2,500-year-old city buried under flood sediment may belong to lost civilization in Spain
Manuel Cuevas is 52 years old and is not only an entrepreneur, but also a passionate independent researcher. A few days ago, this resident of Sanlucar de Barrameda (Cadiz) sprung into the Spanish media after presenting a report to the Register of the Ministry of Culture of Andalusia. This report provides the coordinates of what has been interpreted to be four large buildings and a town from at least 2,500 years ago. One of these structures, a building or square surrounded by buildings, has measured 360 by 180 meters (1181 by 591 feet), while another, according to information provided by Antena3, reaches a size of about 180 by 100 meters (591 by 328 feet): unusual measurements for such ancient buildings.
The ancient city would be located in the area of Pinar de La Algaida covering an area of about 8 square kilometers (5 square miles.) This is where Cuevas claims to have recognized structures of entire buildings, with the appearance of having been preserved under multiple layers of sediment after suffering a major flood. The researcher believes that the architectural structures are older than that of the great Pharaonic and Mesopotamian monuments. Moreover, some of these buildings, due to their depth, refer to the period in which the mouth of the Guadalquivir River was a huge estuary, when the sea water covered the present city of Seville. Thus, at least some of the buildings may correspond to a time in which the common technology available would not have been sufficient to build such structures – making the city the location of a possible lost civilization.
Approximate area of influence of the Tartessos civilization. (Wikimedia Commons)
Tartessos and Atlantis
The report by Cuevas includes a series of photographs, many of which are enhanced after being taken by satellite. They also show building silhouettes buried in the Cerro del Trigo mountain, about 6 kilometers (3.7miles) from La Algaida, but on the opposite bank of the Guadalquivir River – in the current Doñana Park - just above the place where the German archaeologist Adolf Schulten placed the ancient Tartessos.
Tartessos is a legendary civilization that the ancient Greeks believed was the first Western civilization. It has been suggested that Tartessos was located in the triangle formed by the current Spanish provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cadiz, on the southwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula.
Tartessos is thought to have existed during the late Bronze and early Iron Age. It is believed that Tartessos was centered on the river Tartessos, which could be the river the Romans called Betis and the Arabs Guadalquivir. However, other scholars believe that Tartessos was actually located at the confluence of the mouth of the Odiel River with River Rio Tinto since under the city of Huelva important remains believed to be associated with the Tartessians have been recovered.
Tartessians supposedly developed a unique language and writing system differing from their neighbors, and they received cultural influences of Egyptians and Phoenicians only in their final phase.
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Carriazo bronze, one of the most famous Tartessian known works. It depicts the goddess Astarte. Archaeological Museum of Seville. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The first historical source that alludes to Tartessos is the work of Herodotus’ Nine Books of History, from the Fifth Century BC. In this work he speaks of King Argantonio and his immense wealth, wisdom and generosity.
Much has been written on the origins of the Tartessian culture, but the truth is that nothing is sure yet. It has been said that they came to the peninsula with the so-called Sea People; which could be a reference to the Indo-European precursors of the Celtic culture, people from the northern steppes of the Caucasus, or others from the Middle East who may have brought Neolithic agriculture.
What most researchers have agreed upon is that Tartessos abruptly disappeared from history – there are no further documented references to Tartessos after the Battle of Alalia. One possibility to explain this disappearance is that it was taken by Carthage after his victory over the Greeks. Or it has been suggested that Gadir, the Phoenician metropolis, took control over the trade of Tartessian metals. It must also be considered that possibly there was just an exhaustion of the mineral veins - the main source of Tartessos’ wealth.
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Ashlar (stone block) with mortar found by Manuel Cuevas, La Algaida (Diario de Cádiz)
Some of these details on a lost civilization buried underwater undoubtedly remind many of the lost civilization that Plato is to have placed beyond the Pillars of Hercules (often thought to be the Straits of Gibraltar) -Atlantis . When one considers the investigation of Richard Freund, professor from the University of Hartford in the United States, famous for his excavations in the Middle East, the most likely location of the mythical Atlantis would be precisely Doñana, between the provinces of Cadiz and Huelva.
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In addition to the remains already exposed, Manuel Cuevas says he has detected other more recent structures such as waterways, port jetties, remains of foundations and walls, and parallel lines and grids suggestive of city streets. He believes all of these pre-date the Roman era.
Before excavations, the researcher has requested support from the relevant authorities to carry out an electrical resistance tomography (ERT) analysis to determine the depth to which the closest of the surface ruins are located, in addition to more aerial photographs of the area.
The Fall of Atlantis, Monsu Desiderio (Wikimedia Commons)
The officials of the Ministry of Culture of Andalusia, who have seen the photos and heard his explanations, have referred Cuevas to the Department of Culture of Cadiz, where he was told to submit a research project supported by an Andalusian university, to give it scientific and academic backing. Cuevas has already contacted several specialists among which Ramón Corzo, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Seville, who has shown interest in the project.
It is also important to remember that in the area of La Algaida, not too long ago remains were found of the Turdetanos, a pre-Roman people who lived in the Turdetania region spanning the Guadalquivir valley, coinciding with the territories of the ancient civilization of Tartessos.
Without the commercial and cultural link that Tartessos maintained with the Greeks, Turdetania was plunged into Carthaginian influence - although it developed its own evolution descending from the ancient Tartesian culture. Thus, despite the arrival of the Romans, Turdetania still maintained its own identity. Some distance away from the site associated with Turdetania, Cuevas has located numerous stones with mortar, stone blocks, and remains of buried walls.
Featured image: Some of the photographs taken via satellite and presented by Manuel Cuevas as an indication of the presence of ancient buildings in the area of the Pinar de la Algaida, Cadiz province. (Photo: 20Minutos )
By Mariló T.A.
This article was first published in Spanish at www.ancient-origins.es and has been translated with permission.