Category Archives: SPAIN

Archaeologists in Spain Seek Grave of 16th-Century Irish Hero

Archaeologists in Spain Seek Grave of 16th-Century Irish Hero

VALLADOLID, SPAIN—The Archaeology org reports that a team of researchers led by archaeologist Óscar Burón have uncovered human remains at what may be the burial place of Red Hugh O’Donnell.

Statue of Red Hugh O’Donnell

An Irish nobleman who led a rebellion against the government in Ireland and died in Spain in 1602, after attempting to persuade Spanish king Philip III to send additional troops to Ireland to continue the fight against the English.

A tweet from the city’s tourism and culture department read: “A part of the skull, a femur, and some more remains appear in what appears to be the access to the Chapel of the Marvels.”

On day five of the dig in Valladolid’s Constitution Street on Friday, the archaeologists recovered human remains.

The city’s culture councillor Ana Redondo posted a shamrock emoji and the words “estamos cerca” – “we are close”.

The archaeologists involved are also searching for the remains of Christopher Columbus, who in 1492 became the first European to discover the Americas.

He was buried in the same place as O’Donnell. However, Columbus’s remains were allegedly removed and reburied in the cathedral of Seville and later in the Dominican Republic.

In search of Red Hugh O’Donnell, the Irish William Wallace who ended his days in Valladolid.

Speaking on Friday, which was the 514th anniversary of the funeral of Columbus in Valladolid, chief archaeologist Óscar Burón said he believed that both O’Donnell and Columbus are “buried right under our feet and now we are concerned with checking whether the research we have undertaken is correct”.

He described O’Donnell as an “Irish prince and the hero of the resistance against the English”.

O’Donnell and his father-in-law Hugh Mor O’Neill, who between them controlled large parts of the north of Ireland, started the Nine Years War to drive the English out of Ireland.

Battle of Kinsale

It began promisingly and the Irish won a number of significant victories, but eventually ended in defeat following the siege and then the Battle of Kinsale in late 1601 and early 1602.

A combined force of Spanish and Irish troops was defeated by the English in one of the worst military setbacks in Irish history, after which Red Hugh fled to Spain.

Though Philip III never did provide the soldiers requested by Red Hugh, he did give him the equivalent of a royal funeral as described in the Annals of the Four Masters.

“His body was conveyed to the king’s palace at Valladolid in a four-wheeled hearse, surrounded by countless numbers of the king’s state officers, council, and guards, with luminous torches and bright flambeaux of beautiful wax-light burning on each side of him.”

He was buried within the Chapel of Marvels in the grounds of the Franciscan convent in Valladolid. The convent disappeared in 1836 and with it O’Donnell’s remains.

In a statement, Valladolid city council’s cultural department said finding the remains of O’ Donnell would be a “spur to the dissemination of this city abroad and also, of course, within Spain.

“The burial in Valladolid of these two characters of such relevance to the world as is the case of Columbus and to relations between Spain and Ireland against their common enemy: England, demonstrate the importance of Spain and specifically of Valladolid for centuries.”

On Thursday the team of archaeologists located other human bones, but not those of O’Donnell.

They hope that his remains will be easy to identify as he lost the big toes on both feet from frostbite after he escaped from prison in Dublin in December 1591. He fled into the Wicklow mountains in the depth of winter. His companion Art O’Neill froze to death in the escape.

New Virtual Reality Experience Transports Viewer Inside Spanish Paleolithic Caves Seen By Only 50 People In 16,000 Years

New Virtual Reality Experience Transports Viewer Inside Spanish Paleolithic Caves Seen By Only 50 People In 16,000 Years

In the caves of La Garma mountain in Northern Spain, there were only 50 other people, a novel archeological site with one of the most important international collections of rock art and archeological stays in the Paleolithic age.

Screen shot from virtual reality revel in within La Garma caves in Northern Spain

La Garma is a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art in northern Spain. La Garma houses five levels of caves and is considered the most important Paleolithic archaeological discovery since the mid-twentieth century. 

The cave’s lower gallery, which was discovered in 1995 features the world’s biggest example of paleolithic flooring. The flooring and ancient stays inside the cave have been neatly preserved through a landslide 16,000 years ago that sealed off the cave to the elements.

Two decades after the rediscovery and preliminary learning about the lower gallery at La Garma, scientists saw the need for additional study of the cave’s underground system—its microclimate and microbiology—and assessment of the state of conservation of the rock art.

Still of La Garma cave flooring in Memoria VR revel in

With the support of American shoe dressmaker Stuart Weitzman, who has been producing footwear in Spain for the reason that the 1970s, the World Monuments Fund has been working on a project to conserve and promote La Garma with Morena Films and Overlat studio.

A multidisciplinary team of experts have been studying the cave’s ecosystem and archaeological remains. Two short documentaries and a virtual reality experience have been produced to allow people to enjoy and learn about this extraordinary site.

Now anyone can “travel” to Northern Spain on a virtual consult with those hardly ever visited Spanish caves Memoria: Stories of La Garma, through award-winning VR director Rafael Pavón, is a new virtual reality revel in simply introduced through Viveport, the arena’s first limitless VR subscription service.

This VR experience is really the only way to learn about these fascinating caves due to the danger of the site.

Only 50 people have physically been able to enter them in the past 16,000 years and the caves are off-limits to the public but by mapping them for VR, they can now be viewed virtually by anyone.

Still from Memoria of cave drawings of animals in La Garma caves

Memoria premiered in 2019 on the Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Cantabria in Santander and it used to be this museum’s staff who worked with Rafael Pavon on the VR experience.

Narrated by Geraldine Chaplin (The Crown, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), this VR film is an incredible story from the Paleolithic era about a community who on returning from hunting discovered that the La Garma caves they called home had been blocked off by a landslide, creating a time capsule.

Thousands of relics, from cave-wall paintings of animals and signs to animal bones, seashells, and artifacts carved in bone, remained undisturbed and intact for 16,000 years.

So what is the VR experience like, what equipment is required and how much does it cost? The Memoria: Stories of La Garma VR experience is impressive and is compatible with most VR headsets.

The user can “walk” around three spaces of the cave, captured with millimetric precision using laser scanners and photogrammetry.

The viewer will see paleolithic hunters, a mother, and her child and a cave lion who made his way deep into the cave to live his final days.

You can watch videos about the caves but the nature of VR means people can physically explore the caves, virtually pick things up, and become immersed, as if they were in the caves.

A UK viewer of the content makes an onetime purchase for £4.56 from Viveport and then can view the experience repeatedly.

Alternatively, Viveport has an unlimited VR subscription service called Infinity that can be purchased as a monthly (£12.99) or annual subscription (works out as £8.99/month), allowing unlimited access to their entire range of content.

Fabled palace’s lost gateway unearthed

Islamic-Era Palace Gate Uncovered in Spain

The abandoned gate of the fabled Islamic palace-town Medina Azahara in the 10th century, which was destroyed by fire during a 1010 civil war, has been discovered in southern Spain.

Abd Rahman III, the first caliph of Córdoba, began in 936-1940 AD to build a palace – whose name means ‘ the shining city. ‘ This palace was built as a power symbol.

For some seventy years Medina Azahara thrived before being sacked and burned by Berber rebels in an uprising that eventually saw the caliphate’s dissolution. In the following centuries, the city’s ruins were plundered for the construction of other structures as far away as Marrakech

Abd-al-Rahman III was the first caliph of Córdoba, in Andalusia, and once a member of the Umayyad dynasty.

The site was first excavated in the 1910s, with efforts to date have only uncovered around 10 per cent of the massive complex — which is threatened by construction.

Researchers hope that the discovery of the gate will add to their understanding of the workings of the palace — in particular, the parade ground that it opened on to.

The palace, pictured — whose name means ‘the shining city’ — was built as a symbol of power by Abd-al-Rahman III, the first Caliph of Córdoba, beginning around 936–940 AD
The lost gate of the fabled 10th-century Islamic palace-city Medina Azahara that was destroyed by fire during a civil war in 1010 has been unearthed in southern Spain. Pictured, the remains of the mosque at Medina Azahara. One of the oldest of the city’s buildings, it was built on the lowest of the complex’s three terraced levels, outside of the walled precinct

Medina Azahara lies around four miles west of Córdoba in the foothills of the Sierra Morena, where it would have dominated the views from the surrounding plains.

‘The east gate stood on a porch that collapsed with the fire that destroyed the city,” said archaeologist Alberto Canto of The Autonomous University of Madrid, who led the excavation.

‘Everything collapsed and so we found buried the remains of its tiles, wood, nails, beams, hinges and ornaments,’ he added. Alongside the gate’s debris, the archaeological team also discovered charcoal believed to have come from the fire that destroyed the gateway.

The lost gate is believed to be the entrance to the palace’s spacious parade ground — which was the size of two football pitches — where the caliph’s guard assembled.

Believed to have once stood at around two storeys high, the lost gate was built in a style similar to the doors of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, in Andalusia. It is thought that the entryway would have been embedded in a plastered portico decorated with blue plant motifs.

The site was first rediscovered in the 1910s, with excavations to date having only uncovered around 10 per cent of the massive complex. Pictured, the so-called door of the prime minister within the city-palace

The Medina Azahara complex spanned around 250 acres of land and is believed to have taken some 10,000 workers to build across its history.

Alongside the parade ground, the city featured administrative and governmental offices, barracks, baths, three gardens, a mint, mosques, reception halls, residences, schools, stables and workshops. The heart of Medina Azahara was the reception hall, referred to as the ‘Salón Rico’, or ‘Rich Hall.

Historians believe that at the centre of the hall lay a pool filled with mercury that, when disturbed on cue by a servant, shone the sun’s reflected rays flashing across the walls and ceiling in a display like lightning — one that was used by the caliph to entertain his guests.

Water was supplied to the city by tapping into the remains of a 1st-century Roman aqueduct — part of which was also repurposed as a sewer system. 

Medina Azahara was modelled after the old Umayyad palace in Damascus, a move intended to serve as a symbol of the connection between the caliph and his ancestors.

Medina Azahara lies around four miles west of Córdoba in the foothills of the Sierra Morena, southern Spain, where it would have dominated the views from the surrounding plains

Between the palace-city’s first construction and Abd-al-Rahman III’s death in 961, the ruler is said to have to spend a third of his caliphate’s annual revenue on developing the magnificent complex.

The caliphate of Córdoba covered much of the Iberian peninsula — and a breakaway from territories of the Umayyad dynasty, one of the world’s largest empires that spanned some 4.3 million square miles at its height and was centred on Damascus.

Medina Azahara has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2018, with the United Nations describing the caliphate city as an exemplar ‘of the now vanished Western Islamic civilisation of al-Andalus at the height of its splendour.’

Drought Reveals “Spanish Stonehenge” Older Than the Pyramids

Drought Reveals “Spanish Stonehenge” Older Than the Pyramids

After 50 years of immersion on the bottom of a basin, in Spain, a 5,000-year-old monument emerged.

There are 144 granite blocks on the megalithic site, which are over 6 feet high, known as ‘ Spanish Stonehenge. ‘ Its similarity to the UNESCO World Heritage site in Wiltshire is striking, but the Iberian version is made of smaller rocks.

The Spanish General ordered the construction of a hydroelectric dam at Peraleda de la Mata, near Cáceres in Extremadura, which was supposed to be condemned to the history books of the 1960s.

The Dolmen de Guadalperal, also known as the “Spanish Stonehenge,” has been completely exposed for the first time in 50 years following the drought.
Some of the megaliths reach two meters in height.

However, a severe and prolonged drought has seen the structure emerge as the last drops of water vanished from the barren basin. Western Spain is being ravaged by a year-long drought and the Bronze Age structure, thought to be an ancient temple, can now be seen.  

Hugo Obermaier, a German priest and amateur archaeologist, first found the site in 1925.

Due to the unfortunate decision-making of General Franco who opted to consign the site to obscurity when he commissioned a valley bordering the Tagus river to be flooded.

But before its rediscovery and subsequent demise, it is thought the stones would have centered around a central chamber for sun worship.

It is believed the Celts living in Iberia 4,000 years ago may have built the structure.    

‘The stones have been brought from about five kilometers away to form this temple, which we think was used to worship the sun,’ Ángel Castaño, president of the Peraleda Cultural Association, told the Times. 

‘In that way, it has similarities to Stonehenge but is obviously smaller.

‘People here had heard about them but had never seen them. We want the authorities to move these stones to the banks of the reservoir and to use them as a tourist attraction, as few people come to this area.’

Stonehenge’s enormous rocks are up to 30 feet in length, dwarfing the six-foot-tall single monoliths uncovered in Spain. There are more stones at the Spanish site, 1144 compared to 93 in Wiltshire. 

However, Stonehenge’s monument covers 10,800 square feet (10,000 square meters), a far bigger area than the Spanish site. 

Radiocarbon dating of the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ found the stones range in age from around 4,000 to 5,000 years old and this ties them curiously to the history of Stonehenge. The first monolith structure in Europe was found in Brittany dating back as far as 4,794 BC and other early monuments (red) were found in northwest France, the Channel Islands, Catalonia, southwestern France, Corsica, and Sardinia from a similar time period.
The site was thought to be condemned to the history books in the 1960s when a Spanish general ordered the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Peraleda de la Mata, near Cáceres in Extremadura

Long-term plans for the preservation of the site are yet to be laid out, but Mr. Castaño met officials from the regional government yesterday to discuss the matter. If action is not taken now, he said, it could be many years before they are seen again.

A prolonged submersion could also be catastrophic for the stones, which are made of granite, a porous material prone to erosion, The monoliths are already showing significant signs of wear, he said, and if they are not saved now, it may be too late.  

Radiocarbon dating of the rocks found they range in age from around 4,000 to 5,000 years old and this ties them curiously to the history of Stonehenge.  Neolithic people, often prone to building monolithic structures, emerged throughout time across Europe. 

It is widely accepted Stonehenge’s bluestones were quarried from Priesli Hills in Wales and moved to the current location, but how the idea for Stonehenge arrived on British shores remains a mystery.  

Various pieces of recent research have looked at what likely led to this, and a scientific paper published in February put forward the idea that the knowledge and expertise to create such monuments was spread around Europe by sailors.

The authors from the University of Gothenburg said the practice of erecting enormous stone structures began in France 6,500 years ago and then made its way around Europe as people migrated.  

Further research into the Spanish Stonehenge could allow for a more detailed picture to emerge of the practice’s popularity in different areas at different times. Currently, inhabitants of Anatolia, what is now Turkey, are thought to have moved to Iberia and settled before eventually heading north and entering the British Isles.