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 sixth season of the project, 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 returned on 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. The result has been the discovery of an enclosure 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 would entail certain actions of a magical nature.
The discovery of this blinded doorway represents 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 set 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 common to find it 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 28 July, the fifth excavation campaign was 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 focused 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.