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University of Alicante INAPH team of researchers discovers a store full of Roman materials in Son Catlar

INAPH director Fernando Prados declared yesterday that they were contributing an outstanding set of materials to the new headquarters of the Ciutadella Museum with the remains discovered

The findings of the bent gateway store date back to 100 BC and shed light on the history of the Roman conquest in the Balearic Islands


Alicante, Wednesday 28 July 2021

Fernando Prados, researcher at the University of Alicante Institute for Research in Archaeology and Historical Heritage (INAPH) and director of the Modular Project: Phoenician-Punic Architecture, has described the discoveries made during this, the sixth season, at the site of Son Catlar, in Ciutadella, Menorca, as "outstanding".

The team of researchers from the universities of Alicante, Murcia, Granada, Cadiz and the Ciutadella Museum participating in the Modular Project have been excavating this July at the Menorcan site of Son Catlar, the largest on the island, and are returning today, Wednesday 28 July, to their places of origin. They leave behind a Museum full of boxes with the remains found in the fieldwork. As Fernando Prados pointed out, they are bringing an outstanding collection of materials to the new headquarters of the Ciutadella Museum. No wonder, the result has been the discovery of a store full of materials in good condition, belonging to Roman soldiers and dating from around 100 BC.

After a year without being able to excavate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, archaeologists have resumed work in the area of the bent gateway. This type of gate was characteristic of Punic culture, and it was used as a defence system to protect against possible sieges by the Romans. Roman soldiers were very superstitious and used to perform these rites. At that time, the world of gates was charged with magic. The Romans gave a sacred value to the gates of the cities, and sealing one definitively would entail certain actions of a magical nature.

The discovery of this blinded doorway has meant a huge leap forward in the knowledge of Menorca's history. The excavation of the gate and the street leading from it has resulted in the discovery of a store of materials, buried above ground level. A large quantity of typical objects carried by Roman soldiers have been found: weapons, knives, three arrowheads, spearheads, projectiles, surgical tools, a bronze spatula probe, and so on.

Although it is not unusual to find this type of material, it is not unusual for it to be in such good condition. As Prados explained, the reason may be due precisely to the magical protective character attributed to it by the Romans in their defence against evil spirits when sealing doors.

The conservation of the entire perimeter of the wall at Son Catlar makes the site a source of great value, as it provides a great deal of scope for studying the archaeology of conflict and war, the UA researcher said.

From 3 July until today, 28 July, the fifth excavation campaign has been carried out at the archaeological site of Son Catlar (Ciutadella), a magnificently preserved protohistoric settlement that is part of the "Talayotic Menorca" candidacy for the UNESCO list. The work during this campaign has concentrated on the two entrances to the settlement, the so-called "north gate" and the bent gateway that this same team discovered in the last campaign carried out in 2019.

The scientific programme of the Modular Project on the island has the financial backing of the Menorca government, INAPH and the Cap Blanch campsite, and the logistical support of the city council of Ciutadella and the Martí i Bella Historical-Archaeological Association.


Articles related:

Researchers from the University of Alicante, Granada, Cádiz and the Ciutadella Museum to excavate at the Menorca site Son Catlar in July for Modular Project

University of Alicante studies the Phoenician-Punic world in Menorca as part of an architecture project on it

The fourth excavation campaign by the University of Alicante in Menorca dates the protohistoric wall back between the 5th and 4th centuries BC.

University of Alicante latest excavation campaign in Menorca dates back different phases of the wall of Son Catlar, in Ciutadella




Photographs courtesy of Fernando Prados

Image 1 : Detail of the excavation.

Image 2: Aerial view of the excavated wall

Image 3: Son Catlar excavation.

Image 4: Aerial view of the excavated Punic bent gateway

Image 5: Excavated bent gateway.

Image 6: Spatula probe. Roman surgical instruments.

Image 7: Materials found in the Roman store.

Image 8: Materials found in the Roman store.

Image 9: Bent gateway from inside.

Image 10: Roman knife







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