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Other well-preserved groups of paintings are found at Minateda and Alpera Albacete and around Bicorp Valencia.

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Although the main animals hunted for food were red deer, ibex mountain goat , and reindeer, the most-common depictions are of aurochs, bison, and horses. Salmon, a seasonal food, was rarely drawn, and plants never appear. Similar themes occur on portable objects made of bone and antlers and on stone plaques. Figures are placed formally within selected caves probably sanctuaries , with meanings hidden from modern eyes. Paleolithic visitors left stone lamps and pine firebrands as well as footprints and hand marks on muddy surfaces in the French caves of Fontanet, Isturitz Haristoi , and Lascaux.

The dead were accompanied by meat offerings and ochre and buried below low mounds, on top of which ritual fires burned. After 10, bce the climatic changes accompanying the end of the last glaciation led to the disappearance of cold-tolerant game and the flooding of their grazing lands near the coasts. Hunters responded by widening their range of food and collecting quantities of marine shellfish. More than 7, figures painted by those hunters and gatherers are known from all over the eastern and southern Iberian Peninsula , dating from to bce and giving tantalizing glimpses of their society.

Some scenes are constructed around a narrative. Other well-preserved groups of paintings are found at Minateda and Alpera Albacete and around Bicorp Valencia. The craft of pottery making and the cultivation of domestic cereals and livestock that characterize the Neolithic New Stone Age economy in Europe reached Spain from the central Mediterranean, and perhaps from northwestern Africa, after bce.

Although agriculture and husbandry were known early in eastern and southern Spain, they were assimilated extremely slowly and irregularly. Caves and sites conveniently located for hunting, such as those around Montserrat Barcelona and at La Sarsa Valencia and Carigüela Granada , were still preferred, and people lived in extended families or small bands.

A different pattern prevailed in southwestern Spain and Portugal , where the advent of the Neolithic Period came later, between and bce. By bce the first big collective tombs were being built from boulders, and by bce funerary monuments were prominent in the landscapes of Alentejo Portugal , Extremadura , and the Atlantic littoral.

Veritable megalithic cemeteries arose around Pavia and Reguengos de Monsaraz Alentejo. Significant changes in technology and social organization occurred after bce. Skills in copper working were accompanied by a tendency to live in larger village communities. Differences in natural resources and population density meant that regions developed unequally, and centres of innovation are known all around the southern and southwestern coasts of Spain and Portugal.

A formidable barbican with arrow slits and guard chambers projected from the gateway. Those defenses stretch over yards metres and cut off a triangle of land high above the Andarax River, with a cemetery of more than 70 collective tombs lying just outside the walls.

On the nearby hills, 10 or 15 smaller citadels watched over the natural approaches to the village. Modest dwellings lay inside, and an especially large building was used as a workshop to melt copper and to cast objects in simple molds; the metal wastes and crucibles show that pure copper and copper mixed with a small amount of arsenic as a hardening agent were regularly selected. Mines and copper-smelting slags of this date are known from the Alhamilla highlands, less than 12 miles 20 km to the east.

The agricultural economy was based on growing wheat and barley, raising common domestic animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats, and probably tilling small areas of river bottomland, the only land plentifully watered in that arid region.

Varied grave goods such as copper implements, personal ornaments, and decorated vessels for drinking and feasting called bell beakers from their distinctive shape indicate a stratified tribal society at Los Millares with marked inequality of riches and access to the good things in life. The defenses and multiple forts suggest social instability and the raiding and fighting that went with it. Many Copper Age villages had been abandoned by bce , and Bronze Age settlement shifted to new sites, sometimes only a few hundred yards away.

Steep hilltops were favoured for their inaccessibility, and in southeastern Spain the custom of burying people below the floors of their houses replaced the collective practices of the Copper Age societies. Such customs were practiced with less intensity on the southern Meseta, where fortified hamlets known as motillas dominated a flat landscape.

In the wetter regions of Spain and Portugal, along the Atlantic coast and the Bay of Biscay , so-called castros —small settlements fortified with a deep ditch and inner bank—arose, with a flourishing bronze industry linked to southern Britain and France and a custom of burying hoards of metal tools and weapons. Mining for copper ores was practiced at El Milagro and Aramo Asturias , where the last miners abandoned their antler picks and levers deep in the underground galleries.

Such differences in settlement patterns and customs indicate that Bronze Age Spain was not homogeneous but a social mosaic that included centralized tribal societies as well as looser associations based on smaller units.

Such Bronze Age societies were prospering when Phoenician sailors reached Spain about bce. Venerable historical traditions recount the Phoenician voyages to found new cities.

Although intriguing, such historical traditions are unsupported by evidence. Excavations confirm that the Phoenicians settled in southern Spain after bce , shortly after the traditional founding of the greatest Phoenician colony, Carthage now in Tunisia.

The untapped lodes of silver and alluvial deposits of tin and gold provided essential raw materials with which to meet the increasing Assyrian demands for tribute. That is the background for Phoenician interest in the far west.

Phoenician commerce was conducted by family firms of shipowners and manufacturers who had their base in Tyre or Byblos and placed their representatives abroad. After the fall of Tyre to the Babylonians in bce and the subjugation of Phoenicia , the early prosperity faded until the 4th century. Eivissa Ibiza became a major Carthaginian colony, and the island produced dye, salt, fish sauce , and wool.

There was, however, an older Archaic Greek commerce in olive oil , perfumes, fine pottery, bronze jugs, armour, and figurines carried past the Strait of Gibraltar by the Phoenicians. It developed between and bce , peaking sharply from to , and was directed along the southern coast in precisely the areas of most-intense Phoenician influence and settlement. Connected with that early commerce in the late 7th century are the stories collected by Herodotus about the kingdom of Tartessos Tartessus and its ruler, King Arganthonios, who befriended the Greek captain Kolaios after his vessel was blown off course.

Tartessos was portrayed as a mineral emporium where Kolaios exchanged his merchandise for a fortune in silver bullion. The Greeks remembered that kingdom as a legendary world beyond their reach. Tartessos, in fact, was the late Bronze Age society in southwestern Spain that included the mines of the Tinto River in its territory; it flourished between and bce.

After bce there was renewed Greek interest in Spain, although directed to the eastern peninsula rather than to the west and south. Greek objects were widely traded by Carthaginian middlemen, as the shipwreck at El Sec Palma de Mallorca suggests. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.

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