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Nouvelles études sur la provenance géographique des blocs utilisés pour la construction de monuments mégalithiques dans le département du Puy-de-Dôme

Abstract : In a previous article, we described the results of our research work on the source of the boulders that were used for the construction of certain megalithic monuments in the département of Puy de Dôme, mostly in the Limagne area. This study has led us to the conclusion that the stones from which the megaliths were made were not taken from the place where the monument was erected. The boulders, some weighing up to 10 tons, were dragged for distances of about 15 km. This allowed us to point out two facts which had already been emphasized by various authors studying other monuments in different areas. First of all, it is quite clear that for the builders, the choice of the construction site was not dictated by geological considerations but was made according to other criteria. Second, choosing the right place to build the monument was an essential part of the process. For this article, we have studied 14 dolmens and 8 menhirs from different areas of the département of Puy-de-Dôme. This study shows that the sites that were selected for the construction appear to have been the natural limits of the landscape and/or clearly visible places overlooking a wide territory. Indeed, Neolithic populations deliberately built monuments that were meant to be seen, and they erected them in very distinctive locations. That is why it is quite natural to suggest that those impressive monuments must have been considered as landmarks for sedentary or semi-sedentary populations. On the other hand, the transport of the boulders, a colossal task, provides evidence of the high degree of engineering ability and social organisation possesed by Neolithic communities. In order to give more susbtance and better support to these assumptions, we decided to extend our study to the other monuments of the département. In the course of this work, we have made new discoveries and have re-examined our interpretation of certain megalithic monuments. The results of this research work will be found in the list that follows. This latest stage of our research work on the megalithic monuments of the Puy de Dôme has brought us to the same conclusion that we had reached in our previous study. In most cases, the boulders from which the monuments were made were not found on the sites on which they were built. Neolithic builders may sometimes have found satisfactory material on the chosen spot and have used it, but most of the time, owing to a lack of local material, they were compelled to carry the stones distances ranging from a dozen metres up to 100 metres. When choosing the location for the construction of a monument, therefore, they had in mind other criteria than merely the local supply of suitable building material. We should also note that they looked for sites from which they had an excellent view over the surrounding area: thus, they were sure that the monuments would be clearly visible from far. And yet they avoided the highest uplands. The favourite location was undoubtedly the edge of a plateau. Unfortunately, so little is known about the Neolithic period in this region that we cannot establish possible links between megalithic monuments and settlements. It should be noted, however, that a number of polished stone axes have been found at megalithic sites (Surmely, 2001). The foregoing allows us to repeat again the following statement: megalithic monuments were used as landmarks by highly organised human groups.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00350908
Contributor : Frédéric Surmely <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 8, 2009 - 11:16:03 AM
Last modification on : Monday, February 22, 2021 - 2:50:02 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 3:25:45 PM

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Frédéric Surmely, Alain de Goër de Herve. Nouvelles études sur la provenance géographique des blocs utilisés pour la construction de monuments mégalithiques dans le département du Puy-de-Dôme. Origine et développement du mégalithisme de l'ouest de l'Europe, 2002, Bougon, France. pp.249-252. ⟨hal-00350908⟩

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