sábado, 11 de octubre de 2014

Bronze Age palace discovered in southern Spain (Murcia)

During August 2014, researchers from the Department of Prehistory, at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, made some spectacular discoveries at the Spanish site of La Almoloya, located in Pliego, Murcia. The site represents the cradle of the Bronze Age “El Argar” civilisation, who dominated the south-eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula.
La Almoloya, discovered in 1944 by Emeterio Cuadrado and Juan de la Cierva, is located on a steep sided plateau and dominated an extensive region for over six centuries (from 2,200 to 1,550 BC).
The archaeological discoveries indicate that La Almoloya was an important centre within the political territory of El Argar, and sheds new light on the politics and gender relations in one of the first urban societies of the West.
The hall at La Almoloya, which is the first of its kind discovered in Western Europe. Image: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

A palatial structure

The archaeological team discovered many buildings, as well as dozens of tombs, mostly containing grave goods. The excavations indicate that the 3,800 metre square La Almoloya plateau was densely populated and included several residential complexes containing eight to twelve rooms each.
The stone walls of the buildings were covered with layers of mortar, and some areas reveal stucco decoration which contain both geometric and naturalistic motifs, representing the new discovery of an Argaric artistic style.
A wide hall with high ceilings measuring some 70 square metres, with capacity for 64 people seated on the benches lining the walls is one of the important discoveries. The hall has a ceremonial fireplace and is the only one of its kind within the complex, leading the archaeologists to believe that the building was used for purposes such as hearings or government meetings. This is the first time a building which appears to be specifically dedicated to governing purposes has been discovered in Western Europe.
This hall and its adjoining rooms appear to be part of a large palatial building, and it is noted that important Oriental civilisations had similar constructions during the Bronze Age. Some metal and stone artefacts were recovered from the interior of the buildings, as well as fabric and ceramics, which are all in exceptional states of conservation.
Silver diadem discovered within an important tomb. Image: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Of the fifty tombs excavated from under the La Almoloya buildings, one stands out in particular. Located in a privileged area, next to the main wall of the hall, the tomb reveals the remains of a man and woman buried with their bodies in a flexed position and accompanied by some thirty objects containing precious metals and semi-precious stones.
One of the most outstanding pieces is a silver diadem worn on the women’s head. Only four other diadems are known to have existed, and they were all discovered 130 years ago at the site of El Algar in Almeria, but none of them remain today in Spain, so this discovery is of great scientific importance. Four ear plugs, which are unusual objects for the Bronze Age, were also discovered; two are made of solid gold and two of silver.
Apart from the silver diadem, nine other objects made of silver, including rings, earrings and bracelets were found. The archaeologists also discovered that the nails used to hold the handle of an elaborate bronze dagger were made of silver. One of the most interesting items is a small ceramic cup with the rim and outer part covered in fine layers of silver and constitutes a pioneering example of silverwork on vessels. Also a metal punch with a bronze tip and a handle forged in silver is considered unique and has been made by an expert craftsperson.
The team stress that it is important that La Almoloya is understood fully in a European context, and at the moment there are many questions that will undoubtedly be answered from future excavations.

Source: Past Horizons: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/10/2014/bronze-age-palace-discovered-in-southern-spain

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