Location: Santa Fe de
Mondujar, Andalucia, Spain.
|| Grid Reference:
36.96° N, 2.5° W.
(Neolithic Fortified Settlement).
Los Millares is
the largest known European fortified
Neolithic settlement, dated c.
The site includes a settlement
and a cemetery with over 80 megalithic tombs. Three
walls and an inner citadel with an elaborate
fortified entrance make up part of extensive
fortifications at Los Millares. Thirteen nearly
circular enclosures were forts protecting it. Within
the three walls are 80 passage graves.
Los Millares was constructed in three
phases, each phase increasing the level
of fortification. The fortification is
not unique to the Mediterranean area of
the 3rd millennium; other sites with
bastions and defensive towers include
the sites of Jericho, Ai, and Aral (in
Palestine) and Lebous, Boussargues and
Campe of Laures (in France). It consists of a settlement, guarded by numerous
outlying forts and a cemetery of
passage tombs and covers around 5 acres.
itself was surrounded by three concentric walls
radiocarbon dating has established that one wall collapsed
and was rebuilt around 3,025 BC. A cluster of simple dwellings
lay inside the walls as well as one large building containing
fortified citadel at the very top of the spur has only been
investigated so far by means of various pilot trenches, which
have revealed walls up to six metres thick, confirming the great
importance of the structure. Within its grounds there is a deep
hollow, which Siret concluded must be a water cistern but so far
has not been excavated.
Los Millares was discovered in 1891 during the course of the
construction of a railway and was first excavated by
Luis Siret in the succeeding years. Los Millares was
later excavated from 1978-1995 by Antonio Arribas and Fernando Molina
at the University of Granada, and analysis continues on the
massive amounts of information collected.
sequence of the site shows that the settlement went through various
phases of occupation. The first was during the early copper age
(3,200 to 2,800 B.C.) when the three interior walls were
constructed. The second was during the middle copper age (2,800 to
2,450 B.C.), when the innermost wall was demolished and the outer
wall constructed, together with most of the small forts outside the
settlement itself. Finally, in the late copper age (2,450 to 2,250
B.C.) the first bell beakers appeared, a form of pottery that was
produced henceforth on a large scale in the village. During this
late period some profound social upheaval brought about a gradual
decline in the size of the settlement, whose inhabitants gradually
retired towards the fortified citadel. The site appears to have been
finally abandoned around 2,250 B.C
The Tombs (Tholos)
Over eighty megalithic tombs are visible outside the
settlement. The majority are of the type mentioned above,
but tombs without corbelled roofs also exist. The chronology
of tomb construction and use is unclear, but analysis of
tomb forms, sizes, numbers of burials, contents, and
distributions suggests that the dead were selected for
interment and that social ranking had emerged, with
higher-ranked groups being buried in tombs located close to
Similar Tholos Tombs are common
in Mycanaean remains, and a connection is commonly suggested. They
are also present at other places in Spain, noticeably at the
Cueva de Viera, which sits
beside the great Cueva de Menga passage mound. Holed stones are also
a common feature of dolmens in the Caucasus region of Russia where
hundreds are visible.
The entrances were divided by large
sheets of slate which were punched through and rounded off to make
the entrances we see today. The chambers of the Tholos were
lined with vertical slabs of slate, often painted red, sometimes
with small niches present (used for the burial of children). The
graves were finally covered over with conical mounds of earth and
stones. Many were given an outer skirting of slabs or masonry to
strengthen the structure. Almost all the tombs were orientated east
of southeast, except for a small group of seven mounds were
The tombs were
collective with the number of skeletons discovered ranging from
a dozen to over a hundred. Burial offerings included objects
such as ivory and ostrich eggshell, copper tools, pottery
vessels, arrowheads and flint knives.(1)
(More about Holed Stones)
Metallurgy at Los Millares.
The presence of
such great quantities of mineral resources in the region is likely
to be part of the reason for the existence of Los Millares in the
first place. The parallels with the
Minoans continues in the addition of arsenic as an antioxidant
to their copper products. Arsenic is readily available in the local
region of Sierra de Gador.
Among the buildings
dedicated to specialised activities, two areas have been identified
as having once housed metallurgical workshops. While along the
northern stretch of the outer wall there are several square and
round buildings dedicated to this, the best preserved worksghop is
situated in a large rexctangular building attached to the inner
facade of the third line of fortification. Of considerable size,
about 8m long by 6.5m wide, it was built with a solid masonry
technique, with a door opening to the east. Inside are the ermains
of three structures: a mass of 1.3m in diameter with fragments of
copper ore, a furnace deliniated by a ring of clay with a depression
at its centre to put the pot furnaces, and a small structure with
slabs of slate in its northeast corner. It is suggested that this
building was never roofed as there are no post-holes present.
Los Millares: Gallery of
from Los Millares.
Trepanation at Los Millhares.
examples of prehistoric Surgery)
Prehistoric Spanish Sites)