The archaeological research carried out in the Neolithic site of La Draga, near Lake Banyoles, has led to the discovery of an object that is unique in the western Mediterranean and in Europe. The object is an arch that is situated in a context dating from period between 5400-5200 BC., corresponding to the beginning of the settlement period. It is a unique object, as it is the first arch found intact at the site. According to this dating, it can be chronologically considered as the oldest arch of the neolithic period found in Europe.
The study will allow to analyze the technological aspects, survival strategies and the social organization of the first agricultural communities who settled in the Iberian Peninsula. The bow has 108 centimeters long and presents a flat-convex section. It is worth mentioning the fact that it is made of yew wood (Taxus baccata), like most Neolithic arches in Europe.
In previous archaeological campaigns, fragments of two bows (in 2002 and 2005) also from the same period, but being fragmented is impossible to analyze its characteristics. The recent discovery offers new insightswhen it comes to understanding how these agricultural communities lived and organized.
These arches could be used to different purposes, like hunting, although if one takes into account that hunting was not such a common activity in the La Draga area, it cannot be ruled out that the bows represented the prestige or were related to defensive or confrontational activities.
Remains of arches have been found in the north Europe (Denmark, Russia) dating from between the 8th and 9th centuries BC among the groups of hunters and gatherers, even though these groups were from the Paleolithic period, not Neolithic. Most of the arches of the Neolithic period in Europe can be found in Central and northern europe.
Some fragments of these Neolithic arches from central Europe date from the end of the 6th millennium BC, between 5200-5000 BC, although they are generally from later periods, usually more than thousand years younger than La Draga. For this reason, archaeologists can state that the three arches found at La Draga are the oldest arches in Europe from the Neolithic period.
The research carried out in La Draga is funded by the Department of Culture of the Government of Catalonia and by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain. The project is directed under the coordination of the Count Archaeological Museum of Banyoles with the participation of the Department of Prehistory of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Department of Archeology and Anthropology of the Instituto Milà i Fontanals of the CSIC, the Museum of National Archeology of Catalonia and the Center for Underwater Archeology of Catalonia. The excavation includes the participation of archeology students from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and other universities in Spain and Europe.
The Neolithic inhabitants of La Draga.
The Draga is located in the town of Banyoles, belonging to the Pla de l’Estany region, and is an archaeological site that corresponds to the location of one of the first settled agricultural communities in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The place is located in the eastern part of Lake Banyoles and dates back to between 5400 and 5000 BC.
The site occupies 8000 square meters and it extends 100 meters along the river bank and 80 meters to the east. Part of the site is totally submerged in the lake, while other parts are located on solid ground.
The first excavations were carried out between 1990 and 2005 under the scientific direction of the Count Archaeological Museum of Banyoles. Since 1994, excavations are also being carried out by the Center for Underwater Research (Museum of Archeology of Catalonia). The current project (2008-2013) includes the participation of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the National Research Council of Spain.
The La Draga deposit it is exceptional for many reasons. Firstly, for its antiquity, since it is considered one of the oldest places of the Neolithic period existing in the Iberian Peninsula. Second, because it is a deposit outdoors with continuous occupancy. Finally, and surely the highlight, for the exceptional conditions in which it is preserved.
The archaeological levels are located in the water table that surrounds Lake Banyoles, giving way to anaerobic conditions that favor conservation of organic material. These circumstances make La Draga a unique place throughout the Iberian Peninsula, since it is the only one known with these characteristics. In Europe, along with Dispilo in Greece and La Marmota in Italy, it is one of the few lake settlements of the VI millennium BC.
The phenomenon of Neolithic lake settlements is well known in modern Central European chronologies, where there are abundant lakes and humid environments, but it is extremely rare outside of this geographic area. For this reason, the La Draga deposit is well known by specialized scientific sectors and attracts researchers from all over the world for the quality of your data that can be obtained from that historical context.
The Draga is a paleodiverse island offering a set of extraordinary bioarchaeological elements, key to the analysis of how agriculture and livestock began to exist in Europe.
With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.