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Bronze Age Iberia

March 2008 - Research by the Group of Recent Prehistory Studies in the department of prehistory and archaeology of the Universidad de Granada has thrown new light on Bronze Age life in the Iberian Peninsula.

Since 1974 archaeologists, led by professors Trinidad Nájera Colino and Fernando Molina González, have been excavating the site of the Motilla del Azuer, in the municipal area of Daimiel in Ciudad Real. Researchers explain that sites known as "motillas" are one of the most distinctive types of prehistoric settlement in the Iberian Peninsula. Artificial mounds four to ten metres in height they are the remnants of stone fortifications incorporating several concentric walls. Motillas were built about four to five kilometres apart in the region of La Mancha during the Bronze Age (between 2200 and 1500 BC) and are found in river meadows and low areas where pools were common.

These settlements have been known since the end of the 19th century, but until current research started in the mid-1970s were wrongly thought to be burial mounds. Excavations of the Motilla del Azuer have shown that it was a fortification surrounded by a small settlement and a necropolis, about 50 metres in diameter and including a square masonry tower, two walled enclosures and a large courtyard. The central core comprised the tower with east and west fronts (seven metres high) and an interior accessible through distinctive ramps inlaid in narrow corridors.

Researchers explain that the Motilla del Azuer contains the oldest well found in the Iberian Peninsula. This type of walled enclosure protected basic resources such as water, collected through the well, and was also used for large-scale storage and processing of cereals, occasional housing for livestock, and for production of pottery and other home-made goods.

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