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From prehistory until the Roman Era, Calescoves has aroused the interest of Minorcan settlers, making it an archaeological area of enormous value due to the number and importance of its monuments.
There is a Talayotic era necropolis with over ninety burial caves and hypogeums hewn into the cliffs of the cove, a prehistoric jetty, a coastal establishment enclosed by a prehistoric wall, and a sanctuary dating from the Roman era.

Necropolis and Es Castellet at Calescoves

From prehistory until the Roman Era, Calescoves has aroused the interest of Minorcan settlers, making it an archaeological area of enormous value due to the number and importance of its monuments.
There is a Talayotic era necropolis with over ninety burial caves and hypogeums hewn into the cliffs of the cove, a prehistoric jetty, a coastal establishment enclosed by a prehistoric wall, and a sanctuary dating from the Roman era.



 
Detailed description

Calescoves is an archaeological area which was occupied for many centuries and in which different types of monuments can be found. Among the most interesting are the prehistoric necropolis, the prehistoric jetty, the coastal settlement, and a sanctuary dating from the Roman Empire, known as the Cueva de Es Jurats.

The necropolis has more than ninety hypogeums and natural burial caves situated above the cliffs of Biniedrís and Son Domingo ravines. The cove is found at the point where the two ravines reach the sea, in some sections reaching the height of up to 45 metres above sea level.

The necropolis has several types of tomb, and includes the period from Naviform II (1400 B.C.) to Talayotic (900-750 B.C.) and Post-Talayotic or Iron Age II (750-123 B.C.).

Natural caves:
Some have a cyclopean outer wall with a portal formed by three large stones. Some objects recovered in the archaeological excavations are the same age as those found in the funerary navetas. These communal tombs document the typical funerary rituals of this era: deposition of the deceased in a foetal position, accompanied by bronze and bone objects. Offerings deposited in truncated cone shape and S-profile pottery vessels were found against the wall. The period of use extends from the eleventh or tenth to the eighth century B.C., coinciding with the oldest hypogeum (artificial cave) tombs. A large natural cave at Son Domingo may have already been occupied in Naviform I (1600-1400 B.C.) as a result of finding grey bodied pottery on the surface.

Talayotic Bronze Age Hypogeums:?
Single chamber oval hypogeums, with landscape format semicircular or rectangular portal, low flat or slightly vaulted ceiling. Found between 2 m and 20 m above ground level. Their use extends from the ninth to the seventh century B.C. Among objects found during excavation some were typical of navetas and natural caves. The grave goods indicate some wealth and variety in the bronze objects: pectorals, torques, bull horns and lance and javelin tips, as well as the first iron objects. The burial ritual followed is as documented for natural caves.

Talayotic Iron Age Hypogeums:
Hypogeums with large chambers divided by columns, pillars and pilasters. They have a vertical rectangular portal, exterior courtyard excavated from the rock and flat ceiling. They offer easy access although they may be located in high areas. Offerings deposited are very varied, with many iron objects (knives, swords, semicircular blades, scissors). Bronze objects are less frequent, typically significant items or those indicating prestige (sceptres, chain necklaces, torques and bracelets).

Coastal establishment:
Located on a headland above Son Domingo cove in Calescoves, extant material includes a wall approximately 208.5 m long that cuts across the western side of the coastal headland, forming an approximately square enclosure inside which scattered structures can be seen. Approximately 4 m wide, it was built with a double face. "Huts" or spaces covered by large slabs and adjoining material can be observed.

Within the area within the wall of the coastal establishment is a well excavated from the rock, with an access corridor 1 m wide. It has 45 steps down to the original freatic level, some 14 m deep.

Jetty:?
The configuration and relief of Calescoves means that it can also operate as a jetty for all types of commercial products. The cove forms a small port that could handle loading and unloading of goods, above all between the sixth century B.C. and the second century A.D. This is well documented by the large amount of pottery vessels of all types and eras found on the seabed there. The fresh water spring near Biniedrís beach also made this an attractive location by supplying it with water.

Classification:
?Necropolis and coastal establishment

Municipality:
Alaior.

Chronological period:
Talayotic Bronze Age (1200-750 B.C.) - Talayotic Iron Age (750-123 B.C.) - Early Roman Empire.

Objects found:
- Objects of personal adornment in vitreous paste: beads from necklaces and pendants
- Talayotic, Carthaginian, Ibizan, Roman, Iberian pottery
- Objects of personal adornment in bronze: bracelets, necklaces, etc.
- Objects of personal adornment in iron: bracelets, etc.

Constructions:
- Hypogeums and natural caves
- Wall

 
Archaeological interventions

The necropolis was excavated in the 1970s by C. Veny. Then in 1993 there was an urgent dig in Hypogeum XXI by the Island Council of Minorca Heritage Service (S. Gornés and J. Gual). The 1970s also saw an underwater excavation at Calescoves, directed by M. Belén and M. Fernández Miranda.
The cave known as Es Jurats preserves an interesting series of Roman inscriptions and was subject to archaeological study and excavation between 2010 and 2012 by M. Orfila, M. Mayer and G. Barata. This was a sanctuary dedicated to the foundation of Rome and was in use during the second-third centuries A.D.
In 2000 the Island Council of Minorca Heritage Service closed the caves. During the nineteen-eighties a group of people had settled in some of the prehistoric hypogeums, adapting them as dwellings and in some cases modifying them. It was eventually decided to close most of the caves and hypogeums with iron plates to prevent new occupations, leaving some open to ensure visitors had access to the monument. This situation has now been overcome and visitors respect the visiting hours and the necropolis.

 
Legal protections

Necropolis:
BIC no. of the Island Council of Minorca: 000002?BIC no. of the Balearic Islands Government: 7002-2-2-51-000019-0
BIC no. of the Ministry of Culture: R-I-51-0003150-00000?no. Decree 2563/1966, of 10 September: 1520

Coastal establishment:
BIC no. of the Island Council of Minorca: 000027?BIC no. of the Balearic Islands Government: 7002-2-2-51-001549-0
BIC no. of the Ministry of Culture: R-I-51-0003151-00000?no. Decree 2563/1966, of 10 September: 1521 declared Historic-Artistic monument by Decree of 3 June 1931

 
Bibliography

BARRAS DE ARAGÓN, F. 1930. Estudio antropológico de unos cráneos y otros restos humanos de la Edad del Bronce, procedentes de una cueva en Cales Coves (Menorca). Actas y Memorias de la Sociedad Española de Antropología, Etnología y Prehistoria, 11.

DE NICOLÁS, J.C. & CONDE, M.J. 1993. La ceràmica ibèrica pintada a les Illes Balears i Pitiüses. Col·lecció Recerca 3. Maó: Institut Menorquí d’Estudis.

GÓMEZ, J.L. 1994. Nuevos datos sobre la población talayotica de Menorca. Revista Española de Antropología Biológica, 15: 101-122.

GORNÉS, J. S. 1996. Arqueología de la muerte y cambio social. Análisis e interpretación de la necrópolis de Cales Coves Menorca. Universidad Complutense. Complutum, 7: 91-103.

GORNÉS, S, 2000. Ipogei del Talaiotico finale: analisi e interpretazione della necropoli di Cales Coves, Menorca. 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: 553-571.

GORNÉS, S. & GUAL, J. 2000. El hipogeo XXI de la necrópolis de Cales Coves, Minorca. 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: 573-590.

GORNÉS, S.; GUAL, J.M. & GÓMEZ, J.L. 2006. Avanç dels contexts arqueològics i de la cronologia absoluta de l’hipogeu XXI de Calascoves. Mayurqa, 31: 165-181.

HERNÁNDEZ SANZ, F. 1897. Antigua población de Calas Covas (Isla de Menorca). Revista de Menorca, .

ORFILA, M.; BARATTA, G. & MAYER, M. 2010. Los santuarios de Calescoves (Alaior, Menorca): Coberxo Blanc y Cova dels Jurats o de l'Església. Informe preliminar. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad de Granada, 20: 395-433.

Orfila, M.; Baratta, G. & Mayer, M. 2013. El santuario de Calescoves (Alaior, Menorca): la Cova dels Jurats o Església. In Riera, M. & Cardell, J. (coord.), V Jornades d’Arqueologia de les Illes Balears (Palma, 28 a 30 de setembre, 2012). Palma: Documenta Balear: 109-117.

ORFILA, M.; SÁNCHEZ LÓPEZ, E.; GUTIÉRREZ RODRÍGUEZ, M. & MARÍN DÍAZ, P. 2015. La Cova dels Jurats o de l’Església en Calescoves (Alaior) ¿Un santuario rupestre talayótico en Menorca? In Andreu, C.; Ferrando, C. & Pons, O. (eds.), L’Entreteixit del Temps. Miscel·lània d’Estudis en Homenatge a Lluís Plantalamor Massanet. Palma: Conselleria de Participació, Transparència i Cultura del Govern de les Illes Balears: 285-295.
Plantalamor, L. 1991. Los asentamientos costeros de la isla de Menorca. In AA.DD., Atti del II Congresso Internazionale di Studi Fenici e Punici, 9-14 Novembre 1987, Volume terzo, Roma: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche: 1151-1160.

PLANTALAMOR, L.; SASTRE, J. & VILLALONGA, S. 2009. Les llàgrimes bicòniques a l’illa de Menorca. Randa, 62: 5-29.

PONS, O. & B. SALVÀ. 2015. La ceràmica campaniana del fondejador de Calescoves i els poblats talaiòtics de Trepucó i Son Catlar. In Andreu, C.; Ferrando, C. & Pons, O. (eds.), L’Entreteixit del Temps. Miscel·lània d’Estudis en Homenatge a Lluís Plantalamor Massanet. Palma: Conselleria de Participació, Transparència i Cultura del Govern de les Illes Balears: 337-348.

Sánchez López, E.; Gutiérrez Rodríguez, M. & Orfila, M. 2013. Los asentamientos costeros de menorca: el caso de Es Castellet (Calescoves, Alaior). In Riera, M. & Cardell, J. (coord.), V Jornades d’Arqueologia de les Illes Balears (Palma, 28 a 30 de setembre, 2012). Palma: Documenta Balear: 59-67

VENY, C. 1965. Corpus de las inscripciones baleáricas hasta la dominación árabe. Biblioteca de la Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología en Roma, 15. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas Delegación de Roma. ?
VENY, C. 1970. Un avance sobre la necrópolis de Cales Coves. Trabajos de Prehistoria, 27: 97-168.

VENY, C. 1982. La necrópolis protohistórica de Cales Coves.Menorca. Biblioteca Praehistorica Hispana, 20. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

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Practical information

Access:
To reach the Calescoves necropolis take the Me-12 road from Maó to Cala en Porter. At kilometre 10, turn left along the pathway from Biniedrís to the sea, which leads to the necropolis. Access is pedestrianised.
Road signs to site.
Open to the general public.

To reach the coastal settlement and the well you must go on foot from Calescoves cove or the Cala en Porter development.
It is within the area Me-11 ANEI (Natural Area of Special Interest), stretching from Llucalari Cove to Biniparratx Cove.

Also accessible from Itinerary 17 of the Camí de Cavalls (Cala en Porter - Binissafúller).

Parking:
None

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

Ownership and management:
Mixed ownership and management by the Island Council of Minorca.

 

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