Turismo de Alcalá de Guadaíra

Gandul's Chalcolithic Burials


Among the most monumental and better known archaeological sites of the area of Gandul we find the burials of the Chalcolithic Period (ca. five thousand years ago, during the 3rd millennium BCE). They are the first sites to be excavated archaeologically by Jorge Bonsor by the end of the 19th century, and its research continues to the present time.

These burials are placed by the north perimeter of Mesa de Gandul that probably during the Chalcolithic Period was already an important walled village dedicated to the agricultural produce and the mineral transformation. As no excavation has been made, we do not know the size and characteristics of the village, but the burials surrounding it suggest this importance to us, and relate it to the Chalcolithic Culture spread by the banks of Lower Guadalquivir, with other examples as the great village and necropolis of El Aljarafe, between Valencina de la Concepción and Castilleja de Guzmán.

Gandul's Chalcolithic Burials

Gandul's Chalcolithic Tombs are classified as Megalithic, because of the use in their construction of big slabs of stone, coating walls and covering roofs. But the most outstanding characteristic of these burials is their shape: Long corridors excavated in the rock, generally ending in circular chambers. That is the reason why they are also known as "Passage Tombs".

How was the burial ritual? Up to this date all the excavated tombs had been sacked throughout History, so no one has been found intact. However, by comparisons with other similar necropoles (in Aljarafe, Sierra Norte and Extremadura) we know how they buried their dead five thousand years ago. Most of these tombs are collective burials that started at the chamber and continued along the corridor. Gandul's tombs are smaller than other we know in Aljarafe or in Antequera region, but still that way they could have contained dozens of burials. Maybe each tomb corresponded to a family group, but this is something we cannot be sure of.

Along with the corpses some grave goods, including arrowheads, copper and gold ornaments and pottery containers were deposited. In some of the Chalcolithic tombs of Gandul (and in other ones of Los Alcores) fragments of this pottery could have been recovered; this pottery is known as Bell-Beaker due to the bell-like shape of the rims.

Gandul's Chalcolithic Burials

Nowadays, the number of passage tombs is relatively high, being some of them able to be visited. The Vaquero Cave and Las Canteras, nest to the former Alcalá-Mairena railway Tholos stand out. Leaving Mesa de Gandul to our right coming from Alcalá, we will arrive also to El Término Dolmen, partially destroyed by a person in 1998 and reconstructed by the Culture Department of Andalusian Government in 2000. Today it can be visited with previous appointment, because it is placed inside a private property.

Other tombs are located at the surroundings: Cañada Honda, La Casilla, El Pedrejón... All of them as a whole constituted a funerary landscape perfectly visible from La Mesa village, establishing that way a constant dialog between the living and the dead, inside the ritual world of the Chalcolithic society.

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