Time spheres

1INTRODUCTION: A COMMUNITY BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

A Lanzada (Sanxenxo)

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)

Petroglifos
Communities from this period are characterised by an itinerant lifestyle due to extensive agriculture and animal husbandry. Some of their most representative features are small open settlements, the intensification of production and the emergence of storage spaces due to an agricultural surplus. One of the most important elements of these communities is trade, especially when it involves metallurgy, which brought about technological and material advances that ended up causing significant changes. Bronze Age communities also left an exceptional artistic legacy: the Atlantic rock art.

  • Axe of A Cabeciña (Oia). Museum of Pontevedra

    Axe of A Cabeciña (Oia). Museum of Pontevedra

  • Socketed axes, deposit of Samieira (Poio). Museum of Pontevedra

    Socketed axes, deposit of Samieira (Poio). Museum of Pontevedra

A Cabeciña A Cabeciña (Oia)


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)

Ilustración Illustration of Castro of Iron

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

    Knife of Alobre. Museum of Pontevedra

Coto de Penalba (Campo Lameiro)


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)

Ilustración Askós de Alobre (Vilagarcía de Arousa)
The predominance of Carthage entails the establishment of new trade routes with access to the Atlantic. The forgotten northwest of the peninsula joins the trade circuits that connect the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. After the First Punic War, the emergence of Rome as a new power makes the Punic merchants look for new areas to get new materials in exchange for their products. The establishment of trade routes brings to the Atlantic trade in the northwest of the peninsula a great number of materials and items of Mediterranean origin. The domestic units of the Iron Age II have complex structures depending on the economic progress of the family and their need to manage their agriculture and livestock surplus.

  • Armband of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Rafael M.ª Rodríguez Martínez

    Armband of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Rafael M.ª Rodríguez Martínez

  • Bronze cauldron of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Museum of Pontevedra

    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.

Ilustración Archaeological site Monte do Castro (Ribadumia)

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

Monte do Facho (Cangas)
Romans had been trying to take control of the tin routes for some time, and their first military expedition to the northwest of the peninsula was in the form of an incursion led by Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus circa 137 or 136 BCE. With the Cantabrian Wars (29–19 BCE), Rome manages to control the utilisation of the rich metal resources in the northwest, and it pacifies the region and strengthens maritime trade in the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea. The Gallaecian territory incorporates into the Empire as a maritime hub between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mare Nostrum. Roundhouses with thatched roofs give way to complex layouts built to meet the needs that arise. A sensible application of both technology and organisation enable the implementation of large-scale projects that had been unknown until then. After the Roman military conquest of the peninsula, Gallaecian society feels a conflict between tradition and modernity.

  • Zoomorphic fibula of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Museum of Pontevedra

    Zoomorphic fibula of Monte do Castro (Ribadumia). Museum of Pontevedra

  • Ceramic bowl of Santa Tegra (A Guarda). MASAT

    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).

Villa of Toralla (Vigo)
Salinae (Vigo)

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

The Chi-Rho of Quiroga (Diocesan and Cathedral Museum of Lugo)
During the 4th and 5th centuries, Christian Gallaecia goes through a period of cultural renaissance led by the Gallaecian Roman elite, who excel in historiography and theology. Basilicas, baptisteries and some small monasteries or coenobiums are built, both in urban and rural areas. In contrast with other eastern religions, Christianity in Gallaecia spreads mostly among rural communities, which gives way to its acceptance as a religion by large sectors of the population. At this point, the first councils start to be organised in the northwest and an early organisational structure for parishes develops. While the Gallaecian Roman elite consider the arrival of the Suebi catastrophic, both powerful groups end up forming an alliance. The Kingdom of the Suebi adopts Roman practices and organises the Galician parishes. During this time, the Galician coast experiences a boost in economic growth and trade, and receives products from places such as the Middle East, Egypt, Greece, North Africa and Gaul.

  • Brick with the Chi-Rho. Provincial Museum of Lugo

    Brick with the Chi-Rho. Provincial Museum of Lugo

Roman villa of Adro Vello (O Grove)

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.

7PRESENTATION

Archaeological site of Santa Trega (A Guarda)

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.

 

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