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At Cala Morell, a coastal development to the north of Ciutadella, is one of the most spectacular necropoli on the island, formed by a series of fourteen artificial caves. It was in use as a cemetery from the Middle Bronze Age to the second century A.D.?The interiors of some of the bigger hypogeums were designed to imitate the circular houses of the Talayotic era. Some have a single space, others different levels or free-standing columns hewn out of the rock to mark different spaces, or even small front yards. The most spectacular hypogeum of all has classical architectural motifs in relief on its façade, reproducing Etruscan cornices and Carthaginian funerary steles, giving it its unique character.
Apart from the Cala Morell necropolis set on its coastal headland, there was also a pre-Talayotic settlement.

Cala Morell necropolis

At Cala Morell, a coastal development to the north of Ciutadella, is one of the most spectacular necropoli on the island, formed by a series of fourteen artificial caves. It was in use as a cemetery from the Middle Bronze Age to the second century A.D.?The interiors of some of the bigger hypogeums were designed to imitate the circular houses of the Talayotic era. Some have a single space, others different levels or free-standing columns hewn out of the rock to mark different spaces, or even small front yards. The most spectacular hypogeum of all has classical architectural motifs in relief on its façade, reproducing Etruscan cornices and Carthaginian funerary steles, giving it its unique character.
Apart from the Cala Morell necropolis set on its coastal headland, there was also a pre-Talayotic settlement.



 
Detailed description

Necropolis of artificial caves or hypogeums, from the Bronze and Iron Ages (Naviform I and II) and the Talayotic era, made up of 17 hypogeums:

Hypogeum 1: Circular with small niche at the far end. Portal worked on the inside with hewn pillars and lintels, imitating the form that must have been normal in talayotic houses. Rectangular portal located above floor level on a worked, slightly concave façade, covered by the cliff. Access by a modern stairway. Inside the marks of the tools used to excavate it can still be seen.
Dimensions: length 7.20 m; width 7.70 m; height 2.30 m

Hypogeum 2: Lobular, slightly triangular, floor plan. The façade has collapsed and access is through cave 3. Column of rectangular section, in a lateral position, with a capital of two positioned inverted truncated cone-shaped sections. Small niche inside at the furthest point, with a recess to support a slab.
Dimensions: length 8.10 m; width 8.30 m; height 2.15 m

Hypogeum 3: Irregular floor plan. Only the left side of the concave façade is conserved, with the door opening above ground level, the other side having disappeared. Rectangular door with hewn pillars and lintels, recalling the access to a talayotic building. There is a pilaster on the back wall separating two areas of the cave, and a small circular niche at floor level.
Dimensions: length 7 m; width 8.80 m; height 2.25 m

Hypogeum 4: This is the most monumental artificial cave in Minorca. Different spaces separated by pillars and a central column with quadrangular section, under which is a square space in relief recalling a funerary altar or bed, with an excavated niche, also square. The façade is concave and has a moulded cornice. In the centre is the rectangular portal framed by architectural elements sculpted to form columns and lintels. Behind the column the level of the floor rises to meet the right side, and between this and the pillar near the door in what seems to be an attempt to fragment and differentiate the interior space.
Dimensions: length 10.30 m; width 11.80 m?

Hypogeum 5: Globular shape, slightly triangular, with an apse at the far end. Between this and the door are two sculpted columns. In the chamber on the left, a small globular chamber with a round hole in the floor opens out. The door is set above ground level and is rectangular with rounded corners. This cave has been modified and converted into a cistern.
Dimensions: length 9.80 m; width 10.20 m; height 2.20 m

“Capades de moro”: Near Hypogeum 4, on a section of approx. 20 m of the wall of the ravine, 22 cavities have been identified excavated into the walls, known popularly as “capades de moro”, whose use has still not been determined, but was in any case related to the funerary world of talayotic communities.

Hypogeum 7: Has a rectangular exterior courtyard with rounded corners. The chamber has a globular floor plan with one column. At the back there is a kind of altar outlined by a raised area chiselled into the rock. On the left side of the possible altar is a small round niche with a recess to support a slab. Façade slightly concave with rectangular door framed by two pillars and a hewn lintel.?Dimensions: length 6.20 m; width 7.05 m; height 2.10 m

Hypogeum 8: Small circular oven hypogeum with hemi-spherical roof, with recess in the door to support a closing slab. Beside it the remains can be seen of another similar one in a very poor state of preservation.
Dimensions: length 1.20 m; width 1.25 m; height 1.80 m

Hypogeum 9: Has exterior courtyard. The floor is globular with a rectangular-section central column and an inverted truncated cone shaped capital. The door is rectangular and located half way along a right-angled façade. Hewn inside the inner part are pillars and lintels. The outside also has hewn pilasters. At the back of the cave, at floor level, a small niche has been excavated.
Dimensions: length 8.85 m; width 8.35 m; height 2.15 m

Hypogeum 10: Globular floor plan with a square-section free-standing column with differentiated capital.
Dimensions: length 9 m; width 8.35 m; height 2.15 m

Hypogeum 11: Belongs to the hypogeum type, with corridor built with large slabs. It has an irregular oval floor plan and is covered with a curved-section dome. Concave façade, central access portal with a stairway linked to the interior by a corridor built from large blocks of stone in a poor state of preservation.
The material documented inside belongs to the Early-Middle Bronze Age, while outside pottery has been documented from Naviform I and II (1600-1400 B.C.).
Dimensions: length of corridor 1.50 m; width of corridor 1 m; length of chamber 3.50 m; width of chamber 2.85 m

Hypogeum 12: Belongs to the hypogeum type with corridor built from large slabs. It has an oval floor plan with curved walls and flat ceiling. Façade built with a small corridor, of which a broken slab placed vertically on the east side is preserved. Inside the chamber is a small bench, almost at floor level. The cave walls show graffiti of an indeterminate era, but not the present.
The materials documented both inside and outside the monument belong to the Early-Middle Bronze Age.
Dimensions: length of corridor 1.10 m; width of corridor 0.65 m; length of chamber 4 m; width of chamber 3 m

Hypogeum 13: Has a very poorly preserved external courtyard. Trilobe floor plan with the apse picked out with a ridge and a change of floor level. The chambers are separated by two square-section pilasters carved into the wall. That on the right shows what may be graffiti. The façade has a rectangular door with the pillars and lintels sculpted inside.
Dimensions: length 7.30 m; width 8.70 m; height 2.45 m

Hypogeum 14: Has a rectangular courtyard with rounded corners, with three niches in the eastern wall. Quadrangular floor plan with two square-section columns in very poor condition. The floor of the chamber presents different levels that separate the spaces. In the eastern wall a small niche has been excavated. The door cannot be clearly identified.
Dimensions: length 10.15 m; width 13.50 m; height 2.55 m

Classification:
Necropolis.

Municipality:
Ciutadella.

Chronological period:
Early Bronze Age - Middle Bronze Age - Late Bronze Age and Iron Age up to the Roman era.

Objects found:
Pottery from the Early Bronze and Talayotic Ages, also Campanian and Punic Ibizan pottery in the yards of caves 9 and 10.

Constructions:
- Hypogeums.
- Hypogeums with megalithic corridor.

 
Archaeological interventions

Over the years the Cala Morell site has been the object of different archaeological interventions:

- 1989. Excavation of cave 12. G. Juan?
- 1993. Excavation of cave 11. G. Juan?
- 1994. Excavation of the courtyard of cave 10. G. Juan
- 2007. Restoration of the façade of cave 14. F. Isbert/ C. Lara?

 
Legal protections

BIC no. of the Island Council of Minorca: 0000466?BIC no. of the Balearic Islands Government: 7015-2-2-55-2942
BIC no. of the Ministry of Culture: R-I-55-0000821?Decree no. 2563/1966, of 10 September: 1727

 
Bibliography

GORNES, S. 2006. La necrópolis de Cala Morell. In AA.DD., Historia de las Islas Baleares. Tomo 16: Patrimonio histórico y artístico. Palma: El Mundo-El Dia de Baleares / Edicions de Turisme Cultural: 70-71.

JUAN, G. 1998.  Sopravvivenza della popolazione rurale a Minorca: le ceramiche romane di Cala Morell. In Khanoussi, M.; Ruggeri, P. & Vismara, C. (ed.), L'Africa romana. Atti del XII Convegno di studio, Olbia 12-15 dicembre 1996. Sassari:  Editrice democratica sarda: 827-838.

JUAN, G. 1999. Les coves 9 i 10 de Cala Morell i els seus patis. Universitat de les Illes Balears. Mayurqa, 25: 43-58. ?
JUAN, G. 2003. Necròpolis de Cala Morell. Estatge de silenci. Maó: Consell Insular de Menorca.

JUAN, G. & PLANTALAMOR, L. 1996. Les coves 11 i 12 de Cala Morell (Ciutadella-Menorca). Treballs del Museu de Menorca 16. Maó: Conselleria d’Educació Cultura i Esports del Govern Balear.

JUAN, G. & PLANTALAMOR, L. 2000. Le grotticelle NN. 11 e 12 di Cala Morell (Ciutadella - Minorca). Università degli Studi di Sassari. In AA.DD., L'Ipogeismo nel Mediterraneo: origini, sviluppo, quadri culturali: atti del Congresso internazionale, 23-28 maggio 1994, Sassari-Oristano, Italia). Sassari: Università degli studi di Sassari, Facoltà di Lettere e filosofia, Istituto di Antichità, arte e discipline etnodemologiche e Dipartimento di Scienze umanistiche e dell'antichità: 533-552.

PLANTALAMOR, L. 1987. Guia arqueològica de la necròpolis de Cala'n Morell. Maó: Consell Insular de Menorca. ?
Plantalamor, L.; Anglada, M. & Ferrer, A. 2012. Els aixovars dels sepulcres col·lectius de l’illa de Menorca: elements de tradició neolítica i calcolítica i evidències de relacions amb l’exterior. In Borrell, M.; Borrell, F.; Bosch, J. & Molist, M. (eds.), Actes del Congrés Internacional Xarxes al Neolític. Circulació i intercanvi de matèries, productes i idees a la Mediterrània occidental (VII-III mil·lenni aC). Gavà / Bellaterra, 2-4/2/2011. Rubricatum 5. Gavà: Museu de Gavà: 433-440.
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Practical information

Access:
Access to the necropolis from the Ciutadella -Cala Morell road. At the development, turn left towards the beach, within sight of the monument’s parking site.
Can also be reached from Itineraries 8-9 of the Camí de Cavalls, Algairens-Cala Morell and Cala Morell-Punta Nati sections.
Road signs to site.?Open to the general public.?

Parking:
Yes

Visits:
Free access throughout the day.?
Information panels on site.

Ownership and management:
Ciutadella Town Council and Island Council of Minorca.

 

 
 
 
Consell Insular de Menorca Govern Illes Balears
MINORCA TALAYOTIC - World Heritage Nomination
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