NURARQ, Menorca Arqueología y Cultura welcomes you to the Talayotic site of Torralba d’en Salort!
By following the route, you will discover all the monuments of this site, which have come down to us in a great state of preservation! All of them once belonged to one of the largest prehistoric settlements on the island.
We hope you’ll enjoy your visit…
More than 4,000 years of History await you!
Late Talayotic houses (6th to 2nd centuries BC) are called “circles” by archaeologists due to their circular layout. Since they are highly standardised buildings, we can easily detect them one we see one, even if it has not been excavated yet.
They are large dwellings which might have been inhabited by a large family of around 10 people. Several rooms surround a central open-air courtyard, which always has a hearth for cooking. These houses hare south-oriented and usually have a larger courtyard outside, many of which have cisterns carved through the rock and several rooms, which would have been used as storage areas or working spaces.
In these houses we can find a varied and large quantity of materials, including tools for food processing, such as grinding stones to make flour, bone awls, pottery vessels as well as objects related to textile production, such as loom weights and spindle whorls.
The taula enclosure or sanctuary of Torralba d’en Salort is the most stunning on the entire island. It was excavated between 1976 and 1985 by Manuel Fernández-Miranda and William Waldren, whose work in this building shed light on the Talayotic religious world.
It is the largest and best preserved sanctuary on the island, and its taula monument, which stands in a central position inside, is the highest one, measuring 5 meters.
A taula is a construction consisting of a large vertical stone sustaining a lintel, both forming a T-shaped monument. It is called “taula”, which means “table” in Catalan, because, according to old local legends, those were the tables where giants, who presumably lived on the island a long time ago, sat at.
The enclosure has a horseshoe-shaped layout with a slightly concave façade, which has the only entrance to the building. The walls were built with the cyclopean technique, based on courses of large dry stone blocks, that is to say: fitted together without any type of mortar. Also, the building’s outer wall is double-faced.
Even though most of the Taula enclosures on the island are south-oriented, this one is clearly oriented to the East.
One of the most interesting finds located inside this taula sanctuary is, without any doubt, a small bronze statuette of a bull, which was an animal worshipped in ancient times in many parts of the Mediterranean. The statuette, which is kept in Museu de Menorca (Mahón) and measures 11,5 cm high and 17 cm long, has become the most important symbol of Torralba d’en Salort.
Other important objects were found too, such as two incense burners made in Ibiza, which represent the Punic goddess Tanit, as well as three hooves of what is left from a horse statuette.
Many Talayotic settlements have more than one talayot and most of the times, talayots in the same settlement look very different among them, which suggests they could have had different functions. In Torralba there are two talayots, one of them being smaller than the main one. Moreover, it seems to have been partially destroyed in order to reuse many of its stone boulders in the construction of the outer wall of the taula enclosure, located just few metres away. This shows that around 500 BC, as has been attested in other sites too, these towers stopped being used as symbolic elements, and this purpose was probably taken over by the taula sanctuaries, whose construction started in this period.
Moreover, thanks to the reuse of some of the blocks from this talayot, its construction technique can be analysed, since internal circular walls remained in situ, what shows that solid talayots were built by erecting concentric walls as if they were onion layers, and with a fill of smaller stones in between two of those walls.
Several rectangular rooms surround the talayot, which were partially excavated in the 80’s. The materials located inside date to the Talayotic period and denote a domestic function.
According to oral notices, the cistern’s structure was already built at the beginning of the 20th century. This cistern reused a large talayotic hypogeum or rock-cut tomb, which was emptied and its entrance blocked up, as well as a hole made in its roof to collect the rain water.
In 2013 the entrance of this hypogeum was located and its layout could be documented for the first time. In 2020 we recovered it by removing the wall that blocked it up. Now visitors can access this hypogeum and see that it has a complex shape, three exempt columns with bases, making it one of the best examples in menorca of this type of caves from the late talayotic period.
As for the cattle shelter, it was probably built around the same time as the cistern’s structure. It is a small building divided into two rooms, which was built with sandstone blocks and lime mortar.
It is an ethnological circular construction which was used in modern times as an important element in farming activities. Once the cereal was reaped, it was placed on the flat floor to thresh it (separate the grain from the stalk). After the threshing there were several other steps including winnowing, measuring and drying. All these tasks were manually done or with the help of animals until the 20th century.
It is a roofed precinct with columns inside. Torralba’s hypostile hall is a room that seems to be underground, since it was covered by an earthen mound. A corridor leads to its entrance, which gives way to the central area, which has several columns that sustain a roof made of large stone slabs.
It was partially excavated in 1973, although the excavation finished due to security reasons. In 2016 excavation tasks restarted in this structure, which was restored and reopened for visitors in summer 2017.
Archaeologists suggest it was a storage room built in the Late Talayotic period and used until Roman times, as numerous materials from these periods indicate, including an intact Roman oil lamp with the representation of a gladiator on its disk.