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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Atlantic Europe and the Mediterranean, especially the Iberian Peninsula, contain thousands of Megalithic monuments, such as dolmens and passage graves, built at the end of the Neolithic and Bronze Age. These are funereal monuments normally built with large bolders that define a space usually kept in darkness except for a period of time when light may enter the inner parts. These light and shadow displays were used in all likelihood to highlight differences between the realms of the dead and the living, and also incorporated other meanings related to the surrounding landscape and the social concept of time. How direct, indirect or penumbral light is incorporated into the otherwise dark inner parts of a dolmen are investigated. The interplay of light with the inner parts of these monuments, for instance decoration, is scrutinized. This chapter reviews these issues and outlines an interpretation in which the location, orientation, architecture, and perhaps even the shape of megalithic monuments were considered at the moment of their construction in order to incorporate light and shadow into the realm of the dead.

Keywords: megaliths, Neolithic, Bronze Age, light and shadow, Iberian Peninsula, window of illumination, landscape, Time

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