Copper Age burial site is ‘just a pile of stones’ and not worth saving, claims local mayor
A PREHISTORIC burial site near Sevilla could be demolished to make way for a supermarket.
The 4,500-year-old site – which is the largest Copper Age settlement in the Iberian Peninsula, ranking alongside Stonehenge – would also make way for an old people’s home and houses.
This is despite the Montelirio dolmen in Castilleja de Guzman being declared a BIC (site of specific cultural interest) in 2003.
With a protected area of 1.6 hectares, archaeologists have recently unearthed a further four dolmens and over 22 other burial chambers nearby.
Each has yielded human remains, as well as jewellery and earthenware, with more likely to be uncovered.
The excavations, funded by developer Grupo Jale, which wants to build a houses over the new site, have been temporarily shelved after the company went into financial difficulties.
Archaeologists claim that many of the remains are in a bad condition, much due to damage by heavy machinery.
A decision on what to do with the site will not be made until December.
In the meantime, the site is unprotected against the elements with some of the tombs already severely flooded in the heavy rains of April.
Outraged local residents are furious at the state the site has been left in.
One, American Carolyn Kerr explained that the archaeologists have now left without covering the hole.
“They claim there is no money left to protect the remains,” she said.
Clearly however, this is not an issue with everyone.
Castilleja mayor Carmelo Cebo told the Olive Press bluntly: “I’ve seen nothing important. They are just a series of stones.”
Cebo – whose municipality labels itself an ‘Eco-town’ – added: “The main dolmen only measures 38 metres – so why does it need such a big protection area? It’s got plenty of space.”
Jorge Arevalo, president of the Friends of the Dolmens Association in neighbouring Valencina de la Concepcion – which has two dolmens open to visitors – said: “It’s crazy – we’re fighting the people who are supposed to be protecting our heritage.
“This site is comparable with Stonehenge in terms of size and importance. We need to protect it, not just for local residents, but for all humanity.”
One park in Castilleja de Guzman already has an amazingly tasteless replica dolmen, which is not even the same type found in the area.
At another residential development Senorio de Castilleja – also built over a dolmen – there are plans to open a culture park with a two-metre-high replica of the dolmen. The 200,000-euro ‘Parque Publico Cultural’ will “highlight the burial site”; while an interpretation centre will explain it to tourists.
But, as Carolyn Kerr put it, ‘’What’s the point of having replicas when you can have the real thing? Why can’t they spend the money on preserving the dolmens instead?’’