An exceptional Iberian village

The archaeological site of Puig de la Nau allows us to visit an exceptionally preserved Iberian settlement built in the middle of the 5th century BC. The on-site excavations have dated several previous phases of occupation from the year 700 BC.
Its urban planning, the layout of its streets, the different buildings where the Iberians rested, worked or worshiped and the walk through the walls that once protected the town will allow us to understand closely this epoch and its lifestyle.
This archaeological experience is enriched through the wonderful views of the coastal plain from the Sierra del Montsià to the Sierra de Irta.
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Archaeological documentation

The Puig de la Nau site provides us a clear view of the urban structure of a fortified Iberian village. Through this ruins we can discover the way of life of those who were their settlers, their economic dynamics and their social and political hierarchy.

Five centuries of history

The Puig de la Nau has been inhabited since the end of the Bronze Age, around 700 B.C.

Its first settlers were probably shepherds and built rounded plant cabins in high areas. All this suggests a temporary settlement occupation, certainly related to the movement of the herds and to the use of natural pastures. Its use lasted for approximately half a century at this stage.

It is already in the Iron Age, the second phase of occupation, when the site becomes a stable habitat that will last about three quarters of a century. During this period buildings will be rectangular in shape. Excavations indicate that they made pottery by hand, but also that they established contacts with other Mediterranean peoples who approached the coast, such as the Phoenicians, since amphorae, vessels and tripod dishes have been found from this source.

From the VI B.C the place can be considered as an Iberian village, a culture that already made ceramics using a potter’s wheel, although Phoenician and later Greek ceramics, especially black figures, continue to appear in this phase.

The 5th century B.C is when the greatest expansion of this settlement occurs. It is the most spectacular period of this site with an excellent state of conservation and visitable in detail.

At that time a fortified village was built, that is to say, a settlement defended by a wall and its corresponding towers.  However, the destruction produced by the last century quarry activity practically made it disappear, leaving only the extreme west part. Although it is difficult to quantify, it is assumed that its original extension was about 7000 square meters.

The site is located in a hillside, taking advantage of some flatter zone, and staggering artificially the areas with steep slopes.

Urban plannig

The settlement was constructed by first marking the surface area with the wall. Once the wall defined the main road axes were traced, taking as a reference the corners of the wall or the centers of the towers.

The street layout tells of a planned urbanism with a previous approach regarding the rationalization of space. The streets would divide the different blocks where the buildings were grouped, which started from a rectangular approach.

The town was built in one go, and during the approximately fifty years of activity it hardly changed its configuration.

Within the area enclosed by the wall there is a network of narrow streets, in some cases with steps, which prevents from circulation with animals or any type of cart. All circulation had to be on foot. The natural rock or the rammed earth formed the firm of the streets. As well as a zone of circulation and communication between the different parts of the town and its buildings, the streets were used as drainage channels for rain water. It is not known if this water was removed outside the walls by means of the corresponding drains, as it has been verified in some Iberian village, or if it was used, channeled towards a cistern, which is also documented in the Iberian archeology.

Architecture and functionality

The house construction was performed with masonry, using stones from the surrounding area. Many times entire walls were constructed using this technique, but in some occasions the masonry would serve as base or baseboard, to continue the wall with adobe or mud.

The highlight of the Puig de la Nau’s architecture are the two-story houses, which were united by stairs of masonry or wood, or that had an access to the upper part taking advantage of the unevenness of the ground. The walls used to be plastered or whitewashed, and sometimes even painted red or yellow, forming bands. The roof was made of a wooden structure, on which were located branches or reeds, to finish the cover with a layer of mud that waterproofed and isolated from weather conditions. The covering was smooth and slightly inclined, in order to evacuate rainwater to the street.

Both the localized utensils and the distribution of the finds within the buildings as well as the various data offered by the Archaeological Registry, provide information regarding the functionality of the buildings. 

The houses had an interior compartmentation with different rooms, some of which have a hearth in the center.  There are several types of distribution: single rooms, double, and three or more room buildings. Sometimes rooms are arranged in height, others the rooms do not have direct communication other than the street itself.

Both the localized utensils and the distribution of the finds within the buildings as well as the various data offered by the Archaeological Registry, provide information regarding the functionality of the buildings.   Certain houses have rooms for different uses (resting area, storage, production). There are also buildings for storage and production, buildings for religious worship, buildings for the hierarch and for the government of the town.

The defensive structure

The defensive space configuring the wall is an interesting and complex space.  The canvases and the parapets are built with masonry.  The wall is reinforced with towers in the corners or in the points of greater strategic interest.  In front of this structure, another defensive wall prevented from the approach of war machines during an assault.  Even so, the surrounding area would make difficult any movement with great artifacts. This defensive wall also created a corridor to force the assailant to follow a narrow route, easy to watch all the way, and from where to deploy an attack would be difficult.

The gate giving access to the population is located in front of a narrow 0'90m span in a bend of the wall reserved for the guards. It is a special lookout and defense post, placed behind main dwelling of the town where the hierarch probably lived.

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