SANTUARIO PÚNICO DE ES CULLERAM
It is a cave at about one hundred and fifty metres in height located in can Quintals property, few kilometres away from Sant Vicent cove. From an archaeological point of view, es Culleram was discovered in 1907, and that same year the Archaeological Society of Ibiza carried out there a great excavations campaign, which entailed discovering a large number of terracotta figures (about 600 complete ones and more than a thousand of heads of others), as well as other materials, such as a bone or ivory lion. One of the most important objects though, a plaque with a double Punic inscription was found by chance in 1923 and it is now at the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Alicante. On the oldest face, it says: “To the lord, to Resef-Melkart, this sanctuary dedicated by “s”dr, son of Ya’as ay, son of brgd, son of Eshmunhilles. And on the most modern: This wall of sculpted stone has been built, dedicated and repaired by Abdeshmun, son of Azarbaal, the priest, to our lady, to Tanit the powerful and to Gad, on his own.
In a discontinuous manner, and until 1981, this very important site knew archaeological interventions of different kind, among which unfortunately, some clandestine. Presently it belongs to Ibiza and Formentera Insular Council. A whole system of collapsed stone blocks, from the first natural room whose fall threatened to definitely ruin the monument, was shored up by the owning Institution.
Apart from a pre-historical period – when the cave was probably the home for a inhabitants group of the bronze age and which seems not to have continuity until the Phoenician-Punic period – since V bC century, the cave became a Sanctuary first dedicated to Reseph-Melkart and after, on III or II century, to Tanit.
Some artificial modifications which can be seen on the monument correspond to the late period: a part of an artificial room with its back sculpted in the rock and next to it the bottom of a typical Punic tank, have been preserved.
The sanctuary was located in a big natural cavity which water circulation had subdivided in different rooms, especially two big ones separated by a stalactites curtain. One can still see said artificial works as well at the entrance.
According to information supplied by first excavators, information which has been recently revised, one must think that the deep rooms were a kind of botrhos – a sacred deposit – where rests of sacrifice tributes were left. These were carried out through divine figures – which in a very high percentage represent Tanit’s bust covered with a shawl with wings – as well as the rests of the many animals consumed upon the sacrifice and obviously other objects. Said rites which entailed the use of fire, had to logically take place outside the sanctuary or in its hall area.
At the time of the worship carried out at es Culleram temple, all sa Cala channel had many population and it is obvious that these would be the people directly involved in said worship. Notwithstanding, at the same time, it had to be an international sanctuary, well connected with sea as it was through sa Cala harbour. As an organized temple at least, it was almost abandoned in the advanced II bC century. It might well be that the natural collapse of the first big room of the cave was the reason for the end of worship at es Culleram Punic sanctuary.
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