A dolmen ( dolmens; Breton for " stone table ") is a usually built of large unhewn blocks of stone or hewn building, which mostly served as a burial ground. Dolmens are the most numerous monuments of the megalithic culture. They were originally covered regularly by hills of stone or earth, or both. There are also national names for the phenomenon, for example in Denmark " Dysse " in Sweden " Dosen " in Portugal and " Anta ".

Neolithic monuments are an expression of culture and religion. Their origin and function are considered as indicator of social development.


Europe, North Africa and the Orient

Dolmen are Western and spread throughout parts of North, Central and South-Western and South-Eastern Europe, with a frequent incidence observed near the coast is (Vendée, Brittany, Ireland, as Antas in Portugal, and others). In southeasterly, and eastern Europe, they come in Georgia, southern Russia and Thrace (Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, see Dolmen in Thrace ) ago. In West Asia, they are found in the Levant. A small - largely destroyed - group is found in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.


Especially in the northern part of the Indian state of Karnataka - in the vicinity of the major temple sites of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal - there are still some dolmenähnliche buildings, often three or four vertical slabs of stone and one or composed of two large deck plates were; Most, however, are completely or partially destroyed. The fact that it has acted with them to tombs, is - in view of the in India for thousands of years practiced cremation - unlikely. A front closure stone with ' soul hole ' is missing, as is a bedeckender stone or mound; it could also have been small hermit temple, because in a few cases is still a Yoni plate to see on the ground. A dating to the period of about 800-1300 AD is thus likely.

Japan and Korea

Dolmen is also available from the Yayoi period of Japan ( 300 BC to 250 AD). A Yayoi dolmen consists of a ring-shaped stone setting, on a large, approximately circular stone plate rests. The funeral took place in large earthenware jars ( jar burial ). Such dolmens may be associated with a stone box. This combination is often to be found in Korea. It is believed that the Asian mainland new ideas passed through immigration on the Japanese island.

The Dolmenstätten of Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa in Korea have been included as a World Heritage Site in UNESCO's list of World Heritage (Asia and Oceania) in 2000.

Naming, typing

The term " Dolmen " was introduced by the born in Brittany Théophile Malo Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne (1743-1800) in the archeology. In Norse Megalitharchitektur Dolmen commonly referred to a building with several orthostat ( sidestones ) and one or more cover plates. restricted in many countries is the term to works with only one capstone ( for example, Encyclopedia Britannica ). The Dolmen of the Funnel Beaker Culture ( TBK ), after Ewald Schuldt in Germany Urdolmen, Rechteckdolmen (after E. Aner ), extended Dolmen divided ( according to E. Schuldt ) Großdolmen, Polygonaldolmen and passage graves. The embossed name of Schuldt is younger and was chosen because dolmen of this type can also be bottle-or trapezoidal. The Danes differ according to another typing barrows (Danish langdysse ) Runddolmen (Danish Runddysse ) Großdolmen (Danish stordysse ) and passage grave (Danish Jættestue ). Barrows ( langdysse or doze ) is the common name in Scandinavia for dolmens, which are in a barrow; in contrast, are Runddolmen ( Runddysse ) in a round or polygonal enclosure.


It is generally a good idea that most dolmens were originally burial purposes, with such elaborate buildings were probably only high-ranking persons or their family or clan members reserved. However, as only in very few dolmen skeletal parts or grave goods ( stone axes, pottery, jewelry, etc.) were found, several researchers have expressed the view that some dolmens were perhaps designed from the start as a cult or meeting places or but were redeveloped according to a later period.


Most Dolmen rest on large upright stones supporting; the still larger and heavier blankets stones often protrude laterally beyond orthostat and sometimes give the building the appearance of a table. Your table-like form because dolmens were previously interpreted as offering tables, altar stones or Druids altars. The supporting stones are usually next to each other and form rectangular, polygonal, trapezoidal or rounded - oval chamber walls, which may have access. It is likely that all dolmens were permanently closed after the end of occupancy. In some cases, a dolmen has several - even grave side chambers ( Mane Groh ). Chambers with lateral access are usually no dolmens, but are referred to as passage graves in Central Europe, where the distinction is not uniform.

The size of these structures varies according to region and existing material; the largest dolmens in Brittany (La Roche- aux- fées, Gavrinish, Table des Marchand, Les Pierres -Plates, Mane Lud ), in England (West Kennet Long Barrow ), in the Emsland ( Hoogen De Stener, ) in Ireland ( Newgrange ) and Spain ( Antequera ) to find. Dolmen today are often detached, since the smaller stones of the grave mound worn in ancient times by the inhabitants of the area and the construction of walls, stables, houses, etc., were used; rarely do they stand out from an on- poured around them hills, or they are completely covered with a stone or mound, which corresponds to their original condition. In many cases the support stones larger monuments are so close together that the table-like character disappears and a chamber -like space is created. In Brittany same plants more a transition; we call this form allée couverte ( covered stone row or gallery).


Pseudodolmen are natural rock formations that have a dolmenartiges appearance ( Dolmen di Avola, Dolmen of Chevresse, dolmens van Solwaster, May-en -Multien, Pierre au Rey, Schnellert, Sparossino ) and partly as dolmens were used.


While most menhirs and cromlechs were undecorated, is found in some dolmens ( especially in the area of the Gulf of Morbihan) a rich ornamentation ( Gavrinish, Les Pierres -Plates, Mane Lud ). Typical motifs are spirals and concentric semicircles, which were interpreted as abstract symbols of the sun, stone axes, etc. Axtpflüge can occasionally be seen. Particularly striking and unusual decor of the main stone of Table des Marchand in Locmariaquer with a variety of hook-like motifs ( Báculos ), which have been interpreted as sun rays or spikes.

Dolmen in France

Dolmen of St. Gonvel in Argenton, Finistère

Dolmen on the Pointe de la Torche, Finistère

Dolmen of Rondossec at Plouharnel, Morbihan

Grave chamber of the Dolmen of Crucuno at Plouharnel, Morbihan

Dolmen of Mane Groh at Plouharnel, Morbihan

Dolmen Kermario - West in Carnac, Morbihan

Dolmen of Mane Rutual at Locmariaquer, Morbihan

Dolmen of Mane Lud in Locmariaquer, Morbihan