Argaric culture

The Argaric culture, named from the type site El Argar near the town of Antas, in what is now the province of Almería in southeastern Spain, is an Early Bronze Age culture which flourished between c. 2200 BC and 1550 BC.[1]

The Argaric culture was characterised by its early adoption of bronze, which briefly allowed this tribe local dominance over other, Copper Age peoples.[2] El Argar also developed sophisticated pottery and ceramic techniques, which they traded with other Mediterranean tribes.

The center of this civilization is displaced to the north and its extension and influence is clearly greater than that of its ancestor. Their mining and metallurgy were quite advanced, with bronze, silver and gold being mined and worked for weapons and jewelry.

Pollen analysis in a peat deposit in the Cañada del Gitano basin high in the Sierra de Baza suggests that the Argaric exhausted precious natural resources, helping bring about its own ruin.[3] The deciduous oak forest that covered the region's slopes were burned off, leaving a tell-tale carbon layer, and replaced by the fire-tolerant, and fire-prone, Mediterranean scrub familiar under the names garrigue and maquis.[4][5]

Iberia Bronze
The Argaric civilization was the center of Iberian Bronze Age


Tesoro de Villena
Treasure of Villena, the second biggest gold finding in Europe. It is supposed to have been hidden by the Cabezo Redondo (near Villena) inhabitants.[6]
Muralla La Bastida (Totana)
La Bastida de Totana, Remains of the outer wall fortifications.

The civilization of El Argar extended to all the province of Almería, north onto the central Meseta, to most of the land of (Murcia) and westwards into the provinces of Granada and Jaen.[7]

Its cultural and possibly political influence was much wider, clearly influencing eastern and southwestern Iberia (Algarve), and possibly other regions as well.

Some authors have suggested that El Argar was a unified state.[2]

Main Argaric towns

Diadema de Caravaca (26824455541)
Gold diadem of Caravaca, 1500-1300 BC.
  • El Argar: irregularly shaped (280 x 90 m).
  • Fuente Vermeja: small fortified site, 3 km north of El Argar
  • Lugarico Viejo: larger town very close to Fuente Vermeja.
  • La Bastida (Totana, Murcia): larger fortified site
  • La Almoloya (Pliego, Murcia): in the top of a plateau
  • Puntarrón Chico: in the top of a small hill, near Beniaján (Murcia)
  • Ifre (Murcia): on a rocky elevation.
  • Zapata (Murcia): 4 km. west of Ifre, fortified.
  • Cabezo Redondo (Villena, Alicante): one of the biggest settlements, on a rocky elevation next to an old lagoon and salt evaporation pond.
  • Gatas (4 km west of Mojácar, Almería): fortified town on a hill with remarkable water canalizations.
  • El Oficio (9 km north of Villaricos, Almería): atop of a well defended hill, strongly fortified, especially towards the sea.
  • Cerro de las Viñas, Coy, Spain
  • Fuente Álamo (7 km north of Cuevas de Almazora, Almería): the citadel is atop a hill, while the houses are terraced in its southern slope.
  • Almizaraque (Almería): a town dating to Los Millares civilization.
  • Cerro de la Virgen de Orce (Granada).
  • Cerro de la Encina (Monachil, Granada).
  • Cuesta del Negro (Purullena, Granada).


The culture of El Argar has traditionally been divided in two phases, named A and B.

El Argar A

This phase started in the 18th century BC, with the earliest calibrated C-14 dates pointing to the first half or this century:

  • 1785 BC (+/- 55 years) in the transitional Late Chalcolithic-Early Bronze of Cerro de la Virgen de Orce, a peripheral site.
  • 1730 BC (+/- 70 years) in Fuente Álamo for El Argar A2, with six undated A1 layers under it.
  • 1700 BC in Cuesta del Negro (another peripheral site) with clear Argarian materials in its lower layer.

El Argar B

This phase begins in the 16th century BC. The main C-14 date is that of 1550 BC (+/- 70 years) in Fuente Álamo for the upper layer of El Argar B2 (with four layers underneath the lowest B phase). Other stratigraphic dates are somewhat more recent but are not confirmed by C-14.

Post-Argarian phase

El Argar B ends in the 14th or 13th century BC, giving way to a less homogeneous post-Argarian culture. Again Fuente Álamo gives the best C-14 dating with 1330 BC (+/- 70 years).

Recent trends

Many more C-14 dates have been published since the beginning of the 21st century. In recent publications, at least 260 such dates are cited altogether. There's now a widespread consensus that the emergence of El Argar can be dated at 2200 cal BC, although its end is still somewhat disputed. Various opinions place the end of El Argar at 15th-14th centuries.[8]

Material culture

Copa argárica de arcilla (M.A.N. 1990-133-12) 01
Clay Argaric goblet (M.A.N., Madrid)


El Argar is the center of the Early and Middle Bronze Age in Iberia. Metallurgy of bronze and pseudo-bronze (alloyed with arsenic instead of tin). Weapons are the main metallurgic product: knives, halberds, swords, spear and arrow points, and big axes of curved edge are all abundant, not just in the Argaric area but also elsewhere in Iberia. Silver is also exploited, while gold, which had been abundant in the Chalcolithic period, becomes less common.

Glass beads

A meaningful element are the glass beads (of blue, green and white colors) that are found in this culture and which have been related with similar findings in Egypt (Amarna), Mycenaean Greece (dated in the 14th century BC), the British Wessex culture (dated c. 1400 BC) and some sites in France. Nevertheless, some of these beads are already found in chalcolithic contexts (site of La Pastora) which has brought some to speculate on an earlier date for the introduction of this material in southeast Iberia (late 3rd millennium BC).

Other manufactured goods

Pottery undergoes important changes, almost totally abandoning decoration and with new types.

Textile manufacture seems important, working specially with wool and flax. Basket-making also seems to have been important, showing greater extent and diversification than in previous periods.

Funerary customs

The collective burial tradition typical of European Megalithic Culture is abandoned in favor of individual burials. The tholos is abandoned in favour of small cists, either under the homes or outside. This trend seems to come from the Eastern Mediterranean, most likely from Mycenaean Greece (skipping Sicily and Italy, where the collective burial tradition remains for some time yet).

From the Argarian civilization, these new burial customs will gradually and irregularly extend to the rest of Iberia.

In the phase B of this civilization, burial in pithoi (large jars) becomes most frequent (see: Jar-burials). Again this custom (that never reached beyond the Argarian circle) seems to come from Greece, where it was used after. ca 2000 BC.

Related cultures

See also


  1. ^ Lull, Vicente; R. Micó; Cristina Rihuete Herrada; Roberto Risch (2011). "El Argar and the Beginning of Class Society in the Western Mediterranean". Archäologie in Eurasien. 24: 381–414.
  2. ^ a b Lull, Vincente; R. Micó; Cristina Rihuete Herrada; Roberto Risch (2013). "Bronze Age Iberia". The Oxford Handbook of the European Bronze Age. Oxford University Press: 594–616. ISBN 9780199572861.
  3. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Los Silillos, the Megaltihic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
  4. ^ BBC News, "Eco-ruin 'felled early society'" 15 November 2007.
  5. ^ Carrión, J.S.; Fuentes, N.; González-Sampériz, P.; Quirante, L. Sánchez; Finlayson, J.C.; Fernández, S.; Andrade, A. (2007). "Holocene environmental change in a montane region of southern Europe with a long history of human settlement". Quaternary Science Reviews. 26: 1455–1475. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2007.03.013.
  6. ^ Decreto 66/2005, de 1 de abril, por el que se declara Bien de Interés Cultural la Colección Arqueológica del Tesoro de Villena
  7. ^ Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards The Cambridge Ancient History, :1973:764.
  8. ^ Gonzalo Aranda Jimenez, Sandra Montón Subías, Margarita Sánchez Romero, The Archaeology of Bronze Age Iberia: Argaric Societies. Volume 17 of Routledge Studies in Archaeology, 2014 ISBN 1317588916 p34


  • F. Jordá Cerdá et al. History of Spain 1: Prehistory. Gredos ed. 1986. ISBN 84-249-1015-X

External links

Media related to Argaric culture at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 37°15′08″N 1°55′03″W / 37.2521°N 1.9175°W

Atlantic Bronze Age

The Atlantic Bronze Age is a cultural complex of the Bronze Age period of approximately 1300–700 BC that includes different cultures in Portugal, Andalusia, Galicia, France, Britain and Ireland.

Bronze Age Europe

The European Bronze Age is characterized by bronze artifacts and the use of bronze implements. The regional Bronze Age succeeds the Neolithic. It starts with the Aegean Bronze Age in 3200 BC

(succeeded by the Beaker culture), and spans the entire 2nd millennium BC (Unetice culture, Tumulus culture, Terramare culture, Urnfield culture and Lusatian culture) in Northern Europe, lasting until c. 600 BC.

Callosa de Segura

Callosa de Segura (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈʎosa ðe seˈɣuɾa]) is a municipality in the comarca of Vega Baja del Segura in the Valencian Community, Spain. It contains the historic monument of the Church of St Martin.

Callosa de Segura is a traditional Spanish-speaking town located north-west of Orihuela. It can be reached via the A-7 (E15) motorway, junction 79, or from the AP-7 motorway, junction 733 and is situated just 30 minutes from Alicante and Murcia airports and 30 minutes from Guardamar beach.

The town is dominated by the huge Sierra de Callosa mountains standing behind it, and some of the houses of the town creep up the side of the mountain together with various crops high up on terraced slopes.

Catacomb culture

The Catacomb culture (c. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day eastern Ukraine and southern Russia.

The culture applied cord-imprinted decorations to its pottery and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamnaya culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded in the west by the Multi-cordoned ware culture from c. 22nd century BC, and the Srubna culture from c. the 17th century BC.

Colchian culture

Colchian culture (Georgian: კოლხური კულტურა; 3000 BCE to 600 BCE) is Neolithic - an early Bronze Age and Iron Age culture of the western Caucasus, mostly in western Georgia. It was partially succeeded by the Koban culture in northern and central Caucasus.

It is named after the ancient geographic region of Colchis, which covered a large area along the Black Sea coast. Today Colchs are known as Laz and Megrel.

It is mainly known for highly developed bronze production and artistic craftsmanship. There are many items of copper and bronze found in ancient graves. Graves found and studied have been located in the Abkhazia region, the Sukhumi mountain complexes, the Racha highlands where brick tiles and graffiti have been found, and the Colchian plains (კოლხეთის დაბლობი) where collective graves have been found.

Collective graves occurred during the last stages of the Colchian culture (c.8th century to 6th century BCE). In these graves bronze items were found that represented foreign trade occurred with the Colchian culture. At this time an increase in the production of weapons and agricultural tools is seen. Evidence of copper mining has been found in Racha, Abkhazia, Svaneti, and Adjara. Ruins of palaces are present in the Colchian Plains.Colchian culture is characterized by Colchian axes, sickles, short spears, flat axes, bow-shaped and cylindrical axes, belts, bracelets, bearings, and statuettes. The items are often painted and sometimes even with the sculptural expression expressing the religious ideas of the Colchis.

Cycladic culture

Cycladic culture (also known as Cycladic civilisation or, chronologically, as Cycladic chronology) was a Bronze Age culture (c. 3200–c. 1050 BC) found throughout the islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. In chronological terms, it is a relative dating system for artefacts which broadly complements Helladic chronology (mainland Greece) and Minoan chronology (Crete) during the same period of time.

Deverel–Rimbury culture

The Deverel–Rimbury culture was a name given to an archaeological culture of the British Middle Bronze Age. It is named after two barrow sites in Dorset and dates to between 1600 and 1100 BC.

It is characterised by the incorrectly-named Celtic fields, palisaded cattle enclosures and cremation burials either in urnfield cemeteries or under low, round barrows. Some cremations from this period were also inserted into pre-existing barrows. The people were livestock farmers.

The Deverel–Rimbury ware pottery they produced included distinctive globular vessels with fluted or channelled decoration and scratched lines along with squat, thick-walled bucket urns with cordoned decoration and fingerprint marks on the rims. The fabric is tempered with coarse flint.

The term is now normally only used to refer to the pottery types as modern archaeologists now believe that Deverel–Rimbury does not represent a single culture but numerous disparate societies who shared only certain technologies.

Galera, Granada

Galera is a municipality in the comarca of Huéscar, province of Granada, autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain, roughly 150 kilometres (93 mi) from the provincial capital, Granada.

Itford Hill Style Settlements

An Itford Hill Style Settlement is a form of later Bronze Age settlement found in southern England and named after the site of Itford Hill in East Sussex. It is a Monument Class Description defined by English Heritage as part of their Monuments Protection Programme.According to English Heritage's general description, these sites are formed of a number of enclosures which "generally take the form of a single low bank, which marks the perimeter of each enclosure". Associations have been made between Itford Hill style sites and burial monuments located nearby.A number of examples occur on the South Downs of Sussex, the most notable being Itford

Hill and Black Patch, both of which have been extensively excavated.

Khojaly–Gadabay culture

The Khodzhaly-Kedabek culture (also Khojaly-Gadabay and variants (Azerbaijani: Xocalı-Gədəbəy mədəniyyəti, Russian ходжалы-кедабекская культура), also known as the Gandzha-Karabakh culture (ганджа-карабахская культура) is an archaeological culture of the Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age (roughly 13th to 7th centuries BC) in the Karabakh region of Transcaucasia. The eponymous sites are at Khojaly, Gadabay and Ganja in Azerbaijan.

It was excavated by Soviet archaeologists beginning in the 1920s.It was described by Boris Piotrovsky and other archaeologists specializing in the prehistory of Transcaucasia during the 1930s to 1970s.

Findings from Khojaly burial grounds discovered in 1895 by E. Resler. Hermitage Museum

Koban culture

The Koban culture (c. 1100 to 400 BC) is a late Bronze Age and Iron Age culture of the northern and central Caucasus. It is preceded by the Colchian culture of the western Caucasus and the Kharachoi culture further east.

It is named after the village of Koban, Northern Ossetia, where in 1869 battle-axes, daggers, decorative items and other objects were discovered in a kurgan. Later, further sites were uncovered in the central Caucasus.

Leyla-Tepe culture

The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Caucasian Albania belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district of modern day Azerbaijan. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

Monuments of the Leyla-Tepe were first located in the 1980s by I. G. Narimanov, a Soviet archaeologist. Recent attention to the monuments has been inspired by the risk of their damage due to the construction of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline and the South Caucasus pipeline.

Nordic Bronze Age

The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 1700–500 BC. The Bronze Age culture of this era succeeded the Nordic Stone Age culture (Late Neolithic) and was followed by the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The archaeological legacy of the Nordic Bronze Age culture is rich, but the ethnic and linguistic affinities of it are unknown, in the absence of written sources. Some scholars also include sites in what is now Finland, Estonia, northern Germany and Pomerania, as part of its cultural sphere.

Penard Period

The Penard Period is a metalworking phase of the Bronze Age in Britain spanning the period c. 1275 BC to c. 1140 BC.

It is named after the typesite of Penard in West Glamorgan, where a hoard of bronze tools from the period was found in 1827.

The period is characterised by a flowering in experimentation in bronze working, spurred by increased contact with the Urnfield culture of Continental Europe from where early sword and shield imports came.

Chronologically it follows the Taunton Period metalworking phase, and precedes the Wilburton-Wallington Phase. There are links with Reinecke D and early Hallstatt A1 periods, and the French Rosnoën and the Montelius III phases.

Developments included the invention of the cylinder sickle and leaf-shaped pegged spearheads, mirroring an increase in the use of sheet bronze. Clay moulds and new lead-rich alloys were also employed.

Phylakopi I culture

The Phylakopi I culture (Greek: Φυλακωπή) refers to a "cultural" dating system used for the Cycladic culture that flourished during the early Bronze Age in Greece. It spans the period ca. 2300-2000 BC and was named by Colin Renfrew, after the settlement of Phylakopi on the Cycladic island of Milos. Other archaeologists describe this period as the Early Cycladic III (ECIII).

Shulaveri-Shomu culture

Shulaveri-Shomu culture (Georgian: შულავერი-შომუთეფეს კულტურა) is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Colchis, Azerbaijan the Armenian Highlands, and including small parts of northern Iran. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures and Colchis.

Slab Grave culture

The Slab Grave culture is a archaeological culture of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Mongols. According to various sources, it is dated from 1,300 to 300 BC. The Slab Grave Culture became an eastern wing of a huge nomadic Eurasian world which at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC produced a civilization known as Scythian-Siberian. The anthropological type of the population is predominantly Mongoloid, the western newcomers from the area of Tuva and north-western Mongolia were Caucasoids.The origin of this slab-grave culture is not definitely known. The ornamentation and shape of various bronze objects and especially the technology and stylistic methods used in the making of artistic bronzes found in the slab graves have led scholars to attribute at least some of them to the Karasuk period. At the same time it appears that the slab-grave culture shares some features with the Karasuk culture of southern Siberia (link: 1).

South-Western Iberian Bronze

The South-Western Iberian Bronze is a loosely defined Bronze Age culture of Southern Portugal and nearby areas of SW Spain (Huelva, Seville, Extremadura). It replaced the earlier urban and Megalithic existing in that same region in the Chalcolithic age.

It is characterized by individual burials in cist, in which the deceased is accompanied by a knife of bronze. Stelae with representations of types of weapons and other warriors' accoutrements are associated with these burials. Much more rare but also more impressive are the 'grabsystem' tombs, made up of three adjacent stone enclosures, of quasi-circular form, each one with an opening. They are covered by tumuli and are possibly the burials of the main leaders of these peoples.

Trialeti culture

The Trialeti culture (Georgian: თრიალეთის კულტურა, also known as the Trialeti-Vanadzor [Kirovakan] culture), is named after the Trialeti region of Georgia. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. Trialeti culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura-Araxes culture.

Bronze Age
Bronze Age
(North Caucasus
and Transcaucasia)

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