Africa.


West Africa

In Cross-River State, Nigeria, there are Ikom monoliths, megalithic monoliths of an anthropomorphic nature. At Tondidarou, in the Malian Lakes Region, there are megaliths of an anthropomorphic nature (e.g., face, navel, scarifications) that date between 600 CE and 700 CE. Between 1350 BCE and 1500/1600 CE, Senegambian stone circles, Senegambian megaliths (e.g., tumuli) were constructed for the purpose of Veneration of the dead#Serer of Senegal and Gambia, ancestral reverence.


Central Africa

In the northwestern region of the Central African Republic, there are Bouar#Bouar Megaliths, megaliths that were created for various purposes (e.g., burial, ritual performances). Between late 3rd millennium BCE and mid-2nd millennium CE, megaliths (e.g., monuments, cairn burials) were constructed in the regions (e.g., Eastern Adamawa Region, Adamawa, Oubanguian Ridge, Chad Basin#Drainage basin extent, Chad/Congo watershed) in Central African Republic and Cameroon, throughout various periods (e.g., Balimbé: 2000 BCE – 1000 BCE; Early Gbabiri: 950 BCE – 200 BCE; Late Gbabiri: 200 BCE – 500 CE; Bouboun: 500 CE – 1600 CE), for various purposes (e.g., ritual practices, territorial marking).


Eastern Africa

In the Ethiopian Highlands of Harar, the earliest construction of megaliths occurred. From this region and its megalith-building tradition (e.g., dolmens, tumuli with burial chambers organized in cemeteries), the subsequent traditions in other areas of Ethiopia likely developed. In the late 1st millennium BCE, the urban civilization of Axum developed a megalithic Stele#Horn of Africa, stelae-building tradition, which commemorated Axumite royalty and elites, that persisted until the Christianity in Africa#Early Church, Christian period of Kingdom of Aksum#Empire, Axum. In the Sidamo Province, the megalithic monoliths of the stelae-building cultural tradition were utilized as tombstones in cemeteries (e.g., Arussi, Konso, Sedene, Tiya, Tuto Felo), and have engraved anthropomorphic features (e.g., swords, masks), phallic form, and some of that served as markers of territory. Sidamo Province has the most megaliths in Ethiopia. In 2nd millennium BCE, Namoratunga (Monolith Circles) megaliths were constructed as burials the eastern Lake Turkana, Turkana region of northwestern Kenya. Namoratunga, a group of megaliths dated 300 BC, was used by Cushitic languages, Cushitic-speaking people as an alignment with star systems tuned to a lunar calendar of 354 days. This site was excavated by B. N. Lynch and L. H. Robins of Michigan State University. Additionally, Tiya (archaeological site), Tiya in central Ethiopia has a number of old megaliths. Some of these ancient structures feature engravings, and the area is a World Heritage Site. Megaliths are also found within the Valley of Marvels in the East Hararghe area.


Southern Africa

In the mid-2nd millennium CE, the megalithic funerary monuments of Madagascar were constructed amid the History of Madagascar#Rise of the great kingdoms, emergent period of the Merina Kingdom. Some of the megaliths remain utilized by Malagasy language, Malagasy-speakers for funerary practices (e.g., ceremony of turning the dead) in present-day.


Asian megaliths

Megalithic burials are found in Northeast and Southeast Asia. They are found mainly in the Korean Peninsula. They are also found in the Liaoning, Shandong, and Zhejiang in China, the East Coast of Taiwan, Kyūshū and Shikoku in Japan, Đồng Nai Province in Vietnam and South Asia. Some living megalithic traditions are found on the island of Sumba and Nias in Indonesia. The greatest concentration of megalithic burials is in Korea. Archaeologists estimate that there are 15,000 to 100,000 southern megaliths in the Korean Peninsula. Typical estimates hover around the 30,000 mark for the entire peninsula, which in itself constitutes some 40% of all dolmens worldwide (see Dolmen#Asia, Dolmen).


North East Asia


=Northern style

= Northeast Asian megalithic traditions originated from Gojoseon, which was in modern-day Manchuria and North Korea. This was prominent within the Liao River basin in particular in the early phases. The practice of erecting megalithic burials spread quickly from the Liao River Basin and into the Korean Peninsula, where the structure of megaliths is geographically and chronologically distinct. The earliest megalithic burials are called "northern" or "table-style" because they feature an above-ground burial chamber formed by heavy stone slabs that form a rectangular cist. An oversized capstone is placed over the stone slab burial chamber, giving the appearance of a table-top. These megalithic burials date to the early part of the Mumun pottery period (c. 1500–850 BC) and are distributed, with a few exceptions, north of the Han River (Korea), Han River. Few northern-style megaliths in North Korea and Manchuria contain grave goods such as Liaoning bronze dagger culture, Liaoning bronze daggers, prompting some archaeologists to interpret the burials as the graves of chiefs or preeminent individuals. However, whether a result of grave-robbery or intentional mortuary behaviour, most northern megaliths contain no grave goods.


=Southern style

= Southern-style megalithic burials are distributed in the southern Korean Peninsula. It is thought that most of them date to the latter part of the Early Mumun pottery period, Mumun or to the Middle Mumun Period. Southern-style megaliths are typically smaller in scale than northern megaliths. The interment area of southern megaliths has an underground burial chamber made of earth or lined with thin stone slabs. A massive capstone is placed over the interment area and is supported by smaller propping stones. Most of the megalithic burials on the Korean Peninsula are of the southern type. As with northern megaliths, southern examples contain few, if any, artifacts. However, a small number of megalithic burials contain fine red-burnished pottery, bronze daggers, polished groundstone daggers, and greenstone ornaments. Southern megalithic burials are often found in groups, spread out in lines that are parallel with the direction of streams. Megalithic cemeteries contain burials that are linked together by low stone platforms made from large river cobbles. Broken red-burnished pottery and charred wood found on these platforms has led archaeologists to hypothesize that these platform were sometimes used for ceremonies and rituals. The capstones of many southern megaliths have 'cup-marks' carvings. A small number of capstones have human and dagger representations.


=Capstone style

= These megaliths are distinguished from other types by the presence of a burial shaft, sometimes up to 4 m in depth, which is lined with large cobbles.Bale, Martin T.
Excavations of Large-scale Megalithic Burials at Yulha-ri, Gimhae-si, Gyeongsang Nam-do
in ''Early Korea Project''. Korea Institute, Harvard University. Retrieved 10 October 2007
A large capstone is placed over the burial shaft without propping stones. Capstone-style megaliths are the most monumental type in the Korean Peninsula, and they are primarily distributed near or on the south coast of Korea. It seems that most of these burials date to the latter part of the Middle Mumun (c. 700–550 BC), and they may have been built into the early part of the Late Mumun. An example is found near modern Changwon at Deokcheon-ni, where a small cemetery contained a capstone burial (No. 1) with a massive, rectangularly shaped, stone and earthen platform. Archaeologists were not able to recover the entire feature, but the low platform was at least 56×18 m in size.


Southeast Asia


=Living megalith culture of Indonesia

= The List of islands of Indonesia, Indonesian archipelago is the host of Austronesian people, Austronesian megalith cultures both past and present. Living megalith cultures can be found on Nias, an isolated island off the western coast of North Sumatra, the Batak people in the interior of North Sumatra, on Sumba island in East Nusa Tenggara and also Toraja people from the interior of South Sulawesi. These megalith cultures remained preserved, isolated and undisturbed well into the late 19th century. Several megalith sites and structures are also found across Indonesia. Menhirs, dolmens, stone tables, and ancestral stone statues were discovered in various sites in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and the Lesser Sunda Islands. The Cipari megalith site also in West Java displays monoliths, stone terraces, and sarcophagi. Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi houses ancient megalith relics such as ancestral stone statues, mostly located in the Bada, Besoa and Napu valleys.


South Asia

Megaliths in South Asia are dated before 3000 BC, with recent findings dated back to 5000 BC in southern India. Megaliths are found in almost all parts of South Asia. There is also a broad time evolution with the megaliths in central India and the upper Indus valley where the oldest megaliths are found, while those in the east are of much later date. A large fraction of these are assumed to be associated with burial or post burial rituals, including memorials for those whose remains may or may not be available. The case-example is that of Brahmagiri, which was excavated by Wheeler (1975) and helped establish the culture sequence in south Indian prehistory. However, there is another distinct class of megaliths that do not seem to be associated with burials. In South Asia, megaliths of all kinds are noted; these vary from List_of_menhirs#India, Menhirs, List_of_rock-cut_temples_in_India, Rock-cut burial, chamber tomb, List_of_dolmens#India, dolmens, stone alignment, stone circles and Cave paintings in India, anthropomorphic figures. These are broadly classified into two (potentially overlapping) classes (after Moorti, 1994, 2008): ''Sepulchral'' (containing remains of the dead), or memorial stones where mortal remains along with funerary objects are placed; and ''Non-sepulchral'' including large patterned placement of stones over a wide area. The 'non-sepulchral' type is associated with astronomy and cosmology in South Asia and in other parts of the world (Menon and Vahia, 2010). In the context of prehistoric anthropomorphic figures in India, (Rao 1988/1999, Upinder Singh 2008) note that it is unclear what these giant anthropomorphs symbolize. They usually occur in association with megalithic monuments and are located in megalithic burial grounds, and may have been connected with ancestor worship.


Melanesian megaliths

Megaliths occur in many parts of Melanesia, mainly in Milne Bay Province, Fiji and Vanuatu. Few excavations has been made and little is known about the structures. The megalith tomb Otuyam at Kiriwina has been dated to be approximately 2,000 years old which indicates that megaliths are an old custom in Melanesia. However very few megaliths have been dated. The constructions have been used for different rituals. For example, tombs, sacrifices and rituals of fecundity. Dance sites exist next to some megaliths. In some places in Melanesia rituals are continued to be held at the sacred megalith sites. The fact that the beliefs are alive is a reason that most excavations have been stopped at the sites.


Micronesian megaliths

Megalithic structures in Micronesia reach their most developed form on the islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae in the Eastern Caroline Islands. On these two islands there was extensive use of prismatic basalt columns to build upland building complexes such as those at Salapwuk on Pohnpei and Menka on Kosrae. These building sites, remote from the ocean, appear to have been abandoned early. Megalithic building then shifted to constructing networks of artificial islands on the coast that supported a multitude of common, royal and religious structures. Dating of the structures is difficult but the complex at Nan Madol on Pohpei was probably inhabited as early as c. 800, probably as artificial islands, with the more elaborate buildings and religious structures added to the site from 1000 to 1400 AD.


Modern theories


Purposes

Megaliths were used for a variety of purposes ranging from serving as boundary markers of territory, to a reminder of past events, and to being part of the society's religion. Common motifs including crooks and axes seem to be symbols of political power, much as the crook was a symbol of Egyptian pharaohs. Amongst the indigenous peoples of India, Malaysia, Polynesia, North Africa, North America, and South America, the worship of these stones, or the use of these stones to symbolize a spirit or deity, is a possibility. In the early 20th century, some scholars believed that all megaliths belonged to one global "Megalithic culture" (hyperdiffusionism, e. g. "the Manchester school", by Grafton Elliot Smith and W. J. Perry, William James Perry), but this has long been disproved by modern dating methods. Nor is it believed any longer that there was a pan-European megalithic culture, although regional cultures existed, even within such small areas as the British Isles. The archaeologist Euan Mackie wrote, "Likewise it cannot be doubted that important regional cultures existed in the Neolithic period and can be defined by different kinds of stone circles and local pottery styles (Ruggles & Barclay 2000: figure 1). No-one has ever been rash enough to claim a nationwide unity of all aspects of Neolithic archaeology!".


Methods of construction

Much scholarship over history has suggested that Stone Age peoples moved the large stones on cylindrical wooden rollers. However, there is some disagreement with this theory, specifically as experiments have indicated that this method is impractical on uneven ground. In some contemporary megalith building cultures, such as in Sumba, Indonesia, great emphasis is placed on the social status of moving heavy stones without the relief of rollers. In the majority of documented contemporary megalithic-building communities, the stones have been placed on timber sledges and dragged without rollers.


Types of megalithic structure

The types of megalithic structure can be divided into two categories, the "polylithic type" and the "monolithic type". Different megalithic structures include:


Contemporary megalith-building cultures


The Toraja of Indonesia

The megalithic culture of the Toraja people in the mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia dates back to around 2500–1000 BC.


The Marapu of Indonesia

In West Sumba, Indonesia, the more than 20,000 followers of the Marapu animist religion construct monolithic tombs by hand. Originally built with slave labor, the large tombs of nobles are now built by a class of dependents who are paid either in animals or cash (an amount equal to $0.65–0.90 per day). The tombs are planned long in advance, with families sometimes going into extreme debt to finance the construction. In 1971, one leading family sacrificed 350 buffalo over the course of a year in order to feed the 1,000 people necessary to drag the capstone 3 km from the quarry to the tombsite. Quarrying the stones for a tomb can take almost a month and typically involves 20-40 laborours, sometimes subcontracted by a relative. It can be months or years before the stones are actually transported to the gravesite, which is done traditionally by hand, using a wooden sled and rollers with the help of many members of the family's clan. Building the sled itself can take several days, and typically males between the ages of 10-60 are assembled to pull the stone from the quarry to the tombsite. Smaller capstones may be moved by a few hundred members of a clan, but larger ones can involve upwards of 2,000 individuals over many days. Sometimes the stones are draped with woven cloths given as gifts by relatives of the owner. The sidewalls are smaller and usually require fewer participants. The entire process is accompanied by large feasts and ritual singers provided by the owner. Some contemporary practitioners now choose to use large machinery and trucks to move the stones. Once on site, the stones were traditionally assembled and mortared with a mix of water buffalo dung and Ash, but are now more commonly cemented together. Typically, the walls are assembled first, and then the capstone is incrementally elevated to the height of the walls by means of a wood scaffolding which is inserted log by log at alternating ends. Once the capstone is at the correct height beside the walls it is slid into place above the tomb. Alternately, some tombs are constructed by dragging the capstone up a fabricated ramp and then assembling the sidewalls below it, before removing the ramp structure to let the capstone rest upon the walls. Often, but not always, the finished structure is decorated by a professional stone carver with symbolic motifs. The carving alone can at times take over a month to complete.


References in literature and fiction


Gallery

File:Moai Rano raraku.jpg, Easter Island's Moai at Rano Raraku File:Inside the remains of the burial chamber, Mane Braz, Brittany.jpg, Inside the burial chamber at Mane Braz,
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, France File:Almendres_cromlech_3.jpg, Menhirs at the
Almendres Cromlech The Cromlech of the Almendres ( pt, Cromeleque dos Almendres/Cromeleque na Herdade dos Almendres) is a megalithic A megalith is a large pre-historic Rock (geology), stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or ...
,
Évora Évora ( , ; cel-x-proto, Ebora) is a city and a municipalities of Portugal, municipality in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 56,596, in an area of 1307.08 km². It is the historic capital of the Alentejo and serves as the seat of the ...

Évora
, Portugal File:abakan08.jpg, Megalithic tomb in Khakasiya, Russian Federation File:Guam Dolmen Sites.JPG, Capstones of southern-style megalithic burials in Guam-ri, Jeollabuk-do, Korea File:Ales stenar bred.jpg, Ale's Stones at Kåseberga, around ten kilometres south east of Ystad, Sweden File:BrynCelliDdu3.jpg, Bryn Celli Ddu in
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
File:Talaiot.jpg, Talaiot in Majorca File:Sa ena e thomes 2.jpg, Giant's grave near Dorgali in Sardinia, Italy File:Deer-stone.jpg, Deer stone near Mörön (city), Mörön in Mongolia File:Bretagne Morbihan Locmariaquer 14015.jpg, the Broken Menhir of Er Grah, Great Menhir of Er Grah in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, the largest known single stone erected by Neolithic man, which later fell down File:Taula-Menorca.jpg, ''Taula'' in Talati de Dalt, Menorca File:Tiya Stèles.JPG, Megaliths with engraved figures in Tiya (archaeological site), Tiya, southern Ethiopia File:Dolmen di Avola.JPG, Dolmen of Avola (Sicily, Italy) File:Dolmen kueijiyeh.jpg, Dolmen at the Kuejiyeh dolmen field close to Madaba, Jordan File:Dolmen de Menga 07.jpg, Dolmen of Menga in Antequera, Spain


See also

*Bilger's rocks *British megalith architecture *Irish megalithic tombs *List of megalithic sites *:Megalithic monuments in Europe, Megalithic monuments in Europe *Megaliths in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern *Megaliths in the Urals *Nature worship *Nordic megalith architecture *Plain of Jars ranging from the Khorat Plateau in Thailand in the south, through Laos and to Dima Hasao of northerneastern India. *Standing stone *Stone slab *Straße der Megalithkultur – tourist route from Osnabrück to Oldenburg via some 33 Megalithic sites. *Unidentified submerged object *Yonaguni Monument *Stone circles of Junapani


Footnotes


References


Articles

* A Fleming, "Megaliths and post-modernism. The case of Wales". ''Antiquity'', 2005. * A Fleming, "Phenomenology and the Megaliths of Wales: a Dreaming Too Far?". ''Oxford Journal of Archaeology'', 1999 * A Sherratt, "The Genesis of Megaliths". ''World Archaeology''. 1990. (JSTOR) * A Thom, "Megaliths and Mathematics". ''Antiquity'', 1966. * * G Kubler, "Period, Style and Meaning in Ancient American Art". ''New Literary History'', Vol. 1, No. 2, A Symposium on Periods (Winter, 1970), pp. 127–144. * HJ Fleure, HJE Peake, "Megaliths and Beakers". ''The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland'', Vol. 60, Jan. - Jun., 1930 (Jan. - Jun., 1930), pp. 47–71. * J McKim Malville, F Wendorf, AA Mazar, R Schild, "Megaliths and Neolithic astronomy in southern Egypt". ''Nature'', 1998. * KL Feder, "Irrationality and Popular Archaeology". ''American Antiquity'', Vol. 49, No. 3 (July 1984), pp. 525–541. * * MW Ovenden, DA Rodger, "Megaliths and Medicine Wheels". ''Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society'', 1978


Books

* Asthana, S. (1976). ''History and archaeology of India's contacts with other countries, from earliest times to 300 B.C.''. Delhi: B.R. Pub. Corp. * Deo, S. B. (1973). ''Problem of South Indian megaliths''. Dharwar: Kannada Research Institute, Karnatak University. * Goblet d'Alviella, E., & Wicksteed, P. H. (1892). ''Lectures on the origin and growth of the conception of God as illustrated by anthropology and history''. London: Williams and Norgate. * Goudsward, D., & Stone, R. E. (2003). ''America's Stonehenge: the ''. Boston: Branden Books. * Illustrated Encyclopedia of Humankind (The): ''Worlds Apart'' (1994) Weldon Owen Pty Limited * Keane, A. H. (1896).
Ethnology
'. Cambridge: University Press. * Johnson, Walter (1908)
''Folk-Memory: Or, The Continuity of British Archaeology''
Oxford: Clarendon Press. * Lancaster Brown, P. (1976). ''Megaliths, myths, and men: an introduction to astro-archaeology''. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co. * Moffett, M., Fazio, M. W., & Wodehouse, L. (2004). ''A world history of architecture''. Boston: McGraw-Hill. * Nelson, Sarah M. (1993) ''The Archaeology of Korea''. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. * O'Kelly, M. J., et al. (1989). ''Early Ireland: An Introduction to Irish Prehistory''. Cambridge University Press. * Parker, Joanne (editor) (2009). ''Written On Stone: The Cultural Reception of British Prehistoric Monuments'' (Cambridge Scholars Publishing; 2009). * Patton, Mark (1993). ''Statements in Stone: monuments and society in Neolithic Brittany''. Routledge. 209 pages. * Piccolo, Salvatore (2013). Ancient Stones: ''The Prehistoric Dolmens of Sicily''. Thornham/Norfolk: Brazen Head Publishing. * Pohribný, Jan (photo) & Richards, J (introduction) (2007). ''Magic Stones; the secret world of ancient megaliths''. London: Merrell. * Pozzi, Alberto (2013). ''Megalithism - Sacred and Pagan Architecture in Prehistory''. Universal Publisher. * Scheltema, H.G. (2008). ''Megalithic Jordan; an introduction and field guide''. Amman, Jordan: The American Center of Oriental Research. * Stukeley, W., Burl, A., & Mortimer, N. (2005). ''Stukeley's 'Stonehenge': an unpublished manuscript, 1721-1724''. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press. * Subbayya, K. K. (1978). ''Archaeology of Coorg with special reference to megaliths''. Mysore: Geetha Book House. * Tyler, J. M. (1921). ''The new stone age in northern Europe''. New York: C. Scribner's Sons.


External links


Catalog of megaliths

MegalithicIreland.com

Dolmens, Menhirs & Stones-Circles in the South of France

Megaliths in Charente-Maritime, France

Dolmen Path - Russian Megaliths

The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map

Index of Megalithic monuments in Ireland

The Modern Antiquarian



Modern Megalith-Building
{{Authority control Megalithic monuments, Stone Age Sacred rocks Burial monuments and structures