Torralba d'en Salort

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!

2. Talayotic house

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.

3. Big talayot
The term “talayotic”, which is used to name the prehistoric culture of Mallorca and Menorca, derives from the word talayot, a type of monumental tower-shaped building that can be found in both islands, even though there are significant differences between them. Menorca’s talayots are larger than Mallorca’s and have several layouts, all of them being monumental towers that started to be built around 1200 BC. Most of them are solid towers whose function would not have been only related to the territorial control from their top (usually, from the top of a talayot, several others can be spotted), but they could also have had a symbolic function of social cohesion and power.
3
4. Taula enclosure

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.

5. Small talayot

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.

5
silos-torralba
6. Silos
Silos are artificial rock-cut holes which served as storage deposits for either cereals or water. Silos, which are frequently found in Talayotic settlements, would have had lids to cover them, even though these are not preserved.
7. 17th centuy house and church
The lands belonging to the property of Torralba have been occupied and used throughout History, and that is why we can find structures from different periods, not only from the Talayotic, in the site. This is one of them, which is probably a Modern-period chapel or small rural church (as the niches at both sides of the entrance suggest) adjoining another structure, probably a house.
cantera
8. Contemporary quarry
The geology of the southern half of the island is very homogeneous, formed by a Miocene platform of sedimentary rocks from where marés, the local term for sandstone, is quarried to get construction materials for building. Marés stones used to be manually cut by using several tools such as alzaprima, mattock, hoe, escoda (stone cutter’s hammer) and trinchante. In this small manual quarry in Torralba, rectangular blocks were extracted right next to a Talayotic rock-cut tomb, which was possibly reused as a cattle shelter in subsequent periods.
9. Funerary caves
Artificial funerary caves are called hypogea. These are underground rock-cut caves which were made with bronze and iron tools and used as tombs. In the Late Talayotic period their morphologies became more complex, presenting niches and lobular spaces, as can be seen in these two caves of Torralba. They were home to collective inhumations for the members of the community, who were buried inside following funerary rituals.
9
10
10. Cattle shelter and cistern
According to oral accounts, the cistern’s neck was already built at the beginning of the 20th century. This cistern reuses a Talayotic hypogeum, which was emptied and whose entrance was blocked off, while a hole was made in its roof to collect and store the rain water. In 2013 an archaeological test pit was carried out in order to locate its original entrance. By doing this, the entrance was found and the cave was properly documented, determining that it was a Talayotic artificial cave or hypogeum with a polylobular layout and presenting 3 columns inside. As for the cattle shelter, we don’t know the exact date for its construction, but most probably it is contemporaneous to the cisterns’ neck. It is a modern building presenting a rectangular layout and divided into two rooms, which was built with sandstone marés blocks joint together with lime mortar.
11. Threshing floor

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.

nurarq_visitaguiada
12
12. Outer wall
In the Late Talayotic period outer walls were built to defend many settlements, probably due to the instability and conflictivity aroused in the Mediterranean. The construction technique of these walls is the same as can be found in other Talayotic structures: the cyclopean, consisting in the use of large stone blocks without mortar for building double-faced walls, whose outer side has foundation benches of horizontal courses, on top of which large vertical blocks were placed, followed by courses of smaller roughly-squared stones in the upper part. The internal side of the wall could look like the outer one or be much simpler, with the use of courses of smaller stones, whereas the space left in between the two faces was filled with smaller stones.
13. Hypostyle hall

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.