Archaeologists find for the first time remains of the fire that could have destroyed the Iberian settlement of Sierra Boyera in Belmez

The work carried out by a team of archaeologists under the direction of Pablo González Zambrano in the Iberian village of Sierra Boyera, generally submerged under the waters of the homonymous marsh, in Belmez, have made it possible to find the first traces which point to the abandonment of the site. Thus, in some of the structures that are the subject of these new excavations, “levels of destruction due to the accumulation of ashes” have been observed for the first time, which indicates “at least one major fire”, such as the explained González Zambrano to El Dia.

It is still early to know what could have caused this fire and if it was a violent incursion, a theory that experts rule out, for the moment, because no bone remains of the former inhabitants have been found which portends a tragic end, as yes, it happened at Cerro de la Cruz de Almedinilla.

The oppidum or Iberian city of Sierra Boyera is a very unique site that was flooded during the construction of the Sierra Boyera dam. In times of drought like the current one, when the water level drops, ancient structures emerge. Taking advantage of this situation, the Town Hall of Belmez and the University of Granada are carrying out the third archaeological excavation on the site after those carried out in 2018 and 2020.

The current one covers an area of ​​approximately 600 square meters which will connect the structures already studied, which will allow a much more complete knowledge of a site of which only 25% of its surface is visible, as explained by González Zambrano. 75% is lost under the sediments of the reservoir and another part was washed away during the construction of a road.

Work began the first week of August and will last until September 20. Historians have already unearthed several rooms, in which they have recovered “a huge amount of ceramic material“. The walls belong to different eras and in the next few days they will try to clarify which buildings they correspond to because, as the director of works says, “Sierra Boyera is a box of surprises”.

the oppidum “represents an important step” in the investigation of Protohistory in the north of Cordoba and Andalusia as a whole and serves to shed light on the period of transition between Prehistory and Ancient History, since it could be considered “the first excavation” with modern techniques of this period that took place in the region. And this with the particularity of a site at the mercy of the waters.

Its strategic position, on one of the main natural communication routes between the Guadalquivir valley and the Castilian plateau, suggests that the archaeological void in the area, which is already beginning to fill up, “is due more to a lack of research than to the real possibilities that it can offer in the knowledge of the past societies that are found there. Indeed, this region is destined to be one of the main routes the commercial and cultural exchanges between the Guadalquivir and the Guadiana until the 2nd century BC. BC, and later in Roman times, since the road that linked the cities of Cordoba and Emerita Augusta passes through here.

What has become known as a result of earlier work? Among all the documented construction areas, some based on small stones and others with compacted earthen walls, the archaeologists highlight a room where they found a rotary mill of lace on a base that seemed adorned with stones, one with a zoomorphic motif and the other with geometric lines. A possible bread oven with a diameter of about three meters was also unearthed, very similar to those found in the deposits of Chaparral, in Badajoz.

And, perhaps the most representative due to the region where it is located, a oven dedicated to “a certain type of metallurgical production”. It is an irregular circular adobe structure measuring two meters in diameter, which had a central pillar in its center following the Punic-Phoenician tradition and inside which they recovered up to seven kilos of metallurgical slag and slag bricks. The researchers describe it as a “compact gray mass”, consisting mostly of hardened ash and some misfiring. It is still being studied due to its complexity, but researchers venture to say that it is proof that there was “some type of metallurgical production”.

The results obtained lead archaeologists to confirm that the colony was inhabited at least from the 6th-5th to the 2nd century BC. On the other hand, the documentation of the productive structures, such as the furnaces with different uses, the signs of metallurgical manufacture, as well as the rotary or boat-shaped mills, allow us to conclude that a clearly delimited manufacturing area existed in the within the city.

“We must not forget all the mining and metallurgical production of the area, which seem to be the factors that articulate the landscape of this entire region from the Chalcolithic until the arrival of Rome”, testify the researchers, who also point out the fertile plain. which now hides under the waters of the swamp. Was the village bread“, they conclude.


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