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Anta is the Portuguese name for around 5000 megalithic systems that were built during the Neolithic in the west of the Iberian Peninsula by the successors of the cardial or imprint culture . Other popular terms such as arcas, orcas or lapas usually replace the term dolmen in Portugal . Completely similar systems are called dolmens in Spain. Neolithic monuments are an expression of the culture and ideology of Neolithic societies. Their origin and function are considered to be the hallmarks of social development.

Casa da Moura - seen from the rear - the "front stone" lies between the lateral supporting stones


Antas are oval- polygonal dolmens , the supporting stones of which are slightly inclined inwards, while the often only ceiling slab is inclined slightly forwards and from the mostly particularly wide "front stone" (opposite the passage; at the end of the chamber) and the two stones at the entrance will be carried. They were once covered by mounds of earth, most of which have now been removed, through which a low, covered, sometimes structured corridor led to the chamber. The corridors are barely available or only fragmentary. In front of the outer end of the corridor there is sometimes the round, clad forecourt, which is called the atrium here .


The chamber of most of the Antas has its greatest extension in the extension of the corridor of so-called "long chambers", while some are so-called "broad chambers". Its longest side lies across the passage. In some of the Antas no gears could be detected.

Building material

When removing blanks for cap and bearing stones, a professional selection was made that largely made processing unnecessary. This is evident from the shapes of the stones taken from plutonites (especially tonalites, granodiorites and granites). Cover slabs of small to medium size very often show a more or less flat underside, recognizable as a fracture surface, and a convex upper side, which is clearly recognizable as a former rock surface due to its weathering. Such a slab on a knoll was loosened parallel to the rock surface at the natural cleft. Plane-parallel cap stones can have been removed parallel to the surface. This becomes clear when the narrow sides are designed accordingly - to a large extent bevelled in the same direction.

Even with supporting stones are due to their shape, z. B. plano-convex or plane-parallel with a right-angled or inclined narrow side, the same statements on the removal practice are possible. Reliable indications of processing were rarely observed. The bearing stones of Fonte da Malga and individual blocks of the monuments of Cota and Barro, however, show signs of processing.


Antas are located by streams on wide plateaus or on small hills. The following are largely preserved:

The largest Antas are the Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, which has been declared a National Monument, southwest of Évora and "Carapito I" or "Casa da Moura" (House of the Maurin) northwest of Guarda in the Beira Interior Norte. The densest ranges of prehistoric monuments can be found in Portugal in the following areas:

Other plants in Portugal

In addition to the dolmen, Portugal also has rock-domed and domed tombs, mamoas (in the north), passage tombs such as Chã da Parada, and aisle-free polygonal ( Cabeço da Arruda ) or rectangular structures.

Christianized megalithic monuments


Antas were viewed as altars in ancient times, the skeletal remains were interpreted as human sacrifices. Some larger Antas, such as São Brissos near Escoural and São Dionisio in the middle of Pavia (Portugal) in the Alentejo , were converted into Christian chapels or hermitages . In churches, Alcobertas were integrated into the “Igreja Matriz” near Santarém and Nossa Senhora do Monte near Penedono ( Viseu ). Anta (or menhir ) and church are also in the immediate vicinity , for example in São Bartolomeu do Mar , Anta 1 of Saragonheiros , São Gens I and São Fausto.


  • German Archaeological Institute - Madrid Department: Problems of megalithic grave research . Lectures on the 100th birthday of Vera Leisner . New York: de Gruyter Berlin et al. 1990, ISBN 3-11-011966-8 ( Madrid research 16).
  • Thomas G. Schattner (Ed.): Archaeological guide through Portugal (= cultural history of the ancient world . Vol. 74). Von Zabern, Mainz 1998, ISBN 3-8053-2313-1 .
  • W. Vortisch: Geological-petrographic studies on megalithic monuments - examples from Portugal . In: Karl W. Beinhauer (Ed.): Studies on megalithics . = The megalithic phenomenon . State of research and ethnoarchaeological perspectives. Beier & Beran, Mannheim et al. 1999, ISBN 3-930036-36-3 , ( contributions to the prehistory and early history of Central Europe . 21).
  • Jürgen E. Walkowitz: The megalithic syndrome. European cult sites of the Stone Age (= contributions to the prehistory and early history of Central Europe. Vol. 36). Beier & Beran, Langenweißbach 2003, ISBN 3-930036-70-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. J. Müller In: Varia neolithica VI 2009 p. 15

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