Prehistoric Menorca was at the interface of diverse cultures. Menorca owes a significant part of its present day appeal to its long and illustrious past. Settlements can be traced back to the Bronze Age, 2000 B.C.
This period is referred to as the pre-Talaiotic period which has left important burial monuments such as megalithic tombs and the collective tombs known as navetas.
By 1400 B.C. the culture had developed and produced large stone constructions known as talaiots. These constructions gave rise to the term The Talaiotic Period, considered by experts to be the richest prehistoric period of the island history.
At this time there was also a development of large settlements like Trepucó, Torre d'en Galmés or Son Catlar.
Each settlement had a single monument of worship called a Taula and scores of artificial caves excavated in the cliffs, such as Calas Covas and Cala Morell.
The indigenous population used cyclopean construction but soon willingly appear to soon have embraced outside influence from expanding merchant peoples such as the Carthaginians who were already established in Ibiza and were noted for introducing new tools and ornaments.
The Roman conquest in 123B.C. transformed the Talaiotic settlements and established the three cities we know today at the ports of Mago (Maó), Jammo (Ciutadella) and Sanisera (Sanitja).
There are many different prehistoric stone monuments in Menorca and many are unique. Amongst the most popular with visitors are Navetes, Taulas and Talayots.
A Naveta is a megalithic burial chamber, which is unique to Minorca which dates from the early Bronze Age. It has two vertical and two corbelled walls making it look like an unpturned boat, which is from where the name is derived. The Naveta des Tudons which at around 4 meters high, 14m long and 6.4m wide is the largest remaining example.
A Talayot is large tower built of dry-stone walling found in the Balearic Islands of the western Mediterranean. It is similar to the Nuraghe of Sardinia. Talayots (the local word for ‘watch-towers’) were built in a range of forms with circular, square, and stepped forms. These structures generally have a central chamber and date from the Bronze Age.( 1500–500 BC).
A Taula, which predates the Talayots, is a stone built ritual monument found on the Balearic Islands. They date back to the early Bronze Age and are made from two carefully fashioned stone slabs with one balanced on top of the other. The T-shaped structures were sometimes fixed together with a mortise and tenon joint. The largest taula is at Trepuco and measures 4 meters in height.
Prehistoric Menorca: Trepucó
Today only small fragments of the city walls of Trepucó are preserved. This Talayotic township was abandoned during the second Punic war and the fragments of the wall and two square towers in the west wall are all that remain of its former glory. At its peak the township covered about 5,000 square meters, and was enclosed by the defence walls. Here you will find Menorca's largest remaining Taula which was the centre of worship in Trepucó. There are also five talayotic houses each different in style and two talayots. The most spectacular comprises a circular basis similar to a star. The other talayot is smaller in size and fixed to the wall of the settlement.
The Trepucó settlement in Minorca - Menorca
The Trepucó settlement is one of Minorca’s finest megalithic archaeological sites, thanks to its gigantic talayot and well-preserved taula.
The talayotic settlement in Trepucó, which was excavated by English archaeologist Margaret Murray in 1931 and declared a Historical-Artistic Monument that same year, is located approximately two kilometres from Mahon on the road to Sant Lluís.
This approximately 5000-square-metre talayotic was originally surrounded by a wall, of which only several sections and two square defence towers in the western wall have survived.
Archaeological findings have revealed that there were at least seven talayots originally, of which two have survived. The central talayot, a solid structure with a small window in the upper section, is one of Minorca’s largest. The star-shaped building near the talayot was erected in the eighteenth century by the French army during their attempts to wrest Mahon from the English.
Attached to the wall is a second, smaller talayot in a well-preserved condition.
To the left of the settlement is a magnificent taula, a prehistoric monument for worship, which was reconstructed in the early 1970s. The section in the rear was reinforced to prevent it from collapsing.
Visits to the Trepucó settlement are free of charge.