In 1978, archaeologists in Andalusia, Spain, discovered a huge pit filled with burned animal remains, ancient treasures and unanswered questions. Here, in the Guadiana Valley, they found the remains of three temples in which representatives of an ancient civilization lived. That was until one day they decided to collect them all and burn them and leave what they were building.
Southwest Spain Throughout more modern history people have speculated (and no one is even looking at) that it was a river, a kingdom, or even Atlantis, but it was actually one of the first cultures to establish itself on the Iberian Peninsula. The fact that more than 20 Tartessos settlements are now known in the region suggests that this ancient city was much larger than first thought.
The Tartessians left us nothing special in written evidence of life in southern Spain during the Bronze and Iron Ages. However, thanks to the durability of some metals, we have some clues as to how they were preserved in interesting desolate areas like Cancho Roano.
Here, in the late 5th century BC, the Tartessians threw animal remains, along with valuables such as jewelry and tools, into a giant pit before setting them on fire. Then they closed the burning pit and continued on their way. This may seem like a strange local phenomenon, but a similar story was later discovered in Casas de Turunuelo.
Considered one of the best preserved protohistoric structures in the area, the structure was once thought to be Roman, but was later confirmed to be a Tartessian site. Here, too, many animals were burned in a large closed pit, painting a similar picture to the finds at Cancho Roano.
As for why the Tartessians seem intent on burning themselves to death, that’s a good question for which we don’t have a clear answer yet, but researchers are investigating.
“What strikes me most is the very strange habit of the Tartessos to demolish their houses, that is, the same behavior was followed wherever they found it: emptying all vessels and amphorae, burning and hiding buildings, Ana Belen Gallardo, a historian and guide from La Mata. Delgado told Andrew Lofthouse.
“With the new technology, I hope it will be possible to shed much more light on the origins of this civilization and dig a little deeper into its lifestyle. The Tartessian presence in the Extremadura region is becoming more and more important thanks to new developments in archeology. Also, the eight other mounds found in the Badajoz region are based on previously excavated ones. It is believed that there may be similar Tartessian structures.”
The behavior amazes modern historians, but it is not even the main mystery of the Tartess culture. The city is believed to have disappeared abruptly about 2500 years ago, and the cause is still unknown.
Given their location on the ancient Andalusian coast, partially submerged in the Mediterranean, it is possible that earthquakes and tsunamis pose a unique threat to Tartes. A faulty shift of a tectonic plate may be enough to destroy them.
Research into Tartessian sites such as Casas de Turunuelo continues, uncovering new insights into their culture, and scientists are also working to better understand their seemingly vast trade networks based on the wealth of metals found in cremated remains.
Source: Port Altele
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