A group of archaeologists from the University of Granada has discovered a 5,000-year-old fortified citadel in the prehistoric site of Villavieja, in Algarinejo (Granada), in an enclave that has been dated to nearly five millennia and is ascribed to the Copper Age, a cultural stage in which prehistoric farmers and ranchers communities began to build the first stone wall architectures that delimited their settlements.
The researchers consider that this discovery is destined to occupy “a prominent place within the archaeological sites of Andalusia”, as Antonio Morgado Rodríguez, a researcher from the Department of Prehistory and Archeology participating in the find, points out.
The first results of the intervention are allowing to clarify the monumentality of the place and its exceptional degree of conservation. The Villavieja wall was created on a raised platform that is visually projected onto an extensive landscape traversed by the Genil River. It is currently part of the Iznájar reservoir, which limits the provinces of Granada, Córdoba and Málaga. The landscape domain is one of the attractions of this site located in the center of Andalusia.
“The powerful line of wall prints a mark of exceptionality, with a development of three hundred meters of extension that are perfectly visible and that close an area of 2.7 hectares”, details Antonio Morgado. The intervention of this campaign is allowing to clarify, in its central sector, details about its architecture. The presence of buttresses has been documented that contributed to its stability and height, currently with more than three meters of height preserved. Along with these buttresses there are large semicircular towers attached to the main wall. The documentation is completed by the existence of a forward wall that formed a corridor like a barbican.
The archaeological works begin to offer a building vision of Villavieja, which implied outstanding technological knowledge for these first prehistoric walled enclosures. On a chronological level, Villavieja is contemporary with the well-known monumental complexes valued by Andalusia in Los Millares de Almería and Los Dólmenes de Antequera.
The exceptional conservation of the height of its wall, its monumentality and the vision of the landscape give this place values that make it “a jewel of Andalusian Prehistory for the 21st century”, underline the UGR researchers.
The current excavation campaign is sponsored by the Algarinejo City Council and the Granada Provincial Council within the Provincial Plan for the Conservation and Use of the Rural Archaeological and Paleontological Heritage, together with the collaboration of companies (Bujarkay and Granada Comunicaciones).
The team of archaeologists has received volunteer support from neighbors and the Women’s Association of Fuentes de Cesna and other nearby towns, which is helping to create an awareness of collective identity about this historical heritage.