Architecture of Circassian Dolmens
The dolmens have a limited variety in their architecture. The floor plans are square, trapezoidal, rectangular and round. All of the dolmens are punctuated with a portal in the centre of the facade. While round portholes are the most common, square ones are also found. In front of the facade is a court that usually splays out, creating an area where rituals possibly took place. The court is usually outlined by large stone walls, sometimes over a meter high, which enclose the court. It is in this area that Bronze and Iron Age pottery has been found - which helped date these tombs -, along with human remains, bronze tools and silver, gold and semi-precious stone ornaments.
The repertoire of decoration for these tombs is not great. Vertical and horizontal zigzags, hanging triangles and concentric circles are the most common motifs. One decorative motif that is quite common is found across the top of the porthole slab. It can best be described as a lintel held up by two columns. Pairs of breasts, done in relief, have also been found on a few tombs. These breasts usually appear above the two columns of the porthole decoration. Perhaps related to these are the stone plugs, which were used to block the porthole, and are found with almost every tomb. They are sometimes phallic-shaped.
Some unusual items associated with dolmens are big round stone balls, double balls and animal sculptures.
One of the most interesting megalithic complexes – group of three dolmens - stands in a row on a hill above Zhane River on the Black Sea coast in the Krasnodar area near Gelendzhik, Russia. In this area there is a great concentration of all types of megalithic sites including settlements and dolmen cemeteries. Large stone mounds surrounded the two monuments.
The central dolmen is rectangular in plan, 4 x 4 meters, while the two flanking dolmens are circular, 4 and 5 meters in diameter. The two round dolmens had been bulldozed - probably in the 1950s - in order to harvest the surrounding trees, but the main structure of the central dolmen had not been damaged.
Another (fourth) dolmen near the Zhane River has a secret entrance at the back of the chamber, and a façade, dummy entrance and courtyard at the front of the dolmen. There in addition to these pristine dolmens were some ruined dolmens.
Read more about this topic: Dolmens Of North Caucasus
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