Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

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Annexus Quam
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Nov 11, 2000, 12:33
Around 1300 BC, Troy had fallen, and a horde, possibly of Indo-European origin, displaced by unknown causes, began to make its way across the Mediterranean. Known as the Peoples of the Sea, they travelled with their belongings and families looking for new lands to conquer. Heavily armed, their warriors wore helmets with two curved horns or a plume of feathers. They sacked and destroyed Micenae, provoked the fall of the Hittite Empire and even threatened the might of Egypt who finally sent its elite troops under the command of Ramases III to drive them off in 1170 BC.
Some settled in Palestine and became known to history as the Philistines of Old Testament fame. They also colonised Sardinia which adopted the name of one of their tribes, the shardana. And some are thought to have pressed on westwards until they reached the Balearic Islands although this is hotly debated by historians.

We do not know if they had a written language. Word endings such as utx and atx are thought to come from them. They were very conservative. Having arrived, they went no further (like so many modern visitors to the Island!). Until Phoenician traders and sailors appeared six centuries later, they lived in isolation from the world, and it was only when the Romans became incensed by their piracy that the Island was invaded and occupied. However, even then they continued in their own ways and coexisted with the invader. Little changed with the invasions of the Vandals and the Byzantines. Not even the arrival of the Moors in 903 seems to have made much difference and it was only after the Catalan Conquest when King Jaume I brought over new colonists, expelling, enslaving and assimilating the local population that the chain going back to the Trojan War was broken.

Whoever they were, it is indisputable that the Island of Mallorca underwent an abrupt change at this time (1300 BC), with the construction of the great talayots and archaeological discoveries of more bellicose relics from this era in a greater quantity than ever before.
Contemporaries of Agamemnon and Ulysses, all indications point to the invaders being very hierarchal and organised. They conquered Mallorca and Minorca although there is no evidence of them in Ibiza, and the conquest seems to have been short and sharp, as if there was little or no resistance.

Found only in the islands of Mallorca and Minorca, the talayot gives its name to the the local Bronze and Iron Age culture that flourished there around 1300 BC. The talayots are not all alike nor do they have the same function. In general, circular talayots are found in the centre of settlements, the square ones are outside, they are smaller in size, and each side always measures 10 metres. The majority of the doorways are orientated to the southeast at 145-150 degrees and even on mountain peaks they are all in visual contact with another talayot. Could there have been some astronomical significance similar to those underlying the early pyramids lined up to the star Sirius?

In addition, talayots on the Plains, made from easy to work sandstone, are different from those in the mountains made from hard rock. The building methods, however, were the same. In its oldest and most simple form, it was a round tower-like construction built of large stone blocks enclosing a single room roofed by corbelling or more commonly a roof supported by a central column. It was surrounded by a wall of Cyclopean masonry and it shows similarities with contemporary structures in Sardinia (nuraghes) and Corsica ( filitosa and torres).

In all, more than 400 talayots have been found, plus some 100 walled settlements, and dozens of other constructions. They are often built on rises or small hills with commanding views over the surrounding area. There was an inhabited settlement every mile and a half or so, both on the Plains and in the mountains. On average, each settlement had a population of some 200 people.

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