Los Milares


The article here on the La Voz de Almería site has details of a study of the tombs at Los Millares.

Read More for a Google translation of the article.

Los Millares promoted a new concept of burial throughout the Iberian Peninsula

University of Granada shows that it is one of the main megalithic monuments in Europe

A study carried out by a research team from the University of Granada (UGR) has shown that Los Millares, one of the most important archaeological sites in Western Europe, located in Santa Fe de Mondújar, a few kilometers from the Mediterranean coast, was a "great innovative center of megalithism" where 'tholos'-type tombs appeared for the first time, from where they spread to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Los Millares site is considered the first city of Prehistory in the Iberian Peninsula, and was established more than 5,000 years ago together with the funerary monuments of the same name, according to the academic body in a note based on the study.

The UGR researchers have carried out a statistical and spatial analysis of 193 radiocarbon dates from the entire Iberian Peninsula, which has made it possible to demonstrate that one of the main megalithic monuments of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe appeared for the first time in the site of The Thousands.

Approximately 5,200 years ago there was an innovation of enormous relevance in the development of prehistoric societies. It was a new type of megalithic tomb completely different from the then characteristic dolmens. Now, the tombs had funerary chambers with a circular floor plan between two and five meters in diameter that sometimes had small lateral niches whose use was also funerary.

"The interior of these chambers was accessed through a corridor that appeared compartmentalized by perforated stone slabs to facilitate passage. The most characteristic architectural feature of these new monuments was the way in which the burial chambers were covered by false domes that were achieved by rings of successively smaller stones. These types of monuments, known as tholoi, represented a new ritual and funerary conception that clearly moved away from the traditional dolmens", explained the researcher from the Department of Prehistory and Archeology at the University of Granada and author principal of the study, Gonzalo Aranda Jiménez.

The oldest tholoi first appear around 3200 BC. in the peninsular southeast, specifically in Los Millares. From here, the new megalithic monuments spread progressively first to the Guadalquivir valley, then to the Guadiana valley until finally reaching the Lisbon peninsula. Several centuries after the first constructions, around 2900 BC, the tholoi reached their maximum territorial expansion from the southeast to the Lisbon peninsula, from the Mediterranean coast to the Atlantic coast.

new funerary monument

In this way, the prehistoric societies of southern Spain and central and southern Portugal introduced a new type of funerary monument into their ways of life, which underwent intense development over several centuries. Only from 2200 BC. There was a clear abandonment of funerary practices that had been developing in these monuments, except in the southeast of the peninsula.

"Again the necropolises of these regions such as Los Millares, and especially El Barranquete, maintained an important ritual and funerary activity until the end of the 2nd millennium BC The reuse of old megalithic monuments for generations can be considered as a particular characteristic of the tholoi of the southeast ", points out Margarita Sánchez Romero, another of the authors of the work.

For more than a millennium, the tholoi became the family-type collective funerary monuments where, along with human remains, finely crafted objects were deposited in valuable materials such as gold, ivory, amber, green stones, rock crystal and ostrich eggs. , some of them from different regions of the Mediterranean and Africa.

The tholoi can be considered as the type of funerary monument characteristic of societies of farmers and ranchers who for the first time settled in permanent settlements, developed copper metallurgy and joined long-distance exchange networks.

In this context, "Los Millares stands out for its exceptional nature, given that it reached completely unknown dimensions, population concentration and monumentality, which has led it to be considered the first city on the Iberian Peninsula. But the importance of Los Millares transcended the regional scale to become the place of reference where an original innovation in monumental megalithic architecture was developed and whose influence spread to other peninsular regions", the authors pointed out.