Category Archives: PORTUGAL

The Mysterious Lapedo Child — A Neanderthal / Human Hybrid?

The Mysterious Lapedo Child — A Neanderthal / Human Hybrid?

A great mystery was unburied in 1998, in the bed of a rock shelter in the Lapedo Valley which lies 85 miles to the north of Lisbon, Portugal. Buried for millennia, archaeologists discovered the bones of a four-year-old Lapedo child, which was the first complete Paleolithic skeleton, dug in the Iberian Peninsula.

What added gravity to the discovery?

The unearthing had far greater significance because, after complete analysis, it was revealed that the child had the lower arms and chin of a human, however, the jaw had the characteristics of a Neanderthal, that is, a subspecies of archaic humans who inhabited the region of Eurasia some 30,000 years ago and went extinct due to a variety of factors related to modern human evolution.

However, some people discredit this theory and claim that Neanderthals mated with the early modern humans, and initially, the genetic combination made them a part of daily life. This theory, however, poses dramatic implications for evolutionary theorists around the globe.

The discovery of the Lapedo Child in a nutshell:

The discovery was revealed in November 1998 by archaeologists João Maurício and Pedro Souto who went to the Lapedo Valley to investigate reports about prehistoric rock paintings which actually came out to be true. In due course of their investigation, they encountered a limestone rock-shelter, the Lagar Velho site.

The upper fill, of two to three meters, had been earlier bulldozed away by the landowner in 1992, which left a remnant of sediment hanging in a fissure along the back of the wall.

The matter of the fact was, this arrangement contained the density of the Upper Palaeolithic age consisting of stone tools, animal bones, and charcoal, making it clear that Lagar Velho had been an important occupation site.

This assumption was confirmed by subsequent excavations, producing radiocarbon dates within the bracket of 23,170 to 20,220 years.

While collecting the external materials that had loosened out from the remnant, João and Pedro investigated a break in the back wall. The loose sediments that were being scrutinized, they found the residues of several small human bones, stained with red ochre. 

This was subsequently found out to be a child’s grave, the sole Palaeolithic burial ever found in the Iberian Peninsula.

The child was buried with the utmost care in a shallow pit, making sure that the head and feet were placed higher than the hips. The body was placed on a burnt Scots pine branch, consisting of a hide covered in red ochre.

The remains of a rabbit were found between the child’s legs along with six other ornaments – four deer teeth which were assumed to be a part of a headdress, two periwinkle shells from the Atlantic, which was also surmised to have been a part of a pendant.

The mystery of the lapedo child uncovered:

For the task of retrieving the remnants of the lapedo child’s body, an excavation project was launched. The work was immensely tedious since the petite roots of the plants had penetrated into the spongy bones. About 160 cranial fragments were recovered after the sediments were sieved, which accounted for 80 percent of the total skull.

The bulldozer had hampered the skull but luckily missed the remaining body by two centimeters. If not, humankind wouldn’t have been subjected to such a great discovery.

The skeletal residues, post the recovery process, were sent to anthropologist Erik Trinkaus from Washington University for further analysis.

The astonishing discovery was then made. Erik found that the proportions of the lower limbs did not resemble those of a modern human, but rather, it had the characteristics of a Neanderthal. The entire skull, on the other hand, was modern in shape, as in the features of its inner ears and teeth. Although the skull resembled the features of a contemporary human, one peculiarity was noticed, a pitting in the occipital region which is a genetic trait of Neanderthals.

It was concluded by Trinkaus that the Lapedo child was a hybrid of Neanderthals and modern humans, a kind of morphological mosaic.

However, a debate arose following this conclusion. Researchers were of the view that these two forms of human are not thought to have coexisted later than 28,000 years ago in Iberia. Then how can the child consist of features of both? This debate got heated among the experts, some of whom accepted that the detection of the Lapedo child meant that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans, while others continue to hold on to the traditional view that the Neanderthals were wiped out and were replaced by another species.

In the contemporary era, the most popular theory which exists is that the remains of the child are those of an anatomically modern human with genetically inherited Neanderthal traits, which summarises that the last Neanderthals of Iberia had a role to play in contributing to the gene pool of subsequent populations.

Prehistoric Site in Portugal Yields 350-Year-Old Remains

Prehistoric Site in Portugal Yields 350-Year-Old Remains

Prehistoric Site in Portugal Yields 350-Year-Old Remains

An African man who lived just 350 years ago was buried in a prehistoric shell midden in Amoreira in Portugal. This was very surprising because Amoreira and other midden sites in the Muge region are well known by archaeologists for the cemeteries of the last hunter-gatherers living in area 8 000 years ago.

To investigate this burial researchers from Uppsala University and Universidade de Lisboa combined biomolecular archaeology, ancient DNA, and historical records.

We could determine that these were the bone remains of a first-generation African, probably from Senegambia, arriving in Portugal via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, who died around 1630 and 1760.

His genetic signature indicates African ancestry, while dietary isotope analysis shows that for most of his life, his diet consisted of plant foods commonly found in Senegambia, but not in Portugal at that time, plus a minor consumption of low trophic level marine foods (such as bivalve molluscs).

The oxygen isotopic signal in the bone bioapatite reflects the ingested water at the place of origin, which could be narrowed to the coastal areas of western Africa, in present-day Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia.

For more than three centuries, Africans were brutally dislocated from their homeland while forced to adopt a new religion, a new name, and a new language.

African communities in Portugal developed strategies to preserve their socio-cultural identity and values, similar to what is documented in the Americas.

We used our results to search for other clues that could help us understand the motivations behind his unusual burial.

The burial of this man in an 8000-years old site could be an example of the maintenance of African cultural beliefs and practices by African people translocated to Europe, even though this particular practice is not documented in the historical records. Like many other archaeological sites, Amoreira was probably known by the local populations as an ancient burial ground, given the abundance of animal and human bones at the site.

This grave seems to have been arranged with a layer of sand, suggesting a level of preparation for a burial in a seemingly deviant place; in Portugal, from the Middle Ages up to the mid-nineteenth centuries, the dead were generally buried in religious grounds, but this one was not.

We found that interestingly, up to the present day, shell middens are actively used in western Africa. In Senegambia in particular, the usage of shell middens includes ancient and modern cemeteries.

The burial of this individual in a Portuguese shell midden could indicate the recognition of the site as a meaningful place by the African community of Amoreira, possibly according to West African socio-cultural traditions.

In fact, other examples of non-Christian funerary practices have been identified in a cemetery of enslaved people in the Canary Islands. Future investigations may clarify if this was an isolated event or part of a broader movement.

We attempted to identify this individual and found a document from the local church dated to Nov 1st, 1676, which mentions the murder of a young man named João at Arneiro da Amoreira, which is precisely the area where the bone remains were found.

However, the church registers state that the victim was buried in the churchyard, but the bones we found were buried at Amoreira.

Additionally, the murdered man is described as brown or dun, possibly describing an interracial individual, but our results show that both mother and father were of African ancestry.

Whether the concurring site of the described murder and our studied bone remains is a mere coincidence, or rather the result of incompleteness, lack of detail or even accuracy of the historical records remains unknown.

Despite the incompleteness of the human remains and the historical records, the intersection of several lines of investigation enabled the reconstruction of specific aspects of the life and death of a first-generation African individual in Portugal during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade period, which would not otherwise have been possible to scrutinise from the skeletal material in the archaeological context.

More importantly, it shows the value of multidisciplinary research to investigate individual African life-histories in Early Modern Europe which have been obscured in large-scale studies.

Who Were the First People to Arrive in the Azores?

Who Were the First People to Arrive in the Azores?

A group of international academics discovered evidence that people inhabited islands in the Azores archipelago 700 years earlier than previously thought. The group explains their research of sediment cores taken from lakes on some of the archipelago’s islands in their report, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Who Were the First People to Arrive in the Azores?
Landscape view of Pico (foreground) and Faial (background) Islands.

Due to the absence of other evidence, historians have believed that people first arrived in the Azores in 1427, when Portuguese sailor Diogo de Silves landed on Santa Maria Island.

Soon thereafter, others from Portugal arrived and made the archipelago their home. In this new effort, the researchers found evidence that humans were living on some of the islands in the Azores approximately 700 years earlier.

Looking to learn more about the history of the Azores, the researchers began collecting sediment samples from several of the lakes on the islands and studying them to see what they might reveal.

Sediment samples can serve as historical evidence because the material in the air that falls to the surface of a lake and then to the lake bottom is covered over by new layers of sediment as time passes.

Analysis of the sediment cores showed an increase in 5-beta-stigmasterol in a core layer dated to a time between 700 CE and 850 CE, taken from Peixinho Lake. The compound is typically found in the faeces of livestock, such as cows and sheep—neither of which lived in the Azores prior to the arrival of humans.

They also saw upticks in charcoal particles (suggesting large fires had been burning) along with a dip in native tree pollens.


The findings suggest someone had burned down the forest to provide more land for livestock. The researchers found similar evidence in cores taken from Caldeirão Lake, which is on a different island, though it appeared approximately a century later. And they found evidence of non-native ryegrass in the sediment taken from a lake on a third island.

Lake Caldeirão inside the collapsed caldera of Corvo Island.

The findings present strong evidence of humans inhabiting the archipelago hundreds of years before the Portuguese arrived.

The researchers theorize that they were likely Norse seafarers, noting their accomplishments in sailing up and down the coasts of many parts of Europe.

Ancient Roman Military Camp Uncovered in Portugal

Ancient Roman Military Camp Uncovered in Portugal

Pioneering technology has helped experts find a lost camp built and used by thousands of Roman soldiers sent to conquer Northwest Iberia. The discovery is the largest and oldest Roman military fortified enclosure excavated so far in Galicia and northern Portugal. The foundations of the enclosure wall date from around the second century BC.

The 2,100-year-old Roman military camp of Lomba do Mouro in Melgaço, Portugal.

Experts analyzed a section of sediment from the wall’s foundations using an optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating technique. This made it possible to date the last time the quartz crystals were exposed to sunlight and how long they were buried under the walls.

The discovery means Lomba do Mouro is the oldest scientifically identified Roman camp to date in Galicia and northern Portugal and may link its construction to the first Roman military campaigns in Gallaecia.

The camp of Lomba do Mouro, in Melgaço, Portugal, was constructed by around 10,000 Roman troops who were crossing the Laboreiro Mountain between the Lima and Minho rivers. It was designed to be a temporary fortification, used for a day or weeks at most in the warmer months, and was built quickly.

The army was crossing high ground for safety. Written sources describe fighting during their excursion, but also some potential agreements were made with the local community.

Temporary camps are hard to spot because little archaeological evidence is left behind—due to their non-permanent nature and because they were often destroyed on purpose when the Roman Army left.

Dr. João Fonte, from the University of Exeter, a member of the research team, said: “Written sources mention the army crossing different valleys, but until now we didn’t know exactly where.

Because of the temporary nature of the site, it’s almost impossible to find without using remote sensing techniques, and radiocarbon dating wouldn’t have been accurate because plant roots creep into the structure.”

“We have found numerous military camps in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula in recent years, but their dating is very complex.

As they are temporary enclosures, there is very little material or organic evidence in them that would allow a scientifically valid dating to be obtained, until now.”

Covering more than 20 hectares, Lomba do Mouro was discovered using remote sensing techniques by the research collective and was the subject of an archaeological survey in September 2020.

Ancient Roman Military Camp Uncovered in Portugal
Detail of trench 2

The campaign was led by University of Exeter archaeologist João Fonte as part of the Finisterrae project funded by the European Commission through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant (grant agreement 794048).

Until now the oldest dated Roman camp in Galicia and northern Portugal—excavated by the same team—was Penedo dos Lobos (Manzaneda, Ourense), where coins could be found linking this enclosure with the war campaigns known as the Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC), with which the Emperor Octavian Augustus put an end to the process of conquest of Hispania. Lomba do Mouro was built a hundred years before Penedo dos Lobos.

In 137 BC the Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus entered Gallaecia with two legions, crossing the rivers Douro and Lima and reaching the Minho.

The dating of the walls, together with the large dimensions of the enclosure, support the hypothesis that the camp may have been erected by a contingent linked to these times, although due to the degree of uncertainty of the dates it is difficult to establish a direct association with the episode of Decimus Junius Brutus campaign.

Is This 400,000-Year-Old Hominin the Great Grandpa of Neanderthals?

Is This 400,000-Year-Old Hominin the Great Grandpa of Neanderthals?

According to new research, a 400,000-year-old hominid skull contains a few telltale features that imply it’s more of a Neanderthal than a Homo sapiens relation, a new study finds.

Is This 400,000-Year-Old Hominin the Great Grandpa of Neanderthals?
The hominin cranium, nicknamed “Aroeira 3,” that researchers found in a Portuguese cave.

The cranium, discovered in a Portuguese cave, is helping anthropologists understand how hominins, particularly Neanderthals, evolved during the middle Pleistocene epoch in Europe, the researchers said.

The team isn’t sure whether the skull belongs to a newfound species of hominin, but noted that the skull appeared “broadly ancestral” to the Neanderthals, said study co-researcher Rolf Quam, an associate professor of biological anthropology at Binghamton University in New York.

In addition, the scientists unearthed hand axes in the cave, a stone-crafted technology that was likely developed in the Middle East about 500,000 years ago.

Thanks to the excavations, researchers now have proof that this technology spread as far west as Portugal within 100,000 years of being developed in the Middle East, Quam said. 

Acheulean hand axes discovered at the Aroeira site in Portugal

Prize find

Researchers found the skull on the last day of their field season in 2014. During previous fieldwork at the Gruta da Aroeira cave from 1998 to 2002, researchers found human teeth, animal remains and stone-made hand axes. But the latest discovery, the skull, was the excavation’s prize find, Quam said.

The team discovered the cranium in the back of the cave, buried in petrified sediment.

“The archaeologists, when they found it, weren’t sure how to get it out,” Quam told Live Science. “They basically had to use a circular saw to cut out a huge block chunk that included the skull.”

The researchers brought the block to a restoration laboratory in Madrid, and a fossil preparator spent 2.5 years extracting the skull.

“That is an incredible amount of labor to get this thing out,” Quam said.

Once they freed the skull, the researchers put it in computed tomography (CT) scanner, which allowed them to create a 3D virtual reconstruction of the bone.

“The skull is only half a skull,” Quam said. “With the CT scans, we were able to mirror-image it and make the other half, so it’s more complete now.”

A virtual reconstruction of the 400,000-year-old hominin skull

Neanderthal-like features

The skull, nicknamed the “Aroeira cranium” after the Portuguese cave in which the item was found, is the oldest hominin fossil ever discovered in Portugal, Quam said. (A hominin is a group that includes modern humans and their recent ancestors, including Neanderthals, Homo erectus, Homo habilis and several species of Australopithecus.)

With a cranial capacity of more than 67 cubic inches (1,100 cubic centimeters), the Aroeira skull is about the same size as other hominin skulls found from that time period.

Modern humans have larger cranial capacities, of about 79 cubic inches (1,300 cubic cm), according to the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, which was not involved with the new study.

Interestingly, the Aroeira cranium has Neanderthal-like features, Quam said. Those include a Neanderthal-shaped brow and a bony projection behind the ear, known as a mastoid process, which is small like a Neanderthal’s, Quam said.

However, the Aroeira individual lived long before the Neanderthals, which existed from about 200,000 years ago to 40,000 years ago, when they went extinct. Still, the skull “can help us understand the origin and evolution of Neanderthals better,” Quam said. “The fact that it is so well-dated is critical because that’s going to help us think about the evolutionary process — what changed first” as Neanderthals emerged on Earth.

‘Sunken Atlantis Pyramid’ Discovered off Azores Coast in Portugal

‘Sunken Atlantis Pyramid’ Discovered off Azores Coast in Portugal

According to an official Portuguese news article, the Portuguese Navy is exploring a massive underwater pyramid close to the Azores. If this is the abandoned city of Atlantis or whether the pyramid is of extra-terrestrial origin is still debated by some people.

Some other more grounded scholars claim this may be part of a larger map incorporating the pyramids found at Giza in Egypt.

A pyramid was accidentally found under the water, close to the Azores when a local sailor was looking for good fishing grounds. He used digital scanning devices to help him locate the Pyramid.

A huge pyramid had been discovered off the Azores islands by Portuguese amateur sailor Diocletian Silva.

The 9 islands that make up the Azorean archipelago we now know as the Azores were discovered uninhabited by the Portuguese in 1427. In recent years archaeologists have discovered ancient rock art on the island of Terceira, which they believe to be many thousands of years old.

They have also discovered a  variety of ancient archaeological remains on all nine islands. They have been identified as an epigraph from Roman times, Carthaginian sanctuaries, cave art, and megalithic structures. It would seem there is a lot more history to these islands that pre-date 1427.

The underwater pyramid was discovered by Diocleciano Silva between the islands of Terceira and São Miguel. It is said that the structure is perfectly square and oriented by the cardinal points.

Using current GPS digital technology it is estimated that the pyramid is around 60 meters high and has a base of nearly 8,000 square meters. That is pretty big!

The Portuguese Hydrographic Institute of the Navy is studying the pyramid data to determine whether it is man-made, naturally occurring, or even something more interesting. Extra-terrestrial perhaps? I wonder if Mulder and Scully are investigating!

The pyramid is found in an area of the Atlantic that has been covered by water for around 20,000 years. That time coincides with the last great ice age of the northern hemisphere where the glaciers started melting 2,000 years earlier. Whoever was living there before the ice age, human or not was probably responsible for building the pyramid.

So far the Portuguese Navy has not determined the origins of the pyramid. It is surprising that this has not been reported before or even discovered before. Was it kept secret or had it sat there for years unnoticed?

What is hard to believe is that the area is heavily studied for its volcanic activity by the NOAA, which studies volcanic behavior. You would have thought that they would have found the pyramid through sonar imaging.  So was it kept secret until Diocleciano Silva found it and went public or is he the first person to actually find this incredible mystery?

Some people even think it might not be real and is instead a hoax but that theory seems unlikely especially as pyramids are evident all across the globe with new ones been discovered every now and then.

This is the actual pyramid as shown as reading from a high-tech scanning device.

Archaeologists from the Portuguese Association of Archaeological Research have found evidence on Pico Island that suggests humans did live in the area many thousands of years before the Portuguese discovered the uninhabited Azores.

This adds support to the idea that an ancient civilization was there at the time to build the huge pyramid. There is still no explanation as to who created the rock art found on the islands or why.

So who did build the underwater pyramid? Was it built by a great ancient civilization that spanned the globe from South America to Africa and the East?

Pyramids are found across many continents, was this one giant civilization? Is this the fabled lost continent of Atlantis that connected the distant civilizations together? Or is it not man-made and perhaps Extra-terrestrial in origin?

'Sunken Atlantis Pyramid' Discovered off Azores Coast in Portugal
Here is the original Portuguese news report along with English subtitles (Not the best I may add) for those who wish to check the validity of the claims and the story.

The Azores themselves are a chain of 9 volcanic islands in three main groups situated 930 miles west of Lisbon. They sit around the fault lines between the tectonic plates of the North American, Eurasian and African continents. The energetic qualities of that area are a great place to have a pyramid. Pyramids are supposed to collect and concentrate energy in positive ways.

This video shows the spot where the pyramid might be along with some discussion about the validity of the claims.

The coordinates of the pyramid have not been released to the public, why? We are not sure maybe it is to prevent tomb robbers and Lara Croft from visiting or maybe there are other important secrets that they need to keep quiet for now. What is believed is that there could be two more pyramids in the area and that there could be a design link with those found in Egypt which forms a land based representation of a star constellation.

Adding to the theory that these pyramids were created by people from the stars or that our ancients knew we were created by aliens in ‘their image’ and not native to this planet. These giant star maps could be the real clue to the history of mankind’s origin.

A interesting video about the underwater pyramid and other possible structures in and around the Azores, the Canary Islands, Antarctica, and the Atlantic sea.

16th-Century Shipwreck’s Cargo of Elephant Ivory Analyzed

16th-Century Shipwreck’s Cargo of Elephant Ivory Analyzed

BBC News reports that an international team of researchers led by Alida de Flamingh of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was able to reconstruct complete mitochondrial genomes for 17 distinct elephant herds with samples taken from 100 tusks recovered from the Bom Jesus, a Portuguese trading vessel that sank in 1533 while on a voyage to India.

16th-Century Shipwreck’s Cargo of Elephant Ivory Analyzed
A hundred complete tusks were among the cargo

It was found by chance in 2008 in a coastal diamond mine, making it the oldest known shipwreck in southern Africa. 

The ivory in the cargo hold was just part of a vast haul of precious cargo, including copper ingots and gold and silver coins. Archaeologists have also found personal effects and navigation equipment amid the remains of the ship.

“There are dinner plates, cutlery, and trinket boxes, as well as all the copper ingots, coins, and ivory in the cargo,” explained Ashley Coutu, an archaeologist from the University of Oxford, who specializes in genetic and chemical analysis of artifacts.

“It is an incredible find, incredibly well preserved,” she told BBC News.

Every tusk is an elephant’s life story – a chemical fingerprint laid down throughout its life

That preservation meant that the international team of researchers – including experts from Namibia, the US, and the UK – could unpick exactly how many herds of elephants the tusks came from.

The team examined something called mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are the power stations of every cell, converting food into fuel. And crucially for this study, the genetic blueprint that makes mitochondria are passed down from mother to offspring.

This makes it a particularly revealing piece of code for elephants.

“Elephants live in female-led family groups, and they tend to stay in the same geographic area throughout their lives,” explained Alida de Flamingh from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the study. “We were able to reconstruct complete mitochondrial genomes from these really old samples.”

Those completed pieces of genetic code showed that the tusks on this single trading vessel came from 17 distinct elephant herds. The most up to date genetic information about the elephants surviving in that part of Africa today showed that only four of those could be found.

“That was quite shocking – that loss of diversity,” said Dr. Coutu. “Next we’d really like to fill in those gaps in a chronological way. We can look at where these pinch points are in history and create a timeline of exactly how and when the huge trade in ivory had an impact.”

“[What we found] definitely has conservation implications,” Dr de Flamingh added: “We know that a loss of genetic diversity is associated with increased extinction risk.”

Every tusk is an elephant’s life story. What the animals eat creates a fingerprint in the composition of the tusks as they grow – something that scientists can unpick using a technique called isotope analysis.

This essentially breaks down the chemical make-up of every tusk, and it suggested that these were forest elephants – living in mixed forest habitats.

That was a surprise because by this point in history the Portuguese had established trade with the Kongo Kingdom and communities along the Congo River. So the researchers expected that elephants would be from different regions, especially West and Central Africa.

Battling the ivory trade

The scientists also hope their detailed examination of this ancient ivory could help inform anti-poaching efforts today.

The scientists also hope their detailed examination of this ancient ivory could help inform anti-poaching efforts today. While recent analysis shows elephant poaching has declined slightly, conservationists say the animals are still being poached at unsustainable rates and the trade is a threat to their survival.

When large-scale confiscations of illegal ivory take place, people analyze the DNA to find out where the elephants were killed in Africa. “Our evidence provides a reference to compare that with, so its origin can be confirmed,” said Dr de Flamingh.

“And once you know where the ivory is from you can develop targeted anti-poaching strategies for those locations.”

Dr. Coutu added: “We’re really going to be able to use this historic data to answer modern conservation questions.”

4,500-year-old ‘Woodhenge’ discovered in Portugal

4,500-year-old ‘Woodhenge’ discovered in Portugal

The archaeological excavations that happened at Perdigões complex in the Evora District of Portugal recently showed that the archaeological excavations uncovered a “unique structure in the Prehistory of the Iberian Peninsula”. In fact, nothing similar has ever been found in Portugal before now.

Only one-third of the circle has been excavated so far, so archaeologists created this projection to give a better sense of its size. The portion that has been excavated is shown on the far left. Archaeologists estimate the circle to be about 66 feet (20 meters) in diameter.

“As described by António Valera, who was the archaeologist in charge of the excavations, the Perdigões structure was a prehistoric ceremonial site found in the middle of a complex of 12 ditch enclosures and “articulates with the visibility of the megalithic landscape that extends between the site and the elevation of Monsaraz, located to the east, on the horizon.

The site was used for religious ceremonies, burials, and rituals as several pits with sacrificial items had been recovered.

People would travel long distances to attend ceremonies and festivals at the location which was a good way for them to socialize and strengthen their bonds with each other.

Woodhenge at North Newnton.

The circular-shaped structure has been nicknamed “Woodhenge” in reference to Stonehenge except this one was made from wood.

“A possible access to the interior of this structure is oriented towards the summer solstice, reinforcing its cosmological character,” Valera explained, adding, “this situation is also known in other European countries as ‘wood henges’ and ‘timber circles’, where astronomical alignment entrances are frequent, underlining the close relationship between these architectures and the Neolithic views of the world .”

It has been described as a “monumental wooden construction, of which the foundations remain, with a circular plan and more than 20 meters in diameter,” Valera noted.

While this “Woodhenge” is the first of its kind to be found in Portugal, it is incredibly similar to other structures found in the central part of Europe and the British Isles – like Stonehenge.

This may indicate that the people of Perdigões were in communication with those living in locations far from them and that those living across Europe were much more connected with each other during the Neolithic period than previously thought.

Woodhenge at North Newnton.
Woodhenge is the wooden version of Stonehenge.

The complex dates back from around the end of the Middle Neolithic Period (about 3400 BC) to the start of the Bronze Age period (around 2000 BC) – a time frame that lasted approximately 1,400 years.

This time period brings up the possibility that the ancient Bell Beaker culture may have constructed “Woodhenge” as they are believed to have originated in Portugal and their culture thrived from around 3500 BC to 2500 BC.

The timber circles date back 4,500 years.

Valera finished off by stating the importance of finding this structure, “discovery reinforces the already high scientific importance of the Perdigões enclosure complex in the international context of European Neolithic studies while increasing its heritage relevance,” which was recognized as a National Monument in 2019. Several pictures of “Woodhenge” can be seen here.