The Field School

The Talayotic Culture

The talayotic culture is defined by a series of cultural traits which were developed by human communities during recent Prehistory in Mallorca and Menorca (Balearic Islands, Spain). This society lasted over a long period of time in Menorca, covering approximately all the Iron Age. It started around the end of the 2nd millennium BC and the arrival of the Romans in 123 BC caused its rapid extinction. It was a relatively complex society whose members based its economy on farming and stock-breeding. Despite its heterogeneity, due to the long period this society lived on, many of its intrinsic cultural features didn’t change over time, such as the cyclopean technique, hand-made pottery production, collective inhumation burials, etc. Around 500-400 BC commercial relationships with foreign cultures increased, mainly by means of contacts with Punics, which caused many changes in the indigenous culture of the Balearic Islands. Besides, the talayotics (name given to the members of this society) left significant evidence of their strong religiousness, which was expressed in both their funerary world and their sanctuaries, the so-called taula enclosures. These buildings are considered to be the religious centers of all settlements and were pre-eminent during the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC. Of all these outstanding buildings that existed on the island, 32 are still preserved, which are unique and exclusive to the island of Menorca.

The Site

The archaeological site of Sa Cudia Cremada, in the vicinity of the city of Mahón, is located in an agriculture holding’s property, where very well-preserved architectural, ethnological and archaeological elements blend in the unique and typical Minorcan landscape. Even though all the area is archaeologically rich, the most distinctive part is formed by a talaiotic settlement along with its necropolis. The most visible structures are three talayots (monumental tower-like structures) around which the rest of the structural remains are organized in the dwelling area. Hence, this culture’s name derives from the talayot, its most famous building.

The other distinguished structure in Sa Cudia Cremada is the taula enclosure, where archaeological fieldwork run by the field school will take place. Despite the fact that we still do not know how the internal structure of this building is in Sa Cudia Cremada, in these buildings the main feature is a pillar with a lintel on the top part, called taula (meaning “table” in Catalan) due to its T shape, which is usually located at the central part. Even though we do not understand its whole meaning, it can be affirmed that religious ceremonies were carried out around it by the community. One of the most emblematic taules in Menorca is located in the settlement Torralba de’n Salort. Due to the exclusiveness of the talayotic culture as a witness of a past society, unique in the world as a significant evidence of the human being’s past, talayotic Menorca aspires to become a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016 through its nomination. This nomination is represented by 32 selected archaeological sites on the island, Sa Cudia Cremada being one of them.

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