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Vila Nova de São Pedro: Wikis


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Holocene epoch
Preboreal (10.3 ka – 9 ka),
Boreal (9 ka – 7.5 ka),
Atlantic (7.5 ka5 ka),
Subboreal (5 ka2.5 ka)
Subatlantic (2.5 ka – present)
Map of VNSP and nearby regions.
Late VNSP in the context of Bronze Age Iberia

Vila Nova de São Pedro is the name of an archaeological site in Portuguese Estremadura where thousands of arrowheads were found inside a fortified site. It gives name to the Chalcolithic culture of Vila Nova de São Pedro (also Vila Nova or VNSP) despite of the fact that the main site is the long-lived fortified town, or castro, of Zambujal, near Torres Vedras, north of modern Lisbon.

The urban stage, which is what seems to better define this culture, lasts from c. 2600 to 1300 BCE, being contemporary of the SE Spanish civilizations of Los Millares and El Argar.


Earlier Background

Reproduction of a Sun-like carving from VNSP

South-western Iberia is considered by many as the original focus of Megalithism, predating maybe by one thousand years the other oldest Megalithic region: western France. Whatever the case, building of dolmens and whatever social organization that they implied had a long tradition in southern and central Portugal, along with neighbouring regions of Spain.

About the start of the 3rd millennium BCE, contemporaneous or slightly before the first appearance of the metallurgy of copper and precious metals, new styles of tomb building appear in the western Mediterranean regions and also in those parts of Portugal. There has been much debate on whether those new architectural styles came from the Eastern Mediterranean or they are a local autonomous development. While tholoi seem to have a clear Eastern origin, because Cyprus and the mainland culture of Tell Halaf built them earlier, the other styles (mainly artificial caves) are found earlier in the West than in the East. In any case, no import from the Eastern Mediterranean has been found for those dates other than the concept of the tholoi in all Iberia or southern France, and also the new ideas couldn't have come from the Aegean, where they are of later date. Therefore, Cyprus remains as the only possible source for the tholos, while probably all the other styles are locally developed.

Also, it must be said that while tholoi are common in Los Millares and other regions, the evolved type of tomb that appears in VNSP is the artificial cave, which is also common in SE France.


It's calculated that the Vilanovans started building fortifications c. 2600 BCE, being the main one that of Zambujal, with a very complex plan and up to six reconstructions in its lifetime.

The typology of the findings for this culture is very specific: stylized cups, crescents of clay, sticks of slate and the so called plate-idols, that some archaeo-astronomers consider to be precise calendaries. Nevertheless, the exchange with other groups, particularly Los Millares is also present in the archaeological register.


With the arrival of the Beaker people phenomenon around 2200 BCE, rather a cultural influence than a people itself, VNSP enters a new stage defined basically by the presence of some burials with Beaker people characteristics, while continuing with its traditions for anything else.

Pamela-style arrow points produced in VNSP

Anyhow, the presence of this phenomenon, possibly of trading nature, is strong enough to consider that the second phase of the Beaker people's culture is centered in this region. In this period (roughly 2100-1900 BCE), the exchanges are more frequent and reach distances of almost 1000 km. Particularly intense seem now the exchanges with the group of Treilles in French Languedoc. Nevertheless, the most common finding that was manufactured by the Vilanovans, the Palmela arrowheads, are found more commonly in the western half of the Iberian peninsula. The Maritime or International style of bell-shaped beaker has also its center in the region of Vila Nova and is extended by wide areas as well.

After c. 1900, the beaker styles show a decentralization in the Iberian peninsula, while in the continent the center goes back to Bohemia. Nevertheless, this Vilanovan style is still found far away from its nucleus, showing that the influence of VNSP is still strong.

After the arrival of bronze technology to southern Iberia, particularly to El Argar but also to southern Portugal, since c. 1800 BCE, the influence of VNSP, that will remain at the Chalcolithic stage, slowly declines. Finally, c. 1300, it disappears into the wider culture of the Internally Burnished Pottery, that includes most of Portugal and is part of the wider Atlantic Bronze Age.


See also

External links

Coordinates: 39°12′43″N 8°50′42″W / 39.212°N 8.845°W / 39.212; -8.845



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