Why? - Ebora Megalithica

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Why?

We believe that this megalithic landscape is a major cultural
asset, significant not only for the populations that
still live here today but for all Humanity.


Its preservation, study and promotion are our eternal goals.


The city of Évora, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1986, was founded by the Romans in the I century b.C. - the time of Emperor Augustus. This classic legacy is still present today, on a truly megalithic scale, for example in the so-called "Temple of Diana". However, if we wish to frame a moment in time in which this region’s culture and it’s stone monuments developed a unique scale and significance for all humanity, we must go further back in time, to middle of the VI millennium BC – the dawn of the Neolithic revolution in Western Europe.

Around 5.500 years BC the first European man-made monuments were erected here, by the very first generations of farmers and shepherds that, after abandoning a hunter gatherer way of life, settled and thrived around the region of Évora. The number, diversity and even the sheer size of the megalithic monuments in this region are unrivalled in the Iberian context and Évora is recognized today as one of the richest megalithic regions in all of Atlantic Europe. Right on the outskirts of Évora, and especially in the territory immediately to the West of the city, you can find the most diverse and monumental megalithic landscapes in the Iberian Peninsula. There are currently some three thousand identified archaeological sites in the municipality of Évora. Nearly a thousand of those sites are either megalithic monuments or the settlements of their Neolithic constructors.

This phenomenon can be explained, in part, by the geographical position of the region in the landscape of southern Portugal, specifically in the area bounded by the basins of the three major rivers of the region, the Tejo, Sado and Guadiana. The Évora group was thus founded at the junction of natural routes of communication (both by water and along ridges) that link the estuaries of these major rivers to the interior. These three estuaries were themselves the original habitats for most of the hunter-gatherer communities living in the Southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. It seems that groups of these hunter-gatherers migrated along the middle of the sixth millennium B.C. from the estuaries to the interior in search of new and uninhabited territory. Therefore the structural role, for primitive road networks, of waterlines and hills – the lines dividing the hydrographical basins – was certainly a determining factor in the exceptional nature of Évora’s megalithic heritage.

Megalithism apparently emerged as a phenomenon rooted in the cultural practices of the last hunter-gatherer communities, reflecting profound ideological changes, originating in the eastern Mediterranean, along with a new agro-pastoral economy - the Neolithic revolution. In the fullness of time, this path led to their adoption and development of a Neolithic way of life - clearly distinguishable from that of their hunter-gatherer relatives, whom for the next generations to come would still choose to remain in the estuaries and maintain their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Here, has in so many other places across the world, the process of sedentarization of the first human communities and the domestication of plants and animals led very significant changes in the way in which our ancestors perceived and related with their world.

Knowledge was the tool from here on and it grew in an unseen scale – astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, organized religion and architecture – they were all born at this stage, alongside with many other innovations that we still consider as cornerstones of our way of life today. The role they now saw for them selves in this new order was no longer one of full subjugation to nature’s will but one domestication and transformation.

Today, these monuments profile themselves as distant messages, hidden in the fullness of time.


 
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