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 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, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, 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 barrow.
Examples with outer areas, not used for burial, are also known. The Court Cairns of southwest 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.
The Passage graves of Orkney, Ireland's Boyne Valley, and north Wales are even more complex and impressive, with cross-shaped arrangements of chambers and passages. The workmanship on the stone blocks at Maeshowe for example is unknown elsewhere in northwest Europe at the time.
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 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 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 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 articles related to "tomb, tombs":
... or in a churchyard or cemetery Church monuments – within a church (or tomb-style chests in a churchyard) may be places of interment, but this is ... perhaps part of a monument these may stand within religious buildings or greater tombs or mausolea Sepulchre – a cavernous rock-cut space for interment, generally in the Jewish or ... Holy Sepulchre) Other forms of archaeological "tombs", such as ship burials As indicated, tombs are generally located in or under religious buildings, such as churches, or in ...
... thousand brick-and-stone underground Han tombs had been discovered throughout China ... Earlier Chinese tombs dating to the Warring States were often vertically dug pits lined with wooden walls ... In digging the tomb sites, Han workers would first build vertical pits and then dig laterally, hence the name "horizontal pits" for Han tombs this method was also used for tomb sites dug into the sides of ...
... Han artists and craftsmen decorated the wall bricks lining underground tombs of the deceased with mural paintings and carved reliefs the purpose of this artwork was to aid the ... Human figurine sculptures found in Han tombs were placed there to perform various functions for the deceased in the afterlife, such as dancing and playing music for entertainment, as well as serving food ... A common type of ceramic figurine found in Han tombs is a female entertainer sporting long, flowing silk sleeves that are flung about while dancing ...
... south wall are the remains of two 14th-century tombs of wealthy local merchants ... Near the east end is the Harrington tomb and nearer the parish clerk's office is the tomb of Richard Saltby ... The faces of angels above both tombs have mostly been cut in half, mutilation believed to have occurred during The Reformation or the English Civil War ...
... The simple graves evolved into mud brick structures called mastabas ... Royal mastabas later developed into "step pyramids" and then "true pyramids." As soon as a king took the throne he would start to build his pyramid ...
Famous quotes containing the word tombs:
“All that glistens is not gold,
Often have you heard that told;
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms infold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled.
Fare you well, your suit is cold.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)
“Justice was done, and the President of the Immortals, in Æschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess. And the dUrberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing. The two speechless gazers bent themselves down to the earth, as if in prayer, and remained thus a long time, absolutely motionless: the flag continued to wave silently. As soon as they had strength they arose, joined hands again, and went on.
—Thomas Hardy (18401928)
“How old the world is! I walk between two eternities.... What is my fleeting existence in comparison with that decaying rock, that valley digging its channel ever deeper, that forest that is tottering and those great masses above my head about to fall? I see the marble of tombs crumbling into dust; and yet I dont want to die!”
—Denis Diderot (17131784)