Prehistory: the earliest settlers and the Talaiotic Culture

The arrival of the first humans occurred around 4,300 years ago and provoked noteworthy change to our island. Originating in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula, their ships’ cargos included animals and seeds to be used in agriculture and livestock farming. They buried their dead in dolmens, the oldest remaining structures, and in caves.

In around 1600 BC, some communities were organised into settlements with houses built from large stones: dwelling navetas. Their domestic economy revolved around the exploitation of the island’s natural resources, and they were skilled in bronze metallurgy and worked several small copper mines to manufacture tools and decorative ornaments.

The Talaiotic Culture

Approximately three thousand years ago, the island society initiated new social and economic changes that would lay the foundations for the Talaiotic Culture, and a new architectural element emerged, the talaiot; a highly symbolic communal structure that served as the backbone for both the territory and the settlements themselves. The new arrival of singular and exotic goods and the centralisation of food management caused the emergence of social classes.

In the world of the deceased, new funerary sites would emerge, like walled caves, both natural and built in monumental structures like burial navetas, as well as new ceremonies, like the ritualistic use of human hair.

From 550 BC, Menorca opened up to the Mediterranean and grew involved in maritime trade and great international conflicts between the Carthaginians and the Romans. Menorca provided their armies with mercenaries: the Balearic slingers, great masters of the weapon. Impressive outer walls were erected to defend the island’s settlements.
This new society was more hierarchical and its economy remained agriculturally based, despite recent diversification due to the arrival of newer products. Foreign worship practices were also incorporated at the new taula sites, sanctuaries built at the heart of the settlements.

In September 2023 UNESCO declared the Talayotic Menorca a World Heritage Site.