La Mancha is not only the land of Don Quixote. The stark open landscape of the southern Meseta was also the setting for a unique Bronze Age culture with some of the earliest evidence for irrigation in Europe. This culture, known as the cultura de las motillas, is characterized by human settlements on low-lying ground, which were ringed by 2-3 walls and sometimes had a central tower and well. Approximately three dozen motillas are known. Motillas were small villages, which were occupied between 2200-1500 BCE, a time when the Iberian Peninsula experienced one of the most severe droughts in ancient times (known as the “4.2 ky BP event”). Associated with these motillas is the site of Castillejo del Bonete, which appears not to have been a place of habitation but an important ritual center – a monumentalized space where the living and the dead interacted. The site, which extends over an area of 850 m2, is made up of mounds of stone construction connected by corridors, with the main barrow built over a natural cave where post-Paleolithic rock art was found. Excavations have shown that first, there was a cave, which people used for burials and other ritual practices and, later, other groups constructed mounds over the cave and continued burying their dead there. Between 20-30 people were buried, including adults and children, along with grave goods that included pottery, ivory buttons, and copper arrowheads. Castillejo del Bonete was used both before and after the severe drought, between 3000 and 1565 BCE, though there are only six radiocarbon dates for the site, so it may well have been used for a longer period of time. Since 2003, Dr. Benítez de Lugo has conducted extensive and annual excavations at Castillejo del Bonete.
About the presenter:
Dr. Luis Benítez de Lugo received his PhD in Prehistory from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He teaches at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia. He is a specialist in prehistory and protohistory, and has directed and conducted research on more than 250 archaeological projects. He is the author of university manuals and more than 100 publications.
About the event:
Brown Bags at the OSA is a semi-regular series where staff and guests share their research over the noon hour. Topics include individuals’ areas of interest, work in the field, developments in archaeology and architectural history throughout Iowa and the Midwest. Guest speakers whose expertise is in other areas pertaining to archaeology or ethnohistory may be invited throughout the year as well. For more information please go to http://archaeology.uiowa.edu, contact Maria Schroeder at the Office of the State Archaeologist; firstname.lastname@example.org; (319)384-0974.
These presentations are free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to engage in discussion and exchange following the presentation. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Office of the State Archaeologist in advance at (319) 384-0732.