New findings in the Archaeological site of El Castillon (North-western Spain) contribute to the understanding of the settlement’s inhabitation
Jose Pichel Andrés/DICYT The seventh campaign of excavation at the site located in the nearby of Santa Eulalia de Tabara (a small hamlet in the province of Zamora, Castilla y Leon) has been carried out this summer 2014. The results have helped to understand the urban development experimented in the settlement about the 5th and 6th centuries. Archaeologists have unearthed several dwelling structures which evolved along the time from one use to another, allowing scholars to reinterpret their functions.
The Scientific and Cultural Association Zamora Protohistorica (Founded in 2006 in behalf of the research and protection of Protohistoric heritage) had been leading the works in the archaeological site since 2007. The team of researchers has obtained samples of artefacts and structures to prove that the settlements was inhabited at least since the beginning decades of the 5th century. A thick wall enclosing completely the site seems to be a Late Roman defensive structure and a large building located in the central area and excavated since the very first campaign epitomises the evolution of the village in itself, “At the beginning it was a place for living, but a great fire consumed it. The findings show that about the 4th century the building had a fireplace used to cook” explains for DiCYT Jose Carlos Sastre, who is with Patricia Fuentes and Manuel Vázquez the 2014 campaign leading field directors.
Researchers had been working in a second point of interest located at the south of the settlement, a clearly visible cluster of structures hidden beneath a thin layer of dust and summer grass. This area, discovered during survey works in 2011 and excavated for the first time during the 2013 campaign is another large building of 12 metre length and 8 width in which a layer of slate and flint was found as part of a kind of pavement. Pottery found in this area of excavation moves the chronology backwards to the beginning of the 4th century, “this allows us to understand the repairs that we have already seen in other buildings of the site or in the structure of the wall”, affirms Sastre stating that the dwelling could then be proved before the 5th century.
Among the most impressive findings of this year are the remains of fauna of the large building at the centre of the site. Within the 4th century layers a complete skeleton of a lamb was found and the team is considering that the animal was unfortunately there just at the moment of the building collapsing. Another remarkable finding was a fish vertebra, though the species is still undetermined it shows that the inhabitants fished and ate fish from the close river Esla.
Laboratory Analysis of materials
Some of the samples will be analysed by the North American company Beta Analytics using C14 dating procedures. “We are going to send the little lamb and some samples of grain and charcoal to find out a more accurate date for the collapse of the building, a turning moment in the settlements long life occupation, to know when and how the buildings were used before the 5th century”, points the archaeologist.
Seville’s university Pablo Olavide will analyse samples of pollen seeds and remains of fauna unearthed along the seven precedent campaigns. Since last year 2013, the Paleomagnetisim team of research of the Earth Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics department of the Complutense University of Madrid (Led by Maria Luisa Osete López) analyses the metallic remains from furnaces, ovens and fireplaces of El Castillón.
During this last campaign, which has been partially supported by the Regional Administration Office (Junta de Castilla y León), several scholars had participated as members of the team. Jose Avelino Gutierrez form Oviedo University, Raquel Portilla, Diego Franganillo, Mercedes Lanz, Alicia Tejeiro, Inés Lorenzo and Jaime de la Vega as field technicians besides the more than 40 undergraduate or graduate students and volunteers from all over the world.
Thanks to these last years of research, El Castillon has been pictured as an important Late Roman village in the western area of the Central Plateau (Spanish mainland). The massive enclosure engulfs a 4 hectares village within dwelling and productive structures as storehouses and furnaces show the layout of a complete self-dependent settlement during a gap of at least 2 hundred years.