PRADOS, F.; JIMÉNEZ, H.; MARTÍNEZ, J. J. (Eds.). Menorca entre fenicis i púnics / Menorca entre fenicios y púnicos. Murcia: Centro de Estudios del Próximo Oriente y la Antigüedad Tardía de la Universidad de Murcia. 2017. 320p. Resenha de: MISSINGHAM, P. Panta Rei. Revista Digital de Ciencia y Didáctica de la Historia, Murcia, 179-182, 2018.
Menorca, as its name implies, is the ‘small’ island of the Balearics, easily overshadowed by Mallorca, and when it comes to Phoenician and Punic affairs, also and especially, by Ibiza. This has resulted in an unfair knowledge ‘vacuum’ surrounding the island of Menorca. In a similar vein, the archaeology of the Talaiotic culture, subject of a submission to UNESCO, has distracted attention away from the other archaeology present on the island. This book seeks to address this issue. A team of archaeologists lead by Fernando Prados, from the University of Alicante, have been at work since 2014 in an effort to elucidate the presence and status of any Phoenicio-Punic archaeology. This book has the feeling of a once-in-a-generation event and sets a high standard for future Menorcan archaeology books to be measured against.
Of the eleven articles published here, seven are in Spanish and four are in Catalan, with possibly a few Menorquí terms for good measure. A few linguistic tips for the foreign reader, the mysterious oval object on page 163 helpfully labelled ‘mac de la mar’ is a beach pebble, and the ‘denes’, subject of the article starting on page 219 are beads. Otherwise, the only terms likely to cause any real difficulty are chronological references based on the local indigenous culture, the Talaiots or Talayots. The introduction conveniently defines ‘postalaiotic’ as circa 550-123 bc, which effectively covers the entire Punic period, with a little overlap, looking at Carthage here, at each end.
Menorca, as Maria i Ballester, the Conseller de Cultura i Educació, tells us in his Presentació, has been chosen to host the XVI International Dry Stone Walling Congress in autumn 2018. This effort reflects the efforts of the Balearic Islands to have dry stone construction seen by UNESCO as an intangible heritage. The timing of the archaeological work undertaken in Menorca coincides with the candidature of the Talaiotic culture to World Heritage status.
González Wagner sets the scene in his Prólogo by reminding us that the archaeology of Menorca has to be seen as a continuous fluctuating cultural interchange between the Talaiotic culture, the Punics (whether from Ibiza or elsewhere), and the other ‘extra-menorcan’ artefacts in which they trade. In their opening passage, Introducción – Del gris al blanco. La isla de Menorca en el mapa fenicio y púnico, Prados, Jiménez & Roca state that while the Phoenicio-Punic archaeology of Ibiza and Mallorca can be shown in its multicoloured glory, that of Menorca, until this monograph anyway, remained a hazy blur being barely covered in any publications. Which means that the heavy burden of introducing this topic properly, with a solid foundation, falls on the current authors. This new knowledge could form part of a heritage management plan, along the lines of The Route of the Phoenicians, or the Path of Hannibal. Many have contributed to this volume, thank you!
The first article proper by Domínguez Monedero, El ejército de Aníbal, una fuerza de mercenarios, follows the mention of the Path of Hannibal in the introduction, to provide an account of the rise of the Carthaginian practice of employing foreign mercenaries, and how this may be reflected in the archaeological record, typically by the deposit of coinage such as the 56 coins found at Castillo de Doña Blanca probably struck in Melilla. Other evidence may include the construction of S’hospitalet Vell on Mallorca, or Son Catlar on Menorca. The third possible thread of evidence is the number of small bronze figurines, Mars Balearicus, which appear to derive from southern Italian influence, and deposited perhaps as ex voto offerings.
Ramon, in the next article, Pecios y ¿colonias? materiales púnicos en las Islas Baleares, examines 8 Balearic shipwreck sites, four each off Mallorca and Menorca, and also a brief mention of one off Corsica, along with two ‘anchorages’ and finds the maritime ceramic assemblages broadly similar to those found at terrestrial sites. The high percentage of Ibizan goods can be read as an indicator of local suzerainty. The enclosure of Na Galera shows Ibizan construction techniques, while also eschewing the use of Talaiotic pottery. Na Guardis may have been permanently occupied by Ibizans but probably from the 6th century onwards was used as a neutral trading place. In both Mallorca and Menorca, there was a low uptake of Punic technologies such as writing, wheel thrown pottery and coinage. Only Na Galera and Na Guardis show clear Punic control. Colonisation models used elsewhere don’t really seem to apply; Ibizan Punic influence seems to result from commercial activity.
Niveau de Villedary provides the next article, Nuevos datos sobre la evolución formal y estilística de los “pebeteros en forma de cabeza femenina”. A propósito del ejemplar de Torralba d’en Salord (Alaior, Menorca). Of all the perfume burners ever found in Menorca, this article examines the best documented, and accessible, example available – the example from Torralba d’en Salort. This burner is compared against other possible parallels across the Punic world, noting stylistic differences and similarities. The goddess depicted may have originated with the Eleusian mysteries, but she is easily and often modified to conform with local religious practice. The earlier burners found in coastal sites, with closer links to Carthage, may reflect Astarte, or later Tanit.
The fourth, and titular paper is by Prados & Jiménez and is entitled Menorca entre fenicios y púnicos: una aproximación arqueológica desde la arquitectura defensiva. The Talaiotic period can be defined as running from circa 850 – 550, although the start of the period is slowly drifting earlier. The arrival of the Phoenicians, can be seen by the Egyptian Imhotep figurine from Torre d’en Galmés, along with the introduction of fish and other marine products to the existing foodways, along with a rise in violence visible in human skeletal remains. There is also a rise in the number of walls built, still in a Talaiotic architectural tradition, although the only concluded example appears to be Son Catlar, along with a corresponding increase in burning and destruction of habitations. Punic architectural influence may have been recently detected underneath Magon. At Trepucó, there exists defensive structures far beyond the needs to defend against the locals; their stature may possibly a result of the Punic wars. These defensive elements, evidently ultimately from Syracuse, can be seen at Son Catlar, with parallels across the Hellenistic world, although the Punic cubit, rather than a Greek measure, was the unit used during construction. The ceramics from Son Catlar are practically the same as those from Cartagena. In contrast, those from Torrellafuda present a mixture of Talaiotic and Punico-Hellenistic styles.
The next article by Anglada, Ferrer, Plantalamor & Ramis is the first in Catalan – Continuïtat cultural en època de canvis: la producció i preparació d’aliments a Cornia Nou (Maó, Menorca) durant els segles IV-III aC. At the site of Cornia Nou are two edifices, dated to 1100/600 and 400/200 respectively. The close proximity of the two settlements allows direct comparison of their foodways. Of the two, the elder has by far the larger bone assemblage. Of interest here is not only the new presence of dog bones (perhaps as a food source), equines, and turtles, but a doubling by proportion of cattle bones, incidentally much smaller cattle than those from contemporary Tharros, Sardinia. Disappointingly, the ceramics from the older edifice are not discussed, but from the newer, two clear preferences can be discerned – a clear preference for Punic vessels for liquids, but with an almost exclusive use of indigenous wares for cooking. Although lithics, particularly quern stones are discussed, the diminutive size of the artefact labels on figure 13 render the discussion difficult to follow. The evidence for the consumption of dogs is discussed briefly in the later Ramis article.
De Nicolás, Gornés & Gual examine cult objects in Indicis d’un santuari púnico-talaiòtic en el poblat de Biniparratx Petit (Sant Lluís, Menorca). Two bronze figurines (perhaps representing Odysseus and Isis) and some terracotta ceramics were found in the late 19th century near Sant Lluis. Unfortunately, there was some confusion of place names making the source of the artefacts subject to doubt even before the damage caused by the construction of the airport. Excavations on the north-west edge found a Naviform settlement datable to 1500 bc, and on the south-east edge a settlement from the 8th century was found. At the later settlement, with two houses, an out-of-context terracotta figurine sherd was found during investigations. The southernmost house, number 1, produced a beach pebble complete with an inscribed Tanit symbol, leading to ideas of the reutilisation of previous funerary spaces for storage. House 2 has two small chambers which could be interpreted as altars, possibly naiskoi. The ceramics inside the house date from the 4th and 2nd centuries, the house itself suffering minor destruction, before continuing through to the 1st century AD. The Roman phase produced some 40,000 sherds, or 1.5 tonnes, comprising a minimum of 665 amphorae. The archaeology, taken as a whole, shows the three crises typical of eastern Menorca – the overwintering of the Carthaginian fleet, the Roman invasion, and the rise of Roman urbanisation. The male bronze figurine has been identified as Odysseus, or perhaps Philoctetes, while the female one is probably that of Isis, possibly modelled on a 2nd century original from the Greek colony of Rhodes in Spain.
The seventh article, a group effort by Jiménez, Prados, De Nicolás, Adroher, Torres, Martínez, García, López, Expósito & Carbonell is titled, Prospección arqueológica en Torrellafuda (Ciutadella, Menorca). Al encuentro de la Menorca púnica. The enclosure of Torrellafuda appears to have been built in two phases, an earlier cyclopean phase followed by a typically Punico-Hellenistic pattern of architecture, smaller than the original construction perhaps reflecting a defensive stance. Place-name analysis may indicate a Berber origin for the site. The enclosed village was heavily modified in the late 19th century, although the walls are largely recognisable. Aerial photos from 1956 show potential features, and future lidar may be interesting, but for now the features have been located and mapped using GPS. The most promising result has been the discovery of a right angled stone structure. In the intramural area, Campanian and Punico-Ibizan ceramics were found dating from the 3rd and 2nd centuries. Surface collection was done on three transects to the south, and another three, shorter, to the north, with all materials once analised returned to their original location. The majority of the fragments, some 57%, date to the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD representing the likely date of the settlement. The number of republican Italian amphorae almost matches the quantity from Ibiza, but are twice the number from Tarragona. Coupled with the pertaining coarsewares, the presence of the amphorae indicates the presence of wine, and the inclusion of Menorca in the Mediterranean economy.
Back to Catalan for a discussion by Ramis of, Evidències de contactes exteriors al món talaiòtic a partir de l’estudi del registre faunístic. Almost all the animals in the Balearics have been introduced by humans, not all at once, but gradually over centuries, giving rise to new methods of exploitation and incidentally allowing the later evaluation of the exterior influence involved. The time period involved ranges from the end of the 2nd millennium BC to perhaps the 1st century when true Romanisation can be determined, and geographically covers Mallorca and Menorca. The animals considered are the deer, rabbit, equines, chickens, weasels, cats, turtles, and snails. While it is possible to demonstrate an increase in size for sheep, that for goats and cattle is more problematic, although an introduction of cattle from Tharros, Sardinia, would have been desirable. Changes of exploitation can be seen with the introduction of consumption of dogs, and of fishing, fish here including cetaceans.
The last Catalan article, Denes púniques de pasta de vidre a Menorca: el conjunt del cercle 7 de Torre d’en Galmés by Ferrer Rotger & Riudavets González concerns the discovery of glass and faïence beads at Cercle 7. The abrupt abandonment of the site has provided archaeologists with an unusual opportunity to explore an almost intact settlement, leading to the discovery of 42 beads of probable Ibizan origin and some cockle shells. These beads may have been regarded as status objects, as they accompanied their owners after death, frequently being found in necropoli with possible apotropaic function, with until now only small numbers found in domestic settings. At Cercle 7, the clustering of the finds suggests a perishable material was used to link them together, and their location inside the cercle could indicate they were elements in daily life.
Staying with cercles, Torres Gomariz in, Cercles menorquins: aproximación a la influencia de la arquitectura púnica en las viviendas postalayóticas de Menorca, examines the living quarters. From the 6th century, changes can be seen in the Menorcan way of life, in particular in housing, due to the increasing Punic-Ibizan influence. Menorcan cercles have been a subject of intense interest to antiquarians and archaeologists for 200 years, being finally recognised as ‘standardised domestic units’ in the early 1960s. The model for this standardisation can be matched against other Punic examples in Sicily and North Africa, some Menorcan examples even adopting the opus africanum method of wall construction. The layout of the house, with rooms around a central ‘patio’ reflects the newly fragmented social structure. The unequal commercial exchanges with the Phoenicians may have been the catalyst behind the formation of an hierarchical society.
The last article of this book by Torres, Obrador & De Nicolás called Ba’al-Hammon, Caelestis y el dios del plenilunio en el santuario con taula de Son Catlar (Ciutadella) demonstrates the continuing polyglot nature of life in Menorca. Two stones bearing inscriptions in the Latin script were found in the 1920s at Son Catlar. A further stone with Latin script, but Punic content, and a fourth stone with a 2nd century Punic inscription have since been found. Tanit, renamed as Caelaes(tis), through a last minute correction has been dated to the 2nd century AD. The first two inscriptions mentioned reading LACESE and LACESEN respectively could be interpreted as being addressed, in Punic with Latin letters, to the moon god. Besides these four inscriptions on stone, is another written in the Punic script on an ostracon, and in the Greek alphabet dedicated to Diodorus, perhaps to be interpreted as ‘Gift from Baal’. Examples of the name, Caelaestis, in mainland Spain, appear in fully Romanised urban settings. Associated with the sanctuary at Son Catlar is a cistern perhaps for ritual use. Secondary symbols of the gods, bulls for Baal and perfume burners for Tanit, appear in numerous other places in Menorca, showing the importance of Punic religion there.
Pete Missingham – University of Bristol.