Although the silver work carried out by the Phoenicians is known, never before had a complete workshop been excavated. This workshop preserves its original architecture, a building with a circular floor plan, and all the furniture, which is made up by a furnace, a workbench, forging and foundry tools, and the remains of a mineral-silver-bearing galena from which the silver was extracted Both the furniture and objects found in the archaeological excavation have enabled researchers to restore its main functionality, that is, the metallurgy of silver. The identification of this activity reveals the reputation of both the building itself and the artisans who used it throughout the seventh century BC.
The findings of the study have just been reported in a scientific article on the Phoenician Metallurgy in the Southeast Iberia: El Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño workshop in Guardarmar del Segura (Alicante), published in late December 2018 in the Complutense University of Madrid journal Complutum. The authors are UA researcher Fernando Prados Martínez (as first author); Antonio García Menárguez, cultural heritage curator and director of the Guardamar Archaeological Museum (MAG); and Helena Jiménez Vialás, from the UMU Department of Prehistory, Archaeology, Ancient History, Medieval History and Historiographical Techniques and Sciences, and from the Near East and Late Antiquity Studies Centre.
The study is the result of the research project developed since 2014 in El Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño archaeological site. The recent archaeological studies made on El Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño (CPE) in Guardamar del Segura have allowed researchers to rescue this site to further research into Phoenicians. Despite its partial preservation, due to the destruction of an illegal quarry for extracting aggregate minerals suffered in 1988, it is still a settlement that can offer information of significant relevance on the first Phoenician impact in the peninsular east that, according to data, could have taken place since the first decades of the 8th century BC.
As suggested by the data retrieved, Fernando Prados states that the workshop was in use approximately between 700 and 650 B.C., a period that corresponds to the second phase of the Phoenician settlement founded around 780 B.C. and partially destroyed by an earthquake around 730. Dates have been retrieved through the Carbon-14 (C14) technique made on seeds, and the studies of metals have been carried out at the UA Research Technical Services (SSTTI). The archaeologist explained in detail the origin of the minerals, specifying that they arrived by boat from the mountains of Almeria and Murcia. Ingots were produced at El Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño site that were afterwards exported from here throughout the Mediterranean to the Near East. Thanks to this discovery, we can identify and the Phoenician commercial circuit of the Hispanic Southeast, used mainly for silver trading and enhance the relevance of this unique site.
A monographic exhibition devoted to this archaeological site is planned for spring 2019 at the Guardamar Archaeological Museum. Later in the summer, taken over from INAPH and sponsored by Guardamar Town Council, Fernando Prados Martínez and Antonio García Menargues, directors of the excavation, will carry on with the exhibition. Students and academic staff members from both UMU and UA participate in the work.
Prados Martínez, F.; García Menárguez, A.; Jiménez Vialás, H. (2018): Metalurgia fenicia en el sureste ibérico: el taller del Cabezo Pequeño del Estaño (Guardamar, Alicante) Complutum, 29(1): pp- 79-94.http://dx.doi.org/10.5209/CMPL.62396
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