- Extremadura: What to do with the Spanish 'Stonehenge' that has come to light in Cáceres?
The Ministry of Culture will not move the dolmen of Guadalperal (Cáceres), which will once again be submerged under the water when the rains return to the Valdecañas swamp, where it is located. This has been decided by a group of experts convened by the Government, which considers that the transfer of the historic megalithic complex abroad - the other option that was considered to put it in value out of water - "would mean an irreversible loss of the historical-archaeological context" .
After this positioning, the Board of Extremadura and the Ministries of Culture and Sports and Ecological Transition have announced the establishment of a working group whose task is the design, direction and monitoring of the action plan that will "allow" the recovery of the dolmen of Guadalperal, located in the municipality of El Gordo (Cáceres), and baptized since last August as the baptized as the Spanish Stonehenge. It was last month when the drought in the reservoir - where it has been located for at least 5,000 years - caused it to come to light. During these weeks, it has become a focus of tourist pilgrimage because its 142 stones (orthostats, between 0.60 and 2 meters) were perfectly accessible by lowering the quota of the dammed level, forming a perimeter ring next to the old right bank of the river Tagus and next to what was once a great meander.
According to the Ministry of Culture, "due to the historical value of the enclave and the exceptional nature of the complex", the constituted working group has designed two phases of action to guarantee its conservation and turn it, at the same time, into a tourist resource for the area. The first phase of recognition, "already under way", aims at the "exhaustive documentation" of the megalithic complex and its state of preservation.
According to the central administration, a group of technicians traveled to the site on September 3 and 10 to take samples of the stones, currently in the laboratory, in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of conditions in the orthostats.
A 3D laser scan has also been carried out to have a current planimetry of maximum precision, and in the next few days emergency actions will begin that include intensive surveys and documentation and basic conservation of the site.
The first measures will be to protect the site with sandbags, stabilize and consolidate the most collapsed stones and mark the area.
Put in value
Subsequently, according to Culture, in a second phase a comprehensive program of recovery and enhancement of the site will be promoted, with the development of applied research projects, which will include risk analysis and conservation of the site and its archaeological and territorial context .
At the same time, studies are being carried out to present the whole to the public as a tourist resource in the area. Parallel to the research work, the procedures for the initiation of the megalithic complex as a Property of Cultural Interest (BIC) have been initiated.
The dolmen of Guadalperal was excavated and restored in the twenties of the last century by Hugo Obermaier. His works were not published until 1960 by other German researchers, just three years before the site was covered by the waters of the reservoir, according to data provided by the Ministry of Culture.
Criticisms of an ambiguous decision
However, the local association Raices de Peraleda has indicated that the decision of the administrations involved "should have served to clarify the situation and to explain the decisions is so vague and ambiguous and that in the end more than informing confuses" and adds that " it is not clear to us what they intend to do with him or when. " This group defends that the best solution was to move the stones out of the reservoir to study the dolmen and put it into value as a point of tourist interest, thus preventing its deterioration in the water when the rains arrive and cease the unloading that is carried out every year to waters Portuguese according to an agreement signed between Spain and the Portuguese country,
The association does not understand that if the Ministry and the Board have announced that they are going to start the procedures to declare it of Cultural Interest, it is decided that the monument "is abandoned to their fate, because that is what will happen if they leave it in the waters without Fixed date".
'Roots of Peraleda' recalls that there is a geological report published by the Geological Association of Extremadura where it is assured that "if the dolmen stays in the water half of the orthostats will crumble in a few years, and the rest will fall to the precipice according to the platform continue to crumble as it is already happening. Neither sandbags nor any other measure can avoid that safe future if the monument is left in the water. "
This group is positioned against the argument about decontextualizing the historical site if it is taken out of the water because "the entire context of the dolmen disappeared when the swamp submerged the entire Tagus valley and the ford, and the only context that remains today is a underwater sandy beach that has nothing to do with its original context. " And he adds that the thesis that more excavations are needed "does not work either, since the place and its surroundings have already been excavated and, in addition, the removal of the dolmen does not prevent it from being excavated further in the future if they wish" .
Finally, the association complains that "nothing is explained about how they plan to turn the dolmen into a tourist motor for the area if they intend to wrap it in sand and leave it under water" and adds that "it would be interesting to know what ideas they have about it Well, not even archaeological diving would make sense, "he concludes.
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