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Chapter IV - The Oestrimni Civilization

por Olympus Mons, em 12.03.16

 Chapter IV


 The Oestrimnis Civilization



Where could they have come? - Very rapidly the numbers became staggering.  Just in a small area were they settled first, in lowlands Iberia, south of Tagus (remember Zambujal Bell beaker is north of Tagus) left to the Guadiana river they must have rapidly amount to tens and tens of thousands living together. If the all area, as we will see next, had cities and villages with urban areas of 500ha like Porto Torrao (SInga), just in this surroundings it must have lived well over 20,000 people. I mean more people them today live in the current place there which is the big village of Ferreira do Alentejo. And just not longer than a decade or so ago nobody knew that it was ever been there.  Just imagine by 3000 BCE the life that was established in this overall area of Singa, Perdigoes, Outeiro do circo…. How many people actually must have been living there? How different was it from Sumer, or the pharaonic Egyptians?  - No wonder so many people thinks that what Plato called Atlantis was actually in there (at least one of the realms, others were all over Iberia). Naturally Plato was overblowing a story we overheard is father tell friends while he was a child, regarding a story his own father had heard from Egyptian Priests…


And this had a name. Sure, name given by the Greeks but still. It was called latter on the Oestrimni (north) and the Coinos (south) people.   Actually, if something, there is no VNSP civilization. There is the Oestrimmis civilization and that meant all the south and north of western Tagus River but being the people that lived in the farther western Part of the European continent. Bell beaker was a cultural phenomenon that arisen in the Oestrimni context and Oestrimni should be considered the first coalescent territory in Europe of the Arbins (R1bs) coming out of the Shulaveri-Shomu culture. And again the Greeks told us that they were part of the Iberia of the west and they thought, go figure, it was the same people of the Iberia from the East (in current Georgia, middle of the Caucasus). They thought so, rightfully, because the Oestrimni told them, and everyone who asked, their story - didn´t they?


SAO PEDRO and PARAISO (the front line)

As per referred paper from Rui Mataloto.

Those were the first arriving. Now I know where they arrive from. Followed the Guadiana river upstream until boxed between the river and the Mountains one must take a decision: Follow the river (going eastward and back) or cross the river, turning left and enter what is now Portugal. This is the entrance into the lowlands.  And there they stood, in a narrow passage of something between 10 and 20 km, controlling it for a thousand years.

Phases at Sao Pedro, followed quickly. In a small hill controlling the plain, first the settlement, was built of perishable material, so, not meant to endure. Only the rock defense wall was swiftly built. But upcoming phases followed fast, building the traditional Shulaveri Polygonal plan of circular structures with curve or bent walls connecting (…you know the description by now) and always with less than 100 people. Obviously an outpost.   Fauna show that they arrive with Horses, Cattle and dogs (that is what I like and there is plenty in this paper). Then they hunt and killed like crazy. Taxa shows the staggering amount of game these people there hunt. Especially red deer and Auroques.

Not enough to control the area. Not long after another walled settlement up north, Paraiso (paradise),  lock the entrance on the other side of the entrance, near the next barrier up north (*461) a mountain that blocks passage. So, Sao Pedro by the river and Paraiso fortress locking the entrance further inland and north. Paraiso seems to have taken the biggest visibility (either violent or just peacocking) as reported by Rui Molototo the staggering number of small settlements that popped and disappeared. Something also reported in other sites eastern of the fortified settlements. No wonder there were so many horses there. We now that the horses there and in Sao Pedro were not meat but used for Shot horsing… so, soldering. Didn’t farm, did seem interested in pastoral activities.

What were they keeping this passage to and from who?  - Because they let some people pass. For sure. Because just south and farther west, following the plain, there was a city developing that I will address later. Was the Porto Torrão (just the name of the area) were the first gigantic city of the west has being built, the huge city of SINGA


But let’s not go there just yet because, for our purposes is important to talk about the other place where they locked the other river passage…


The Triangle of Light (Porto das Carretas, Mercador, Moinho de Valadares)


See, while Paraiso and S. Pedro controlled the entrance to the plain, further south there is place where river passage is (and was) easy. So right on Top of it in a hill it was built a fortified settlement. Built with walls from the start. This was undoubtable built as a fortress like the other two. Porto Carretas is all about horses, hunting, arrows and blades.  The reason I like so much this triangle of light, is because, like the sites we saw at the Caucasus (Shulaveri gora, khrimis gora e irimis gora) also this 3 sites seem to have a total dependency and hierarchical function. Porto Carretas was the fortress, farther back was Mercador as a cattle raising and butchery and further back agriculture from Moinho Valadares.  …Papers…


What marks all this places is the amount of horses. You don’t record this amount of horses even in Zambujal or Singa or anywhere else for a long time. I like the mercador because it marks the first place I read about the Baffling horse problem - See, if there is something unresolved in 40 years of anthropology in Portugal, and is common to most if not all the papers I am here mentioning… Is the Horse. This horses here, are not like the Pleistocene horses that existed and not like the Bronze and iron age horses… So, they all, all, go on a spin trying to figure out what those were. Not Ass, not hydbrinds… but horse although smaller (Tarpan!).  Yes, the R1b, shulaveri arrived with Tarpan Horses. Not the best horses in the world when compared to the beautiful big and docile Lusitano horse breed, with which the bell beakers conquer Europe. The Tarpan were left wild and became the Sorraia wild  horses… Sorraia river is just 50 km up north from here. Brutal. – There will be a full chapter about Horses, another about dogs and then grapes with loads of papers. Let’s not ruin the events here.


San Blas and La PIJOTILLA (the others?)


What where they protecting against?  To assert that those outpost where protecting against San Blas and La Pijotilla feels weird (these two are in Spain and the others in Portugal).  However, there is a river and we know how the story of man are divided by rivers. 

AC Valera and Odriozola have already establish the following (*463 or *464):


“In this work we study by physico-chemical methods (INAA, XRF, XRD and TL) the production technology and the consumption of 200 sherds of Bell Beaker and decorated vessels from 4 of the largest settlements throughout all Iberia and that are found alongside the Guadiana River forming part of different networks (La Pijotilla, San Blas, Porto Torrao, Perdigões) as well as medium size sites (Monte do Tosco, Molino Perdido), in order to stablish cosumption and distribution patterns within the pottery production of these sites.


So PCA or Ward Analisys on pottery and sherds clearly separates this networks. We don’t really know much about their interaction but these 4 dominated the early stages of the III millennium Iberia.  La Pijotilla (80 ha), San Blas (50ha), perdigões (50ha) and Porto Torrao ( Singa like I prefer to call it -100ha)

And no doubt, as seen earlier, there are 3 major military  outpost marking the passage

San Blas are the ones that couldn’t turn left up stream because of S. Pedro and Paraiso, couldn’t turn right because of La pojitilla, couldn’t cross the river earlier because of Porto carretas and Mercador… so they just stood.  From Porto carretas fort one can see San Blas, and San Blas is also fortified as it is la Pijotilla.  But from those 3 fortified settlements on the left bank river with a lot of horses and archers to the west, the huge settlements (Singa and Perdigoes ) are not fortified.

Anyway, Tina Thurston and Roderick Salisbury (*466) establish very convincly that there was a territory on the left bank and another on the east bank of Guadiana with different characteristics and identity of the producer and consumer of pottery.





SINGA and Perdigoes (no need for defense walls)


To understand all this movement of people, and I can’t stress this enough, one should look at a hypsometric map (mountains, lowlands, etc.) of the Iberia Peninsula. It’s really obvious why things were as they were. And also why one should therefore be very careful with any characterization of the Iberian Peninsula as a monolithic thing.

Crossing Gibraltar its really intuitive just stop at the vast lowland and that is why the chalcolithic “city” of  Valencina de la Concepción is in there when you look ahead and there is a mountain range in front of you. Also turning eastward populations just followed the plains and then farther ahead bump into high elevation again stop, and the “Marroquíes Bajos “ stood there where Jaen is today. Turning south, there is a narrow mountains passage and you end up in Los Millares back in the Mediterranean Sea.  Great place to be defended. From land they can only came from one place. Those guys must have had a lot on their hands between then looking by how keen they were of defense walls. Or not. Those walls were just meant to push away the incoming populations that were being pump out of North Africa by the Desertification and arising of the new Sahara Desert.  Those were probably really pump up (pun intended), stressed and not at all in a chatting mood.  I imagine that this 3 have a story of their own.


Anyway, cross Gibraltar and turn west, bump into Guadiana river (actually real name is Odiana) and if that one is as big as it seem to have been so couldn’t easily be crossed there (Algarve region had no Chalcolithic at all) and you have no choice but to move north following it. Apparently easier to cross up north, you do just that and one enters the widest, biggest plain and lowland of all Iberia Peninsula. That thing covers half of Portugal (south).  Right in the middle probably the biggest “city” of the chalcolithic Iberia which is what archeologist call Porto Torrao but actually one should do the honor of call it what the locals (some at least) call it themselves and want to change the name of the current village to – SINGA (Singa radio, singa pharmacy, sing ball, Singa, singa).

That thing was huge, not at all smaller than the cities that were being built in Mesopotamian, such as Uruk or Ur (people never seem to agree on how big it were).  100ha would see around 10 to 15 thousand people living there. Half way between SInga/Porto Torrao and the fortified warrior settlement of Porto Carretas lay Perdigoes (30ha) that so much international attention is having the past decade.

And these site are all about also Ditches and enclosures. I imagine common in several neolithic (calcolithic) places (I don’t know) but I always remember that several papers about the shulaveri-Shomu and related to their big places, the ones that also seemed to beacon the rest of the settlements, Like Aruchlo or Kamiltepe or Mentesh Tepe also mention the ditches that merge into channels (enclosures actually) and thought to be irrigation channels.



Perdigoes its just a puzzle.   It was essentially a spiritual place that attracted people from all over. Thousands of Pits, large trenches 3.5 meters deep and tens of meters wide. It must have taken a astounding effort to accomplish. And the way they did it, frenetically digging old ones and filling…. Just weird.  It looked like a place people went through on their way to other places. Lots of Ivory and dental morphology showing that a lot of people had come from North Africa (*776). PCA analysis puts those in an axis of increase and decrease proximity with North Africa and less but still valid proximity with later pre-historic Italian peninsula populations known (notorious lacking any similarities with Oriental Mediterranean and North Europe) . 

So when (and if) we start getting Y polymorphism from the inhumations and it comes out with a lot of E1b1 it should really be no surprise. However remember that Perdigoes is riddled with decorated horse phalanges as figurines matching and at exact the same period other R1bs where doing in the eastern part of the Volga, the Botai Tersek (for which they were known for).  And remember this earlier than the ones that is reported in literature for bell beakers. So there should have been at least as much of this genetic Haplogroup as R1b.  But R1b would be an Elite that had bred rights over most of the female population and at the end it showed. Two Portuguese regions have lots of E1b1 (M81) precisely Alentejo and Santarem which is the “route” in which the bell beaker used on their way north. Europe is under sampled so I figure there will be a lot more Chalcolithic E1b1 in Portugal, Spain, south of France and north Italy than exists today…

On a note, it should not be a surprise  that two top northern Spain regions, side by side, one shows the highest value for R1b in Europe (Basque) and the next door the highest for E1b1 (Cantabria) in the Pasiegos area.  It’s a story on its own. Being mutation M-81 just 6000 years old it’s from this time that they ended up there. Clearly different people with different phenotypes.



All in all live was good in the plains. Perdigoes, that had people coming from all over, clearly shows a puzzling lack of Dental Enamel Hypoplasias that chalcolithic Inhumation display and which were so more common in earlier populations and very common in Bronze, iron ages or even much later times. It meant that food was good, no severe diseases, nothing that shocked the body into making those line marks in the teeth. Actually a trademark also in the Shulaveri, that led Lyonnet to write “No trauma or specific pathologies, especially no strongly  marked hypoplasy of the teeth enamel Lyonnet 2015”.  There were on the other end a lot more cases surging of skeleton stress effects due to hard labor carrying weights.  Doubt it were from the “elite”.  But also more dental caries and notably one finds Signs of trepanation abound in Chalcolithic Portugal. As we known were practice in the neolithic Caucasus where some of the oldest signs of this skull chirurgical operation was actually found. And not just in Perdigões. Same is true up north in Zambujal. While oldest trepanation is mentioned as in France 6,500 BC, the second one is actually from the land of the Shulaveri 4000-5000 BC, and with signs of surviving as it happens in Chalcolithic Portugal (French cases are strange. Forty crania in one site of a total 120… what was that? Mass surgery going wrong?).


The region must have been, if those population had any aesthetic feelings been a site to be looked at. The Alamo Lowlands, the Xerez Valley, was covered at that time with the semi- Deciduous Oaks forests, and what a sight if must have been at that time when the oaks turn golden (from autumn to spring) and the region was a sea of golden and reddish hues. Anyone who at present days have had the chance of looking into an area with Semi Deciduous Oaks understands what it means.


3 to 5 centuries later the Castros of Zambujal and Vila nova de Sao Pedro (VNSP) were being erected on the other side of the river. The big one, the one that owns the Iberia Peninsula the Tagus River.

This was the Oestrimni civilization. What kind of name is that VNSP (?).  were the people that had to flee their homeland in the plains of the Caucasus because of an attack of the serpents (Ubaid). They were the descendants of the Shulaveri-Shomu.  Although later the Greeks and Romans only called Oestrimni north of Tagus (because of Lisbon) and the southern part were called the Coinos, truth is they all were the Oestrimni (people of the far west") in Latin. 


Tagus is the river the bell Beaker folks, the Arbins , bearers of genetic haplogroup R1b (already mutated with P312, L11, L21 and DF27 ) started to move north to became the genetic patrilineage that mark the existence of the western Europe, from the British islands, Northern Europe even reaching the Baltic or the Slavic Hungry where they meet to southbound cousins from the other side of that river, either the Volga or de Dnieper. The Arbins met the Aryans. The bell beaker met the Corded ware. Or as I truly rather see it, the Oestrimni Archers culture (OAC culture)  met the Battle Axe Culture. We should know that by now, shouldn’t we? They, both, built the first iron wall didn’t they?


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