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Discovered a unique hydraulic word in La Bastida

25/10/2010

In the first excavations in La Bastida in 1869, Rogelio Ichaurrandieta already noticed the existence of an “elliptical esplanade" of 15 meters of diameter closed with a dyke. Later, circa 1927, Juan Cuadrado and Julio Martínez Santa-Olalla and their team referred to this structure as a “swamp”. This fact made us think that there could be a typical Argaric “cistern” dug in the rock as already discovered in settlements such as Fuente Álamo (Cuevas de Almanzora, Almería), Illeta dels  Banyets (El Campello, Alicante) or Castellón Alto (Galera, Granada).

 

The excavations done in the last months are revealing a more complex construction. It seems that in the downtown of La Bastida, there was originally a  stream bed that opened to Salado’s ravine. This one was extended to become a semioval space, bounded on the east by a curve wall and on the north by a great straight wall as a “dyke”. The interior had several tiers of stone and a yellow mortar coating in order to waterproof the enclosure. This "swamp" had roughly an area of 300 square meters. So far, there have been excavated 680 cubic meters of ground and stone landslides in this area, but the base of the structure has not been reached yet.

 

This hydraulic infrastructure, inserted in the urban layout of La Bastida, was remodeled and repaired at least twice. The remains of Roman pottery in the fill level indicate that this structure was useful minimum 1500 years after the abandonment of the Argaric settlement.

 

This is a unique hydraulic work in the European prehistory, due to its size and construction method. Perhaps, it was not just a coincidence that one of the most important spanish engineers of the 19th century, expert on swamps and dykes, knew by intuition about its existence.

 

Photo Gallery

View of the circular structure in August 1944 from the hillside (Martínez Santa-Olalla et al. 1947 V.1 sheet).

View of the circular structure in August 1944 from the hillside (Martínez Santa-Olalla et al. 1947 V.1 sheet).

Excavation process of the cistern.  It can be observed the extent of the landslides which filled the structure after the prehistoric abandonment.

Excavation process of the cistern. It can be observed the extent of the landslides which filled the structure after the prehistoric abandonment.

  • View of the circular structure in August 1944 from the hillside (Martínez Santa-Olalla et al. 1947 V.1 sheet).
  • Excavation process of the cistern.  It can be observed the extent of the landslides which filled the structure after the prehistoric abandonment.

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