Two years after its first eruption after being buried for more than half a century under the waters of the Valdecaas reservoir (Cceres), the Guadalperal dolmen has just emerged these last days again by surprise, as happened two years ago.It once again shows in all its splendor, a spectacular funerary heritage treasure: a complete megalithic complex – made up of 144 stones – between 5,000 and 7,000 years old.

But, why has it re-emerged? Is it the result of climate change? Why not last summer and now I know? Why are these saw teeth after being swallowed under the waters of the Tagus for almost more than 60 years? There are many issues around the world known as the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’.

The president of the cultural association Races of Peraleda, ngel Castao, considers the current production of electricity to be key, very high in recent times due to high consumption after the pandemic, which hinders the activity of the Almaraz nuclear power plant (very close to the area). “It is not capable of facing all this demand by itself,” he explains.

From oh, the production of electricity from the waters of the swamp comes into play, to which is added the current agreement between Spain and Portugal to supply -through the Albufeira agreement- Portuguese hydrographic basins in the event of a flow deficit and environmental care.

The 2019 drought

In August 2019, just with the first contemporary irruption, Castao remembers that there was a great drought During the previous months, however, this year, until May, the swamp was quite high. “They had to open the floodgates, which is also done automatically by a computer system when these large differences in electricity consumption occur.”

In addition, this lack of water is also having an impact on the irrigation system for crops in the region. “It has been suspended again for several days, as happened in the summer of 2019, when all the irrigation went headlong into disaster and there were demonstrations of farmers and ranchers of the region against the company Iberdrola to alert of the situation “, affirms Castao.

In any case, the historic dolmen has completely come out of the water again, and with it the opportunity reappears to put it in value “once and for all”. The group has been demanding measures from the Junta de Extremadura and the Ministry of Culture to carry out investigations, confirm the exact date of its origin, and be able to carry out the appropriate consolidation and conservation work to turn the area into a true cultural, heritage and inland tourism reference.

Castao stressed that it will be very interesting for the institutions involved to explain the projects they have to do so. “It would be even more interesting if they were willing to listen to ideas from outside,” he declares. This expert sets the date of the new historical drop in the water level on June 31, on the same line of the 2019 record. Since then, many days have been lost doing nothing, and what is worse, according to Castao : “we do not know how long to be out of the water or if the elevation will continue to drop or rise suddenly, and it is an essential time in which nothing is being done “.

The association has always advocated rescuing the extraordinary megalithic complex discovered and taking it to the shore, for its best protection. However, the administration’s decision was to let the rains or the opening of the reservoir sink it again so that it would remain in the same situation in which it was maintained throughout its history.

The Extremaduran Minister of Culture and Tourism, Nuria Flores, has rushed on her social networks to highlight the tourist and cultural opportunity that brings the dolmen back into view. The counselor refers to uA work plan developed since 2019 that includes the archaeological prospecting, cataloging and documentation of all the remains found, to conclude with the last surveys that will be carried out on the dolmen in the coming days.

Flores considers that said work – in which specialized technicians from the University of Alcal de Henars, the CSIC, the University of Extremadura, the Archaeological Ensemble of the Dlmenes of Antequera, the Museum of Underwater Archeology of Cartagena or the Instituto Cultura de Spain- is being “intense, rigorous and highly specialized”.

In addition, he stressed that a few weeks ago he met with the mayors of the nearby towns to explain the work plan and the tourist and cultural opportunity of the study’s result. Thus, the official version assures that a work plan has been defined for the continuation of the recovery and enhancement of the dolmen, located in the municipal area of ​​El Gordo (Cceres). This plan also includes the recovery of different finds that have been made within the archaeological investigations carried out in the basin of the reservoir and in the ancient Roman city of Augustbriga.

Among the planned actions are the archaeological excavation of the dolmen to continue with the historical contextualization of the property; taking samples of materials to define the chronology of the archaeological site; and the stabilization of the structure of the megalithic complex as an additional measure of protection. Also different sculptures of boars that have been found in the prospecting works of the deposits will be recovered and patrimonial elements of the reservoir area.

At the by, sThe definition of an access control and protection of the area has been carried out.; a geological study to know the origin of the materials used in the monument’s orthostats and a study of preventive conservation and consolidation ‘in situ’ of the megalithic complex.

BRICKS

The association’s spokesperson considers that rather little work has been done during this time., “to say nothing”. Thus, he explains that only “bricks that were in a nearby fence were installed to put under the stones with the intention of consolidating the dolmen and justifying that something had been done, but nothing more.”

This group warns that the dolmen has not been safe leaving and entering the water, because changing the environment so much (cold, heat, humidity, dryness …) is destroying it. And point out examples, such as the engravings that had disappeared because the outer layer of the stones has dissolved and some stones are crumbling, cracking or falling. So they are convinced that “The dolmen is not safe if they leave it where it is.”

In this sense, the association denounces that, given the expectation created, visits to the dolmen by boat have resumed and there is no control. On the contrary, the counselor explained that there is a special surveillance service of the Civil Guard in the area, although they demand responsibility from all those who go to visit the monument because it is a question of good that, together, we must protect.

In September 2019, days after the dolmen reappeared, technicians from the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute (IPCE) traveled to the site in September to begin prospecting and basic documentation and conservation work on the site. Thus, they took samples of the stones in order to carry out a study of the affections of the orthostats and, among the first measurements, the protection of the place with sandbags was approved, stabilize and consolidate the most deteriorated stones and mark the area.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Guadalperal Dolmen is located on land that has the status of public hydraulic domain, within the floodplain area of ​​the reservoir, being the land owned by the state, attached to the Hydrographic Confederation of the Tagus, dependent on the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

In December 2020, the General Directorate of Fine Arts published the resolution that has started the file of declaration of Asset of Cultural Interest in the category of archaeological zone. Thus, it is specified that the objective is to carry out a three-dimensional study and a systematic excavation as well as the need to take measures for its adequate conservation, without excluding in principle any alternative until the results of the study itself are known.

THE HISTORY

PERALEDA RACE ASSOCIATION

The Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando wrote a report in which it lamented the alterations made on the occasion of its excavation and consolidation in the first half of the 20th century, and It warns of the risk of loss of authenticity if its transfer is considered. “It is considered essential to preserve its historical values ​​and its landscape relationship with the territory that remains in the place where it was built,” the report explains.

The official record specifies that the Tagus is an area rich in these megalithic necropolises and that their location is not arbitrary, but rather responds to relationships with the territory and the landscape landmarks, with which they are intimately linked. The dolmen took its name from a private estate located on the right bank of the Tagus river, owned in its day by the Casa de Alba and later linked to the Duchy of Pearanda.

It was discovered in 1925, in the following two years it was excavated by its discoverer, the German archaeologist and priest Hugo Obermaier, professor of Primitive History. He proceeded to their restoration, repositioning and stabilization of the orthostats with concrete, in addition to its protection with a brick perimeter fence to prevent the entry of livestock.

In 1963, due to the construction of the Valdecaas reservoir, the lands were expropriated, joining the area of ​​public hydraulic domain. The dolmen was flooded and only on rare occasions has it partially or totally emerged (as in 2019 and now) from the waters of the reservoir. During all these years, the currents have dragged the soluble or disintegrated materials, exposing the forest of orthostats and the set of stone bowls that originally formed the funerary mound.

Typologically, the dolmen is a corridor tomb with a 5 meter diameter burial chamber and a long corridor almost 10 meters long and 1.5 m long. Wide. According to the inventory kept, the set is made up of 140 ostostats and among them stands out a menhir inside the chamber (with a possible millennial map of the Tagus river) and a large anthropomorphic menhir stela erected before the entrance.


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