Climatic crisis, socio-cultural dynamics and landscape monumentalization during the Bronze Age of La Mancha: the Motillas Culture as adaptation to the changes of the end of the 3rd mill. BC

Thumbnail Image
Full text at PDC
Publication Date
Mejías Moreno, Miguel
Advisors (or tutors)
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Universität Tübingen
Google Scholar
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
The Motilla Culture may be the oldest evidence for large-scale groundwater management in Europe. The archaeological and paleoenvironmental data suggest a close relationship between the location of the motillas and the geological landscape. Motillas were built during the 4.2 ka calBP climate event, at a time of environmental stress. This event has been related to the collapse of diverse civilisations around the world. In the Iberian Peninsula, it occurred at the transition between the Copper Age and Bronze Age in La Mancha. At that time, there also was a rapid disappearance of peninsular men on the occasion of the arrival of settlers from the eastern steppes of Europe carrying chromosome Y R1b (Olalde et al. 2019). One of them was buried in Tomb 4 of Castillejo del Bonete (Terrinches) with a woman genetically compatible with Iberian populations of the Copper Age. She lived and died in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula and, although she lacked ancestry of the steppes, she fed on protein from marine resources and wore clothes with ivory buttons. This sacred place of the culture of the motillas was conceived as a monumental and funerary place built in memory of the ancestors and in relation to the solar cycles of death and resurrection of the sun, being used for a millennium. The construction of monumentalised wells of Motilla Culture that reached the water table to access groundwater was a successful solution that lasted almost a millennium and was an important technological development that shaped the emergence of more complex and hierarchical societies in the region. At the moment, the existence of a monumental well has been verified by archaeological excavations in the motilla of El Azuer (Daimiel). Five other wells have been detected by geophysical surveys in each and every one of the motillas studied in this way: those of Vega and El Cura (Daimiel), El Acequión (Albacete), Santa María, and El Retamar (Argamasilla de Alba). The Bronze Age Motilla Culture of La Mancha modelled the landscape and constitutes a unique adaptation of the inhabitants of the territory to this situation of climatic and social change.