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El Carambolo Treasure (Tartessos)

El Carambolo Treasure (Tartessos)


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Tartessos, the myth of the hidden kingdom you might have stepped into without knowing

“The siesta in Andalusia was invented by the Tartessians”, said Chano Lobato, flamenco singer and comedian. He says this because throughout Spain, not only in Andalusia, the siesta has accompanied its inhabitants since one of its most ancestral civilisations arose. Tartessos, of course. But leaving aside clichés and jokes, deeper questions arise: What mysteries surround this lost kingdom of Huelva, but alive in Andalusian legends?


Fresh Take on a Gold Treasure’s Origins Using Geochemistry

Blending geoscience and archaeology, researchers apply a new technique to pinpoint where ancient and unique gold artifacts were crafted.

The Carambolo Treasure comprises these 21 gold items. Credit: Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía/J. Morón

The Treasure of El Carambolo, a collection of 7th century BCE gold jewelry, has provoked archaeologic debate for decades. Since its accidental discovery 60 years ago inside a vase near Seville, Spain, studies of the ancient jewelry have suggested two conflicting stories of origin set thousands of kilometers apart. Recently, researchers used techniques more commonly found in the geosciences to try to locate precisely where the gold was mined and have come up with a third option.

Nocete and his team used a combination of laser ablation mass spectrometry and lead isotope analysis to get detailed geochemical measurements of the treasure without damaging or altering the valuable artifacts. The researchers compared the Carambolo measurements with those from other artifacts discovered on the Iberian Peninsula. They found that the Carambolo gold is chemically similar to gold artifacts created at Valencina de la Concepción nearly 2,000 years earlier, which suggests that the Carambolo Treasure used the same gold source.

Geoscientists commonly use these same techniques to measure the elemental composition and age of a solid sample, like a rock or a fossil, without significantly altering the sample itself. In this Carambolo research, which was published last month in the Journal of Archaeological Science, scientists for the first time have used the combined techniques to trace the provenance of archaeological artifacts of unknown origin.

A Controversial Past

The Carambolo Treasure was discovered in 1958 in the Camas region near Seville. Archaeologists initially linked the gold treasure, which consists of 21 intricate jewelry pieces, to the prosperous and metal-rich Tartessos culture. Tartessos spanned the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula (near what is now Andalusia, Spain) from the 9th to 6th centuries BCE.

However, the treasure’s design recalls the Phoenician style of the time, and the hoard came from what had been a Phoenician temple. Phoenicia, an eastern Mediterranean civilization and a trade partner with Tartessos, built a few colonies along the Iberian coast.

Modern Methods, Ancient Artifacts

Despite the controversy about the Carambolo Treasure’s origin and purpose, researchers have hesitated to use classical analysis techniques on the hoard, fearing it would damage the unique and valuable artifacts, explained Sonia García de Madinabeitia in a press release about the research. García de Madinabeitia, a mineralogist and petrologist at the University of the Basque Country in Vizcaya in Spain, helped perform the new analysis on the gold.

Dolmen de la Pastora, a monolithic stone tomb in Valencina de la Concepción in Seville, Spain. The similar chemical compositions of the Carambolo Treasure and of older gold artifacts found in and around Valencina de la Concepción suggest that the artifacts are made from gold from the same as yet unidentified source. Credit: Cazalla Montijano, Juan Carlos (Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico), CC BY-SA 3.0

To gain a new perspective on the treasure’s provenance, Nocete’s team extracted 100-micrometer-diameter samples from two of the Carambolo pieces using laser ablation. They then used mass spectrometry to identify the composition of tiny impurities—silver, copper, lead, zinc, and platinum—in the gold.

Combined with a lead isotope analysis of the samples, the chemical impurities make up a “signature” of the gold, which the team could then quantitatively compare with other treasures or gold mines. The modern techniques have the “minimum possible impact” on the artifacts, said García de Madinabeitia.

The team found that the two Carambolo pieces they tested likely came from the same source of gold. If those two pieces are representative of the entire set, this result supports the long-held assumption of archaeologists who have studied the treasure that the set all comes from one place.

More Clues in the Gold’s Chemical Fingerprint

Valencina de la Concepción “behaved like a gateway for raw materials of regional and transcontinental origin…and as a space for artisanal transformation.” The team then compared the Carambolo measurements with those of artifacts discovered across the Iberian Peninsula that date to the same period and also with those of artifacts that are 2,000 years older, which the team had dated in a prior study. The researchers found the composition of the gold itself to be similar to that of items from a well-studied nearby archaeological site called Valencina de la Concepción. The 3rd millennium BCE site “behaved like a gateway for raw materials of regional and transcontinental origin…and as a space for artisanal transformation into products, including gold metallurgy,” said Nocete.

In other words, the study shows that the gold in Carambolo was likely shaped in Valencina de la Concepción but mined—along with other gold found at that site from an earlier era—at some unknown location.

“The most remarkable [aspect of the research] is the methodological issue and the new options that this opens for future research,” said Ignacio Montero Ruiz, an archaeologist and archaeometallurgy researcher at the Center for Human and Social Sciences in Madrid, Spain.

Nonetheless, Ruiz, who was not involved with this research, said that the findings of Nocete’s team would have been stronger had the team analyzed more than two Carambolo pieces. Such analysis could have provided clues to the gold’s region of origin, wherever it may be, he explained. He also suggested that future research should look into the possibility of even more diverse origins for the gold.

Toward a Database of Gold

This blending of geochemistry and archaeology is nothing new to Nocete and his interdisciplinary research group.

“Geochemical and isotopic studies have been part of our methodology” since their research group formed in the early 1990s, he explained. “These chemical and isotopic techniques were already known [in] the 80s,” Nocete said, but he and his team pioneered their combined application to archaeological gold to learn more about the artifacts’ history.

Nocete plans to keep improving this analysis technique to minimize the impact of testing methods on other artifacts. The researchers are also working to compile a database of natural gold sources on the Iberian Peninsula and hope to expand to other areas of Europe, as well as to Asia, Africa, and South America.


Multicultural heritage

Navarro says that while the gold was sourced locally, the jewelry was mostly manufactured using Phoenician techniques. A Phoenician temple has been identified in the area where the Carambolo Treasure horde was found, and the treasure itself is likely the product of a mixed culture of Near-Eastern Phoenicians and local Tartessians.

Alicia Perea, an archaeologist with the Spanish National Research Council’s Centre for Human and Social Sciences who specializes in gold technology and has studied the Carambolo Treasure, agrees that Tartessos was likely a mixed culture of native Western Mediterranean peoples and Near Eastern seafarers.

“A Phoenician boy marries a local girl—this is, to put it, very simple,” she explains.

Perea commends the new study in general terms, especially as isotopic and chemical analyses of gold objects are relatively rare in Spain. But she takes issue with the attempt to draw a direct association between the culture surrounding the Carambolo artifacts and that surrounding the earlier Valencina discoveries.

“This line doesn’t exist. The only line that connects both worlds, may I say, is the material,” she says.


The ‘Crisis’

In the sixth century, Tartessos suffered a crisis. The success of Tartessos had always been fuelled by the silver trade: the Assyrians wanted vast quantities of silver which they demanded as tribute from Tyre, and for Tyre the best source of silver was Tartessos. However in 612 BC the Assyrians were defeated by the rising power of the Medes, and the Medes did not have the same lust for silver as did the Assyrians. Then in 572, Tyre itself was captured after a long siege and the crucial link in the silver trade was broken. At the same time a major re-alignment of power was taking place in the Mediterranean between the rising powers of the Etruscans and the Carthaginians and the Greeks. With the fall of Tyre, Carthage began to take its place as the leader of the Phoenician world – and Carthage did not need to silver. The collapse was most pronounced along the coast, in Huelva and in the agricultural settlements along the Eastern seaboard. In the inland heartlands of Tartessos, life continued, indeed Cancho Roano is a monument belonging to this late phase. But by the Roman period, the area of Tartessos was known as the minor tribe of the Turditanae.

Tartessos forms an interesting epilogue to our survey of the societies which arose in the Mediterranean and were eventually swamped by Greece and Rome. They reveal something of the huge surge in new ideas that emerged all round the Mediterranean between the 9 th and 6 th centuries BC. They have much in common: the idea of city states ruled by kings, or councils of elders, and trade conducted by merchants, acting presumably on behalf of the rulers. Tartessos is the least known because it was the first to collapse. Why did they all collapse, or perhaps more relevantly why was it that Greece and Rome won through?

In the case of the Etruscans, and indeed the Carthaginians one can point a finger at the expansion and indeed the aggression of Rome. But more perhaps one can point to the sheer dynamism that came from Greece. In his book on The Phoenicians, Donald Harding, the wisest and most widely knowledgeable of all the students of this area, makes the interesting comment that with the capture of Tyre by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, the Phoenician cities became but units in the Greek kingdom of the Seleucids: there was no longer a Phoenician nation or art-style. Up to this point, despite being ruled or at least dominated by the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Persians, Tyre nevertheless remained part of the Phoenician world. After 332 Tyre did indeed rise again to become a great and powerful city, but it was a Hellenistic city where the art and culture was Greek. In the same way although Carthage was destroyed by the Romans in 152 BC it was nevertheless re-founded by the Romans in 29 BC and soon became one of the great cities of the Roman world. But it was now a Roman city not a Phoenician city.

I believe that the secret of the Greeks was indeed the great outburst of individualism, of choice and creativity that came from money/market revolution, where success came from selling new products, new ideas, new cultures in the market place and not from pampering the rule and the whims of rulers. These ideas eventually were taken over by Rome, and spread round the whole of the Mediterranean and much of Western Europe too. And it is this new spirit of individualism that formed the culture that became the all-enveloping culture of Greece and Rome.

(Header: The header shows a diadem from the Aliseda hoard. When the hoard was discovered in 1920, it was a bit of a mystery, as the Tartessians had not at the time really been recognised. It was only with the discovery of the Carambolo hoard that the Aliseda hoard was recognised as being probably the finest example of Tartessian jewellery).


A Treasure of Both Worlds

The question of who created the treasure was an enigma. While researchers have determined that the gold was locally sourced, it was manufactured in the Phoenician style and with their techniques. Therefore, the treasure is born of both worlds: Spanish gold and Phoenician make.

“A Phoenician boy marries a local girl—this is, to put it, very simple,” Alicia Perea tells National Geographic. Perea is an archaeologist specializing in gold technology, with the Spanish National Research Council’s Center for Human and Social Sciences.

The Carambolo sites were destroyed and abandoned after what may have a catastrophe of epic proportions. The treasures found there have been dated to the eighth century BC, but it’s felt the hoard was buried in the sixth century BC, left behind by a people fleeing an unknown danger.

The treasure includes 21 pieces of embellished gold: a necklace, two bracelets, two ox-hide-shaped ornamental breastplates, and 16 plaques that may have together made a necklace or diadem.


Does the Treasure of El Carambolo lead to Atlantis? (ancient-origins)

note: No doubt this is interesting but more info/research is needed.

"A golden hoard discovered in Andalusia in the 1950s set off a firestorm of speculation and debate: to whom did the lavish treasure belong? Where had it come from? And could it represent a piece in the puzzle in the theory of Atlantis? Now, chemical analysis has revealed the origins of the gold, providing some answers in the ancient enigma, yet raising even more questions in the process.

The Treasure of El Carambolo, 21 heavy pieces of goldwork, was discovered by construction workers in El Carambolo hill in Camas (Province of Seville, Andalusia, Spain) in September 1958. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science , the gold was locally sourced, and wasn’t imported by Phoenicians, as previously suspected.

Director of the Archaeological Museum of Seville , and one of the authors of the study, Ana Navarro told National Geographic , “Some people think that the Carambolo Treasure comes from the East, from the Phoenicians. With this work, we know that the gold was taken from mines in Spain.”

The discovery 2700-year-old treasure, including 21 pieces of elaborate goldwork packed into a ceramic vessel, awakened interest of Tartessos. National Geographic reports that Tartessos was “a civilization that thrived in southern Spain between the ninth and sixth centuries BC. Ancient sources described the Tartessians as a wealthy, advanced culture, ruled by a king. That wealth, and the fact that the Tartessians seemingly ɽisappear' from history about 2,500 years ago, has led to theories equating Tartessos with the mythical site of Atlantis.”

Archaeologist Sebastian Celestino , studying the ancient site in 2010, told the newspaper El Pais , “There were earthquakes and one of them caused a tsunami that razed everything and which coincided with the era in which Tartessian power was at its height.”

The golden hoard find in the ‘50s led to further excavations, and archaeologists uncovered two distinct settlements at El Carambolo one reflecting indigenous culture dating to the ninth to mid-eighth century BC, and another, later one, dating to the mid-eighth century a trading hub established around the time relations with the Phoenicians began. Digs at the newer site revealed a Phoenician-inspired temple, and a statue of the Phoenician goddess Astarte.

National Geographic writes that the researchers “used chemical and isotopic analysis to examine tiny gold fragments that had broken off from one of the pieces of jewelry. The analysis revealed that the material likely came from the same mines associated with monumental underground tombs at Valencina de la Concepcion, which date to the third millennium BC and are also located near Seville. The authors of the paper assert that the jewelry of the Carambolo Treasure marks the end of a continuous gold-processing tradition that began some 2,000 years earlier with Valencina de la Concepcion.”

A Treasure of Both Worlds

The question of who created the treasure was an enigma. While researchers have determined that the gold was locally sourced, it was manufactured in the Phoenician style and with their techniques. Therefore, the treasure is born of both worlds: Spanish gold and Phoenician make.

“A Phoenician boy marries a local girl—this is, to put it, very simple,” Alicia Perea tells National Geographic. Perea is an archaeologist specializing in gold technology, with the Spanish National Research Council’s Center for Human and Social Sciences.

The Carambolo sites were destroyed and abandoned after what may have a catastrophe of epic proportions. The treasures found there have been dated to the eighth century BC, but it’s felt the hoard was buried in the sixth century BC, left behind by a people fleeing an unknown danger.

The treasure includes 21 pieces of embellished gold: a necklace, two bracelets, two ox-hide-shaped ornamental breastplates, and 16 plaques that may have together made a necklace or diadem.

The site’s potential watery demise furthers theories that its fate is connected to the Atlantis story.

Cuban archeologist Georgeos Diaz-Montexano has spent decades searching for the famously mysterious Atlantis told The Telegraph, “Evidence is mounting that suggests the story of Atlantis was not mere fiction, fable or myth, but a true story as Plato always maintained.”

However, researchers involved in the recent study and the sites do not hold with such theories, calling it “complete madness.”

Treasure of El Carambolo

The Treasure of El Carambolo (Spanish: Tesoro del Carambolo) was found in El Carambolo, Spain, 3 kilometers west of Seville, on 30 September 1958.[1] The discovery of the treasure hoard spurred interest in the Tartessos culture,[1] but recent scholars have debated whether the treasure was a product of local culture or of the Phoenicians.[2] The treasure was found during renovations being made at a pigeon shooting society.[3] It consists of 21 pieces of crafted gold: a necklace with pendants, two bracelets, two ox-hide-shaped pectorals, and 16 plaques that may have made up a necklace or diadem.[4] The jewelry had been buried inside a ceramic vessel.[5] Following the discovery, archaeologist Juan de Mata Carriazo excavated the site. The treasure has been dated to the 8th century BCE, with the exception of the necklace, which is thought to be from 6th century BCE Cyprus. The hoard itself is thought to have been buried in the 6th century BCE.[6] The discovery of a statue of the Phoenician goddess Astarte cast doubt on the interpretation of the site as an indigenous settlement and led some to argue that it was more Phoenician than Tartessian.[7] Further excavations at the site revealed a Phoenician religious sanctuary."


The city was known in ancient times for its incredible wealth of metals. The wealth of silver made Tartessos a kind of Eldorado of ancient times. The legendary King Arganthonios is said to have given his friends, the Phocaeans , threatened by the Persians , new walls for their hometown, reports Herodotus . There are theories that connect Tartessus with Scheria , the fabulous rich land of the Phaiacs from Homer's Odyssey . Equation with the Atlantis described by Plato has also been considered - mostly by popular science. It is also assumed that the several places of the Old Testament mentioned place Tarshish ( Hebrew תַּרְשִׁישׁ ) is identical to Tartessos.

Tartessos was not or only roughly located by the ancient authors. In modern historiography, the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age culture of southern Spain, between the Guadiana River in the west and Cabo de la Nao in the east and the Sierra Morena in the north, is referred to as Tartessian . The core area was in the lower Guadalquivir Valley. The development of this culture is influenced by the East Mediterranean - the trade with Phoenicians, mainly from Tire , which began in the 9th century BC. Is demonstrable - coined. Urban trains, d. H. structured and fortified settlements emerged in the 8th century. In the 6th or early 5th century BC The culture breaks off, possibly it was destroyed by the Carthaginians , who had previously founded the colony Gadir (today Cádiz ) on an island off the Guadalete estuary.

The German archaeologist Adolf Schulten dug for Tartessos between 1905 and 1911, but found only the ruins of an independent previous culture from the 26th to 13th centuries BC. Chr.

After reviewing the previous results, José María Luzón Nogué was the first to locate Tartessos near today's Huelva (at the mouth of the Odiel / Río Tinto ). With the discovery of a gold reserve at El Carambolo in September, 1958 (three kilometers west of Seville ) and at La Joya, Huelva, shifted the archaeological and philological clues to Tartessian Culture in the Early Iron Age Western Andalusia , in the Extremadura and into southern Portugal that of Algarve to the Vinalopó river from Alicante . During excavations in the center of Huelva, richly painted sherds with Greek motifs were found that date from the first half of the 6th century. The large quantities of imported handicrafts suggest that today's Huelva was a major Tartessian center. In Medellin , the Río Guadiana , was an important necropolis discovered.


Chemical Analysis Ends Debate On The Origins Of Legendary 2,700-Year-Old Gold Treasure

In 1958, a construction worker in the Spanish city of Seville saw a hint of gold glistening in the broken ground. These discoveries came to be known as the Treasure of El Carambolo, an extravagant collection of 21 impressive pieces of gold jewelry and ornaments with a mysterious backstory dating back 2,700 years.

Archaeologists flocked to the scene and have been studying the treasure ever since, yet the origins of the ornaments remained unclear for the next 60 years. Were they crafted in the nearby wealthy, semi-mythical harbor city of Tartessos, whose legendary culture ruled the area from the 9th to the 6th century BCE before mysteriously disappearing, or by the first great western civilization, the Phoenicians of the Eastern Mediterranean? Some have even gone as far to suggest the artifacts could be a treasure from the lost island of Atlantis, mainly due to crackpot theories linking Tartessos to the mythical city.

Now, chemical and isotopic analysis of the gold has weighed in on their origins. It turns out, the gold is not from Atlantis – sorry to disappoint. As per the new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science , the analysis revealed that the gold was most likely collected in the Ossa-Morena zone of southern Spain. The material also shows some glaring geochemical similarities with gold found around the nearby ancient town of Valencina de la Concepción, once again hinting that the gold was locally sourced in current-day Spain.

“Some people think that the Carambolo Treasure comes from the East, from the Phoenicians,” study author Ana Navarro, the director of the Archaeological Museum of Seville, told National Geographic. “With this work, we now know that the gold was taken from mines in Spain.”


Carambolo treasure. Seville Archaeology Museum © Ministerio de Cultura

The Carambolo treasure is an exceptional selection of items in which the excellent quality of the raw materials is on a par with the skill of the goldsmiths who created them.

This outstanding series of gold articles dates from around 650 B.C., and is formed by 16 rectangular plates, two breastpieces or pendants, a necklace and two bracelets. It was found by chance in 1958, during the refurbishment of a building in the town of Camas (Seville).

The items were hidden inside an oval structure which also contained numerous animal bones and ceramics, indicating that it may have been a place of worship, or used for rituals. There are currently several interpretations regarding the purpose of these pieces, including ornamentation for priests or sacred bulls.

Details of the work

Origin
El Carambolo, Camas (Seville)

Object
Precious metalwork

Technique
Filigree, granulated, laminate and micro-soldering


Watch the video: Treasure of Atlantis: Carambolo Spain test local gold Phoenician work (July 2022).


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