Sunday, February 25

Excavations conclude at the Tartessian site of Casas del Turuñuelo


The works reveal that it is a unique settlement in the middle valley of the Guadiana in the final phase of the Tartessian chronology.

The Archaeological Institute of Mérida (IAM), dependent on the Ministry of Economy, Science and Digital Agenda and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, have completed the R&D project on the site Tartessian of Casas de Turuñuelo with an excavation campaign that reveals the importance of the enclave, its architectural richness and the need to maintain continuity in the works.

Specifically, work has been completed on the fourth campaign, which ran from April to June this year and had a summer break. This is the research project «Study of the animal hecatomb of the ‘Casas del Turuñuelo’ site. The management of the cattle herd and its socioeconomic and ritual implications in the Tartessian era”, carried out by the Institute of Archeology of Mérida (IAM)-CSIC, has concluded with the execution of the programmed works and providing revealing data that determine the category of the site as a unique settlement in the middle valley of the Guadiana in the final phase of the Tartessian chronology (5th century BC).

This is what the Casas del Turuñuelo site looks like inside
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The Turuñuelo archaeological site is located in the municipality of Guareña, near Yelbes, near the Tartessian necropolis of Medellín. The excavation work carried out has allowed this new construction to be cataloged as part of a total of 13 buildings located under burial mounds at the confluence of the Guadiana River with one of its main tributaries.

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The Turuñuelo excavation is directed by the IAM-CSIF archaeologists Sebastián Celestino and Esther Rodríguez, and the excavation campaigns carried out have allowed the exhumation of part of a two-storey building, made up of a hall that gives way to several rooms and a patio to the which is accessed by a monumental staircase. More than 50 slaughtered animals have been recorded on the paving of the patio, among which the equines stand out.

Only case

This is a unique case both for its depositional characteristics and for the size and variety of the faunal sample. The marked structured character of the animal deposits indicates a high component of ceremonial activity that is interpreted as the first evidence of a hecatomb in the Mediterranean.

The extraordinary volume of localized equids and the observed variability indicate a probably mixed equine herd, which could be composed of horses, donkeys or donkeys and their hybrids. This refers us to a specialized and efficient livestock management that could be oriented to the transport of goods, probably related to supply and/or distribution.

The research team currently working at the site is multidisciplinary, encompassing all specialties related to the reconstruction and specific analysis of animal remains. This team is made up of members of the Mérida Institute of Archeology of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (IAM-CSIC), the Restoration and Conservation Institute of the Generalitat of Valencia, the Universities of Extremadura (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, School of Industrial Engineering ), and by the Bioarchaeology teams of the universities of Barcelona, ​​Valencia, Granada, the Milá and Fontanals Institute of the CSIC and the Carlos III Institute-Complutense University of Madrid.

Currently, the size of the site and its enormous potential have required the granting of a direct grant from the Junta de Extremadura to the CSIC to give continuity to the investigation of the Tartessian site of Casas del Turuñuelo carried out by the IAM, as it is considered the largest archaeological find of the last decade in Spain and one of the most important in the Mediterranean.

This new direct concession has an investment of 166,518 euros, co-financed 80% by the ERDF 2014-2020 Operational Program of Extremadura, for the performance of an eligible activity until 2023 that will allow the development of study, restoration and conservation in the laboratory of the extracted remains.

The findings found at the Turuñuelo site have not only had an international scientific projection, but their dissemination has acquired an extraordinary social dimension due to their dissemination through social networks, with permanently updated information available through the web https:/ /; on twitter, Building Tarteso@CTarteso; or on Facebook,, as a dissemination and socialization platform.

In short, the Casas de Turuñuelo site has become a scientific and social phenomenon that continues to grow and is even a precursor to entrepreneurial initiatives among Extremaduran society, informs the Board in a press release.

This project has been co-financed at 80% for an amount of 148,227.20 euros by ERDF funds in the 2014-2020 programming period, within the Thematic Objective 01 “Promote research, technological development and innovation”, within the framework of the actions contemplated in the Program for the Promotion of Scientific Research and Technological Development of the VI Regional R&D Plan (2017-2020), currently extended.

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