Prehistory hall

Voice files

The prehistory room

We cannot really speak of a stable population on our island until 3500 BC when there is evidence of food-producing communities who domesticated animals and crafted undecorated pottery. This early stage of habitation has been studied very little in our district; perhaps the excavation of the archaeological levels at Cova des Moro will shed some light on these prehistoric settlers. The only factor we can be sure of is that during this period man cohabited with the Myotragus, a small herbivorous antelope indigenous to the Balearics. We begin to see evidence of a stable population in Manacor during the period known as the ‘Naviform’ era (1700/1600- 1200/1100 BC), so called because the dwellings peculiar to this time were built in the shape of upside-down ships. Their ground plan was elongated and usually contained a central hearth, back-to-back benches and an area paved with smooth stones. The dimensions of the habitations typically measured between 15-30 metres in length and 3-5 metres in height. The most well-known ship-form houses are those of s’Hospitalet and sa Marineta.

Burials were invariably undertaken in caves, though the caves chosen for this purpose did not follow any particular typology. Examples of these burial sites can be found in Cala Murada and Son Ribot.

Towards 1100 BC the first Talayotic constructions begin to appear. During this period, we find that human habitats took the form of fortified settlements that were surrounded by great walls. There also appear at this time diverse types of monumental architecture, such as barrows and talayots or ‘towers’ (which could be either circular or square), as well as dwellings of an ovoid ground plan. The exact purpose of the talayots is not clear at present. The latest research seems to indicate that they were community meeting places where various social and/or religious functions took place. Constructions from this period include the talayots at s’Hospitalet Vell, Bellver Ric, Cala Morlanda and the barrow at sa Gruta. The practice of cave b urial continued during this period and would remain the only burial system until the mid- 7th century BC.

With the founding of Ibiza (Ebussus) in the 7th century BC, all of the Balearic Islands fell under the influence of the Ebusitano merchants, who began to negotiate with the Talayotic people for the purposes of trade.

By this time talayots were no longer being built and all indications seem to point to the conclusion that their original function had been abandoned. Regarding funerary rites, there was a new diversity of burial methods: cave burials with the body being placed directly on the earth continued, but there were also burials in coffins, in lime, inside ceramic recipients, etc. It was during this time that the Majorcan slingers forged their reputation as mercenaries, famed all over the Mediterranean for their expertise in warfare.