Iberian mesopotamia alignments
- The Toponym Monfurado Mountain Range Origin
José Cirilo Rodrigues
(Start editing on September 2014)
|This is a research project at Wikiversity.|
This project research is aimed to guide a new generation of scientific researchers using free tools and collaborate with wikipédia. Everyone with a critical thinking and wanting to explore our earth can use Google Earth and astronomy software to observe and analyze the Iberian Mesopotamia Alignments. The region between the three Iberian rivers: Tagus, Guadiana, and Sado in inner Alentejo, Portugal, was called as Iberian Mesopotamia by the archaeologist Manuel Calado. The alignments are located in the Monfurado (Holed Mountain) Mountain Range near the Almendres Cromlech .
Behind every Portuguese geographic accident, such as promontories, mountains, and rivers there are a lot of tales and mysteries. This article is intended to demystify the toponomic name Serra de Monfurado, which means in Portuguese language 'a mountain with a hole'. Monfurado maintain range is located in the inner Alentejo region south Portugal at a middle distance between the Iberian rivers Tagus and Guadiana and the Portuguese river Sado, so this region is known by archaeologists scholars as the Iberian Mesopotamia. This region constitutes the principal diffusion center of the megalithic culture with a central point at the Almendres Cromelech located 13 km west from the capital district city Évora. This study shows the alignment between the menir of Almendres, located at 1.5 km distance in the summer solstice sunrise - live direction, and the Cromelech with the most important stars for a shepherd people - the Capella star, Pollus and Regulus- . On the other hand towards the sunset - death direction at the equinox there exist some earthwork alignenment perfectly oriented east-west. This special construction - a mountain with a hole - is the name origin of the Portuguese toponym - Monfurado- . Due to the simplicity of the tools used and the probability to exist more similar constructions, it is highly recommended to continue searching for other possible alignments with satellite technology such as Google Earth and free astronomy software to better understand prehistoric megalithic science and scientists.
Keywords: prehistory science, archaeoastronomy, archaeology, prehistoric alignments, megalith, toponymy
In the late 1960th at the Portuguese primary school, every kid learned the place-name history of the Cape of the Good Hope, located at the bottom of the African continent, in South Africa. This cape was primarily named by Portuguese navigators as Cabo Adamastor, but, as it was refused by his majesty the King of Portugal, they still had tried the name: Cabo das Boas Tormentas to remember their difficulties without success. This story lets us remember that place-names are given by the authority of the people who needs them as references and the continuity of their use. The importance of the continuity of the place-name is well demonstrated in the recent archaeoatronomy study led by archaeologist Fabio Silva  about the origin of the name of the Star Mountain range. Despite the Roman authority have called it as Montes Herminios during seven centuries. Fabio Silva study argues that the origin of the name - Star mountain range - is the due to the continuity of the name used by the first megalithic sheep herders which settled the region. These two examples illustrate the importance of place-names, as well as the reason why, today, to give or to change a place-name, it is a matter held by specialists of the United Nations and people directly affected. To be short, the study of place-names, must consider the authority and continuity of the people, which uses and needs them.
Following the above line of thought, this article is about the authority or prestige of the people since the first megalithic settlers of the Iberian Mesopotamia region, continuously used and needed to denominate the Monfurado mountain range, as a geographic reference seven millennia ago. According to some archaeologists, these first settlers, mixed with local people, implemented a new social style of life well tested, during some millennium after, in other distant places such as the middle east, Cantabria or Danube regions (*). The importance of the study of the Iberian Mesopotamia alignments is not only the ability to shape the mountain (with a hole – Monfurado -) but the scientific knowledge behind the live alignment - sun rise direction - of the manor of Almendres and to plan and dig the death alignment (sun set direction) of the dug hole. The mystic knowledge, which associates direction with life and death  at the Cromelech of Almendres, has real meaning because the west direction is the Atlantic ocean and land to the east (see Figure 1).
Our ancestors made any difference between scientific knowledge and believe; everything was a question of death and life. For them orientation knowledge was a matter of survival as a social group sharing the same space and way of live. To better clarify and demystify our ancient society this study is divided in two parts: the live alignment and the death alignment, to discuss each specific method, tools and results separately.
Edwin C. Krupp in his book "In Search Of Ancient Astronomies" shows the vital importance of the star knowledge to develop agriculture and shepherds. The Menir of Almendres located 1.5 km northeast from Cromelech of Almendres indicates the sunrise direction at summer solstice (see figure Live Alignment). This article confirms that its scientific construction purpose is to indicate the stars rise direction as suggested by archaeologist (*). With specific free software, it is possible to simulate the sky five millennia ago and discover what stars were aligned at that time between the menir and the Cromelech.
The following two sections are focused on software and star names.
The two free astronomy software Stellarium and Celestia are available for many operating systems ready to install and use. Just set local coordinates of Almendres Cromelech (38.00, 8.00), select time to 3.000 BC, and start seeing the sky as five millennia ago as our ancestors used to do. Start moving the time scale to summer solstice, its possible to verify that the stars Capella, Pollus and Regullus rise at the same position.
Capella, Pollux and Regullux
Google earth has the ability to simulate the sun movement. At Almendres Cromlech the sun sets every day at a different point behind the Monfurado mountain range; from left in the winter solstice to the right in the summer solstice position indicated by the two respective yellow arrows as shown beside in figure Death Alignment.
The earthwork alignment reproduces the reflection phenomenon of the Arrábida mountain range, which became invisible at a distance greater than about 30 km during day light. For instance, from Cabrela, located at a middle distance between the Cromlech and Arrábida mountain range, this mountain is not visible during most part of the day. Just only one hour before sunset the "Two Sun Mountains", starts to reappear in the Horizont.
- Silva, Fabio (2012). "Landscape and Astronomy in Megalithic Portugal: the Carregal do Sal Nucleus and Star Mountain Range". w:Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (Ubiquity Press) 22: 99–144. doi:10.5334/pia.405. http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pia.405. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- Cirlot, Juan-Eduardo (1984). Dicionário de Símbolos. São Paulo: Moraes. p. 430.
- Krupp, Edwin C. (1978). Krupp, Edwin C.. ed (PDF). In Search of Ancient Astronomies. New York: McGraw-Hill.