Two major megalithic sites in Spain are making the news simultaneously. Authorities recently discovered one of the sites in the southern province of Huelva, while another dubbed “Spain’s Stonehenge” emerged due to drought in the central province of Caceres.
First, authorities surveying land for an avocado plantation discovered what is being called a new “major megalithic site” in Europe. The site in the province of Huelva in the Andalusian region covers 1,500 acres of land with over 526 standing stones or menhirs, from 3 to 10 feet tall. With many stones buried deep into the ground, it will take years of excavations to uncover them.
Some of the stones may have been erected over 7,000 years ago.
It’s hard to believe that such a large megalithic site could be a new discovery in a province with a population of over 150K. Perhaps, the site was a well-kept secret or so isolated that few knew about it?
Whatever the case, someone attempted to get a permit for the avocado plantation, prompting the survey. Surely, everyone must have been shocked to find a large megalithic complex near the border with Portugal.
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Newly-Discovered Diverse Megalithic Site
Then, archaeologists from Huelva University, including Jose Anotonio Linares, arrived. It’s an epic windfall for the archaeologists to find what’s now called the La Torre-La Janera site in Huelva.
“This is the biggest and most diverse collection of standing stones grouped together in the Iberian peninsula,” said Linares.
Dolmens, Mounds, and Cromlechs
By diverse, Linares refers to a collection of not only single standing stones but also mounds, cromlechs, and dolmens. In the latter case, vertical megaliths support a table-like horizontal capstone. Sometimes, people were buried inside, but the purpose and methods used to construct the dolmens remain mysterious.
Many dolmens are in northwest Europe but also southern France, Africa, and Asia. Although little-known, two-fifths of the world’s dolmens are in Korea.
Cromlechs are stone circles like Stonehenge but are considered among the first house-like man-made structures. The stones sometimes encircled a dolmen or mound.
There are separate Stone Chest cists which are prehistoric European coffins at the site in Huelva. However, most of the structures are single-standing stones, some aligned along an axis. According to Phys.org, the stones were often aligned in groups of 26, with two cromlechs placed on hilltops.
Many remain upright while others are lying down.
The site is also “excellently conserved,” according to Primitiva Bueno from Alcala University.
“Finding alignments and dolmens on one site is not very common,” Buenvo told AFP.
“Here you find everything all together: alignments, cromlechs and dolmens and that is very striking,” she said, hailing the site’s “excellent conservation.”
Video by “MegalithHunter” which discusses the interesting use of crystal in Neolithic burial grounds:
Megalithic Site Dubbed ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ Emerges
At the same time, another site dubbed the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ has emerged in central Spain due to severe drought. The official name is the Dolmen of Guadalperal, a group of dozens of megaliths arranged in a circle (like Cromlechs). As with the standing stones in Huelva, these are thought to date to 5000 BC.
Unlike in Huelva, this site was first discovered in 1926 but went underwater when authorities created the Valdecanas reservoir in 1963. Now fully emerged, the monoliths have previously been visible four times.
According to Reuters, the Iberian peninsula is the driest it has been in 1,200 years due to climate change.
Video by NBC News:
Another Structure in Huelva
Huelva is home to another interesting structure, a 114-foot-high cubist limestone statue of Christopher Columbus, erected in 1929 where the Odiel and Tinto rivers meet. The stone for the statue came from quarries in a town in Huelva called Niebla. On the statue’s pedestal, bas-reliefs show Aztec, Mayan, Inca, Christina elements, and Earth’s four hemispheres.
A plaque honors the sailor who found a “new world.”
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney of the wealthy Vanderbilt family in the United States designed the statue called Monument to the Discovery Faith. She is well-known for the Whitney Museum of American Art, which she founded. On the day of the ceremony for the statue, she was named an adopted daughter of Huelva.
Ancient Symbols from Egypt
Columbus’s voyage began and ended across the Tinto River in Palos de la Frontera. Initially, King John II of Portugal rejected his plans in 1484, and Columbus resided in a nearby Franciscan monastery. He would later embark in 1492. The same monastery is where a ceremony for the statue’s unveiling took place.
The statue shows Columbus leaning on a Tau cross like a letter T, and his likeness resembles a friar from the monastery, La Rábida. Some say the statue is a Franciscan friar and not Columbus himself.
The Tau Cross originated with the ancient Egyptians and was later adopted by early Coptic Christians. It was associated with the Egyptian monk St. Anthony, who was said to lean on a tau-shaped crutch. Later, St. Francis and the Franciscans adopted the Tau Cross.
According to Whitney’s great-granddaughter, the design for the statue was inspired by Egyptian art and architecture.
“The haunting simplicity of the monument’s grand yet minimal Art Deco stylization reminded me of the art and architecture Whitney had observed in Egypt in 1927, shortly before designing the statue,” wrote Fiona Donovan.
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube/NBC News