Neolithic Architecture in Europe

The Neolithic period began in Northern Europe several thousand years after it began in the Near East. The movement from the Mesolithic period to the Neolithic period is marked by a shift from exclusive hunting and gathering subsistence to a mainly agriculturally based subsistence, which led to a more settled existence and a new form of art – monumental stone architecture (called megalithic). The megalithic structures of Northern Europe can be classified into three basic categories: Temples, Tombs, and Alignments.Almost all construction was done using rough-hewn stone without the benefit of mortar. Temples and large communal tombs (often referred to as a Necropolis) are generally found on the islands of Malta and Gozo, two small islands in the Mediterranean Sea about fifty miles off the southern coast of Sicily.Alignments and smaller communal tombs are found in Ireland, Britain, France, Spain, and Italy.
Examples of European Neolithic Architecture
Most European Neolithic temple structures have been found on two small islands off the coast of Sicily: Malta and Gozo. One of the best-preserved temples is Ggantija on Gozo. This is a freestanding structure, located on a hill facing. The exterior was constructed of rough, uncut limestone slabs, which created a wall around two temples. The South Temple is the earlier of the two and consists of a trilobed sanctuary with a smaller oval shaped forecourt. The North Temple is smaller than its forecourt. Both temples have elaborate interior sanctuaries. One curve of the South temple forecourt was lined with platforms that may have been altars. At the entrance to this temple is a large oval stone, lying flat on the ground, which may have been used as a hearth in ceremonies and rituals.
Neolithic tombs were usually for communal burial.The necropolis of Hal Saflieni, on Malta, has yielded over 7,000 bodies, in addition to several large statues of females. Such


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