The Info List - Dolmen

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A dolmen (/ˈdɒlmɛn/) is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone ("table"), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic
(4000–3000 BC). Dolmens were typically covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus. In many instances, that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone "skeleton" of the burial mound intact. It remains unclear when, why, and by whom the earliest dolmens were made. The oldest known dolmens are in Western Europe, where they were set in place around 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists still do not know who erected these dolmens, which makes it difficult to know why they did it. They are generally all regarded as tombs or burial chambers, despite the absence of clear evidence for this. Human remains, sometimes accompanied by artefacts, have been found in or close to the dolmens which could be scientifically dated using radiocarbon dating. However, it has been impossible to prove that these remains date from the time when the stones were originally set in place.[1]


1 Etymology 2 Types 3 Dolmen

3.1 Asia

3.1.1 Korea 3.1.2 India 3.1.3 Caucasus 3.1.4 Middle East

3.2 Africa

3.2.1 Horn of Africa 3.2.2 North Africa

3.3 Europe

3.3.1 Overview 3.3.2 Sites

4 See also 5 References

5.1 Bibliography

6 Further reading 7 External links

Etymology[edit] The word dolmen has a confused history. The word entered archaeology when Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne
Théophile Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne
used it to describe megalithic tombs in his Origines gauloises (1796) using the spelling dolmin (the current spelling was introduced about a decade later and had become standard in French by about 1885).[2][3] The Oxford English Dictionary does not mention "dolmin" in English and gives its first citation for "dolmen" from a book on Brittany
in 1859, describing the word as "The French term, used by some English authors, for a cromlech ...". The name was supposedly derived from a Breton language
Breton language
term meaning "stone table" but doubt has been cast on this, and the OED describes its origin as "Modern French". A book on Cornish antiquities from 1754 said that the current term in the Cornish language
Cornish language
for a cromlech was tolmen ("hole of stone") and the OED
says that "There is reason to think that this was the term inexactly reproduced by Latour d'Auvergne [sic] as dolmen, and misapplied by him and succeeding French archaeologists to the cromlech".[4] Nonetheless it has now replaced cromlech as the usual English term in archaeology, when the more technical and descriptive alternatives are not used. Dolmens are known by a variety of names in other languages, including Irish: dolmain, Galician and Portuguese: anta, German: Hünengrab/Hünenbett, Afrikaans
and Dutch: hunebed, Abkhazian: Adamra, Adyghe Ispun, dysse (Danish and Norwegian), dös (Swedish), Korean: 고인돌 goindol(mordenized word: stacked stone), "dol(stone)", "dolmaengj (pebble-stones, varied stones)", and Hebrew: גַלעֵד‎. Granja is used in Portugal, Galicia, and Spain. The rarer forms anta and ganda also appear. In the Basque Country, they are attributed to the jentilak, a race of giants. The etymology of the German: Hünenbett, Hünengrab and Dutch: hunebed - with Hüne/hune meaning "giant" - all evoke the image of giants building the structures. Of other Celtic languages, Welsh: cromlech was borrowed into English and quoit is commonly used in English in Cornwall. Types[edit]

This is known as a keyhole entrance[5]

Great dolmen Passage grave Polygonal dolmen Rectangular, enlarged or extended dolmen Simple dolmen


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The capstone is covered with grass for protection during the transport, the stick with kain shows the stone is for a raja, Sumba, 1931, Tropenmuseum

Korea[edit] Korean dolmens exhibit a morphology distinct from the Atlantic European dolmen.[6][7][8] The largest concentration of dolmens in the world is found on the Korean Peninsula. With an estimated 35,000 dolmens, Korea alone accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s total.[9][10] The largest distribution of these is on the west coast area of South Korea, an area that would eventually become host to the Mahan confederacy
Mahan confederacy
and be united under the rule of the ancient kingdom of Baekje
at one time. Three specific UNESCO World Heritage
UNESCO World Heritage
sites at Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa ( Hwasun – 34°58′39″N 126°55′54″E / 34.9775414°N 126.931551°E / 34.9775414; 126.931551) by themselves account for over 1,000 dolmens.[11] The Korean word for dolmen is goindol (Hangul: 고인돌) "supported stone".[7] Serious studies of the Korean megalithic monuments were not undertaken until relatively recently, well after much research had already been conducted on dolmens in other regions of the world. Since 1945, new research has been conducted by Korean scholars. In 1981 a curator of National Museum of Korea, Gon'gil Ji, classified Korean dolmens into two general types: northern and southern.[7] The boundary between them falls at the Bukhan River
Bukhan River
although examples of both types are found on either side. Northern style dolmens stand above ground with a four sided chamber and a megalithic roof (also referred to as "table type"), while southern style dolmens are normally built into the ground and contain a stone chest or pit covered by a rock slab.[6][8] Korean dolmens can also be divided into three main types: the table type, the go-table type and the unsupported capstone type.[6] The dolmen in Ganghwa is a northern-type, table-shaped dolmen and is the biggest stone of this kind in South Korea, measuring 2.6 by 7.1 by 5.5 m (8.5 by 23.3 by 18.0 ft).[7] There are many sub-types and different styles.[12] Southern type dolmens are associated with burials but the reason for building northern style dolmens is uncertain.[13] Due to the vast numbers and great variation in styles, no absolute chronology of Korean dolmens has yet been established. It is generally accepted that the Korean megalithic culture emerged from the late Neolithic
age, during which agriculture developed on the peninsula, and flourished throughout the Bronze Age.[14] Some dolmens depict astronomical formations, dated up to 3000 B.C. effectively the first star-chart in the world.[15] How and why Korea has produced so many dolmens are still poorly understood. There is no current conclusive theory on the origin of Korea's megalithic culture, and so it is difficult to determine the true cultural character of Korean dolmens. Some dolmens are also found in Manchuria
and the Shandong Peninsula. Off the peninsula, similar specimens can be found in smaller numbers, but they are often considerably larger than the Korean dolmens.[16] It is a mystery why this culture flourished so extensively only on the Korean peninsula and its vicinity in Northeast Asia.[6] India[edit]

Karnataka: In Karnataka
more than 50 dolmens are identified on top of Pandavara Betta about 7 km (4.3 mi) away from Somwarpet towards Shaniwar Sante in Madikeri
(Coorg) District. Tamil Nadu: In Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
more than 100 dolmens are identified in the Moral Pari near Mallachandram [17] located 19 km (12 mi) from Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu.

There are also dolmens in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala
and Tamil Nadu in South India. Caucasus[edit] See also: Dolmens of North Caucasus
Dolmens of North Caucasus
and Dolmens of Abkhazia Over 3,000 dolmens and other structures can be found in the North-Western Caucasus
region in Russia, where more and more dolmens are discovered in the mountains each year. These dolmens are related to the Maykop culture. This great city of dolmens was built along the shores of the Black Sea from Maykop down to Sochi. The inhabitants were metal workers. The dolmens were vaults or safes of stone, with a narrow circular entrance that could be tapped with a round screw of stone. Supposedly the dolmens were used to hide and protect metal objects: gold, silver, bronze, jewels and some other treasure. Trade of these objects was done with Persia, Assyria, Egypt and Crete. The Dolmen
City was pillaged and sacked by Scythian
invaders in the early first millennium BC. The metal workers were enslaved.[citation needed] Middle East[edit] Dolmens can be found in Israel, Syria, Iran and Jordan. Numerous large dolmens are in the Israeli National park at Gamla
and some of dolmens can be viewed in the meshkin shahr at shahr yeri or pirazmian.[18][19] There are many examples of flint dolmens in the historical villages of Johfiyeh
and Natifah in northern Jordan. The greatest number of dolmens are around Madaba, like the ones at Al Faiha village, 10 km (6.2 mi) to the west of Madaba
city.[20] Two dolmens are in Hisbone, and the most have been found at Zarqa Ma'in at Al-Murayghat, which are being destroyed by gravel quarries.[21] In Turkey, there are some dolmens in the Regions of Lalapasa and Suloglu in the Province of Edirne and the Regions of KOfcaz, Kirklareli and Demirkoy in the Province of Kirklareli, in the Eastern Thrace. They have been studied by Prof. Dr. Engin Beksaç, since 2004. And also, some of so-called monuments are in the different regions of Anatolia, in Turkey.

Dolmen, a table-style dolmen, Korea

dolmen, a dissection-style dolmen, Korea

A dolmen erected by Neolithic
people in Marayur, India

circles, Sulimalthe, Somwarpet

Dolmens of Marayoor
in Kerala, India

at Dannanapeta in Andhra Pradesh, India

in the Zhane river valley, Russia

Flint dolmen in Johfiyeh, Jordan

Flint dolmen in Johfiyeh, Jordan

Africa[edit] Horn of Africa[edit] In northern Somalia, the town of Aw Barkhadle, named in honour of the 13th century scholar and saint Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn, is surrounded by a number of ancient structures. Among these are dolmens, burial mounds, menhirs (standing stones), and stelae.[22] North Africa[edit] In northern Tunisia, Dougga
is an important ancient site, which contains a necropolis with dolmens. The settlement also features a sanctuary dedicated to Ba'al Hammon, neo-Punic stelae, the mausoleum, architectural fragments, and a temple dedicated to Masinissa, the remains of which were found during archaeological excavations.

at Roknia, an ancient necropolis in the Guelma
region of northeast Algeria; the site includes more than 7000 dolmens spread over an area of 2 km (1.2 mi)

Europe[edit] See also: Dolmens of Western Pomerania Overview[edit] Megalithic
tombs are found from the Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
and North Sea
North Sea
coasts south to Spain
and Portugal. Hunebedden are chamber tombs similar to dolmens and date to the middle Neolithic (Funnelbeaker culture, 4th millennium BC). They consist of a kerb surrounding an oval mound, which covered a rectangular chamber of stones with the entrance on one of the long sides. Some have a more complex layout and include an entrance passage giving them a T-shape. Various menhirs and dolmens are located around the Mediterranean islands of Malta
and Gozo. Pottery
uncovered in these structures allowed the attribution of the monuments to the Ġgantija
and Mnajdra temples culture of the early Neolithic
Age.[23] Dolmen
sites fringe the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
and are found in south-east Ireland, Wales, Devon
and Cornwall. In Ireland, most dolmens are found on the west coast, particularly in Connemara
and the Burren, which includes some of the better-known examples, such as Poulnabrone dolmen. Examples such as the Annadorn dolmen have also been found in Northern Ireland, where they may have co-existed with the court cairn tombs. In Mecklenburg
and Pomerania/ Pomorze
in Germany and Poland, Drenthe Netherlands, large numbers of these graves were disturbed when harbours, towns, and cities were built.The boulders were used in construction and road building. Others, such as the Harhoog, in Sylt, were moved to new locations. There are still many thousands left today in Europe. By 2017, all the hunebedden in the Netherlands were put in a 3D atlas (accessible to the public for free) using photogrammetry. The data was obtained from a collaboration between the Province of Drenthe
and the University of Groningen, subsidized by the Gratama Foundation.[24] Sites[edit]

Bulgaria: There are interesting dolmens in the regions related to the Sakar and Rhodope and Strandzha Mountains in Bulgaria. There is also a dolmen in Horë-Vranisht, Albania. It is locally known as "Guri me qiell" ("Stone in the sky") or "Sofra e Zotit" ("Table of the God").[25] Channel Islands: Many examples appear on the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
of Jersey and Guernsey, such as La Pouquelaye de Faldouet, La Sergenté, and La Hougue des Géonnais. The term Houge derives from the Old Norse
Old Norse
word haugr, meaning a mound or barrow. The most famous of these sites is La Hougue Bie, a 6,000-year-old neolithic site that sits inside a large mound; later a chapel was built on the top of the mound.[26] France: In France
important megalithic zones are situated in Vendée, Quercy and in the south of France
(Languedoc, Rouergue and Corsica). Amongst the vast Neolithic
collections of the Carnac stones
Carnac stones
in Brittany, several dozen dolmens are found. Across the country, several dolmens still stand, such as the ones of Passebonneau and des Gorces near Saint-Benoît-du-Sault. Ireland: The largest dolmen in Europe is the Brownshill Dolmen
Brownshill Dolmen
in County Carlow, Ireland. Its capstone weighs about 150 tonnes.[27] Italy: In Italy
dolmens can be found in Apulia, Sardinia
and in Sicily. In this latter region there are small dolmens located in Mura Pregne (Palermo), Sciacca
(Agrigento), Monte Bubbonia
Monte Bubbonia
(Caltanissetta), Butera
(Caltanissetta), Cava dei Servi (Ragusa), Cava Lazzaro (Siracusa), Avola
(Siracusa).[28] In the area named Cava dei Servi was found an atypical dolmen, away from the trilithic characteristic shape; it's a semi-oval monument formed by four rectangular slabs fixed into the ground. Another three slabs are on top, leaning in such a way they reduce the surface and form a false dome; two large parallelepiped boulders complete the construction.[29] Portugal: Dolmens can be found across Portugal, ranging from simple ones to more complex examples of megalithic architecture, such as the Almendres Cromlech
Almendres Cromlech
or the Anta Grande do Zambujeiro. Spain: In Spain
dolmens can be found in Galicia (such as Axeitos), Basque Country and Navarre
(like the Sorgin Etxea) and the basque name for them is Trikuharri or Jentiletxe, Catalonia
(like Cova d'en Daina or Creu d'en Cobertella), Andalusia
(like the Cueva de Menga) and Extremadura
(like " Dolmen
de Lácara"). United Kingdom: Lanyon Quoit
Lanyon Quoit
is a dolmen in Cornwall, 2 mi (3.2 km) southeast of Morvah. It stands next to the road leading from Madron to Morvah. The capstone rested at 7 ft (2.1 m) high with dimensions of 9 by 17.5 ft (2.7 by 5.3 m) weighing 13.5 tons.

The dolmen Er-Roc'h-Feutet in Carnac, Brittany, France

Crucuno dolmen in Plouharnel, Brittany, France

Poulnabrone dolmen
Poulnabrone dolmen
in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Kilclooney More
Kilclooney More
dolmen near Ardara, County Donegal, Ireland

Lancken-Granitz dolmen, Germany

T-shaped Hunebed
D27 in Borger-Odoorn, Netherlands

Dólmen da Aboboreira, Baião, Portugal

of Avola, Sicily

of Monte Bubbonia, Sicily

of Cava dei Servi, Sicily

of Oleiros, Spain

Sa Coveccada, Mores, Sardinia

Cromlech at Enstone, Oxfordshire (p. 124, Feb 1824)[30]

Plan of Cromlechs Near Kits Coty House, Kent (p. 124, Feb 1824)[30]

See also[edit]

Celts portal

Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen
Sites Antequera Dolmens Site Irish megalithic tombs List of megalithic sites Megalithic
art Neolithic
Europe Nordic megalith architecture Taula


^ Lewis, S. (2009) Guide to the Menhirs and other Megaliths of Central Brittany, Nezert Books, ISBN 978-952-270-595-2 ^ Bakker, Jan Albert (2009). Megalithic
Research in the Netherlands, 1547–1911. Sidestone Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-9088900341.  ^ Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne, Origines gauloises. Celles des plus anciens peuples de l'Europe puisées dans leur vraie source ou recherche sur la langue, l'origine et les antiquités des Celto-bretons de l'Armorique, pour servir à l'histoire ancienne et moderne de ce peuple et à celle des Français, p. PR1, at Google Books, 1796–97. ^ OED
"Dolmen", 1st edition, 1897 ^ Questioning Knockeen – Local educational website – The keyhole entrance in the image is the same one that is pictured on the website. The image is many years more recent than the educational website image. ^ a b c d Holcombe, Charles (2011). A history of East Asia : from the origins of civilization to the twenty-first century (1. publ. ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-521-51595-5. Retrieved 4 March 2016.  ^ a b c d Nelson, Sarah Milledge (1993). The archaeology of Korea (Asian ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 147. ISBN 0-521-40783-4. Retrieved 4 March 2016.  ^ a b Joussaume, Roger Dolmens for the Dead Batsford Ltd (Jan 1988) ISBN 978-0-7134-5369-0 p. 141–142 ^ Jensen Jr., John. Earth Epochs: Cataclysms across the Holocene. John Jensen. p. 276. Retrieved 4 March 2016.  ^ Meyerhoff, Janusz (2013). Misteryous Megalithic
Structures. Lulu. ISBN 978-1-304-65092-4. Retrieved 4 March 2016.  ^ UNESCO World Heritage
UNESCO World Heritage
List. "Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites." http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/977 ^ Megalithic
Cultures in Asia, Kim Byung-mo, 1982, Hanyang University Press ^ Holcombe 2011, p. 79. ^ Nelson, Sarah Milledge (2012). The Archaeology of Northeast China: Beyond the Great Wall. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-134-81659-0. Retrieved 4 March 2016.  ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20160924011040/http://optik2.mtk.nao.ac.jp/~somamt/gendai3/004-014HJYang.pdf ^ Joussaume, Roger Dolmens for the Dead Batsford Ltd (Jan 1988) ISBN 978-0-7134-5369-0 p. 280 ^ "Krishnagiri District Website". Krishnagiri.tn.nic.in. Retrieved 2013-03-15.  ^ Map, The Megalithic
Portal and Megalith. " Gamla
field". Andy Burnham.  ^ Oldest archaeological org in Israel: http://www.hadashot-esi.org.il/report_detail_eng.aspx?id=1164&mag_id=115 ^ " Madaba
dolmens". Video on YouTube.  Missing or empty url= (help) ^ "Where have all the dolmens gone?". Video on YouTube.  Missing or empty url= (help) ^ Briggs, Phillip (2012). Somaliland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 98. ISBN 1-84162-371-7.  ^ Journal of European Archaeology (JEA), 5 (1997); Emilia Pásztor and Curt Roslund: Orientation of Maltese dolmens. ^ 3D atlas ^ Edward Frederick Knight. Albania: A Narrative of Recent Travel – Primary Source Edition. Blackstaff Press. p. 257.  ^ "The Scandinavian Contribution in Normandy". Viking.no. Retrieved 2013-03-15.  ^ Weir, A (1980). Early Ireland. A Field Guide. Belfast: Blackstaff Press. p. 101.  ^ Salvatore Piccolo, Ancient Stones, op. cit. ^ Salvatore Piccolo, ibidem, pages 13 onwards. ^ a b The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. 94 (1): 124. February 1824 https://books.google.com.au/books?id=mKVJAAAAYAAJ&dq=the+gentlemans+magazine+1824&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved 13 December 2017.  Missing or empty title= (help)


Holcombe, Charles (2011). A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-51595-5.  Piccolo, Salvatore (2013). Ancient Stones: The Prehistoric Dolmens of Sicily. Thornham/Norfolk: Brazen Head Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9565106-2-4. 

Further reading[edit]

Trifonov, V., 2006. Russia's megaliths: unearthing the lost prehistoric tombs of Caucasian warlords in the Zhane valley. St.Petersburg: The Institute for Study of Material Culture History, Russian Academy of Sciences. Available from [1] Kudin, M., 2001. Dolmeni i ritual. Dolmen
Path – Russian Megaliths. Available from [2] Knight, Peter. Ancient Stones of Dorset, 1996.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dolmen.

Look up dolmen in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

World heritage site of dolmen in Korea The Megalithic
Portal and Megalith
Map Dolmen
Museum in Italian and English Goindol: Dolmen
of Korea Research Centre of Dolmens in Northeast Asia Poulnabrone Dolmen
in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland " Dolmen
(Goindol) sites in Korea".  on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Jersey
Heritage Trust Dolmen
Pictures by Robert Triest.

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Sculpture Statue menhir Stone circle

list British Isles and Brittany

Venus figurines


Burial mounds

Bowl barrow Round barrow

Mound Builders
Mound Builders

U.S. sites

Chamber tomb



Dartmoor kistvaens

Clava cairn Court tomb Cremation Dolmen

Great dolmen

Funeral pyre Gallery grave

transepted wedge-shaped

Grave goods Jar burial Long barrow

unchambered Grønsalen

tomb Mummy Passage grave Rectangular dolmen Ring cairn Simple dolmen Stone box grave Tor cairn Tumulus Unchambered long cairn

Other cultural


sites lunar calendar

Behavioral modernity Origin of language


Prehistoric medicine Evolutionary musicology

music archaeology

Prehistoric music

Alligator drum flutes Divje Babe flute gudi

Prehistoric numerals Origin of religion

Paleolithic religion Prehistoric religion Spiritual drug use

Prehistoric warfare Symbols


Authority control

WorldCat Identiti