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TOTANA, Spain — European archaeologists have discovered in Spain a millennia-old fortification system that represents the height of architecture and engineering during the Bronze Age.
The structure, called La Bastida, is located in Murcia region in southeastern Spain. The three-meter-thick walls, square towers that were once seven meters and the ogival arched postern gate — a secondary door — have not been seen in other structures from the Bronze Age, about 4,200 years ago.
The secondary door specifically is being called one of the most relevant elements of the discovery, as it is the first to be found in prehistoric Europe.
The model, with architectural elements that reflect Eastern-style military techniques, is typical of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, including the second city of Troy. Archaeologists took those elements as evidence that Mesopotamian and Egyptian people participated in the construction of the fort.
The design sheds new light on the defense strategy of the ancient civilization, which would have been unique to that time period. It also shows the beginnings of a violent, class-based power structure that would have aided in the development of other Iberian Peninsula communities, according to the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.
The discovery poses new questions, as well.
The Bronze Age occurred between the Stone Age and the Iron Age, between about 3300 B.C. and 1200 B.C. The period was characterized by the use of copper and alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in some weapons and other goods.
The period saw the continued development of pictogramic symbols and proto-writing, modern hallmarks of civilization.
Along with heavy use of metals, the Bronze Age also saw the development of trade networks. The foundations for astronomy and mathematics were laid during this time.
"The discovery poses new questions about what is known of the origin of economic and political inequalities in Europe, the formation of the military and the role violence played in the formation of identities," said Maria Jesus Delgado, a spokesperson for the university.
Delgado said the construction of the design was meant purely for military purposes, with the Eastern peoples who participated in its construction probably teaching Westerners war-time techniques probably unknown to them.
The unique construction "helps us today to learn about such a distant past which is also easily recognisable in the present,' she said.
La Bastida will be excavated with the goal in mind to transform it into an open architectural park that will include a monographic museum and a research and documentation center.