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Stonemasons, and even engineers, for megalithic building in Neolithic Europe?

Abstract : The analytical methods applied to the study of megalithic building have been vastly renewed during the last decade. It is now possible to accurately follow the progress of construction sites, sometimes with surprising results, such as those from the eastern parts of tumulus C of Péré, Prissé-la-Charrière. Access ramps, inclined planes and terraced floors are used as construction bases. First the elevation plan is drawn on the ground, sometimes at every step of the construction work. It also bears some pentimenti, or work stops. The first part of this paper illustrates the methods implemented to reach such results. The second part will address work management on the construction site, through the irregular distribution of know-how on the site. Locally, these methods could confirm the coordination of rather segmented work teams by specialists. More generally, through examples from other regions (Brittany, Britain and Iberia), we will discuss the function of such construction sites in the process of knowledge transmission or the presence of travelling specialists, or masons as they should indeed be called. As for the architectural project and the implementation of the global project, the question of the existence of potential engineers is raised, although this word may appear anachronical in relation to what we know – or think we know – about the social organisation of human groups in Western Neolithic Europe. All these perspectives tend to definitively dispel the tenacious primitivism ‘assumption’ from megalithic studies, so deeply rooted in the history of research on this subject.
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https://hal-univ-rennes1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02886439
Contributor : Catherine Gorlini <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - 3:21:18 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 3, 2020 - 3:15:43 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-02886439, version 1

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Luc Laporte, Florian Cousseau, Philippe Gouézin, José Antonio Linares Catela, Hélène Pioffet. Stonemasons, and even engineers, for megalithic building in Neolithic Europe?. Florian Cousseau and Luc Laporte (dir.). Pre and Protohistoric Stone Architectures: Comparisons of the Social and Technical Contexts Associated to Their Building. Proceedings of the XVIII UISPP World Congress (4-9 June 2018, Paris, France) Volume 1, Session XXXII-3, Archaeopress, pp.1-26, 2020, 978-1-78969-545-8. ⟨hal-02886439⟩

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