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Dressing the sacrice: textiles, textile
production and the sacricial economy at
Casas del Turuñuelo in fth-century BC
Iberia
Beatriz Marín-Aguilera1,
*
, Esther Rodríguez-González2,
Sebastián Celestino2& Margarita Gleba1
The fth-century BC site of Casas del Turu-
ñuelo in south-western Spain provides unique
information on the production and ritual con-
sumption of textiles in Iron Age Iberia. Casas
del Turuñuelo was a rural estate centre that
was intentionally burned following a banquet
and the sacrice of over 50 domestic animals.
Among the offerings are the earliest-known
wool textiles and twill weaves on the Iberian
Peninsula. This assemblage represents the
most diverse textile collection found in the
region to date, and provides the rst glimpse
of the role of textiles in the sacricial economy
of Iberia, and in prehistoric Europe more
widely.
Keywords: Iberia, Casas del Turuñuelo, textiles, textile production, sacricial economy
Introduction
Casas del Turuñuelo is located in the High Guadiana Meadows in Badajoz, south-western
Spain. The site is an Iron Age rural estate centre comprising a large, two-storey building
with adobe walls on stone foundations, surrounded by grounds constructed in the early
sixth century BC. The site was abandoned in the late fth century BC, when the complex
1
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER,
UK
2
Instituto de ArqueologíaCSIC, Plaza de España, 15, Mérida 06800, Spain
*Author for correspondence (Email: bm499@cam.ac.uk)
© Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2019. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/),
which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative
Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge Uni-
versity Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
antiquity 93 370 (2019): 933953 https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2019.42
933
Research
was intentionally set on re and subsequently covered with a mound (Figure 1ad). Since
2014, excavations have uncovered evidence for the sacrice of a large number of animals
in the lower level of the building, prior to its destruction by re. A great staircase provided
access to the upper part of the building where Room 100 served a ritual function, with
the latter focused on an oxhide-shaped altar in the centre of the room and a long bench
along its north wall.
Figure 1. The site of Casas del Turuñuelo: a) aerial view of the building; b) map of the region; c) view of the site from the
Guadiana River; d) aerial view of the site (gure by E. Rodríguez).
Beatriz Marín-Aguilera et al.
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Casas del Turuñuelo resembles and is related to the well-known sites of Cancho Roano
and La Mata (Rodríguez Díaz 2014; Celestino & López-Ruiz 2016: 21153), located
only 45km distant (Figure 1b). Cancho Roano and La Mata were also large country estates
that included residential, production, storage and ritual areas. The three sites had easy access
to interregional and Eastern Mediterranean trade routes; they were well connected with
Andalusia to the south and the Alentejo region in Portugal to the west, where Phoenicians
founded several settlements from the ninth century BC onwards. Indeed, similar country
estates with clear evidence of Phoenician-Punic inuence have been excavated in both Anda-
lusia and Portugal (Arruda & Celestino 2009; Jiménez Ávila 2009; Escacena & Coto 2010;
Rodríguez Díaz 2014). Casas del Turuñuelo, however, is unique due to the presence of the
animal sacrice and the associated charred textiles and bres presented here. The latter con-
stitute the largest assemblage of its kind found to date in an Iberian Iron Age context. Along-
side the textiles, 24 spindle whorls and 36 loom weights were also found, providing a
compelling case study for the analysis of textile production and ritual consumption in
Iron Age south-western Iberia. Most importantly, the site provides information concerning
the role of textiles in ritualparticularly the Iron Age sacricial economybeyond classical
Greece and Rome, and the Eastern and Central Mediterranean (Wengrow 2011; Gleba
2015; Brøns 2017; Brøns & Nosch 2017).
The sacrice deposits are, to date, unique in the Mediterranean region. They derive from a
large banquet in the South Room of the upper part of the building, as attested by the recovery
of hundreds of ceramic vessels, as well as bronze braziers, and the ritual burning of an ovica-
prid on the altar in Room 100 (Rodríguez-González & Celestino 2017). A large number of
animals52 horses (Equus ferus caballus), four cows (Bos taurus), four pigs (Sus scrofa domes-
tica) and a dog (Canis lupus familiaris)were slaughtered and deposited in the lower level of
the residence. The articulated nature of the carcasses shows that they were not consumed as
part of the banquet. These animals were burned as part of the sacrice that took place in the
building, together with more than a dozen amphorae (some containing cereals), Greek, Punic
and ne local pottery and ivory plaques (Rodríguez-González & Celestino 2017), as well as
the textiles that we present below. The sacricial destruction of Casas del Turuñuelo in the
late fth century BC represents a signicant and costly act that involved large quantities of
valuable objects, materials and animals being taken out of circulation.
The survival of textiles, mats and textile-working tools at the site provides unique insights
into the technical and technological characteristics of textiles in Iberia, and contributes to the
study of the ritual use of textiles in the wider ancient Mediterranean. This article presents
these important new nds for the rst time, before discussing their signicance for our under-
standing of the ritual production of textiles, Iron Age offerings and the sacricial economy in
late prehistoric Europe.
Materials
Textiles and mats
The textile and bre remains were recovered during the 2016 and 2017 excavation seasons at
Casas del Turuñuelo. The rst batch of samples was found in the upper oor of the building
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(stratum UE 112). This comprised the remains of mats made from esparto grass (Stipa tena-
cissima) or related monocot species, located on several areas on the oor (Figure 2); textile
fragments and barley seeds were also found inside a grey ware vessel (Figure 3) situated in
the anteroom at the entrance to Room 100 (UE 515) (Rodríguez-González & Celestino
2017: 191). The second series of textiles was recovered on the lower oor, immediately adja-
cent to the great staircase, together with three glazed vessels of Phoenician-Punic style (UE
606) (Figure 4).
Textile characterisation includes the determination of structural parameters, such as thread
twist, diameter and angle; weave and thread count per centimetre (indicative of textile quality);
and the presence of edges and any other distinctive elements, such as pattern and sewing (Emery
2009). Structural analysis was performed using a portable Dino-Lite digital microscope at 20×,
50× and 230× magnications. Fibres were identied using a Hitachi TM3000 TableTop scan-
ning electron microscope, using Margarita Glebas reference collection for comparison.
The assemblage includes at least four different types of fabric (Table 1). Two are woven in
plain or tabby weave (Figure 5ab); this is the simplest loom-based structure, with both weft
and warp threads going one under and one over. The tabbies are both relatively balanced,
with approximately the same number of threads per unit of length, and are of similar quality.
Both tabbies are made of plant bre, probably ax.
The other two textiles are twills (Figure 5cd). In an even 2/2 twill weave, each warp
thread goes over two weft threads, then under two, with an offset in each row forming a diag-
onal pattern (Emery 2009: 92). In a 2/1 twill, the weft goes under two warp threads, then
over one, while the warp goes over two wefts and under one (Emery 2009: 99). One of
the Casas del Turuñuelo twills is a diagonal 2/2 twill woven with clockwise-, or z-twisted,
yarn in one system and counter-clockwise-, or s-twisted, yarn in the other. The fabric had
no preserved edges, so the direction of warp and weft cannot be determined. The second
twill is a 2/1 lozenge twill, woven in yarn that was z-twisted and S-plied (two single z-twisted
threads twisted together in an Sdirection together to form a stronger, doubled yarn). Two
fragments of this type were recovered from the lower oor and probably belong to the same
textile. They are of exceptional quality in terms of thread count, with 30 warp threads per
centimetre and 40 weft threads per centimetre; other archaeologically documented twills
from Italy and Central Europe usually range between 1525 threads per centimetre (Banck-
Burgess 2012: 51; Grömer et al.2013: 64; Gleba 2017: 1210). Both twills are made of sheep
wool, which was combed or otherwise manually processed, as indicated by the presence of
parallel bres with cuticular scales aligned in opposite directions. Despite processing, some
of the thicker bres are still present (Figure 5d: right).
In addition to the textiles, an unidentiable object comprising what appear to be z-twisted
linen threads was recovered from the same context (Figure 6a) as the two twills. The threads
are unusual in that the bres are not separated but cling together in ribbons. This feature is
typical for spliced yarn, which is made by removing bre ribbons from the plant and then
twisting them together either continuously, or at the ends (Gleba & Harris 2018). Spliced
yarns are inherently unstable and have to be plied, yet the threads appear to be single rather
than plied, which suggests that the object in question may have been a skein, or ball, of semi-
nished yarn. Finally, at least three accumulations of ne, plant, bast bres (probably ax)
were found with the wool textiles (Figure 6b).
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Figure 2. Top) aerial view of the upper oor with locations of esparto grass matting indicated; bottom) close-up photographs of the esparto matting (gure by E. Rodríguez).
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Textile tools
Textile tools recovered at Casas del Turuñuelo include 24 spindle whorls and 36 loom
weights (Figure 7). Both types of tools were recovered from the anteroom of the upper
oor. Some spindle whorls were also found in the South Room, where the sumptuous ban-
quet took place, and on the lower oor, to the right of the stairs in association with the textiles
(Figure 8). The analysis of textile tools provides important information about textile produc-
tion. The functional characteristics of spindle whorls and loom weights, for example, allows a
reconstruction of the type of thread that was spun and the quality of the resulting cloth by
studying the functional characteristics of spindle whorls and loom weights (Mårtensson
et al.2009; Andersson Strand & Nosch 2015). The rare survival of textile fragments at
Casas del Turuñuelo permits a comparison of the evidence provided by analysis of both
the structural characteristics of the textiles and the textile tools.
Spindle whorls
A spindle whorl is a small symmetrical object with a central perforation. The whorl is inserted
onto a spindle in order to facilitate the spinning of bres into thread (Barber 1991:5153).
Spindles are used for draft spinning raw bres, such as wool or ax, by simultaneously draft-
ing and twisting them. The weight, diameter and shape of a spindle whorl determine the
thickness and twist angle of the resulting thread and, hence, its quality (Grömer 2005; Mår-
tensson et al. 2009: 374).
The 24 spindle whorls found at Casas del Turuñuelo are light, weighing from 127g
(Figure 9). Most weigh less than 14g and have a maximum diameter of less than 31mm;
they would have been suitable for spinning very ne (17g) and ne (812g) thread
Figure 3. Grey ware vessel containing remains of the textile and barley seeds (gure by E. Rodríguez).
Beatriz Marín-Aguilera et al.
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(Mårtensson et al. 2009). Figure 9 shows that spindle whorls excavated at Casas del Turu-
ñuelo are comparable in weight and size to those recovered from the contemporaneous set-
tlements of Cancho Roano and La Mata (Berrocal-Rangel 2003; Marín-Aguilera in press).
Loom weights
Loom weights are used to keep sets of warp threads taut in a vertical warp-weighted loomthe
prevalent type of loom in pre-Roman Europe (Barber 1991:93113). The tension created by
the loom weights facilitatesthe insertion of the horizontal weft threads. Warp threads of different
material, diameter and strength require different tensions for optimal weaving. Loom weights of
different weight and thickness are therefore suitable for different types of weaves.
Archaeological experiments have yielded valuable information regarding the functional
properties of loom weights (Mårtensson et al. 2009: 392). The number of warp threads,
for example, that can be attached to a loom weight ranges between 5 and 50, depending
on the type of textile being woven (Lena Hammarlund pers. comm.). Although the diameter
of the thread determines the appropriate tension, other important parameters include how
tightly the thread was spun and the type and quality of bre (Andersson Strand 2010: 18;
Grömer 2016: 112). Thus, thick and thin threads require different tensions in the loom,
which are attained by using lighter or heavier weights, and/or by varying the number of
threads per loom weight.
The shape of the loom weight is also important for achieving higher or lower thread dens-
ity. Discoid and pyramidal loom weightsthe predominant types at Casas del Turuñuelo
(Figure 10)require less space than spherical weights when set in a row, and are therefore
suitable for the production of denser textiles. Most of the loom weights from Casas del Tur-
uñuelo weigh less than 800g, with two groups distinguishable between 200400g and 550
750g, respectively. This would have allowed for the production of a variety of textiles. Cal-
culations were made for the three weaving techniques identied in the Casas del Turuñuelos
textilestabby, 2/1 twill and 2/2 twill (Tables 24)following the method developed by
Figure 4. Views of the lower oor; ndspots of textiles and bres near the monumental staircase are indicated on the left,
with a close-up of the area on the right (gure by E. Rodríguez).
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Table 1. Technical textile data (thread counts are in threads per centimetre; * indicates splicing; angle measurements according to Emery 2009: 12).
Find no. (context) Weave Material
Warp
count
Weft
count
Warp
twist
Weft
twist
Warp
diameter
(mm)
Weft diameter
(mm) Warp angle Weft angle
Turu 6
(UE 606)
Tabby Flax 15 12 z z 0.20.3 0.20.3 Medium Medium
(UE 515.18) Tabby Flax? 16 12 z z 0.30.4 0.30.4 Medium Medium
Turu 4
(UE 606)
? Flax ––z* 0.10.3 Loose to
medium Loose to
medium
Turu 1
Turu 3
(UE 606)
2/2 Twill Wool 1213 1213 z s 0.20.4 0.30.5 Medium to
hard Medium to
hard
Turu 2
Turu 11
(UE 606)
2/1 Diamond
twill Wool 30 40 S2z S2z 0.20.3 0.20.3 Medium to
hard (ply) Medium to
hard (ply)
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Figure 5. Scanning electron micrographs of textiles found at Casas del Turuñuelo: a) linen tabby from UE 515;b) linen
tabby from UE 606; c) 2/2 twill from UE 606; d) 2/1 twill from UE 606 (gure by M. Gleba).
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Figure 6. Digital and scanning electron micrographs of threads and bres found at Casas del Turuñuelo: a) spliced linen
threads from UE 606; b) ax bre bundles from UE 606; c) esparto grass from UE 112 (gure by M. Gleba &
B. Marín-Aguilera).
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Figure 7. Spindle whorls and loom weights from Casas del Turuñuelo (gure by E. Rodríguez).
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Figure 8. Site map showing the distribution of textile tools (gure by E. Rodríguez).
Beatriz Marín-Aguilera et al.
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the Centre for Textile Research in Copenhagen (Mårtensson et al. 2009: 392; Andersson
Strand & Nosch 2015). As a result of Lena Hammarlunds experiments, however, we have
increased the number of threads per loom weight from 40 to 50.
The results of this functional tool analysis demonstrate that all of the textiles found at
Casas del Turuñuelo could have been produced using the loom weights excavated at the
site. Given the uniqueness of the site and its deliberate destruction and burial, the set of
tools probably reects the entire original assemblage. Excavations, however, are continuing
and additional textile tools may yet be found.
Figure 9. Scatter plot of spindle whorls from Casas del Turuñuelo (with Cancho Roano spindle whorls for comparison)
(gure by B. Marín-Aguilera).
Figure 10. Scatter plot of loom weights from Casas del Turuñuelo (gure by B. Marín-Aguilera).
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Table 2. Loom weight calculations for tabby weave, 2/1 twill and 2/2 twill, with the smallest loom weight found at Casas del Turuñuelo.
Warp thread tension (g) 5 7.5 10 12.5 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70
Tabby & 2/2 twill: 2 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52 52
No. of warp threads for 2 loom weights 92 62 46 36 30 24 18 16 14 12 10 10 8 8 8 6
Warp threads per centimetre 24 16 12 9 865443332222
2/1 Twill: 3 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 78
No. of warp threads for 3 loom weights 138 93 69 54 45 36 27 24 21 18 15 15 12 12 12 9
Warp threads per centimetre 36 24 18 14 12 97665443332
2/2 Twill: 4 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104 104
No. of warp threads for 4 loom weights 184 124 92 72 60 48 36 32 28 24 20 20 16 16 16 12
Warp threads per centimetre 48 33 24 19 16 13 9876554443
Technical evaluation P*PP PPPPPPPPPU**UUU
* P = Possible.
** U = Unlikely.
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Table 3. Loom weight calculations for tabby weave, 2/1 twill and 2/2 twill, with the medium loom weight found at Casas del Turuñuelo.
Warp thread tension (g) 5 7.5 10 12.5 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70
Tabby & 2/2 twill: 2 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60
No. of warp threads for 2 loom weights 250 168 126 100 84 62 50 42 36 32 28 26 22 20 20 18
Warp threads per centimetre 76 51 38 30 25 19 15 13 11 10 887665
2/1 Twill: 3 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90
No. of warp threads for 3 loom weights 375 252 189 150 126 93 75 63 54 48 42 39 33 30 30 27
Warp threads per centimetre 114 76 57 45 38 28 23 19 16 15 13 12 10 9 9 8
2/2 Twill: 4 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120
No. of warp threads for 4 loom weights 500 336 252 200 168 124 100 84 72 64 56 52 44 40 40 36
Warp threads per centimetre 152 102 76 61 51 38 30 25 22 19 17 16 13 12 12 11
Technical evaluation U**UUP*PPPPPPPPPPPP
* P = Possible.
** U = Unlikely.
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Table 4. Loom weight calculations for tabby weave, 2/1 twill and 2/2 twill, with the largest loom weight found at Casas del Turuñuelo.
Warp thread tension (g) 5 7.5 10 12.5 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70
Tabby & 2/2 twill: 2 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32
No. of warp threads for 2 loom weights 550 366 276 220 184 138 110 92 78 68 62 56 50 46 42 40
Warp threads per centimetre 87 58 44 35 29 22 17 15 12 11 10 9 8 7 7 6
2/1 Twill: 3 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48 48
No. of warp threads for 3 loom weights 825 549 414 330 276 207 165 138 117 102 93 84 75 69 63 60
Warp threads per centimetre 131 87 66 52 44 33 26 22 19 16 15 13 12 11 10 10
2/2 Twill: 4 rows of loom weights
No. of loom weights 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64
No. of warp threads for 4 loom weights 1100 732 552 440 368 276 220 184 156 136 124 112 100 92 84 80
Warp threads per centimetre 175 116 88 70 58 44 35 29 25 22 20 18 16 15 13 13
Technical evaluation U**UUUUUUP*PPPPPPPP
* P = Possible.
** U = Unlikely.
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Discussion
Casas del Turuñuelo is the rst site in Iron Age Iberia for which the analysis of textile tools
can be combined with the analysis of surviving textiles. Moreover, the site has yielded the
rst-known evidence for wool twill textiles in the entire Iberian Peninsula, contributing
new information to the current debate on the existence of different textiles culturesacross
ancient Europe (Gleba 2017). Most importantly, Casas del Turuñuelo provides a rich and
revealing window into the role of textiles in rituals and the sacricial economies of the ancient
Mediterranean.
The textile and bre assemblage recovered at Casas del Turuñuelo is, to date, unique in
Iberia in its variety of raw materials. The esparto grass mats found on the upper oor of
the building were possibly used to even out the oor surface (see Figure 7). The linen
tabby found inside a grey ware vessel may have been part of a linen bag containing barley
seeds as a ritual offering (Rodríguez-González & Celestino 2017: 191). The tabby textiles,
the spliced yarn and the bre accumulations are all probably made of axa plant intro-
duced to the Iberian Peninsula by the early third millennium BC (Jover & López 2013:
150). Linen textiles have also been found at the Chalcolithic cave of Cueva Sagrada I at
Lorca and in the numerous Bronze Age burials of the Los Millares and Argaric Cultures
(Alfaro 1984,2005; Jover & López 2013). While the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Iberian
linen textiles all appear to be woven with spliced yarn, the fth- to fourth-century BC nds
from Cadiz, La Albufereta and El Cigarralejo have draft-spun yarn (Alfaro 1983,1984: 119
21, 13841; Verdú 2015: 41718). They are also directly comparable to the two Casas del
Turuñuelo linen fragments in terms of weave structure (relatively balanced tabby), twist dir-
ection (mostly z-twist) and thread count, which ranges between 10 and 30 threads per centi-
metre in both systems. The presence of possibly spliced plant bre threads at Casas del
Turuñuelo suggests that the site witnessed the transition between splicing and draft-spinning
technologiesa change that corresponds with transition seen in other parts of the Mediterra-
nean after 600 BC (Gleba & Harris 2018).
In contrast to plant bres, there is currently little direct evidence for the pre-Roman exploit-
ation of animal-based bres in the Iberian Peninsula. Until now, the earliest wool textile iden-
tied in Iberia was recovered at an Iberian-culture sanctuary in Murcia and is dated to the second
century BC (Alfaro & Ocharan 2014).ThepresenceofwoolhasbeensuggestedintheBronze
Age Tomb 121 of the so-called Man of Galeraat Castellón Alto (Molina et al. 2003: 157).
Until scienticanalysisofthismaterialispublished,however,thetextilends from Casas del
Turuñuelo represent the earliest irrefutable evidence for the use of sheep wool in Iberia.
The wool textiles found at Casas del Turuñuelo are woven in twill weavea technique
developed during the Bronze Age (Bender Jørgensen & Rast Eicher 2016: 86). The exibility
of wool makes it more suitable than plant bres for twill weaving. The only other 2/2 twill
fragments found so far in pre-Roman Iberia are from La Albufereta and date to the fourth
century BC. They are woven in z-twisted yarn and have 810 threads per centimetre in
both the warp and weft systems, being somewhat coarser than the 2/2 twill from Casas del
Turuñuelo (Alfaro 1984: 14748, numbers 12731; Verdú 2015: 41718). While 2/2 twills
woven in z-twisted yarn are common across rst-millennium BC Italy and Central Europe
(Grömer et al. 2013; Gleba 2017), z/s twills are relatively rare. Several fragments of wool
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z/s 2/2 twills were found in a mine at Irun (Roman Oiasso) in the Basque Country, and are
dated by association with ceramics to AD 50150 (Alfaro 2014). Closer in date to Casas del
Turuñuelo are examples of fth-century BC z/s 2/2 twills from burial contexts in central and
eastern France (Milcent & Moulherat 2000: 314; Verger et al. 2002: 12427).
The 2/1 twill woven in plied yarn in both systems found at Casas del Turuñuelo is
unusual. While this example is so far unique for Spain, fth-century BC comparisons are
found, again, in France, where 2/2 and 2/1 twills woven with plied yarn in both systems
have been documented at several sitesalthough none are as ne as the Casas del Turuñuelo
twill (Milcent & Moulherat 2000: 314). While twills woven in single yarn are typical for Italy
and the Eastern Hallstatt area of Central Europe (eastern Austria, Slovenia, Croatia), the
Western Hallstatt region (western Austria, western Germany and France) favoured twills
with plied warp and single weft (Banck-Burgess 2012: 61). Plying of the warp may have
been a response to a lack of suitable (long) wool bre in the Western Hallstatt region
(Rast Eicher & Bender Jørgensen 2013: 1231). The twills from Casas del Turuñuelo there-
fore best resemble the material from the Western Hallstatt region.
Textile tool analysis indicates that all of the textiles found at Casas del Turuñuelo could have
been produced at the site. The presence of unnished spliced yarn and bre accumulations fur-
ther support the local production of the textiles found on site. Nevertheless, compared to the
more specialised textile production at Cancho Roano (Marín-Aguilera in press), the manufacture
of textiles at Casas del Turuñuelobased on the number of loom weights (36) recovered from
within the buildingappears to have been primarily domestic. It is possible that spinners and
weavers were working at the site specically for the occasion of the nal banquet, and that the
precious textiles they manufactured, together with their tools, were later included in the sacrice.
The ritual production of textiles at Casas del Turuñuelo is not exceptional in the region; it is also
documented at La Mata and Cancho Roano (Marín-Aguilera in press). On a broader scale, there
is ample textual and archaeological evidence for this phenomenon in Italy, Greece and the Near
East (Gleba 2015;Brøns&Nosch2017). In contrast to those regions, however, the textiles at
Casas del Turuñuelo were sacriced and destroyed. Thus, they were taken out of circulation,
rather than dedicated and archivedat a sanctuary (Brøns 2017)an act that would have
allowed the wealth to be reintroduced into circulation (Wengrow 2011).
The sites material culture and architecture more closely resemble Phoenician rituals and
practices, with which the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula were familiar through interre-
gional trade routes. Inscriptions from Carthage and Marseilles indicate the practice of zbḥ,
which simultaneously translates as offeringand sacricein the Phoenician and Punic
world (Amadasi 2003:4951). Such rituals included a banquet during which meat, cereals,
oil and wine were consumed, animals were slaughtered to honour the gods, and precious
objects, such as textiles and garments, were consecrated. All these elements have been
found at Casas del Turuñuelo, including ivory plaques with gold appliqués of clear Eastern
inuence (Rodríguez-González & Celestino 2017: 190).
Conclusions
The exceptional preservation of both textiles and tools at Casas del Turuñuelo provides a
unique glimpse of textile production and offerings connected to ritual sacrice in
Beatriz Marín-Aguilera et al.
© Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2019
950
fth-century BC Iberia. While the quantity of tools at Cancho Roano attests a greater
emphasis on the production of textiles in a ritual context (Marín-Aguilera in press), the dis-
covery of the textiles themselves at Casas del Turuñuelo demonstratesfor the rst time in
pre-Roman Iberiatheir use as ritual offerings. Textiles with very ne threads and high
thread counts, such as those recovered at Casas del Turuñuelo, were extremely valuable, as
they required high-quality raw materials and substantial time and skill to produce (Harris
2018). Wool twills from Casas del Turuñuelothe earliest wool fabrics and twill-woven tex-
tiles so far found in Iberiadisplay characteristics generally associated with garments from
earlier and contemporaneous European cultures (Gleba 2017). The high quality and value
of these garments made them an enormously prized offering (Harris 2018). Indeed, garments
were common sacricial offerings in Greece and other Mediterranean regions (Gleba 2015;
Brøns 2017; Brøns & Nosch 2017). Yet, at Casas del Turuñuelo, not only high-quality n-
ished garments, but also the products of the intermediate stages of the textile-production pro-
cess (e.g. bre and thread)including the toolswere sacriced.
The association of linen and wool textiles, and linen yarn and ax breall probably
locally madewith very ne Punic glassware in the immediate vicinity of the sacriced
domestic animals, suggests their deliberate deposition as part of a Phoenician-Punic-type
sacrice. Such rituals arewell attested in the Iberian Peninsula (Arruda & Celestino 2009;
Escacena & Coto 2010) due to the establishment of trade with the Phoenicians since the
ninth century BC. Casas del Turuñuelo, however, is the only site in the Western Medi-
terranean that has so far provided combined material evidence for animal sacrice, food
and liquid consumption and the consecration of precious textiles and objects described
in Near Eastern sources and Western epigraphy as the aforementioned zbḥ
(Amadasi
2003:4951).
The last phase of Casas del Turuñuelo representsthe result of an enormous offering to the
gods, in which large quantities of valuable textiles, ceramics, cereals and animals were per-
manently taken out of circulation by the burning and burial of the complex. The sacricial
act represented an ostentatious renunciation of the social power that these objects might
otherwise have conveyed (Warden 2009), and bears witness to the power and control over
the resources of this country-estate elite.
Acknowledgements
This research was funded by the European Research Council (FP/2007-2013-312603), and was carried out
within the scope of the project Production and Consumption: Textile Economy and Urbanisation in Mediter-
ranean Europe 1000500 BCE(PROCON). Archaeological eldwork was funded by the Spanish Ministry of
Science, Innovation and Universities (HAR2015-63788-P), and by the Badajoz Provincial Government in
Spain; it was undertaken within the project Construyendo Tarteso: análisis constructivo, espacial y territorial
de un modelo arquitectónico en el valle medio del Guadiana.
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Dressing the sacrice: textiles, textile production and the sacricial economy in Iberia
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... A presença de peças com características físicas que as tornam funcionalmente inadequadas para um uso prático e produtivo, a par da profusão de decorações simbolicamente relevantes e de grafitos, poderia sugerir que pelo menos parte destes cossoiros se enquadrou em acções ou oferendas rituais (Pereira 2013: 686), situação que contaria com bons paralelos no território da vizinha Extremadura (Berrocal -Rangel et al. 1994;Berrocal -Rangel 2003;Marín Aguilera et al. 2019). ...
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