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Research History

The beginnings of the Argaric archaeology took place at the end of 19th century, when the brothers Henri and Louis Siret dug ten archaeological sites and published their findings. Thanks to these Belgian mine engineers, the eponymous archaeological site of El Argar (Antas, Almería) was excavated, which had more than 1000 burials. After the return of Henri to Amberes, Louis Siret kept working in the south-east during all his life with the assistance of his foreman Pedro Flores. They got on to different issues related basically to the Neolithic and the Metal Age.


Retrato de Luis Siret realizado por Juan Cuadrado en 1934 (Cuadrado 1949: pág. 97)Portrait of Louis Siret made by Juan Cuadrado in 1934 (Cuadrado 1949: page 97)
Aspecto de uno de los cuadernos de campo de Pedro Flores, el capataz de Luis Siret, tal y como se encuentran hoy día en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional de Madrid Image of one workfield notebook of Pedro Flores, foreman of Louis Siret, as it is found in the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid nowadays


Besides El Argar, other argaric settlements and necropolis excavated by the Siret brothers in Almería and Murcia are: El Oficio, Fuente Álamo, Gatas, Ifre, La Bastida and Zapata. These archaeological sites were made known along with others from a previous chronology (Neolithic and Chalcolithic) in the publication of 1887, Les Premières Âges du Métal dans leSud-est de l’Espagne (1887). This publication won the Martorell award and was published in Spanish in 1890 with the title: Las primeras edades del metal en el sudeste de España. 


Portada de la publicación castellana de los hermanos Siret del año 1890 Cover of the publication in Spanish of Siret brothers in 1890


Dibujo realizado por Luis Siret del yacimiento de Zapata en Almería (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 19) Drawing made by Louis Siret in the archaeological site of Zapata in Almería (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 19)


Dibujo realizado por Luis Siret del yacimiento de Gatas en Almería (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 57)Drawing of the archaeological site at Gatas in Almería made by Louis Siret (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 57)


Paisaje representado por Luis Siret del antiguo curso del río Antas con El Argar al fondo (Siret y Siret 1890: lám. 22)Lanscape of the old course of river Antas with El Argar in the background, as represented by Louis Siret (Siret and Siret 1890: lam. 22)


After the death of Louis Siret in 1934, the research on the Argaric society was characterized by its incompleteness and by an empiric and chrono-typological interest. There were different views to define the Argaric society. Ones attributed to the population a similarity in terms of wealth, and others postulated the existence of social inequalities since there were qualitative and quantitative differences in the composition of the funerary offerings.

The work of Lull (1983) left a mark of inflexion on the argaric archaeological research. Lull reviewed systematically all information published until the decade of the 70s. He applied statistical methods to establish the typology of Argaric artefacts and proposed, from the Marxism, a perusal of the argaric society highlighting its organization in social classes.


Portada del trabajo de V. Lull de 1983 Book cover of V. Lull’s work in 1983


The forenamed work and the publication of Schubart and Ulreich (1991) are essential bibliographic referents. These publications gather an important corpus of data related with funerary contexts of El Argar from Siret’s collection. In last decades, the study on argaric society has been reinforced with projects focusing in solving paleoecological, economic and sociological problems. Among the most solids initiatives, we can find the following: Fuente Álamo, in the late 70s (Schubart, Pingel and Arteaga 2000), Gatas, in mid 80s (Chapman et al. 1987; Castro et al. 1994; Castro et al. 1999) and Peñalosa (Contreras 2000) and the Illeta dels Banyets (Olcina 1997; Soler 2006) in the late 80s, or La Bastida, nowadays.  We can add to these projects several fieldworks undertaken in Granada, some from the past and others at present (Terrera del Reloj, Castellón Alto, Loma de la Balunca, Fuente Amarga), Alicante (La Horna, Tabayá, Caramoro I, Cabezo Pardo) and Murcia (El Rincón de Almendricos, Los Cipreses, Lorca, Punta de los Gavilanes, Bagil). These studies provide data from different nature to step forward in our knowledge.


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