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The main chronological limits of the Argaric society range between 2200 and the 1550 cal BC, according to two hundred Carbon 14 datings corresponding to habitation and funerary contexts.

The Argaric group had experienced various expansion phases in the course of its development. The first emplacements settled in the depression of Vera (Almería) and in Guadantín basin (Murcia). Initially, It is acknowledgeable certain continuity of the Chalcolitic, but it is evident from its beginning that the Argaric settlements are a sharp break in relation to the preceding period.

Contrary to the collective burials of the third millennium, the funerary contexts are integrated in the settlements and an individual burial system is applied. This is usually under the floor of dwellings and with personalized grave goods. The internal structure of villages abandons the cabinet of circular plant with important open spaces and adopts long plant constructions (rectangular, absidals or trapezoidals) disposed in a badly matched manner on artificial terraces all along the hill. Although, there are some villages documented on plains, near to fertile lands, the people of the great Argaric settlements (i.e. Fuente Álamo) were more worried on isolating themselves and/or the defense at the expense of the proximity of the good farming conditions. Besides, the repertory of artifacts (ceramic, metal, lithic) has clearly different features compared with chalcolithic materials.

There are two main periods in the Argaric diachrony, which are distinguished by a specific funerary treatment of the dead and a determined economic organization. In the first period (from the beginning until circa 1800 cal BC), only one sector of the adult and senile population was buried. The social structure seems to be dominated by male individuals buried in covachas (artificial caves cut into the bedrock) or cists with specific grave goods. However, the presence of featured burials on hilltop settlements like Fuente Álamo, and in lowlands, like Herrerías, indicates an uneven distribution of the power.

With time, the social stratification develops and it is distinguished more clearly. From 1800/1750 cal BC and until the end of the Argar, there was an increase of social inequalities, which ended up affecting the underage through mechanisms of hereditary transmission (see Graves).

In the second phase, the graves of the dominating class were restricted to the central enclaves. Like in Fuente Álamo, where most valuable items are found in wards located on the top of the hills, such as weapons and metal ornaments (of copper, bronze, silver and gold), monumental structures and meat or cattle of bigger size (bovine and equine).

The end of the Argaric period occurred around 1550 cal BC, giving way to the late Bronze Age of the south-east of the Peninsula. It seems that the end of the Argaric society was based on an association of socio-economical and ecological factors. The end of El Argar was due to the exhaustion of natural resources, working tools and workforce; this last factor was due to a high infant mortality and the proliferation of diseases.


Dynamic illustration of the different expansion phases of the Argaric territory (Lull et al. 2009: fig. 2)




(Lull et al. 2011: Tab. 1).

El Argar

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