Majorca is not the first destination that comes to mind when you think of archaeology. I was not even sure I wanted to go there, but in 2013 we took the 2½ hour flight, and I have not regretted it. It is a beautiful island with a great deal of cultural history, wonderful natural scenery and a magnificent coastline. Not forgetting good food!
We spent part of our holiday visiting a number of prehistoric sites. There were two which we wanted to see – the necropolis of Son Real and a Bronze Age temple complex of the Talayot culture.
Necropolis of Son Real
We first visited the necropolis of Son Real which is located close to Santa Margarita on the north coast of Majorca. You reach it by following a small road that comes out by an information centre. Leaving your car here, you walk through a beautiful nature reserve to the coast. Here you reach the necropolis, a ‘city of the dead’ or prehistoric burial ground. The site was in use between the 7th and 4th century BC. The necropolis was only discovered in 1957 and the site was excavated from then up to 1970.
As well as the skeletons found in the graves there were more than 300 weapons and articles of everyday use. Each of the graves had two niches in which the bodies were laid in a foetus position. Very little is known about these people and no settlements have been discovered. 110 tombs have been found with room for 300 bodies. All of the tombs face the sea.
Walking along the coast you see here and there structures from diverse historical periods. The natural surroundings are also magnificent with many different types of coastal plants. All in all a wonderful place which combines nature and cultural history.
Also on the northern coast, about 20km from Son Real, lies the small town of Artà. In the middle of the town there is a settlement of the Talaiotic Culture, a people who lived here in the Bronze Age. It is one of the best preserved prehistoric sites in the Balearic Islands (which comprise Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera as well as many smaller islands).
The Talaiotic Culture was a prehistoric culture which existed on the Balearic Islands between the 13th and 2nd century BC. They are named after the typical structures which they built, called Talaiots. There are 274 of them on the islands, built between 1300 and 900 BC. The purpose of the structures is unclear. They were probably not dwelling houses or fortifications, but we do not know whether they were perhaps lookout towers, storage rooms or distribution centres, or had some religious or ceremonial significance.
Translation: Alun Harvey, August 2017