Megalithic means ‘large stone’ and in general, the word is used to refer to any huge, human-built or assembled structure or collection of stones or boulders. Typically, though, megalithic monument refers to monumental architecture built between about 6,000 and 4,000 years ago in Europe, during the Neolithic and Bronze ages.
Megalithic monuments are among the earliest and most permanent archaeological structures. Their original intent is likely lost to the ages. In addition, few retain their original configuration, having been eroded or vandalized or quarried or added to or simply modified for reuse by subsequent generations.
But megaliths clearly had and have multiple meanings and multiple uses over the years Some of the the uses include elite burials, mass burials, meeting places, astronomical observatories, religious centers, temples territory markers,etc.
Megalithic Common Elements
Megalithic monuments are quite varied in makeup. The following is a list of types of megalithic monuments.
- Obelisks, menhir: single large standing stones.They are related to solar cults.
- Stone circles, cycloliths: a circular monument made of free standing stones. Nine Maidens, Yellowmeade,Stonehenge all in the United Kingdom.
- Dolmens are colective tombs and they are two menhirs covered by another block.
- Passage tombs, tholos tombs: architectural buildings of shaped or cut stone, generally containing burials and sometimes covered with an earthen mound.
- Navetas with the form of an inverted boat and were used as collective tombs. They are from the Balearic Islands.
- Talayots or defensive towers are also typical from the Balearic islands.
- Taulas have the shape of a T and it is thought they were altars.