1INTRODUCTION: A COMMUNITY BETWEEN TWO WORLDS
The exhibition starts with a presentation that conveys a clear idea to the visitor: in prehistory and early history, the Atlantic coast was a bridge between two worlds, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Its excellent geographical location turned the area into a territory of great trading activity where cultural traditions met. The strategic position of the Iberian Peninsula, the maritime and overland trade routes, the different expeditions, the conquests and the arrival of new communities all contributed to making this an interconnected area for more than 2,000 years of history.
2FARMERS AND WARRIORS? LATE BRONZE AGE (1500–800 BCE)
Axe of A Cabeciña (Oia). Museum of Pontevedra
Socketed axes, deposit of Samieira (Poio). Museum of Pontevedra
The archaeological site of A Cabeciña is located in the municipality of Oia, in the southwest coast of Galicia. A fortified enclosure was built there, protected by large walls and with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It has a rock art area where the carvings of circular patterns stand out, incomplete and linked together. These decorative motifs, uncommon in Galicia, are identical to those from the final stages of megalithism in places such as the Gavrinis passage tomb in Brittany, France.
3FORTIFIED SETTLEMENTS. IRON AGE (800–400 BCE)
The emergence of castros (hillfort settlements) in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE changes the form of habitation that existed during the Bronze Age. The castro is a fortification, but also a monument and a material symbol used as a sign of prestige by warrior and farming communities. They are simple settlements, small and all in one enclosure. Domestic units are more solid than those of the Late Bronze Age. In addition, the introduction of iron is a huge innovation. Its use and production contributes to the development of tools that facilitate a more intensive agriculture, which in turn contributes to an increase in social inequality and conflicts.
Knife of Alobre. Museum of Pontevedra
A small area of 64 km2 in Campo Lameiro has become the capital of rock carvings in Galicia, as it presents the largest concentration of rock carvings in Europa. At the top of the hill of Coto de Penalba is the Pedra da Serpe (Stone of the Snake), a petroglyph associated with fertility rituals. A falcate sword of Mediterranean origin stands out among the discoveries from this settlement. The Rock Art Archaeological Park (PAAR) is worth experiencing: cultural and natural heritage merge there to reveal the magic of the Galician rock carvings.
4THE ENTRY OF THE MEDITERRANEAN INTO THE ATLANTIC (400–19 BCE)
Armband of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Rafael M.ª Rodríguez Martínez
Bronze cauldron of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Museum of Pontevedra
The archaeological site of Alobre was an emblematic shellfishing community in the ría of Arousa. The castro was part of the trade circuits controlled by Phoenician merchants, strategically positioned in the south of the Ulla River mouth. Many Punic materials have been found there, so Alobre was a true emporium that lasted into the late Roman period.
The archaeological site of Monte do Castro, in the municipality of Ribadumia, has control over the territory due to its location on a hill and a clear view of the valley near the Umia River and the rest of the landscape. In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, the castro experiences a significant transformation: the old huts made of perishable materials are abandoned and the settlement’s defences get bigger.
5IN THE ROMAN SPHERE: GALLAECIA. 1ST CENTURY–3RD CENTURY
Zoomorphic fibula of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Museum of Pontevedra
Ceramic bowl of Santa Tegra (A Guarda). MASAT
The salt mines of Vigo are the only preserved sea salt evaporation ponds in a museum setting of the entire Roman Empire. This industrial factory was established in the second half of the 1st century and was active for at least two centuries, when activity decreased for several reasons. Among them was climate change, which caused sea levels to rise and ruined the salt mines that provided salt to the salting industry. Vigo was an important port on the Atlantic side of the Iberian Peninsula between the 4th and the 7th centuries. Merchants brought materials from North Africa, Greece, Cyprus or the Atlantic coast of Gaul, and not only amphoras or ceramic sigilattas, but also common pottery and bronze objects. Vigo was then on the same level as other significant ports of the time such as Burdigala (Bordeaux), Massalia (Marseille) or Tarraco (Tarragona).
The island of Toralla was a coastal villa inhabited between 320 and 450 and one of the key entries into the ría of Vigo. With Romanisation, part of the island became a cemetery for those living on the mainland. This settlement was composed of a main residence and a secondary building for the servants, as well as its own thermal system. It is similar to other buildings of the same period in Brittany, Germania and the coast of Gaul. Toralla is one of the most important and well-known coastal villae in the northwest of the peninsula and the perfect example of a villa a mare.
6THE PROVINCE OF GALLAECIA. LATE 4TH CENTURY–6TH CENTURY
Brick with the Chi-Rho. Provincial Museum of Lugo
The Roman villa of Adro Vello is located in the town of San Vicente do Mar, municipality of O Grove. It was built on an old fish-salting factory from the 1st and 2nd centuries. As in the site of A Lanzada, a necropolis was established here. During the Suebian period, a new religious centre was built, which was used in the 6th and 7th centuries.
The ‘Quiñones de León’ Museum is housed in the old pazo (traditional manor house) of Lavandeira. Its collection of art includes more than 1,500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and applied arts, as well as artefacts from a large number of archaeological sites in Vigo and other parts of Galicia and the Iberian Peninsula. The collection provides a valuable opportunity for anyone wishing to learn more about the city of Vigo from the 15th century to the present day. In addition, the gardens are one of the most attractive features of the museum. They were inspired by the French Baroque-style gardens of the 19th century and divided into six parts. Among the great variety of exotic ornamental plants is the Japanese camellia, a botanical treasure that is more than 200 years old and has become an essential part of the Route of the Camellia created by the Tourist Office of Rías Baixas.
The exhibition comes to an end with a presentation. It includes spectacular aerial images that will inspire visitors to explore the different landscapes and archaeological sites of Galicia. They can take a closer look at a selection of sites and examine their structures by zooming in on them. It concludes highlighting the common thread of all its different elements, displaying the wealth of the archaeological sites and their monumentality in the region as witnesses of history.
If you visit the Rías Baixas, you can not lose its rich archaeological heritage… www.turismoriasbaixas.com