At his 87 years of age Michael Hoskin has explained the mysteries of the Antequera dolmens in countless lectures and articles. At the end of last week, however, the British archaeoastronomer and Emeritus Fellow of the University of Cambridge revealed their secrets to his most important audience yet - his own family. Four generations - 25 people - joined him inside the tholos of El Romeral to hear why this Andalusian town and its history has been so important in his life and career.
“I wanted them to see it and understand why I’ve devoted so much time to this,” said the scientist. It was Hoskin’s devotion to these prehistoric Mediterranean structures that led to his discovery of the “unique” orientation of the Menga dolmen, the “perfection” of the tholos of El Romeral and the “interesting” construction of Viera. And it was this discovery that helped put the dolmen site in Antequera on the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
This was just the start. “There are still mysteries to be solved: Why are there three different dolmens and only one of each type? I don’t have the answer,” he said in Antequera lastFriday. His research involved the study of the orientation of more than 3,000 megalithic structures in the Mediterranean area and served to confirm the unusual position of the Menga dolmen, his “favourite”.
This is the only one he had found that had been positioned, not in relation to the sun’s rays, but in line with something terrestrial, the huge rock, in the form of a sleeping giant, known as the Peña de los Enamorados. “That’s why I wear this medal,” he told his family, fingering his Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts awarded by the Spanish government.
During the Hoskin family’s visit, the mayor of Antequera, Manuel Barón, and the central government representative in Malaga, Miguel Briones, unveiled the sculpture placed in Hoskin’s honour at a new lookout point. His bust, of course, faces the Peña de los Enamorados.
Hoskin said you only “understand the dolmen” after you’ve spent some time inside. His family agrees. “We’ve heard him talk so much about Antequera, but only by coming here can we understand what it means,” said his granddaughter Megan Hoskin.