Sites & cities that bear the name of Marvão


Today in : Portugal
First trace of activity : ca. 30th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Amaia-o-Monte, Amaia Ibn Maruan

Description : Marvão is a municipality in Portalegre District in Portugal. The population in 2019 was 3,030, in an area of 154.90 km². The present Mayor is Luís Vitorino, elected by the Social Democratic Party. The municipal holiday is September 8. Perched on a quartzite crag of the Serra de São Mamede, Marvão's name is derived from an 8th-century Muwallad rebel, named Ibn Marwan. Ibn Marwan, who constructed the Castle of Marvão - likely on the site of an earlier Roman watchtower - as a power base when establishing an independent statelet ("emirate", duchy) - covering much of modern-day Portugal - during the Emirate of Cordoba (884-931 CE). The castle and walled village were further fortified through the centuries, notably under Sancho II of Portugal (13th century) and Denis of Portugal. Commanding views across the Tagus basin and Serra de Estrela to the north, the fortified rock of Marvão has been a site of significant strategic importance since the earliest human settlements. Today lying on the 'raia' that divides Portugal and Spain, Marvão has consistently stood on a frontier zone between peoples: Celtici, Vettones and Lusitani (4th-2nd century BCE); Lusitanians and the Romans of Hispania Ulterior (2nd-1st century BCE); migratory Suevi, Alans, Vandals and Visigoths (5th-7th century CE); conquering moors and Visigoths (8th century); muwallad rebels and the Cordoban emirate (9th-10th century); Portuguese nation-builders and Moors (12th-13th century); Templars and Hospitallers (12th-14th century); Portuguese and Castilians (12th century-present day); Liberals and Absolutists (19th century); the fascist regimes of Salazar and Franco (20th century). The earliest dolmens in southern Portugal date from c. 4800 BCE, and this culture lasted into the Bronze Age (2000 BCE) and beyond into the Iron Age. In and around Marvão, there exists a high concentration of dolmens, rock-hewn tombs, passage mounds and megaliths, dated to the 3rd millennium BCE. Together with the Sever-valley sites around the nearby towns of Castelo de Vide and Valencia de Alcântara (in Spain), these form one of the densest clusters of megalithic sites in Europe. Among the 200+ neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age monuments within a 25 km (16 mi) range of Marvão is the 7.15m high menhir at Povoa e Meada (the largest on the Iberian peninsula), oriented to be visible from the northernmost promontory of Marvão's rock (possibly based on an alignment with the lunar calendar). Other notable sites are the Coureleiros complex of dolmens near Castelo de Vide, the Vidais dolmen (Castelo Velho) of Santo Antonio das Areias and the Las Lanchas dolmen complex of Valencia de Alcântara. Archaeological finds from this era include substantial grave goods, for example anthropomorphic idol plaques, arrowheads and axes, and jewellery. A database of idol plaques - the Engraved Stone Plaque Registry and Inquiry Tool - lists 16 plaques found in Marvão, 14 in Castelo de Vide, and 28 in Valencia de Alcântara. It is speculative to comment on the population of Marvão at this time. Many carved tombs and burial chambers dot the granite boulders of the landscape around Marvão, suggesting small-scale farming settlements, and some cultural emphasis on burial rites and the afterlife. Excavations of dolmens (e.g. the Cavalinhas dolmen) reveal foetal-position buried skeletons, and grave goods including weaponry (axes, arrowheads), jewellery (necklaces), ceramics and stone idols. Cave art and engravings in the Tagus valley (40 km (25 mi) north of Marvão: 40,000 items) point to a developed culture based on prehistoric norms of agriculture, hunting and transhumance. Further, ideograms - notably, repetitions of spirals - point to both abstract ideas, religious observance, and some astronomical knowledge of lunar and solar cycles. Decorative objects - rock crystal arrowheads, floral- and zig-zagged patterned stones (pedras de raio) and ceramics, deity sculptures - also suggest the development of local systems of craftsmanship, hierarchy, magic and celebration. Recent studies of idol plaques have speculated that they depict some kind of owl deity, with their engravings acting as a means to identify the individual buried by clan, marriage and lineage. Pre-Roman era: Lusitani and Celtici The Iberian peninsula saw migrations of Celtic tribes from central Europe during the 6th–4th century BCE. The site of modern-day Marvão would have stood on the northern periphery of the territory of the Celtici tribe, which stretched from the Tagus to Guadiana rivers, and beyond to the Algarve and today's Huelva province in Andalucia. The area falls within the northernmost limits of the Tartessian paleohispanic language and culture, centred on Huelva in Spain, in decay throughout this period as Celticisation took place. Tartessians were the creators of the Southwestern script, one of the earliest written languages in Europe. A renowned gold hoard from the Tartessian period, the Tesoro de Aliseda was discovered in nearby Aliseda (Cáceres province), while a gold bracelet discovered in nearby São Julião (Portalegre) - sold at auction in 2013 - suggests that local tribes were relatively wealthy. The migration of the Celtici is considered part of a third or fourth wave of Celts in the 4th century BCE: this migration occurred across modern-day Aragon and into modern-day Extremadura and Alentejo, displacing the proto-Celt Lusitanians who dominated the lands north of the Tagus, and skirting the Vettones lands that stretched from Zamora to Castelo Branco. So in the three centuries prior to Roman conquest (3rd–1st century BCE), Marvão stood at a junction of the Celtici, Lusitani, and Vettones tribes, and its dominant strategic position offered line-of-sight long into the territories of all three tribes. A locally found head of a pig-like sculpture from the Verraco (Portuguese: berrão) culture of the Vettones is displayed in Marvão's museum. Given their strategic location, the Serra de São Mamede and Spain's Sierra de San Pedro – in particular the dominant escarpments of Marvão on the northernmost tip and Alburquerque on the southernmost tip - are likely to have played a role in conflicts between Celtiberians and Romans. While Marvão lies north of the territories of Carthaginian Iberia – which by 218 BCE reached across Southern Iberia up to the river Guadiana, the area is likely to have been crossed during the 230s and 220–218 BCE during Carthaginian slave-raiding and mercenary-recruitment campaigns focused on the Tagus valley (e.g. Hamilcar Barca's Tagus encampment at Cartaxo) and along what later became Ruta de la Plata: Iberian manpower was to play a role in the Punic Wars. In the 2nd century BCE, Roman might asserted itself following the Punic Wars, yet progress was slow in these border regions. A series of bloody revolts and wars (195–135 BCE) pitted the Lusitanians and Vettones - most notably under the guerrilla fighter and hero Viriatus – against the expansionist Roman colonisers of Hispania Ulterior. While nominally the area was under Roman control from the early 130s BCE, for a century an unstable war zone spread from the Serra de Estrela-Tagus basin (seen from Marvão) and the Extremaduran plains between Alburquerque and the Sierra de Aracena.

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