Prehistoric Menorca

36.7% Funded
/
£918 Pledged

About the Project

Get involved in the excavation of one of the world’s most unique archaeological sites!

Lea sobre el proyecto en Español

Llegiu sobre el projecte en Català

Are you interested in Mediterranean Archaeology? Would you like to help us uncover the only unexcavated Iron Age Talayotic sanctuary on the beautiful Balearic island of Menorca? Join the Sa Cudia Cremada project on one of the most exciting Iron Age sites in the Mediterranean!

More than four thousand years ago, the first humans arrived to the Mediterranean island of Menorca, the easternmost of the beautiful Balearic Islands (Spain). Menorca is known world-wide for its endless beaches, nature reserves and turquoise waters, and is a sought-after holiday destination away from the nightclubs and parties of neighboring Ibiza, Majorca and Formentera. But what few people realise is that Menorca is one of the most archaeological unique places in the Mediterranean. It was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO in 1993, and it is currently a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There are over 1,500 archaeological sites on the island, one of which is the site of Sa Cudia Cremada, located near the island’s capital, Mahón. Menorcan archaeology is very special, and the island has several archaeological features that cannot be found anywhere else in the world; the most important being a type of sanctuary called a taula enclosure. Menorca is the only place in the world where taulas are found.

Sa Cudia Cremada is the last unexcavated taula on Menorca, untouched since its collapse in antiquity.

Read the feature about Sa Cudia Cremada in Popular Archaeology magazine

Our Work

At Sa Cudia Cremada, we have a very special chance to excavate an untouched example of this lost culture, and to bring people from all over the world to help us with our work.

The excavation of Sa Cudia Cremada’s intact sanctuary will shed light on an extinct island society that was different than anywhere else in the ancient world. No taula sanctuaries have been excavated in the last 25 years, which means that our project can use up-to-date methodologies and technologies to reach entirely new interpretations of this incredibly important type of site. The excavation of the sanctuary of Sa Cudia Cremada is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to uncover a piece of Menorca’s lost prehistory.

The Field School

Sa Cudia Cremada Field School combines rigorous research with quality training for all participants. We offer archaeological courses for students interested in gaining first-hand experience in the field as well as the laboratory. We welcome university students, professionals as well as anyone who is interested in or passionate about archaeology and Ancient Mediterranean history, prehistoric archaeology, island archaeology and cyclopean architecture!

In 2015, we will have two three-week courses in August and September. Also, we welcome participants who want to try archaeology for a day or a weekend, perhaps as a special activity as part of a holiday on our beautiful island!

Our tools are lined up, our field lab is ready to go, and we can’t wait to get into the trenches – but we need you to make it possible! There are many ways for you to help out: by signing up for our three-week courses in summer, joining us for a day or a weekend in the field, or participating on any of our other project levels and helping us to spread the word about the amazing archaeology of Menorca!

FAQs

The Team

Sa Cudia Cremada Field School: Mediterranean Archaeology in Menorca is an organization formed by a team of Spanish and Menorcan archaeologists. Menorcan archaeology is not as widely known as other Mediterranean areas, and the team is very interested in involving the general public in excavations at Sa Cudia Cremada to help spread the word about the unique history and cultural impact of this fascinating and beautiful place.

The Talayotic People

The first prehistoric communities in Menorca lived in stone huts called navetes and buried their dead in megalithic tombs and caves. Island society changed over time: settlements grew as well as the diversity of their cyclopean constructions, including domestic spaces, storage areas and tower-shaped structures unique to Menorca, called talayots. These buildings are not found anywhere else in the world, and it is these structures that give their name to Menorca’s prehistoric culture: the Talayotic.

Talayotic warriors were famous as mercenaries and slingshot warriors, described by many classical writers such as Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Pliny the Elder. In 123 BC Romans conquered the Balearics, marking the end of the Talayotic society. This special culture was absorbed by the Romans, and over time much has been forgotten. Now, all that is left of the Talayotics are the remains of their culture, such as buildings, pottery and art.

Tell me more about the archaeology

The archaeological site of Sa Cudia Cremada, near the island’s capital, Mahón, is the only unexcavated prehistoric sanctuary on Menorca.

Located in a rural area with very well-preserved distinctive Menorcan architectural, ethnological and archaeological elements, the remains belonged to a Late Bronze and Iron Age settlement that flourished until the arrival of Romans to the Balearics in 123 BC. The most visible structures are three talayots (monumental towers) around which the rest of the archaeological remains are organized.

The main feature of most Menorcan indigenous sanctuaries is a large central standing pillar with a lintel, called taula (meaning ‘table’ in Catalan) due to its T- shape. What will we find inside of the collapsed Sa Cudia Cremada sanctuary? Was it built according to the traditional plan? What artefacts and evidence were left behind? Our fieldwork this year will be the first to undertake these investigations at this important site.

The state of preservation of Sa Cudia Cremada is exceptional, as the site is one of the few on Menorca that remains undisturbed by looting or development, which means that the whole site remains interred – and waiting to see the light again! This offers a great opportunity to know more about the unique native society that lived in Menorca during protohistoric times: the Talayotic.

Sa Cudia Cremada has three talayots (tower-shaped structures), which could have served as watchtowers for the defense of the territory, controlled storage of cereals and other important products by the elite, or as symbols of prestige and power to compete among settlements.

The site also has a hypogeum (artificial cave) that was used as a collective necropolis where all the inhabitants of the settlement, regardless of age, sex and social condition, were buried. Two large wells have been located as well as numerous structures, including walls, standing stones and what is probably part of the outer wall that surrounded the settlement once.

The most important building in Sa Cudia Cremada is its sanctuary. Half a meter of its massive outer walls is already exposed by natural agents, showing a great state of preservation. By excavating inside the building and in its immediate surroundings, our research team will uncover the internal structure of the sanctuary, the location of its Taula monument, as well as plentiful finds that will help us understand how the site was used for rituals and other activities.

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