Archaeological site of El Castillón (Santa Eulalia de Tábara, Zamora)

The archaeological research work that has been carried out at the archaeological site of El Castillón, during 10 campaigns, has offered us a broad vision of the occupation and transformations that this site has happened throughout history.


The investigations that have been carried out have been able to document an occupation that would develop from the Neolithic period, with the presence of the Schematic Rock Art of El Castillón, which will have its first stable occupation during the Second Iron Age, its moment of maximum splendor and development during the Late Roman period (5th to 6th centuries AD), and its moment of abandonment in the Middle Ages, linked to the presence of a religious building.


Defense and control of territory in Late Roman period (5th to 6th centuries)

The defense and control of territory was one of the principal factors in the Esla river valley area, during Late Antiquity (5th to 6th centuries). In this area, a network of fortified towns will be established that will exercise a certain control over different areas of the Esla Valley.


El Castillón was a fortified settlement with an impressive monumental defense system. The principal objective of these defensive systems would be to protect their inhabitants and the possessions that they accumulated inside the town. To this we would have to add the territorial control of this area, which would allow them to access a great variety of products, in addition to control of the trade routes in this area.


During the 5th to 6th centuries, an important series of different transformations and changes, both at a political and social level, will take place in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, which will affect the populations that inhabit this place in a very diverse way. These changes will cause the new configuration of the settlement of certain areas, taking into account factors of defense, commerce, control of territory and exploitation of resources. This will allow the creation of new towns and the reoccupation of previously populated areas, in order to be able to protect certain resources and wealth.


Economy and society in Late Roman period

The different activities, elements and artefacts that we have been able to register in the archaeological site of El Castillón allow us to have a widespread knowledge about the features of the society that may have inhabited this village and the basis of its economy. We have been able to document a varied economy, ranging from mining, agriculture and cattle raising to hunting, fishing and trading. This situation confirms that this settlement has been linked to an important development during the 5th and 6th Centuries A.D. Moreover, its economy may have allowed to control this area with great soundness.



The use of sophisticated measurement technologies in the field of archeology has been developing since the second half of the 20th century, especially the fields of absolute dating or geophysical prospecting. Currently and encompassed within the field of new technologies, geophysical and geomagnetic prospecting methods such as proton magnetometry have been used, which allow a very precise and non-invasive approach to archaeological sites before carrying out an excavation.


In this sense, during the months of August 2013 and 2014, two magnetometric surveys have been carried out in the late-antique town of "El Castillón", whose positive results have allowed to determine the areas to be excavated in the following excavation campaigns, documenting different archaeological contexts, both domestic and industrial, of the 6th and 7th centuries, in which rooms, furnaces and different stratigraphic deposits have been exhumed, corresponding to other levels of occupation.


This experience has shown that magnetometry is a non-invasive tool that helps the archaeologist in making decisions for the planning of research strategies, mainly excavation, providing additional information on the existence of evidence that can be interpreted and put in relation with the information coming from archaeological investigations.



In this chapter we report the results of the archaeozoological analysis of the assemblage from the metallurgical area of the Late Antiquity site of El Castillón (Santa Eulalia de Tábara, Zamora). The studied remains come from Surveys 1 (an area with several ovens) and 8, dated in the V century AD.


The analysis of the bone remains is one of the basic foundations of the study of this site, given that the inhabitants of the settlement based their diet on meat. Nevertheless, they did not only use animals for eating, but also for daily working at the village. Likewise, animals were probably a source of secondary products. Our results suggest that livestock species (goats, cattle, suids, equids) had great importance in the site. Remains of fowls, domestic animals (dog and cat) and wild species (cervids and leporids) have been found too. 


In this chapter we show the first results of the taxonomical, anatomical, and taphonomical analysis, as well as the mortality profiles and the anatomical representation, the skeletal patterns and the age distribution of the mentioned assemblage. Thus, we aim to achieve a better understanding of the role played by the faunistic resources in the societies that inhabited the NW part of the Iberian Peninsula during Late Antiquity.


Residential áreas

Urbanism in the archaeological site of El Castillon shows great complexity, with the presence of many structures identified in the survey works. For this reason, excavation works have focused on understanding the houses and warehouses that existed in the village during the 5th and 6th centuries.


The archaeological works have focused on two large structures which were used over a long period of time and were intended for the storage of different products. The function of these structures changed over time depending on the changes occurring within the village.



The archaeological work carried out in El Castillón (Santa Eulalia de Tábara, Zamora) has brought to light the remains of an early medieval church. In the contexts of use, abandonment and destruction, a small number of coins have been recovered, both medieval and those minted in other periods. The study of the numismatic material provides an overview of the monetary circulation in this sector of the site and to raise some considerations of an archaeological, historical and numismatic nature.



An archaeomagnetic study has been carried out on six combustion structures and a set of bricks and tiles found within the archaeological site of El Castillón. The studied samples have been thermally demagnetized by Thellier-Thellier method. The majority of them showed a stable magnetic behaviour with one or two magnetic components that let to determine both the mean directions of the combustion structures and the palaeointensities of the structures, bricks and tiles. These new directional and intensity data come from structures from which their age is already known, contributing to the increase of the archaeomagnetic database of the Iberian Peninsula. On the other hand, the great quality of the obtained data has allowed us to include them in the new palaeosecular variation curve (PSVC) of Iberia for the last 3000 years. One of the applications of the archaeomagnetism is the archaeomagnetic dating, which has been used to determine the age of a hearth from which no other dating was available. Therefore, this study presents a complete sight of archaeomagnetic studies and their more direct application: the archaeomagnetic dating.


El Castillón in Late Roman period

In this chapter, the data on buildings, the agrarian production, pottery economy, ceramics and material culture in El Castillón are reviewed. Based on this review, social and political frame is examined in order to understand better the 5th-6th occupation of the site of El Castillón. The interpretation posits an origin linked to the initiative of local elites just after the disappearance of the Roman imperial system. It would be a central place related to local powers, apart from any encompassing authority. It was a settlement made up of households, but there is evidence of a control of the production and there was also a connection with commercial networks that allow us to identify the active presence of elites in the organization of this site, who left their mark on certain markers.