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Bertan > Bertan 20 Burdin aroko herri harresituak Gipuzkoan > Ingeles bertsioa: The first important transformations

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The first important transformations

20. Bead from necklace, made from glass paste, found at the settlement in Intxur.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
20. Bead from necklace, made from glass paste, found at the settlement in Intxur.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
21. Iron sickle found at Intxur.© Xabi Otero
21. Iron sickle found at Intxur.© Xabi Otero
23. Bronze weight found at Munoaundi.© Edurne Koch
23. Bronze weight found at Munoaundi.© Edurne Koch
22. Bronze clasp excavated at the site in Munoaundi.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
22. Bronze clasp excavated at the site in Munoaundi.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
18. Map showing the location of known Iron Age fortified settlements in Gipuzkoa.© Xabi Otero
18. Map showing the location of known Iron Age fortified settlements in Gipuzkoa.© Xabi Otero

We know little about the sites settled by the Bronze Age inhabitants of the territory of Gipuzkoa. Although they were most likely small in size, they were the birthplace of changes in arable farming, livestock farming and metalworking.

19. Iron knife found in Basagain.© Lamia
19. Iron knife found in Basagain.© Lamia

However, the full significance of these transformations would not be seen until the beginning of the first millennium BCE. This was a rural society which had seen major developments in agricultural practices. As the millennium progressed, technological advances also led to significant innovations.

24. Iron needles found in the Basagain settlement.© Lamia
24. Iron needles found in the Basagain settlement.© Lamia

It was during this period that a number of nuclei of varying size first appeared, which show evidence of a high level of organisation and development. Although the sites excavated so far are no more than proto-urban concentrations, they already contained some features which might categorise them as more than simple population groupings. They consisted of fortified enclosures, erected at strategic locations, which must have required considerable work to build. These well-designed defence systems, enclosed areas of between one and eighteen hectares, depending on the needs of each group. Once the site had been chosen, it required considerable sophistication to coordinate the work involved in that raising constructions of this kind. However, it is in the interior of these enclosures that we can really appreciate the full scale of this development.

25. Saddle quern found at Intxur.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
25. Saddle quern found at Intxur.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
26. Fragment of decorated hand-made pottery  from  the settlement at Buruntza.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
26. Fragment of decorated hand-made pottery from the settlement at Buruntza.© Aranzadi Zientzia Elkarteko Gordailu Zentroa
27. Inhabited sites in the Basque Country during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age.© Xabi Otero
27. Inhabited sites in the Basque Country during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age.© Xabi Otero

As we gradually unearth structures at different sites, and see their distribution and the materials used to build them, we can build a clearer picture of the lifestyles of these people, often depicted as being our last link with prehistory but who might more fairly be considered to represent the first stage of known history.

Homes, compartmentalised into different enclosures, large earthenware pots for storing a range of products, the many other types of vessels for other uses, tools and farm utensils - increasingly made of iron as the millennium progressed - bronze and glass ornaments, and many other discoveries bring us in contact with these groups. They inhabited the whole of Gipuzkoa from the Atlantic shoreline to the mountains that mark the Atlantic/Mediterranean watershed, living in small fortified nuclei or villages, which probably coexisted alongside outlying settlements and seasonal mountain camps.

29. Drawing of excavation. Wedges for fitting the wooden posts in the house at Basagain.© Xabier Peñalver
29. Drawing of excavation. Wedges for fitting the wooden posts in the house at Basagain.© Xabier Peñalver
28. Houses, crop fields and pasture land were all contained within the walled enclosure at Intxur.© Fernando Hierro
28. Houses, crop fields and pasture land were all contained within the walled enclosure at Intxur.© Fernando Hierro
30. Archaeological digs tell us more about the way of life of the people who lived in these settlements. In the photograph, fieldwork at Basagain.© Lamia
30. Archaeological digs tell us more about the way of life of the people who lived in these settlements. In the photograph, fieldwork at Basagain.© Lamia
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