Argar is the type site of an
Early Bronze Age culture called the
Argaric culture, which flourished from the town of
Antas, Almería, in the south-east of Spain between
and 1300 BCE.
The Argaric culture was characterised by its early adoption of
, which briefly allowed this tribe
local dominance over other, copper age
peoples. El Argar also developed sophisticated
pottery and ceramic
techniques, which they traded with other Mediterranean tribes.
El Argar developed from the earlier civilization of Los Millares
but it shows clear Mediterranean
influences of Mycenaean
origin . The
center of this civilization is displaced to the north and its
extension and influence is clearly greater than that of its
ancestor. Their mining and metallurgy
were quite advanced, with bronze, silver
gold being mined and worked for weapons and jewelry.
in a peat deposit in the
Canada del Gitano basin high in the Sierra de Baza
suggests that the Argaric
exhausted precious natural resources, helping bring about its own
ruin. The deciduous oak forest that covered the region's slopes
were burned off, leaving a tell-tale carbon layer, and replaced by
the fire-tolerant, and fire-prone, Mediterranean scrub familiar
under the names garrigue
civilization of El Argar extended to all the province of Almería, north onto the central Meseta, to most of the land
of (Murcia) and
westwards into the province of Granada.
Its cultural and possibly political influence was much wider,
clearly influencing eastern and southwestern Iberia (Algarve
), and possibly other regions as well.
Some authors have suggested that El Argar was a unified
Main Argaric towns
- El Argar: irregularly shaped (280 x 90 m).
- Fuente Vermeja: small fortified site, 3 km north of El
- Lugarico Viejo: larger town very close to Fuente Vermeja.
- Puntarrón Chico: in the top of a small hill,
- Ifre (Murcia): on a rocky elevation.
- Zapata (Murcia): 4 km. west of Ifre, fortified.
(4 km west of Mojácar, Almería):
fortified town on a hill with remarcable water
- El Oficio (9 km north of Villaricos,
Almería): atop of a well defended hill, strongly fortified,
specially towards the sea.
- Fuente Álamo (7 km north of Cuevas de Almazora, Almería): the citadel
is atop a hill, while the houses are teraced in its southern
- Almizaraque (Almería): a town dating
to Los Millares civilization.
de la Virgen de Orce
- Cerro de la Encina (Monachil,
del Negro (Purullena, Granada).
The culture of El Argar is divided in two phases, named A and
El Argar A
This phase started in the 18th century
, with the earliest calibrated C-14
pointing to the first half or this century:
- 1785 BCE (+/- 55 years) in the
transitional Late Chalcolithic-Early Bronze of Cerro de la Virgen
de Orce, a peripheral site.
- 1730 BCE (+/- 70 years) in Fuente Álamo
for El Argar A2, with six undated A1 layers under it.
- 1700 BCE in Cuesta del Negro (another
peripheral site) with clear Argarian materials in its lower
El Argar B
This phase begins in the 16th century
. The main C-14 date is that of 1550
(+/- 70 years) in Fuente Álamo for the upper layer of El
Argar B2 (with four layers underneath the lowest B phase). Other
stratigraphic dates are somewhat more recent but are not confirmed
El Argar B ends in the 14th
13th century BCE
, giving way to a
less homogeneous post-Argarian culture. Again Fuente Álamo gives
the best C-14 dating with 1330 BCE
El Argar is the center of the Early and Middle Bronze Age in
Iberia. Metallurgy of bronze and pseudo-bronze (alloyed with
instead of tin
). Weapons are the main metallurgic product: knives
points, and big axes
curved edge are all aboundant, not just in the Argaric area but
also elsewhere in Iberia. Silver is also exploited, while gold,
which had been aboundant in the Chalcolithic period, becomes less
meaningful element are the glass beads (of
blue, green and white colors) that are found in this culture and
which have been related with similar findings in Egypt (Amarna), Mycenaen
Greece (dated in the 14th century
BCE), the British culture of
Wessex (dated c. 1400 BCE) and some
sites in France.
Nevertheless some of these beads are already
found in chalcolithic contexts (site of La Pastora) which has brought some to speculate on an earlier
date for the introduction of this material in southeast Iberia
(late 3rd millennium
Other manufactured goods
undergoes important changes, almost
totally abandoning decoration and with new types.
manufacture seems important, working
specially with wool
-making also seems to
have been important, showing greater extent and diversification
than in previous periods.
The collective burial
tradition typical of European Megalithic Culture
abandoned in favor of individual burials. The tholos
is abandoned in favour of small cists
, either under the homes or outside. This trend seems to
come from the Eastern Mediterranean, most likely from Mycenaean
Sicily and Italy, where the
collective burial tradition remains for some time
From the Argarian civilization, these new burial customs will
gradually and irregularly extend to the rest of Iberia.
In the phase B of this civilization, burial in pithoi
(large jars) becomes most frequent. Again
this custom (that never reached beyond the Argarian circle) seems
to come from Greece, where it was used after. ca 2000 BCE
- C. Michael Hogan, Los Silillos, the
Megaltihic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
- BBC News, "Eco-ruin 'felled early society'" 15
- J.S.Carrión et al.: Holocene environmental change
in a montane region of southern Europe with a long history of human
- Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards The Cambridge Ancient
- F. Jordá Cerdá et al. History of Spain 1: Prehistory.
Gredos ed. 1986. ISBN 84-249-1015-X