As the price of avocados did not stop rising ―96% of the production ends up in the European Union―, the owner of the 600-hectare farm La Torre-La Janera (in the province of Huelva) decided in 2018 to cover it with this plant of the lauraceae.
The Junta de Andalucía, given the possible archaeological potential of the land, put a condition on it: a survey had to be carried out first.
The result has been spectacular.
Archaeologists have discovered three megalithic sites, "possibly linked to the control of the cycle of the seasons and the observation of astronomical events", two cromlech (stone circles similar to those of Stonehenge), 526 menhirs and various groups of dolmens.
The legend that solved the mystery of the Menga dolmen
La Torre-La Janera is located on the left bank of the Guadiana River, around the Monte Gordo hill (155 meters).
Currently, the land is located about 15 kilometers from the coastline, but this was not always the case.
In recent prehistory, between 6,500 and 4,000 years a.
C., the sea level was two meters higher and only the retreat of the waters formed the current fluvial clogging and marshes.
On both banks of the lower section of the Guadiana, on its border with Portugal, archaeologists already knew of various megaliths carved from greywacke, a sandy rock made up of mica, feldspar and quartz.
There was evidence of two menhirs, five dolmens, three circular burial areas (tholoi), a quarry and four necropolises, among other constructions.
But the new surveys, accompanied by photo-interpretation of satellite and aerial images, as well as the use of LiDAR (laser) data, among other techniques, have revealed a much richer world archaeologically.
There is no known concentration of megalithic sites so compact and with so many expectations”, says Professor Bueno-Ramirez
Primitiva Bueno-Ramírez, professor of Prehistory at the University of Alcalá de Henares, defines it as follows: "To date, no such compact concentration of megalithic sites has been known, with such expectations of obtaining archaeological data, anywhere in Europe, and the I know all of them.
The important thing is that the Junta de Andalucía, the Delegation of Huelva, the mayors of the area and the owners of the land are very involved”.
Aerial view of cists found by the universities of Alcalá and Huelva. Junta de Andalucía
The megalithic site of La Torre-La Janera (Huelva): prehistoric monumentalities of Bajo Guadiana,
published in the magazine
Trabajos de Prehistoria,
of the archaeologists José Antonio Linares-Catela, Coronada Mora Molina, Adara López López, Teodosio Donaire Romero, Juan Carlos Vera-Rodríguez and Primitiva Bueno-Ramírez, discover that “it is a unique site so far in the Iberian Peninsula.
The stone architectures and other manifestations associated with them refer to different chronological stages of Recent Prehistory, coexisting monuments with different functions and technical traditions”.
The site, they add, "stands out for the high density and diversity of greywacke megaliths and associated findings such as extraction areas, rock carvings and dry stone structures."
The menhirs are the most numerous elements: 526 have been found standing or collapsed.
Their shapes are the most varied, since lenticular, ovoid, subtrapezoidal and rectangular have been located.
Its length varies between 1 and 3.5 meters.
"A majority part has been found where they were extracted, in the same locations or in the vicinity, as is common in French Brittany."
In addition, the unfinished or discarded menhirs by their creators as a result of breakage should be added.
However, on its surfaces "the roughing, carving and picketing by direct percussion of the edges and surfaces, including polishing and abrasion in specific areas, are still visible".
Among the menhirs detected in circular mounds - burial areas - the so-called API-2 stands out, located on the left bank of the Rocín stream, 3.5 meters long and one wide.
It is dry-walled with stones arranged obliquely and reinforced with two large parallel walls.
“Its constructive monumentality and the incised engravings on its western face highlight its symbolic value”, say the experts.
One of the 526 menhirs found in the province of Huelva during the investigation of the Junta de Andalucía.Junta de Andalucía
Most of the menhirs (up to 260) are concentrated in 26 alignments and two cromlechs.
The alignments, from one to six rows, can reach 250 meters in length in some cases.
All rose on slopes or peaks.
The two cromlechs were built "on the tops of hills with a clear horizon towards the east, from where the equinoctial and solstitial sunrises can be observed."
The best preserved is made up of nine lying menhirs, forming an open U towards the East.
Others stand 20 meters away and 300 meters to the southwest a similar monument can be seen with six other menhirs, which delimit a space of 65 by 40 meters.
The cromlechs were built in the highlands with the horizon towards the east to observe the equinoctial and solstitial solar risings”, according to the study.
In addition to these constructions, experts have found another 475 supports for them displaced from their place of origin and scattered throughout the land, possibly due to old agricultural work.
But in addition to these spectacular elements, numerous dolmens, burial mounds and cists have been detected that "must be funerary containers, although it is not ruled out that some have been associated with evocative practices and commemoration rituals, involving or not the deposition of offerings, as has been found in burial mounds in other areas of the peninsula”.
Specifically, the dolmens have been found both isolated and grouped.
One of them has a chamber 3.50 meters long, almost a meter wide and a circular burial mound that surrounds it with a diameter of seven meters.
For their part, the stone burial mounds have different lengths, between 6 and 17 meters, and have associated stelae.
In addition, 41 individual cysts or for two or more individuals have been documented.
They are rectangular structures between 1 and 2.5 meters long carved in stone.
Aerial view of one of the burial mounds located in the lower Guadiana. Junta de Andalucía
As for the three megalithic enclosures found on terraces or platforms, they are “large open constructions articulated on staggered levels.
Inside, structures with diverse functions and chronologies are concentrated: dolmens, cists and menhirs.
According to the study, they are “located on prominent hills, with wide visibility and great landscape perceptibility, whose peaks and slopes were topographically transformed.
They are concentrated around the Rocín stream and house reused menhirs, fractured at their ends or in half.
One of the enclosures occupies 1.95 hectares of surface and reaches 200 meters in length in its main axis.
It consists of a circular platform at the top and two surrounding levels made up of large block masonry walls.
On the southeast slope, there are up to six levels.
Another of the enclosures found is H-shaped, occupies 1.18 hectares and is 100 meters long by 80 meters wide.
It is located on a plateau elevation with a progressive decline of 6.5% from northwest to southeast, with a clear horizon to the east.
It comprises an upper platform and a structure formed by the union of three walls of large stone blocks and six reused menhirs.
The third enclosure, in this case U-shaped, is 150 meters on each side and extends over 1.2 hectares.
Its layout, adapted to two rocky spurs, combines sections of blocks and masonry.
Around it are another six menhirs and three quarries.
46 extraction areas have also been located - 24 of them for medium and small blocks - and 22 for large ones.
In its surroundings, blocks in the process of transformation, quartzite hammers and hammers and discarded supports of between one and three meters can be observed.
As for cave engravings, 10 have been counted, mainly formed by circles and incised lines.
Some engravings are overlaid on natural erosion marks to take advantage of linear grooves, grooves, and striations.
The dolmens, burial mounds and cists must have functioned as houses of the dead and ritual places”, say the archaeologists
The report recalls that “the fusion between the natural and the anthropic gives La Torre-La Janera its own character, with most of the monuments having a rough appearance and a simple appearance.
The alignments and cromlech reveal the existence of open monuments with more complex forms and functions, possibly linked to the control of the cycle of the seasons and the observation of astronomical events.
They were erected in outstanding locations and with wide visibility of the landscape that connected them spatially with the surrounding relief, horizon and sky, as is common in this type of grouping”.
For the experts, “the dolmens, burial mounds and cists must have functioned as houses of the dead and ritual places, containing the remains of the ancestors and offerings.
The collective erection and communal activities carried out by the communities of Bajo Guadiana around the menhirs and dolmens could have served to establish the territory of the ancestors, foster intergroup bonds of cohesion and create a memory of the place for a long period of time”.
And they conclude: “Its discovery provides new arguments that reinforce the interpretations of Atlantic megalithism as one of the oldest human phenomena aimed at the transformation and anthropization of territories.
Consequently, the site broadens the horizon of knowledge of the megalithisms of Western Europe and the research potential of the southwestern peninsular”.
The study has been carried out within the general
Menhigua research project.
Menhirs and megaliths in the Bajo Guadiana.
The works began at the end of 2021 and will continue until 2027, at which time it is planned to conclude "the comprehensive analysis of the deposit".
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