The Dolmen of s’Aigua Dolça

Going back in time a long way, there was a Talaiotic period here in Mallorca, dating from the Bronze Age (late second millennium and early first millennium B. C.). I have reported here on this blog on some of the more important Talaiots such as Capocorp Vell, Ses Païsses, S’Hospitalet Vell, Els AntigorsSon Corró, Son Fornés etc.

The remains of two Mallorcan Dolmen structures predate the earliest Talaiotic period by some 300 to 500 years. The Dolmen of s’Aigua Dolça in the municipality of Artà (see both photos) is said to be dating from approx. 1800 B. C. and may well be the oldest man-made construction on the island of Mallorca.

Dolmens are burial places. When the Dolmen of s’Aigua Dolça was excavated in 1997, selective bones of twenty different people were found. A theory is held that these bones were brought to this dolmen from other burial places or necropolises for ritualistic purposes similar to those known to have existed in the native culture of North America.

I went to the s’Aigua Dolça yesterday with Lluís Moragues who discovered this dolmen in 1995 and was responsible for initiating its subsequent protection and excavation. Bravo, Lluís. If you want to read more about the dolmen’s discovery and its relevance, you can do so in Carlos Garrido’s blog (in Spanish).

The photos were taken near Colònia de Sant Pere, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 22nd, 2012. The time was 12:10:23 and 12:07:28, respectively.

The Dolmen of s’Aigua Dolça

The Oratori de Santa Maria de Bellpuig

If it wasn’t for the Talayotic settlement of Ses Païsses circa 1300 B. C., one might argue that the Moors were the first to inhabit what today is known as Artà. Mind you, there are some sources which relate an early settlement in the area to the Greeks, then possibly known as Arethos. Under the Moorish rule, the area was known as Yartân. Shortly after Mallorca was vanquished in 1229 by the Catalan conquerors, King Jaume I assigned eight Islamic alquerías in the district of Yartân to the Premonstratensian Abbey of Santa Maria de Bellpuig from Urgell, Lleida, on the mainland. In 1240, the monks started setting up the Oratori de Santa Maria de Bellpuig just outside of today’s Artà, first building a small church and a residence. The monastery was a small one as there were never more than 15 monks living in the hermitage. They were the feudal lords of the area, at that time. Today, the place is featured prominently in the Artà tourist brochures but, if you want to visit the Oratory you may find it ever so difficult to locate. I found the search quite challenging; I had to ask seven people to get directions, most of whom did not know where or what. Eventually, I found the Bellpuig and I am glad I did.

In 1425, the monastery was abandoned by the monks and ownership changed into private hands. Slowly, the residential, monastic outbuildings fell into a state of disrepair and what is left now is in a complete state of ruin. In 1998, the owners donated the property to the Consell de Mallorca and a project to restore and rebuild was begun but, never got very far. Today, there are fresh plans to rebuild the place and open it as a Centro de Interpretación del Repoblament whatever that may entail. As it is, in times of La Crisis and with the Consell’s coffers empty, a few hundred more years may well go by before the historic place gets reinstated.

The church itself is said to be almost completely restored. When I was there last week, the doors were closed, though, and I could not enter. I will have to go back some other time, now that I know how to find this bijou. I can thus only offer you an interior view as borrowed and copied from one of the tourist brochures.

The photos (top and centre) were taken near Artà, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 6, 2011. The time was 18:40:51 and 18:39:37, respectively. The photo (bottom) was taken from a brochure, Artà, Living Heritage, courtesy of Ajuntament d’Artà. The photographer is probably Agustí Torres Domenge, or else, Antoni Muñoz Navarro.

Moltes gràcies.

The Oratori de Santa Maria de Bellpuig

Mysteries of Talayotic Mallorca

Not very much is known with certainty about Mallorca in prehistoric times. Many mysteries surround the Talayotic period.

According to the book Tuhfat al-Arib fi al-Radd written in 1420 by Mallorcan-born Anselm Turmeda (also known as Abd-Allah at-Tarjuman, 1355 – 1423), there was evidence of some 120 walled settlements on this island. In the same book the author also claimed that every year, 20,000 drums of olive oil were exported from Mallorca to Alexandria and Cairo. Some historians doubt these written records and ask as to where those 120 settlements could have been situated when today, Mallorca only counts 53 Pueblos (villages) and some 35 more Llogarets (hamlets).

Be that as it may, I know that there are a number of remains of Talayotic walls of settlements of the bronze-age period, here on this island. Three of them can be found alone in the Felanitx area. Es Velar de Son Herevet (see photo) is one such remaining fragment. A 180 m long piece of a once oval wall still stands, well covered by shrubs and untamed vegetation, where once 300 settlers may have lived in a colony occupying land of 10 hectares or more. At the beginning of the 20th century, lots of this ancient pueblo still stood, or so Émile Cartailhac, a French archaeologist claimed. Apparently, he took photographs to prove his findings. Sadly, not much is left today, at least not visible. Perhaps future generations will one day start excavating to shed some light on some of the mysteries of Talayotic Mallorca.

Should you be interested in the archaeology of prehistoric times in Mallorca and some of its mysteries, I would draw your attention to a book by historian, Javier Aramburu Zabala, called Enigmas de la arqueología balear (Editions Documenta Balear, 22 €).

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 8th, 2011. The time was 11:39:26.

Mysteries of Talayotic Mallorca

The Capilla de Son Real

In the old days, Mallorcan Manor houses used to have their own chapel either within their residence or else, within their grounds. Some of these capillas are on public view, either at Raixa, Sa Granja, Els Claderers, Aubocasser or Son Real (shown here), whilst others are not accessible, such as the one in Can Alomar in Palma, or in Can Marques, ditto.

Whilst the finca of Son Real is publicly owned, thanks to Senyor Antich and his consorts, the chapel there seems to be locked up every time I visit. I once sneaked through a half-open door whilst restoration work was being carried out, but the interior was bare then and without any adornments. I imagine that this was different in the glorious past of that estate.

Son Real is worth a visit irrespective of the chapel. The Manor house has been converted into a museum (admission 5 €) whilst the estate offers three or four gentle walking routes down to the sea and on to the Necropolis of Son Real. There are also a couple of Talayotic ruins on the grounds as well as a number of smugglers’ caves.

The photo was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 18th, 2011. The time was 11:34:31.

The Capilla de Son Real

The Talaiot of Son Corró

The pueblo of Costitx, bang in the middle of the island in the region known as the Pla, is outstanding in more than just one sense. For some historical reason, a total of 19 archaeological sites exist in the municipality, quite a crowded incidence for any place in Mallorca. Then there are the three Caps de Bou de Costitx (bronze bulls heads), an archaeological find dating back to the 6th or 5th century B. C. and now proudly on display at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum) in Madrid, much to the locals’ dismay. The bulls’ heads on display in Costitx and at the Museo de Mallorca in Palma are mere copies dating from the 19th century. And, finally, there is the Observatori Astronòmic de Mallorca (see my blog entry dated February 21st). And let’s not talk about Madame Munar, shall we?

The most prominent of all the archaeological venues in Costitx is the Talayot de Son Corró, classified as a Santuario Talayótico and dating from the period between 500 B. C. and 123 B. C. when the Romans arrived. The bull heads were found in Son Corró quite by chance in 1894 but, the site was not excavated until 1995. Not much is left of the post-Talaiotic sanctuary and what was found was ultimately arranged in a way that is perceived by some as quite contentious (photo above). I rather feel inclined to be on the side of the controversial critics. There is no other prehistoric site of that or any earlier period in Mallorca which would suggest any coherence with the current arrangement of the round columns in Son Corró. It might have been wiser to leave the cylindrical stones in the spots where they were found in 1895 (see photo below).

The photos were taken near Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 19th, 2011. The time was 16:49:08 and 17:01:42, respectively.

The Talaiot of Son Corró

The Morning Fog

I was up bright and early last Sunday to catch a horse and cart to Son Negre from where I set off on foot to the Talayot de Es Rossells. The morning fog that morning was truly amazing, giving the rural Mallorcan landscape a dreamlike quality. The fog marked the beginning of a splendid outing, all courtesy of the Associació de Veïns de Son Negre.

Moltes gràcies.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 6th, 2011. The time was 08:23:37.

The Morning Fog

The Talayot Of Es Rossells

Let me tell you about some of the struggles that a Daily Photo Blog editor suffers, now and then. This Mallorca Daily Photo Blog is based on a photo every day. Many times I want to feature a topic but somehow, I can’t get the photo that I want. The subject may not be there when I look for it, or the weather may not be helpful, or access may simply be denied, or whatever. Sometimes I simply have to borrow a photo from the Internet to convey the information that I wish to impart, even though I do not enjoy using someone else’s photo, ever.

Take today’s topic as an example. I have been wanting to tell you about the Talayot of Es Rossells for well over one year. I already have been to the estate twice but, once there, I could not find the Talayot without trespassing and thus, could not get the photo that I had wished for. The photo (above) is, once again, borrowed from the Internet. I beg your pardon.

The Talayot of Es Rossells is one of Mallorca’s proto-historic settlements and is surrounded by a talayotic wall which is considered one of the best preserved Bronze Age walls on the island, spanning a length of 270 metres at a height of 2 metres. Es Rossells is well-known by historians and archaeologists alike, but, is virtually unknown by anybody else. The Talayot lies on private land; access is never denied but is not actively promoted either. Es Rossells has never ever been excavated. The Talayot is listed as Patrimonio Histórico Islas Baleares (Balearic heritage site).

Now, there will be a rare opportunity to visit Es Rossells. On Sunday, February 6th, an excursion by horse, carriage, bicycle or on foot will depart from the Escola de Son Negre near Felanitx at 09h00, heading for the Talayot. Cars will not be admitted. A preeminent archaeologist, Tomeu Salvà, will offer some in-depth information about Es Rossells and its murada prehistòrica. There will also be a merienda for all and sundry, after the visit, courtesy of the dueños of Es Rossells. The excursion is free of charge, including the educating services of Senyor Salvà and the noshes and nibbles offered, but, you will have to put your name down today. Reservations can be made by telephone (971.584.155 or 971.842.142).

The image was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of talayots.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Talayot Of Es Rossells