Ancient Identities on Menorca: From Iron Age Talayots to Medieval Alquerías
Alexander Smith, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
In September of 2023, the island of Menorca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the remains of its Iron Age Talayotic culture, including megalithic ceremonial structures, houses, and tombs. Using recent data from the Menorca Archaeological Project (MAP) at the site of Torre d’en Galmés, this talk will begin by discussing findings that support a consolidated indigenous identity during the late Iron Age on Menorca. Despite the overwhelming interest in the island’s Iron Age culture, many of these sites were used long after the end of the Talayotic era by Roman, Vandal, and Islamic groups. MAP’s findings also showcase complex negotiations of identity during the medieval Islamic era in the construction of alquerías or farming villages on abandoned megalithic sites, as well as cultural persistence into the present. This talk will conclude by discussing the present understandings of ancient identity on the island, including the inclusion or erasure of temporal narratives in the construction of an island history.
Dr. Alexander Smith is an assistant professor of anthropology at SUNY Brockport and an archaeologist of Western Mediterranean islands and historical Western New York State. He has worked in Menorca, Spain since 2007, and is currently the co-director of the Menorca Archaeological Project at Torre d’en Galmés. He is also the director of Frost Town Archaeology, a low-cost field school and public project in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Dr. Smith has also created public archaeology programming with many institutions in Rochester, NY, including the “Alex the Archaeologist” museum outreach program.
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