Agricultural Production and Social Change in the Bronze Age of Southeast Spain: The Gatas Project

By Castro, P. V.; Chapman, R. W. et al. | Antiquity, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Agricultural Production and Social Change in the Bronze Age of Southeast Spain: The Gatas Project


Castro, P. V., Chapman, R. W., Gili, S., Lull, V., Mico, R. Rihuete, C., Risch, R., Sanahuja, M. E., Antiquity


The site of Gatas is located in the foothills of the sierra Cabrera, on the southern edge of the basin of Vera, in the east of Almeria province, southeast Spain (FIGURES 1-2). The hill on which the settlement is located occupies an area of about 1 hectare, and is naturally defended by vertical slopes on all but one side. It was discovered in 1886 by Louis and Henri Siret, who excavated Bronze Age structures and deposits, including burials, on the top of the hill (Siret & Siret 1887: 165-77). No further fieldwork has taken place at Gatas until almost exactly a century later. The settlement and funerary records of sites such as Gatas, El Argar and Fuente Alamo within the Vera basin testify to the existence of stratified society in the late 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC (for details of sites, cultures and dating, see Chapman 1990; Castro et al, 1996). It is this record of social change which makes the Vera basin sites and sequence of wider importance in the study of the European Bronze Age.

[Figures 1-2 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Debate on the local origins of stratification has centred on the nature and role of Copper and Bronze Age production and on the degree to which the palaeoenvironment was different to the degraded, semi-arid one visible today in the Vera basin and other parts of lowland southeast Spain. The link between production and environment is seen clearly in the debate over the existence, or not, of capital investment in irrigation and polyculture, and their role in enabling (by whatever means) agricultural settlement and social stratification. Central to this debate has been

a an evaluation of the actual evidence for these practices (e.g. Chapman 1978; 1990),

b different interpretations of the local climate in later prehistory (given existing palaeoenvironmental data) and the extent to which it determined particular productive practices (e.g. semi-arid climate -- see Chapman 1978; 1990; Gilman 1976; Gilman & Thornes 1985; humid climate -- see Lull 1980; 1983; Ramos 1981), and

c contrasting ideas as to the role of agricultural production in social change (e.g. the adaptationist position of Chapman 1978, as opposed to the capital investment model of Gilman 1976, the complementary production model of Lull 1980; 1983, and the social storage model of Mathers 1984a; 1984b).

The main objective of the Gatas project is the evaluation of these models. This is to be achieved by the analysis of the successive occupations at Gatas, within a context of critical evaluation of contemporary prehistoric settlements in the same region. Three phases of fieldwork began with archaeological and palaeoecological survey in 1985 (Chapman et al. 1987), followed by sondage excavations in 1986-7 (Castro et al. in press a) and more extensive, area excavations in 1987, 1989, 1991 and 1995 (Castro et al. 1991; 1993 in press b; Buikstra et al. 1995).

In the rest of this paper, we present data from Gatas principally on changing production during the Copper and Bronze Ages, developing the arguments proposed in an earlier paper (Ruiz et al. 1992). Most of this data comes from phase 2 of the project (Castro et al. in press a), although none of the data so far available to us from phase 3 in any way contradict our broad interpretation. Wherever possible, the Gatas data will be placed in a more regional context (for site locations, see FIGURE 2). The data are presented by radiocarbon-dated occupation phases at Gatas (see Castro et al. in press a).

Agricultural production at Gatas

Phase 1. Copper Age: c. 2850-2650 BC

The earliest occupation at Gatas consists of Copper Age lithics and pottery found in two areas of the hill, in S1 and Zone C (FIGURE 3). In neither case is there any trace of structures in situ, which, along with small sample size, restricts the weight that can be placed on this data. Nearly 90% of the plant remains consisted of one cereal, Hordeum vulgare, while the remainder consisted of legumes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Agricultural Production and Social Change in the Bronze Age of Southeast Spain: The Gatas Project
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.