Have you ever seen an entire mountain carved to resemble a colossal human “face” gazing skyward? As amazing as this sounds, it´s only “half” of the great unsolved riddle here at the prehistoric archaeological site of “Antequera” in southern Spain. The other half is the gigantic megalithic dolmen nearby, the “Dolmen de Menga,” whose entrance points directly toward this mountain face—and not by accident. The Menga dolmen, dating back to the Neolithic period, has been described by scholars as the oldest, largest, and most sophisticated of its kind in Europe. Archaeologists don’t know the meaning of this (dolmen / mountain) alignment; but they say it is the only dolmen linked to an anthropomorphic landscape feature. What were the builders up to here? What purpose did this ritual complex serve? And could this strange setup possibly hold clues that might help us decipher “all” of prehistoric Europe´s mysterious and unexplained megalithic monuments?
Photo of me inside the Neolithic Menga Dolmen´s main entrance showing how the dolmen’s portal was designed to point directly at the nearby “mountain face” of La Pena de los Enamorados, which overlooks the entire city of Antequera.
Dolmens, stone circles, barrows, menhirs. You probably already know that Europe´s Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples built thousands of extraordinary megalithic structures across the continent (in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other countries / regions).
These ruins are still a deep unsolved mystery to archaeologists. Despite centuries of analysis, research, and investigation, it remains uncertain who built them, when they were built, how they were built, or why. The “Why?” question—inquiring as to the motives of the builders—is perhaps most perplexing of all.
Why expend Herculean efforts to design and create such complex megastructures that were intended to last for thousands of years?
This is one of the many questions on the minds of European archaeologists studying the extraordinary megalithic ruins just outside the ancient city of Antequera in the Andalusian region of Spain.
Photo of me standing inside the entrance portal of the Menga Dolmen in Antequera, Spain.
There are three main megalithic structures here, all within sight of one another:
(1) the “Dolmen de Menga”
(2) the “Dolmen de Viera”
(3) the “Tholos de Romeral”
Visitors seeing these ruins for the first time immediately realize something special about them, something that sets them apart, and something scholars have known for decades—they are among the most sophisticated examples of Neolithic architecture in all of Europe.
They´re so special, in fact, that in 2016 UNESCO added them to its World Heritage List, stating:
“These three tombs, buried beneath their original earth tumuli, are one of the most remarkable architectural works of European prehistory and one of the most important examples of European Megalithism.”
THE MENGA DOLMEN
Most interesting of the three is the Dolmen de Menga, which is the largest and most advanced. It offers a bonus attraction—a strange feature that makes it unlike any other European megalithic structure: its entrance portal is perfectly aligned toward a prominent nearby natural rock formation of great importance because its silhouette resembles a gigantic human face gazing skyward. The mountain lies only seven kilometers to the northeast of the dolmen, and it dominates the entire landscape.
It´s only when you walk inside the Menga dolmen and then turn around to see the mountain face precisely framed by the dolmen´s entrance door that you´re struck with a strange sense of magic and wonder, even foreboding.
The entrance of the prehistoric Menga Dolmen was designed to look straight out toward the mountain face of La Peña de los Enamorados.
Antequera´s dolmens are a popular tourist destination for ancient history buffs.
The mountain face of La Peña de los Enamorados dominates the view over the city of Antequera, Spain.
What´s the meaning behind this magnificent ancient alignment?
This is the million-dollar question. Evidently, the stone mountain held some kind of religious or ritual significance to the Menga dolmen’s Neolithic builders; but scholars aren´t sure exactly what that significance was.
The stone mountain is known today as “La Peña de los Enamorados” (“Lovers’ Rock”) and it´s been the stuff of legend for centuries. This mountain, 880 meters in height, has always held special significance to the people of Antequera, not unlike Italy´s Vesuvius to Neapolitans. In many ways, the mountain defines the city, just like Vesuvius defines Naples; like Vesuvius, La Peña has traditionally served as a landmark for terrestrial navigation, not only due to its commanding visual presence, but also because of its remarkable anthropomorphic silhouette.
The origins of the mountain´s name—”Lovers´ Rock”—may hold a hidden clue to its deeper, esoteric meaning. Some scholars believe the name comes from an old Romeo-and-Juliet-type legend handed down over time:
“The legend that gives the mountain its name very likely originated in the 15th century CE when the Castilian kingdom of Seville and the Nasrid kingdom of Granada fought for control of the region. According to this legend, of which there are various versions, a Muslim man and a Christian woman fell in love, a relationship not accepted by either of their families. After an unsuccessful escape, the lovers decided to take their lives, throwing themselves from the northern cliff of La Peña. It cannot be ruled out that, as so often happens in Iberian folklore, the medieval legend is rooted in much older “pagan” traditions related to La Peña’s strongly anthropomorphic silhouette, also portrayed locally as a dormant giant woman…”
—Journal of Archaeological Science, 2018
Artist depiction of the legend of La Peña de los Enamorados published in “Cosmographia Universalis” in Basel, 1610.
What does the mountain face symbolize?
Rumor has it that the face is that of a sleeping giant. Some say it depicts a woman, perhaps a powerful witch. Others think it´s an American Indian (hence its oft-used nickname “Montaña del Indio”). Scholars aren´t sure; they also don´t know if the face is natural or was artificially carved in the prehistoric past. If carved, it would be one of the most unprecedented achievements of the Neolithic era, even more impressive than the megalithic structures themselves. Most scholars, unprepared to explain how our ancient ancestors could have performed such a feat, believe it´s natural.
Rotated views of the mountain face of La Peña de los Enamorados.
The unusual and striking anthropomorphism of this mountain face is enough to pique anyone´s curiosity. But the added “dolmen/mountain alignment”—which has inextricably linked these two monuments together for at least the last six thousand years—adds an extra layer of majesty and mystery that has left Spanish archaeologists scratching their heads.
“Menga is the only dolmen in continental Europe that faces towards an anthropomorphic mountain such as La Peña de los Enamorados.”
Menga isn´t just the most mysterious dolmen in Spain, it´s also one of the oldest (and possibly the oldest in Spain and even Europe). This is extremely curious.
“Antequera Dolmens Site is an outstanding example of a megalithic monumental ensemble, comprised of the three megalithic monuments…that illustrate a significant stage of human history when the first large ceremonial monuments were built in Western Europe.”
Twilight view standing outside the Menga Dolmen looking in. (Photo courtesy of Javier Pérez González.)
Photo of the inside of the Menga dolmen from the entrance portal. Your back is facing La Peña de los Enamorados.
Stepping further into the Menga Dolmen walking deeper into the structure.
Inside Menga showing the gargantuan roof slabs, the largest of which weighs nearly 200 tons.
View facing the back of the Menga Dolmen, showing one of three remaining megalithic support columns.
No one knows for sure exactly when Menga was built. Scholars date its construction to the 4th millennium BC, based on their radiocarbon dating of organic matter—likely burned wood—found inside the dolmen:
“When was Menga built? There are currently three radiocarbon dates for this monument that fall within the late prehistoric period…all obtained from charred material…The dates were 3790–3690 BC and 3760–3530 BC…considered an early stage of megalith construction in southern Spain.”
—Luc Laporte and Chris Scarre, The Megalithic Architectures of Europe, 2015
It´s important to keep in mind that, by radiocarbon dating of organic matter found inside Menga, scholars have established a date for the organic matter—and not necessarily for the dolmen itself (since the megalithic stones themselves cannot be radiocarbon dated). This means Menga may be much older than the radiocarbon dated material. In fact, it´s surprising and a little disappointing that scholars have put a firm date on the dolmen based solely on this radiocarbon dated material, considering they know this material may date to a period long after the dolmen´s construction, when cultures subsequent to the builders inhabited Antequera and used the dolmen:
“As Menga seems to have been an “open” monument throughout its entire life history, the vestiges of its use during the Neolithic, the Chalcolithic, and the Bronze Age seem to have been almost completely erased by the actions of subsequent visitors and users.”
—Luc Laporte and Chris Scarre, The Megalithic Architectures of Europe, 2015
The construction methods used to build Menga are another mystery. In its entirety, the dolmen is constituted by thirty-two colossal stone blocks, some weighing almost 200 tons, all made of sandstone and assembled without mortar or cement. The use of these “mega-stones” is mind-boggling, especially considering that the largest blocks at Stonehenge weigh 50 tons each, considerably less.
“Menga stands out as an exceptional megalithic monument in both the scale of its construction and its design. It is basically the largest and heaviest megalithic monument on the Iberian Peninsula…”
—Luc Laporte and Dr. Chris Scarre, The Megalithic Architectures of Europe, 2015
The interior design and layout of the dolmen itself is also mysterious. Its single massive chamber is formed by fourteen gigantic orthostats, seven on each side, and a single backstone, creating an interior space roughly 16.5 meters long and 6 meters wide at its maximum width. The roof is formed by five massive capstones that rest atop the fourteen orthostats; these giant roof slabs are supported by three large columns axially aligned in the chamber; some scholars believe there may have been a fourth column, now missing. The entire structure is covered with soil forming a large tumulus roughly 50 meters in diameter. This hill can still be seen today.
Menga Dolmen ground plan showing how the three large upright pillars are aligned along the longitudinal axis of the chamber.
Exploring inside the Menga Dolmen.
View from inside the Menga Dolmen, facing the front of the structure.
Photo of the rear of the Menga Dolmen.
One of the most striking aspects of the Menga dolmen is its astronomical orientation. As mentioned, the entrance to the monument is oriented towards La Peña de los Enamorados in the northeast. There is another alignment at play here: when the sun rises on the morning of the Summer Solstice, its rays shine into the dolmen´s entrance corridor illuminating one of the two walls of orthostats inside. It should be emphasized that the sun doesn’t shine directly into the heart of the chamber; it illuminates only one side of the two interior megalithic walls. This is because the mean azimuth of the dolmen is 45 degrees, while the azimuth of the Summer Solstice is 60 degrees—not a perfect match.
The sun’s morning rays enter the Menga Dolmen one week before the Summer Solstice, illuminating one side of the interior megalithic walls. (Photo courtesy of Javier Pérez González.)
The sun’s morning rays enter the Menga Dolmen days before the Summer Solstice, illuminating one side of the interior megalithic walls. (Photo courtesy of Javier Pérez González.)
As shown here, the Menga Dolmen was oriented so that the sun’s morning rays on the Summer Solstice illuminate only part of the inside chamber.
Why set up the structure so the morning rays of the solstice sun illuminate only part of the inside chamber?
This question is difficult to answer, mostly because no one knows why so many of Europe´s Neolithic megalithic structures are aligned to the solstices and equinoxes in the first place. Archaeologists have known for some time that the Pagan cultures who built most of Europe´s megalithic monuments revered the solstices and equinoxes as high holidays. Here at Antequera it seems the builders wanted their dolmen to point to the La Peña mountain face and, at the same time, they also wanted at least some sunlight to shine into the dolmen on the morning of the Summer Solstice. In other words, they wanted to have their cake and eat it too—and they clearly got their wish.
“Menga was not oriented to sunrise, as is the case with 95% of the megalithic monuments in southern Iberia. Rather it is slightly to the north of the summer solstice (speciﬁcally at 45°), towards La Peña de los Enamorados, a mountain that stands out in the Antequera plain.”
—Luc Laporte and Dr. Chris Scarre, The Megalithic Architectures of Europe, 2015
Another mysterious and surprising architectural feature of the Menga dolmen can be found inside the structure. In the spring of 2005, a circular water well nearly 20 meters deep was discovered on the ground inside the chamber on the side opposite the entrance, between the third supporting pillar and the backstone.
In 2005, a circular water well nearly 20 meters deep was discovered on the ground inside the chamber on the side opposite the entrance.
Once fully excavated, it was found that the well´s circular shape is surprisingly symmetrical all the way down the sandstone bedrock into which it was carved, showing the unparalleled skill of the ancient builders. Scholars aren´t sure if the well was carved with stone, animal horns or metal tools. But they are sure that whoever carved it clearly possessed the confidence and ability to perform such an amazing feat. At the time this sensational discovery was made, there was no record of the existence of this exceptional hydraulic structure, nor was any previous reference to it known.
The well´s deep shaft is perfectly circular for the entire duration down its nearly 20-meter depth.
Metal bars have been installed to protect visitors, as a fall from this height would be deadly.
Photo of the well with water.
The perfect circularity of the well´s deep shaft shows that the goal of the builders was to create a specific aesthetic and visual effect that must have been meaningful to them; but exactly what that meaning was is unclear.
Chemical analysis has shown that the water inside the well is suitable for human consumption (according to current Spanish laws defining potable water). However, researchers don´t believe the well was dug solely for drinking water because, as some have pointed out, potable water can easily be got by digging just a few yards down in the dirt fields outside the dolmen.
Why did the builders saddle themselves with the incredibly laborious task of digging down 20 meters into the solid sandstone bedrock inside the dolmen? Clearly there was some unknown and mysterious reason for having a well inside the dolmen. The builders went out of their way to ensure this (assuming the well does not predate the dolmen). But exactly what that reason was remains unclear.
Perhaps a clue may lie in the faint engravings that have been found on some of Menga´s giant orthostats, notably on Pillars 1 and 2 near the entrance. Unfortunately, these engravings have deteriorated to the extent that they are now almost entirely unrecognizable. They seem to depict a mixture of “cruciform” and “circular” patterns, carved in a kind of low relief.
Faint engravings have been found on some of Menga´s giant orthostats.
Some archaeologists are on record saying they see anthropomorphic figures, with one perhaps holding a hatchet; they also say they believe these carvings date back to the era of the dolmen´s construction. Others say they see “Christianized” cross symbols—prehistoric designs that appear to have been “carved over” during the Christian era, making the original designs undeterminable.
It´s not just the inside of the Menga dolmen where we find prehistoric images. More designs have been found in a large, triangular-shaped natural cave located at the foot of La Peña de los Enamorados—a cave that scholars say is directly linked to the Menga dolmen; the dolmen´s central axis of symmetry and entrance point directly to it.
Known as the “Abrigo de Matacabras,” it contains several prehistoric paintings. Like the carvings inside Menga, these paintings are heavily eroded. Scholars believe that due to its strange link with Menga this small cave may have been a spiritual sanctuary of sorts, one that held symbolic and religious significance during the Neolithic period.
Left: View of Antequera from inside the cave “Abrigo de Matacabras” at the base of La Peña de los Enamorados. Right: Prehistoric anthropomorphic figure painted in red on a wall inside Matacabras cave. The figure´s arms are raised up, a pose that has baffled scholars.
In 2018, the ATLAS research group from the University of Seville published a study of the paintings saying:
“This small cave has a first-class visual and symbolic relationship with the Menga dolmen, establishing landscape relationships that are possibly unique in European prehistory.”
—Journal of Archaeological Science, 2018
Scholars have noted that the paintings depict a relatively wide range of schematic art motifs. Fourteen various depictions have been documented in all, mostly composed of: (a) plaques, (b) pectiniforms, (c) an anthropomorphic figure with arms raised, and (d) a double serpentiform. All of these are said to have parallels with various other prehistoric art motifs in southern Spain, with many examples found in and around the lands near Antequera.
One of the most interesting depictions inside the cave shows an anthropomorphic figure with upraised arms, painted in red (as shown in the photo above).
Could this be the image of an ancient shaman performing some kind of long-lost ritual? Or perhaps a spiritualist of some sort engaging in a meditational prayer that, for us, no longer holds any meaning? Was it an ancient magician steeped in some kind of strange magical ceremony? Or a soothsayer having a drug-induced mystical experience? Could it be a witch doctor preparing to offer a human sacrifice to some unknown god or gods revered by the builders?
These are the kinds of ideas many scholars favor, and they certainly seem viable considering the ritualistic and funerary nature of the three dolmens that constitute the archaeological site of Antequera.
THE VIERA DOLMEN
Just a couple of hundred feet southwest of Menga, there´s a second magnificent megalithic structure—the “Dolmen de Viera.” Though slightly smaller and less impressive than Menga, this prehistoric monument is grand and unique in its own right.
Aerial view showing the near proximity of the Menga and Viera dolmens. The yellow arrrows point to the entrances.
The dolmen is named after two brothers, José Viera Fuentes and Antonio Viera Fuentes, who are said to have discovered and excavated it between 1903 and 1905, although local knowledge of the dolmen´s existence has been traced back to the 16th century.
On the outside, the Viera dolmen resembles a giant burial mound, while inside it looks like a passage grave. The outside mound is described by scholars as a “tumulus” roughly 50 meters in diameter. The interior consists of a long corridor—accessible by an entrance on the periphery of the mound—that leads to a small rectangular chamber inside.
On the outside, the Viera dolmen resembles a giant burial mound, inside it looks like a passage grave.
Like Menga, it was built with a series of megalithic stone blocks placed standing upright, all put together without mortar or cement. The corridor is topped by a row of megalithic roof slabs, which also fit together without mortar or cement. The orthostats and roof slabs here, while impressive, are considerably smaller than those of Menga.
The orthostats that make up the interior corridor are twenty-seven in total, and at the end of the corridor there is a small chamber with a quadrangular plan, which is accessed through a perforated square door. Here, scholars believe ancient corpses were interred along with their grave goods (assuming this was a burial mound). No skeletons have been found inside, though some artifacts—including a ceramic bowl, a stone vase, a copper awl, several blades, small flint tools, and several polished stone axes—have been recovered. Unlike Menga, there is no link to La Peña de los Enamorados.
Plan and section of Viera, showing its long corridor leading to its single interior chamber.
Walking into the Viera dolmen via its long straight corridor.
The megalithic wall slabs and ceiling slabs inside the Viera dolmen’s corridor.
Inside the Viera dolmen, 2020. Guards are posted at the ruins to enforce the mask law.
In front of the square entrance carved in stone that leads into the Viera dolmen’s single chamber at the end of its corridor.
Peering into the small chamber at the end of the corridor, which is accessed through a perforated square door.
Scholars believe the Viera dolmen was built a few hundred years after the Menga dolmen. If this is true, then it may well have been constructed by the descendants of the builders of Menga—though this idea doesn´t seem to be popular among scholars. Viera is officially dated to the Copper Age, which in Spain lasted from approximately 3300 to 2500 BCE. (It is interesting to note that, as with many other ancient cultures, the more advanced monument predates the less advanced one. Examples of this “older = more advanced” pattern can be found in Egypt, Italy, China, Mexico, and Cambodia, as I´ve discussed in my books, lectures, articles, videos, and social media posts).
One of the most interesting features of the Viera dolmen is its archaeoastronomical orientation. As with most Iberian tombs, Viera´s interior chamber and the long corridor that leads to it are both oriented slightly south of east (96°). This means the builders constructed it precisely so that the sun´s first rays on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (March 21 and September 21) shine directly into the corridor and illuminate the interior chamber.
The builders constructed the Viera dolmen precisely so that the rising sun´s first rays on the mornings of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (March 21 and September 21) shine directly into the corridor and illuminate the interior chamber. (Photos courtesy of Javier Pérez González.)
The sun´s first rays on the morning of the vernal equinox shine directly into Viera´s megalithic corridor. (Photo courtesy of Salvador Salas.)
Dawn on the spring equinox. This photo was taken from inside the small chamber looking straight out through the long corridor and into the eastern sky. (Photo courtesy of Salvador Salas.)
There are many other megalithic ruins across the Iberian Peninsula—and all across Europe—that are archaeoastronomically aligned to the solstices and equinoxes, just like here at Antequera. Scholars have known about these alignments for decades, but they are at a loss to explain their meaning.
THE THOLOS OF EL ROMERAL
Situated about a mile northeast of the Menga and Viera dolmens—and located precisely along the axis that links the Menga dolmen and La Peña de los Enamorados—is the Tholos de El Romeral. This is described by archaeologists as one of the most important examples of Neolithic architecture in southern Europe. This megalithic monument, also known as “Cueva de Romeral” (Cave of Romeral) and “Dolmen de Romeral,” is the third major dolmen structure at Antequera.
Romeral is clearly visible from both the Menga and Viera dolmens. Scholars don´t know why it was built to stand perfectly in line between the Menga dolmen and La Peña de los Enamorados, but they do agree that the Romeral Tholos dates to an era long after the Menga and Viera dolmens were built. It is currently believed to have been constructed in the early 2nd millennium BCE (about 1800 BCE).
Aerial view of the circular mound known today as the Tholos de El Romeral.
The entrance into the Tholos de El Romeral is imposing and majestic.
The mound housing the Tholos de El Romeral on the left, with La Peña de los Enamorados on the right.
The Tholos de El Romeral, situated about a mile northeast of the Menga and Viera dolmens, lies along a straight axis that links the Menga dolmen and La Peña de los Enamorados.
The Tholos de Romeral is basically a chambered tomb covered by a large artificial mound, not unlike the Viera Dolmen. The mound has a diameter of about 75 meters with a total height of roughly 10 meters, making it the largest of Antequera´s three major megalithic structures.
Like Viera, the entrance corridor is accessed by a doorway located on the periphery of the mound. However, the walls of its long trapezoidal corridor are not constructed with large megalithic stone blocks like Menga and Viera; instead, it has drystone walls made of small stones, though its ceiling is made of megalithic stone slabs.
Photo depicting the design and plan of the Tholos de El Romeral. (Courtesy of Francisco Jose Romero Montilla.)
Walking into the single long straight corridor, which leads to two consecutive beehive-shaped chambers.
Beautiful megalithic roof slabs cover the length of the corridor.
A closer look at some of the megalithic roof slabs covering the corridor.
Megalithic portal at the end of the corridor that allows entrance into the two consecutive round beehive-like chambers.
At the end of the corridor, a megalithic portal allows entrance into two consecutive round beehive-like chambers. (In ancient Greek architecture, a circular building with a conical or vaulted roof is known as a “tholos,” hence the “Tholos de Romeral.”)
The first chamber is larger, with a diameter of roughly 4 meters. It has corbelled walls similar to the walls inside the corridor and the chamber is topped by a single megalithic capstone.
The second chamber, which is smaller and linked to the first by a short corridor, has a diameter of roughly 2 meters; it too has a beehive-like shape. Inside the second chamber there´s a small stone slab, resembling an altar. Access to this chamber is not permitted. Archaeologists report that bones and various grave goods were found inside the dolmen. This, they say, confirms that the monument was built to serve as a burial mound.
Inside the first beehive-shaped chamber at the end of the corridor.
The ceiling inside the first beehive-shaped chamber is sealed with a megalithic roof slab.
The second, smaller chamber, is inaccessible to visitors. A large circular mirror inside the chamber allows visitors to see the beehive-shaped ceiling and megalithic ceiling slab covering this rear chamber.
Because it faces an azimuth of 199 degrees (looking out to the south / southwest region of the horizon), the Tholos de Romeral is one of the few significant megalithic structures on the Iberian Peninsula that faces west (most face east).
As with Menga and Viera, the Tholos de Romeral was encoded with a significant archaeoastronomical alignment. At noon on the Winter Solstice, the sun´s rays penetrate down the long corridor through the first beehive-like chamber and straight into the second chamber, illuminating the interior of this prehistoric monument. Scholars are at a loss to explain why the builders set up the structure this way or what significance the hour of noon on the Winter Solstice may have held in the minds of the builders (and, possibly, in relation to the dead, supposing this was indeed a burial mound).
At noon on the Winter Solstice (December 21) sunlight travels through the corridor at El Romeral and lights up the interior chambers. (Photo courtesy of Javier Pérez González.)
Some researchers have noted that the Tholos de Romeral has an eastern Mediterranean feel to it, as it bears a striking resemblance to the tholos tombs built in Greece in Antiquity.
What are we to make of this amazing prehistoric dolmen complex at Antequera?
As mentioned at the outset of this article, Europe´s megalithic ruins are a deep unsolved mystery to archaeologists. It´s still unclear who built them, when they were built, how they were built, or why. Antequera is no exception.
Scholars have done a fine job analyzing Antequera´s three major ancient monuments. They have gathered invaluable data regarding the building materials, measurements, artwork, mythology, and archaeoastronomical alignments at play here. Yet they are still no closer to unraveling the intrinsic meaning of Antequera than scholars were a century ago.
Isn´t this…kind of odd?
Think about it. Scholars have gathered plenty of detailed data on Antequera´s dolmens—priceless information that, one would think, should help us better “understand” the purpose and intention of these structures. Yet, even with all this data, academia is still at a complete and utter loss to explain their basic meaning and functionality (if indeed these monuments had a functionality other than being burial tombs, and I suspect they did).
What are we missing here?
For more than 30 years, I´ve been traveling to, exploring, and documenting a variety of megalithic ruins left by many different ancient cultures around the world. I´ve studied megaliths in places like Peru, Egypt, Mexico, Bolivia, England, Cambodia, Italy, Greece, France, Spain and Cyprus. Since 2015, I´ve been living in Spain and exploring its megalithic ruins. Yet, for me, Antequera represents one of—if not “the”—greatest enigmas of them all. This place is just as important as the Giza plateau, in my humble opinion. Just as important as Angkor Wat. Or Stonehenge. Or Machu Pichu.
Actually, I believe Antequera is even more important. Why?
Because I´m convinced Antequera was designed and built by what I have often referred to as “spiritually superior” prehistoric peoples. And I believe it was these same spiritually superior perhistoric people that built hundreds of other enigmatic megalithic structures across the Iberian Peninsula (and across Europe) millennia before the Roman invasion. I believe these “primitive”people were far more sophisticated than our modern human culture today—not technologically, but metaphysically, spiritually. Hence the inability of scholars to decipher the purpose and meaning of their monuments.
This is a theory I explained in detail in my 2011 book, Written in Stone. I showed how our ancient ancestors around the world had parallel forms of art, architecture, symbolism and religion. I theorized that these parallels paint a picture of ancient cultures—particularly the pyramid cultures—as people who were not “technologically” superior but “spiritually” superior to modern man. I theorized that this spiritual superiority may explain the mysteriously advanced architectural structures they were able to design and build; structures they left behind that, today, leave so many modern tourists in awe.
In Written in Stone, I cited “pyramids” as an example of some of these advanced architectural structures. Yet, even before there were pyramids, many strange megalithic monuments were being constructed across Europe on a large scale, including dolmens, stone circles, passage graves, taulas, and stone rows. These megalithic structures predate most of the world´s ancient pyramids. And so, for me, this indicates that the cultures that constructed these strange European megalithic monuments may have been even more spiritually advanced than the cultures that built pyramids later in history.
In my upcoming book, I´ll continue to examine this idea. I´ll show how Europe´s prehistoric megalithic monuments are so advanced—built by people so much more spiritually sophisticated than us today—that they are completely unrecognizable to us. This explains why we simply don’t know what these monuments were designed, built and used for. I´m referring here specifically to megalithic structures like stone circles, dolmens, taulas, passage graves and stone rows. Look at the photos below and think about what I´m saying for a moment:
Why build T-shaped “taulas” like those found on Spain´s Balearic Islands?
Why build colossal “dolmens” with gigantic stone blocks?
What function could megalithic “passage graves” have been built to accomplish?
What possible purpose could megalithic “stone circles” have once served?
Why did the ancients build megalithic “stone rows” like Carnac in France?
“Taulas” are ancient T-shaped monuments found in ruins on the Spanish island of Menorca.
Megalithic dolmens were built in prehistoric times in almost all European countries.
Passage graves are a prehistoric remnant found common across much of Europe.
The intact ruins of megalithic stone circles are found in many European countries.
Prehistoric megalithic stone rows like Carnac in France are an unsolved mystery.
These structures make no sense to us—to our modern sensibilities, predispositions, and understandings. We simply can´t understand them; we can´t understand why they were built or what they may have been used for. It´s as if something is missing—as if some vital knowledge that the builders once had has now been forgotten.
I believe I may have found the answer, or at least part of the answer. That´s to say, I think I understand what many of these ancient megalithic structures were designed and used for. And, with this find, I may be able to help scholars answer the big “Why?” question regarding Europe’s ancient megaliths and the world’s prehistoric megaliths in general. The problem is, I´m not quite ready to proffer my findings with a substantial amount of supporting evidence.
(Note: For a couple of years now, I´ve been told by several of my scholarly friends—archaeologists, professors—that if written properly my research on megaliths would certainly be publishable in academic journals. And even some of my earlier work, if properly tweaked and more conservatively written, can and should be advanced academically. I believe this is worthwhile, and I´ve spent a considerable portion of 2020 researching European megaliths as well as converting some aspects of my earlier research into an academically acceptable format. It´s been much more challenging and time-consuming than I expected; but being challenged has dramatically improved the quality of my research, and so it´s been an extremely rewarding experience so far.)
So, with this in mind, rather than provide cursory information here regarding my theory on megalithic monuments, I´ll end this article on a cliffhanger; again, I´m still investigating and gathering supporting evidence and data. I have mountains of research I need to complete before I can even begin to think about writing and publishing, academically or otherwise. But I believe an incredibly important piece of the megalithic puzzle can be found here at Antequera, encoded in these enigmatic Neolithic ruins…dot, dot, dot…
If you would like to contribute to my research, you can sign up for my Newsletter, join one of my Ancient Tours, or simply watch this space for more. You can also learn about my earlier work by reading my published books:
Richard Cassaro is a Madrid-based author, lecturer, filmmaker, and tour guide from New York City. His published books Written in Stone (2011), The Missing Link (2016), and Mayan Masonry (2018) offer rare insights into ancient megaliths, spirituality, mythology, magic, symbolism, secret societies, comparative religion and occult archaeology. Cassaro has discussed his work on the History Channel, and in documentary films like Magical Egypt 2. His articles have appeared in print journals and web media around the globe; and he has delivered well-received lectures about his findings in the UK, Italy, Peru, Egypt, Spain, Mexico, Cyprus, and the U.S. In his capacity as a field investigator, he hosts travel adventures to archaeological sites worldwide.
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