History and archaeological finds in South Iberia 1

by Karl Juergen Hepke

The favoured situation of South-Iberia has , since man live, made them going there. Here they have built up their culture and left traces. The problem at the search of them is, that the traces of many cultures are overlapping at favoured places. By new buildings old structures were destroyed or made nearly unrecogniseable by integration in new ones. Talking about archaeological finds in South -Iberia needs for this always the respect to the history of the place of finds which has possibly changed the find.

The oldest finds date from the younger Paleolithic period, the time 1 million years ago. They consist of primitive carved pebbles, which are located in a thick layer of 30 cm at the edge of a hill near El Aculadero in El Puerto. Similar findings come from Rota and Carmona. A gravel layer located over the layer with fossils enables at El Aculadero to give the exact date. These are the oldest products of "man" in Iberia. They are assigned to Homo habilis.

There are other findings from the Paleolithic. Wildlife and favorable climate, rich forests and fish-rich waters and seas provided ideal conditions for a life as hunter and gatherer.

In the neolithic time, lands were first created and it began the keeping of domestic animals. For the area of the city of Puerto the first hints for the installation of a settlement are found in the area of Cantarramas. It is dated to 3500 BC and goes so far as the Chalcolithic period. It was here found on some 10 000 m2 remains of huts and living rooms and underground constructions, so-called bell-shaped hypogea, which served mainly as a storage room. Sometimes they were also used as burial for the dead, which remembers at the buildings of Los Millares in South East Iberia and at the houses of Catal Huyuk in Anatolia. In addition, are found remains of buildings of sun-dried bricks and fireplaces with a large number of skilfully carved flint tools, stone and bone fragments, which shows, that men long lived and worked in these places.

Due to the almost paradisian conditions, which also Plato in his Atlantis story reports, South Iberia appears to have attracted more and more capable people, or gave birth to them. During this time, some of them recognized the benefits of certain stones, which were found in their mountains. By use of fire one could win completely new materials out of them. How they came to this, probably will always remain a mystery. Maybe it was a flash, that made the first metal from ore. In tales of the northern Basque is still reported, that lightning produced a hatchet. Therefore the name of an ax is there today, "lightning stone". Instead of a lightning, which only the gods were able to produce, tried the people, to do this with fire, that after their experience was often the result of a lightning bolt, and had success.

The new red shining material, that could be easily worked, and was thus a wonderful material for jewelry and devices for the cult ,was so by the now there living people given as a small dagger to the dead, who were later named after the shape of their ceramics "Beaker People".

Buried were the rich and powerful, which got gradually out from the crowd, in the plains of Iberia in burials of mighty stones. This custom had been executed since the fifth millennium in western Europe. It proves that the people from that time were coming from a common root and had a culture, that united them. South Iberia was surely at first only an equal part of this cultural area. It only gained its special significance by the discovery of metal extraction and processing.

After the discovery of copper, one began with the production on a larger scale. But one had got curious and also investigated other "stones" ,whether it was possible, to get something useful from them by the use of fire and great heat , won in closed stoves made of mud, using wood and charcoal . Because there occurred a variety of different stones, which were called later ores , was discovered besides the copper, tin, lead, silver, iron and zinc. Gold, which occurred in the rivers and the vein in pure form in conjunction with other metals , was in search of new metal-containing rocks probably co-discovered incidentally and because of its pleasant luster and its resistance to oxydation gladly worn as jewelry. But beyond that , little could be done with it. It was soft and heavy and not fitted for tools.. Only when was detected its miscibility with silver, it became a favorite of fine metal smiths, who made excellent dishes from it, which now began to grace the tables of the rich. Even the making of jewel reached on this basis a high perfection in Iberia, which was gradually becoming at that time the Atlantis of Plato.


On the basis of the flourishing trade with the new metals had Iberia and especially South Iberia / Atlantis the first economic boom. It led to the deforestation of large parts of the forest, because the metal extraction needed always greater quantities of wood and charcoal .The increased building of ships and associated with the increasing population increased construction activity swallowed a lot of wood. To supply the population, more and more arable and grazing land was needed, so that the cutover forests could not be replanted.

A large proportion of the population who lived by trade and craft activities, settled in fortified cities. Because here one was safer from the covetousness of his neighbors. This led to the fortified cities Tharsis, Huelva , Niebla, El Carambolo and others in the core area of Atlantis, the area of the lower Guadalquivir and the Guadiana. These cities and their catchment area are largely identical to today in Spain as "Tartessians" designated areas.

When they tried to colonize even more distant areas, because in their mineral resources, the first conflicts emerged. It became necessary to define the boundaries of areas of interest and set the "kingdoms" . An alliance of the kings , with guaranteed mutual respect for the limits, was laid down and became the basis for a boundary-safe-border trade. The search for areas where there were still undiscovered ores shifted outwards.

The "Beaker people" swarmed and crisscrossed Europe and the Near East in search of metals. When they were successful, they settled down and built on site a separate metal production, but maintained, as far as possible, yet relations with their country of origin, Atlantis / Iberia. The result was the gradually rising " Atlantic Empire," , which was initially not a political kingdom, but rested on far-reaching trade relations with the coveted metals, especially bronze.

The connections to the home country went over the water of rivers and oceans, because there were no roads at that time in Europe. It was mainly covered by dense forests, which made a passage on land nearly impossible.

The mental agility of the people of that time and the opportunity to put ideas quickly and without hindrance from others into action, quickly perfected the use of waterways. From the still abundant timber of large forests with old trees, it was easily possible, to find out the most suitable timber for light, fast boats with sufficient transport capacity . It was during this time not important, to transport bulk cargoes as grain, wine or oil, as later at the time of the Romans . There were transported primarily men or things like jewelry, amber, arms and metals, which could not be found or manufactured in their own country.

The design of the ships of this period is known from numerous reports and presentations. They are long, narrow boats in lengths up to about 20m, with strongly pulled up front and rear, detachable rudder at one side and banks for two rowers side by side and up to 25 in a row. This was then called the 50-rower. Also popular was the 30-rower with 15 oarsmen at a row, which was more appropriate for the rougher waters of the Atlantic and the northern seas, because it had a bigger fit for the here dominant long waves.

Some of these ships were recently found in front of the coast of Andalusia and in Portuguese rivers estuaries as sunken wrecks. Their recovery and restoration, which requires years of painstaking work , is still ongoing.

From the time of the Bell Beaker people developed on this basis, the so-called "Bronze Age", which is usually calculated in the Mediterranean from about 3000 BC to about 800 BC. From BC 800th was the bronze as the main material for the manufacture of arms replaced by iron tools. The technology of iron production and processing in large scale was brought to Western Europe by the peoples of the Etruscans and the Celts returning from the Near East.

The Bronze Age in Iberia had abruptly found its end with the cosmic catastrophe of 1250 BC .The high culture, which characterized this area by then, broke here down almost completely. The "Atlantis" of the old days disappeared from Andalusia. With the rushing waves of the sea ,a huge Tsunami wave and the accompanying earthquakes and landslides with heavy rainfalls, vanished towns, canals and people into "one night and one day," as Plato says.

Due to this unusual and hitherto by science not recognized event are the basics for a job in conventional archaeological style for many areas extremely difficult. Layers , in which one could make work in the usual style of stratigraphy are partly or completely destroyed or totally messed up. An archaeologist who ignores this fact of perturbation of layers will face insoluble riddles.

The disaster was followed by about 150 years of emigration from the devastated and by continuous rainfalls barely usable areas. It was around 1100 BC, when is stirring new life on the coast. The metal mining has resumed and the Phoenicians set up their first trading post on a headland in front of the former city of Tarshish. Around 800 BC follows in the vicinity of the location of the lost city of Tharsis / Atlantis, conveniently situated 10 km from the sea on a hill, the construction of the successor city "Tartessos". Ships bring as before from there the coveted metals silver, tin and gold to the flourishing eastern Mediterranean.

Here, in the east, arrived in this period also increasingly the descendants of emigrants from Western Europe and also from Iberia, which were here in Egypt called " Sea Peoples ", and later in Assyria "Aramaeans". They knew well , because of their well-organized oral tradition, still the sources of their former wealth and took great interest in restructuring the connection to them by the sea .

This time, the so-called Phoenician, which lasted until about 500 BC, has in archaeological finds, especially on the west coast of Andalusia, the ancient coast of Atlantis, left their mark. In the center of Andalusia is called this period the "Tartessian period", which has its own cultural characteristics in continuation of the "Atlantic" period of the Bronze Age. The city "Tartessos" which is mentioned in Greek writings as a source for metal supplies in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Bible is still "Tarshish" called, is taken in official Spain of 2003 as still undetected. This, although the findings in Puerto at the hill of " Dona Blanca" can tell , that this is highly probable the missing Tartessos.

Since one has had bad experiences with jumping to conclusions in this regard, because the near Gibraltar situated Carteia was taken for"Tartessos" before it turned out to be "Roman", one is now justifiably cautious.

From this "Tartessian time" there are excellent finds, which represent after current opinion a "mixture of indigenous and Phoenician tradition," but probably continue the remains of old Atlantic tradition. They are found mainly at the lower Guadalquivir and in the valleys of Guadiana, the area, that was once possibly the central Atlantic Kingdom with its capital in Tharsis, the predecessor of Tartessos at the same place. There were planned and fortified towns such as Niebla, Huelva, El Carambolo.

In El Carambolo was discovered a spectacular treasure of gold, which proves the high quality of the Atlantic or "Tartessian" gold work. It is now in the Museum of Seville. It was also found a special font that is different from the two previously used in Iberia and has not yet been deciphered. The above-mentioned cities were important places for processing the revival of the flourishing trade in metals, again produced and primarily sold in the Mediterranean region, where a huge demand for it was in the burgeoning empires Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt and in the by its trade becoming rich cities Tyre, Sidon, and many others.

The ships of Tyre, which the Bible calls "ships of Tharsis" In continuation of the old name, brought these treasures to the east, where they had several times that value. Even Israel's King Solomon sent ships to "Tarshish" to participate with the prosperity, that brought the trade of metal . Also vessels from the resurgent Greece found their way to the treasures of metal.

This changed, when the 700 BC by the Tyrians founded Carthage was strong enough, to take over this trade as his monopoly. Around 550 BC, was conquered South Iberia with its rich mines by the Carthaginians.This was associated with the temporary destruction of major cities, leaving a new archaeological layer. The Tartessian culture disappeared from the traditional history of Greece, for the gains flowing from the metal extraction went to Carthage.

Only some Greek ships reached yet Tartessos and returned laden with silver back to Greece. The sailors told of the fabulous riches of the country visited. That was told in the Mediterranean and Rome, which was just about to gain supremacy over Italy, was awake.

264 BC it comes to the first military conflict between Rome and Carthage. The first "Punic War", as he is known in Rome begins. After its end Carthage, which has more problems with the Greeks in the east and now also in the north with the Romans, turns fully to Iberia. In the year 237 BC an army lands under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca at Cadiz. Taking advantage of the strategic situation of this region, Iberia is made accessible from here for the Carthaginians.

It is largely conquered and becomes Carthaginian province. In the 228 is a better to Carthage situated new port , located at the east coast, Carthago Nova, today's Cartagena, founded by the Carthaginians and takes over the connection to the Mother City. The second Punic War, during which Hannibal , the Carthaginian military leader, brings almost all of Italy in its power and defeats destroying the Romans at Cannae, 216 BC, proceeds from the Iberian possessions of Carthage.

To cut off Hannibal's supply lines from Iberia the Romans attacked also here. In 217 the twins Gnaeus and Publius Scipio were united to process fault action with varying success in Iberia, where they penetrated even to the Guadalquivir valley.
But it was the son of Publius, the later conqueror of
Carthage, Scipio Africanus, who could turn with a in Catalonia 210 BC landed army the luck of success in favor of the Romans. 209 he captured Cartagena and struck at the Battle of Ilipa (probably Alcala del Rio, near the present-day Seville), the Carthaginians decisively.

Since Hannibal failed to take advantage of the victory of Cannae and shrunk back trying to conquer Rome, the Romans found time to recover. They equipped a fleet and set over to Africa ,to bypass the big and strong Carthaginian army, which was confortable in the south of Italy, and to attack Carthage directly.

Hannibal was called by the Carthaginians for help, but can only bring together an inadequate army and was defeated at the Battle of Zama 202 BC , not far away from Carthage . Carthage is outraged by his behavior, that makes losers of Carthage in this war, started successfully.

As a result of the war, Iberia must completely surrender to the Romans and Carthage has to give almost his entire fleet to Rome. So it had played its role in Iberia and Iberia was not severely damaged by this quarrels.

But under the sway of Rome, this was made up in abundant measure. Rome divided Iberia in two provinces, "Hispania Citerior" with the capital city of Cartagena and "Hispania Ulterior" with its capital at Corduba (Cordoba). But Iberia is resisting the new rule. Rome is forced to enforce its rule through an army of 70 000 men under the consul Cato with violence and major atrocities and devastations. According to archaeological findings was also Tartessos (Dona Blanca) then destroyed and never rebuilt.

Then comes Iberia for a long time not to rest. Until the fall of Numantia 133 BC. is lasting the Iberian resistance and then it goes over into the inner Iberian clashes between Roman rulers. It begins with the conflict of Caesar with Pompey, who was consul in Iberia for a long time. Twice his army was fought there by Caesar and many cities were severely affected. There was a further archaeological layer of debris.

Only in the subsequent imperial time Iberia is blooming again. The Romans valued the rich and relatively peaceful province and developed many partially luxuriously built cities with large theaters and spas. The existing old cities were often built over almost completely, so that it requires intensive detail work of archaeologists to identify the condition before the Romans.

The calm lasted about 250 years, which meant that "Spain", because you can now use this concept, which dates from Roman times , received its Roman image. In the year 98 AD, it gave the first Roman emperor from the provinces,Trajan ,born in Italica near Seville, to Rome. Under his rule the Roman Empire reached its largest extent.

At the end of the Roman Empire, there was again civil war of the Romans in Iberia. The legions of rival emperors fought and brought a new wave of destruction across the country. When the Germanic peoples of the Vandals and the Visigoths, then moved into Iberia, many of the Roman cities were severely damaged and weakened by the civil war .

By the invasion of the Germans additionally cities were destroyed and only slowly regained since the Germanic conquerors were not very interested in urban culture. This changed when around 700 AD the Arabs invaded from the south to Iberia, conquered and re-populated the land.

They built their cities in the Arab and irregularly angled style that differs significantly from the previous Atlantic and Roman styles. The Arabic style continues to characterize large parts of South Iberian places. Sometimes, as in Cordoba, you can still see Roman remains underneath. In other places Roman and Atlantic towns decayed, because its location did not suit the Arab settlers and erected their towns at another, more sheltered places,. The ancient cities served frequently as quarries or providers of lime for the newly-established settlements, so that they sometimes completely disappeared from the surface.

With the "reconquista" by the Christian armies, which began in 1100 in northern Spain and ended 1492 with the conquest of Granada, went the last wave of destruction of the old time over the country. it was however limited, since many of the resulting damages were resolved quickly by the initially remaining Arab inhabitants.

For the economic boom of the 19 and 20 Century it was reserved to destroy by urban renewal, construction of new squares and streets, and finally through an unprecedented expansion of roads, many old structures, although this was initially not detected at all. Met a backhoe or wheel loader old wall remains, this was only perceived as a perturbation of the building action , because their removal required more effort.

Long time nobody came across the idea to be perhaps at important historical systems of high archaeological value.Only since about 1970 one began to preserve systematic archaeologically valuable remains or at least documented it before its destruction. This happened mostly still poor, compared to the current state of archaeological methods. In some places, it was made by the work of enthusiastic and interested laymen. This was merely being "dug up" and not examined archaeologically. Many findings were therefore lost from the outset. Even today, many "digs" are not performed according to the standards developed , by non-professionals or support staff, and there is still a risk that is destroyed , at the delicate conditions in archaeological South Iberia , another valuable material by improper working.

For South Iberia is about the led out a great danger in the high-speed sprawling tourism, which changed the near sea areas completely by construction of even more new settlements, which are here called "urbanization". Here are removed or completely re-terraced mountains by modern construction equipment , are milled roadways and highways through fallow land of ancient culture and planned and created completely new landscapes.

The few archaeological experts, who owns the land, are in the task of securing irreplaceable values completely overwhelmed and can only be a dread in front of it , when once again a milled through a mountain road route destroyed a 6000 years old necropole, as happened in Los Millares , or an archaeologically most valuable mountain slope is made to the exploitation mine of a cement plant (Puerto de Santa Maria).

The continuation of this report can be found at Archaeological finds in South Iberia 2


Read to this in English: The History of Atlantis, the forgotten Origin of our Culture         By Karl Juergen Hepke

Or as a book in German language:


DIE GESCHICHTE VON ATLANTIS, der vergessene Ursprung unserer Kultur
von Karl Juergen Hepke
TRIGA-DER VERLAG, 2.Aufl. 2008, Hardcover, 268 Seiten, Eur 22,00 , ISBN 978-3-89774-539-1