Functions, uses and representations of space in the monumental graves of Neolithic Europe

Venue: Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l\'Homme (MMSH)

Location: Aix-en-Provence, France

Event Date/Time: Jun 08, 2011 End Date/Time: Jun 10, 2011
Abstract Submission Date: Feb 28, 2011
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The funerary constructions of Neolithic Europe are characterised by their
monumentality, their architectural complexity, the diversity of their funerary deposits and by
occasional presence of parietal art. They are genuine ‘architectures’ in the sense that the
combination of these various components forms a thought-out and built three-dimensional
space, itself superimposed on a natural space. The construction and use of these monuments
involve a large number of choices on different scales of space: where built the monument in the
landscape? How design its external shape? How organize its various internal structures? What
location for the mortuary remains and funerary objects? What location for the carved or painted
symbols? Space then is a central and essential issue for these monuments, to which no general
study on a European scale has ever been devoted.
This conference will analyse the deliberate and organized relationships with space that
are found inside the monumental graves of Neolithic Europe (mounds, cairns, tumuli,
chambered tombs, hypogea, etc.) It will invite and gather for the first time recent studies and
syntheses focusing on the configuration of the tombs’ architecture, the spatial organization of
the funerary deposits, the spatial organization of the parietal motifs, and/or the relationships
between tombs and natural landscape. Papers on the object and period of the conference will be
preferred but external studies (from a chronological and geographical point of view) dealing
with the central question of the conference will also be welcomed.
The first objective of the conference will be the identification of the various spatial
choices involved and articulated on different scales inside and outside the tombs. How an
analysis of the landscape, architecture, funerary practices and parietal motifs can inform us
about particular relationships with space? How these relationships evolved in time? What
divergences and convergences can be found between the different regions of Europe?
The second objective will be to interpret these choices. What were the functions of the
various architectural spaces inside the tombs? What was the role of the natural space around the
tombs? How the particular relationships with space inform us about the social structures and
practices of the Neolithic people in Europe? How they inform us about their symbolic
conceptions and representations of the funerary space?
Theme 1 – Spatial organization of funerary deposits inside monumental graves.
Theme 2 – Partition, structuration and evolution of the internal architecture of the
Theme 3 – Spatial organization of funerary iconography (both parietal and mobiliary
Theme 4 – Spatial relationships between tombs (necropolis), and between tombs and


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