welcome to the history page! This week we will venture into the distant past
as we catch up on the current activities of the Puig des Molins Archaeology
A Day at the Museum
thing that struck me as I drove up to the museum early one morning is that this
venerable institution is a going concern. It was only 8:15, but a swarm of young
adults were moving in and out of the building, some carrying strange utensils,
some hovering over the ancient tombs of the necropolis, others simply waiting
for instructions. As I was led through these industrious young excavators, kneeling
and scratching in the dirt of the world's heritage, I sensed a current of excitement
and high purpose.
learned that these khaki-clad diggers were archaeology students from the universities
of Valencia and Madrid. They had been assigned to Ibiza for a month of fieldwork,
an obligatory part of their curriculum that is intended to round out classroom
theory. The buzz of positivism I had felt was, in fact, genuine elation at the
important finds that had already been uncovered in their three weeks of guided
they had a rich matrix from which to start. Ibiza's necropolis is the most important
surviving Phoenico-Punic burial site in the world today and, although it has
been excavated many times, the site continues to provide a cornucopia of artefacts
with each new dig. Not by accident, was it awarded World Heritage status in
1999, an honour that ranks it alongside such cultural strongholds as Stonehenge,
the Alhambra and the Egyptian pyramids. (For a more detailed discussion of the
necropolis see Weekly Editions 012 and 013.)
of course, are some of the most valuable finds because they speak volumes in
regard to the physical constitution of the inhabitants, what diseases afflicted
them and what the average life expectancy was. From what I gathered on the day
of my visit, there is reason to believe new light will be shed in this and other
areas of archaeological research. However, in accordance with the museum’s wishes,
the results of this excavation must be treated as confidential until the official
report has been published. Not to worry, the head of the dig, Ana Mezquida and
the museum's director, Jordi Fernández, have promised to give LiveIbiza a full
report by late November or early December.
can reveal, with great pleasure, is the upcoming Archaeology Week, a five-day
lecture series, organized and sponsored in full by the museum itself. This annual
event can be described as a 'meeting-of-the-minds' among Spain's most important
Phoenico-Punic researchers. Moreover, these talks form the basis of the museum's
considerable contribution to the international world of archaeology.
lectures presented each year are compiled into a book that is edited, published
and distributed by Jordi Fernández, Benjamí Costa (curator) and other specialists
in the museum's small but competent staff. Topics range from numismatics to
burial practices to ancient art and beliefs, the publication of which provides
university students and independent researchers with an ever-growing bibliographical
base to aid in their investigations.
also engages in some 400 interchanges with other museums, universities and cultural
institutions. Costa reports that about half of these interchanges are carried
out within Spain, while the other half form a rich network of international
alliances that the museum has built up over the 96 years of its existence. Most
of the European countries - the old eastern block included - are on the museum's
mailing list as well as Tunisia (naturally) and even Japan.
naively I asked if the museum's books had to be translated in order to be understood
by such a far-flung readership. The answer was a categorical NO. Costa explained
that any researcher in the field of archaeology must be able to read in Spanish,
English, French and Italian. "We all do here at the museum," he offered
matter-of-factly. "Don't ask us to speak the languages, but we read them
fluently. We have to!"
in honour of the new millennium, the museum has gone all out to put together
a lecture series to end all lecture series, humorously speaking, of course.
The five speakers have been chosen from the highest echelons of archaeological
research within Spanish academia.
lecture will be delivered by Dr. Carribero (University of Almería) on the Phoenician
presence in eastern Andalusia, one of the key areas of Tyrian colonization.
The second lecture will deal with western Andalusia, the Straits of Gibraltar
and southern Portugal. Unfortunately, the scheduled guest speaker, Dr. Ruiz
Mata (University of Cadiz) recently broke his leg and will not be able to attend
the conference personally. An as-yet-unconfirmed colleague will speak in his
place. The third night will be hosted by Dr. Lopez Pardo (University 'Complutense'
of Madrid) who will speak on Phoenico-Punic activities in the north of Africa.
The fourth night comes under the able leadership of Dr. González Prats (University
of Valencia) who will lecture on the colonization of the Mediterranean seaboard
from approximately Catalonia to Murcia.
is currently heading a groundbreaking excavation at the mouth of the River Segura
in Valencia. Quite unexpectedly, during a previous excavation of a 10th-century
Islamic ribat, an entire Phoenician
city was discovered below the site. (A ribat,
I discovered, is a type of large religious centre containing up to 10 mosques,
something akin to an ashram).
the focus of the excavation immediately shifted to the exploration of this lost
city, which González has dated back to the 8th century BC. The dimensions
of the city extend to 6 hectares, all surrounded by a thick wall of marked oriental
style, no doubt built by one of the earliest waves of Phoenician settlers. It
is expected that González will give his Ibicenco audience a thorough report
on these astounding finds during his upcoming lecture.
The Icing on the Cake
and final night of Archaeology Week will bring us the illustrious presence of
Mª Eugenia Aubet, the author of the authoritative book, 'The Phoenicians and
the West' (which, incidentally has been translated beautifully into English
by Cambridge University Press and comes highly recommended). Aubet will give
what could be called a 'state-of-the-union' speech, a synthesis of everything
that, to date, has been archeologically proven and, therefore, stands as fact
within the world of ancient studies. She will also address the gaps of knowledge
that remain, the areas of inconclusive speculation where further research needs
to be done and fresh ideas tested.
will be held at 8 o'clock every evening from 26th to 30th
November at the former Island Council building (now the branch university) next
to the necropolis. They are open to the general public and are offered free
of charge, as a gift to society. Benjamí
Costa has always said, "A museum is a social service or it is nothing."
Sr. Costa and Sr. Fernández for making Ibiza's Archaeology Museum the impressive
institution that it is.
it's back to business as usual with the patron saint's day of Sant Carles. See