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dolmen(dŏl`mĕn, dōl–) [Breton,=stone table], burial chamber consisting of two or more upright stone slabs supporting a capstone or table, typical of the Neolithic period in Europe. See megalithic monumentsmegalithic monument
[Gr.,=large stone], in archaeology, a construction involving one or several roughly hewn stone slabs of great size; it is usually of prehistoric antiquity.
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an ancient burial structure, one of the types of megalithic structures. Dolmens were built from huge stone slabs weighing tens of thousands of kilograms placed vertically and supporting one or several flat slabs. They were one of the first examples of integral architectural composition based on the laws of architectonics. Dolmens usually contained the remains of several dead with stone or bronze weapons and ornaments. Some dolmens were used for burials over a few decades or even centuries. It is assumed that they were originally constructed for the burial of tribal elders. According to another hypothesis, they initially served as tribal sanctuaries and only later were converted into burial places. Dolmens are widespread in the coastal regions of Europe, North Africa, and Asia. In the USSR they are found along the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and in the Crimea. In Europe and North Africa dolmens date from the Bronze Age; in India and Japan, from the Iron Age; and in the Caucasus, from the Early and Middle Bronze Age (the second and third millennia B.C.), with some built as late as the first millennium B.C.
REFERENCESKuftin, B. A. MaterialykarkheologiiKolkhidy, vol. 1. Tbilisi, 1949. Lavrov, L. I. “Dol’meny severo-zapadnogo Kavkaza.” In Tr. Aokhazkogo instituta iazyka, literatury i istorii, vol. 31. Sukhumi, 1960.
Childe, V. G. U istokov evropeiskoi tsivilizatsii. Moscow, 1952. (Translated from English.)
Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1944. Pages 24-25.
A. L. MONGAIT