The fantastic prehistoric Talaiot culture on Menorca

"Taula" - remains of the pre-hispanic population of Menorca

Having visited some fascinating prehistoric sites in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan last summer, we were thrilled to learn about a similar site on Menorca during our recent hiking trip. The prehistoric Talaiot culture left their mark on Menorca thousands of years ago (and to a lesser extent on Majorca). Several of the sites have been excavated and are accessible to visitors. So on our rest day we took the opportunity and walked the 7 km from the main town of Maó to the prehistoric site of Talati de Dalt.

Mostly green grass and some rocks

There is a fence around the site of the prehistoric Talaiot culture. Behind the open wooden gate it looks very disappointing at first. Green grass and some stones, which may or may not have been housing structures long ago. But as we follow the recommended itinerary (yes, there was an information panel at the entrance!) we get to a menhir-ish stone formation in a stone circle. The standing stone in the middle is topped by another flat stone. These so-called taula are typical features of the Talaiot culture.

TALATI DE DALT near Mao, an archaeological site of the prehistoric Talaiot culture

The people who built and used them didn’t leave any written sources. Nevertheless, archaeologists today presume that these places are ritual sites. We sit quiet for a while, making an effort to perceive the power of this spot. Hopefully this will help us to gain strength for the second part of our multi-day-hike, the Cami de Cavalls around Menorca.

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The prehistoric Talaiot people presumably reached the islands around 1400 BC by sea. After that they stayed until the arrival of the Romans in 123 BC, after which they gradually assimilated with the new settlers.

The well connected people of the prehistoric Talaiot culture

CALA MORELL - funerary caves of the prehistoric Talaiot culture on Menorca

They must have had contact with the Phoenicians and other maritime people. Besides navigation skills they were capable of building large structures using huge stone blocks. Behind the taula, an emblematic stone tower (talaiot), which gave the whole prehistoric Talaiot culture its name, sits on a small promotion. It is about 10 in diameter and several meters high. The talaiot were presumably defensive and guarding towers, and quite often they formed part of the city walls. Behind these public spaces we find housing structures, partly built into caves, partly made from stone slabs. Actually they look quite spacious and somehow comfortable, considering that people lived there 3000 years ago.  

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There are several other sites of the prehistoric Talaiot culture on Menorca that normal tourists can visit. They include Torralba and Torre d’en Galmés, and we definitely would love to come back in the future and visit more of them. Meanwhile the prehistoric Talaiotic sites of Menorca are part of the UNESCO World Heritage!

If you like prehistoric sites, you may also find some of our other posts interesting: For instance on the megalithic temples of Malta, and about the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum there. Or even megalithic sites in Asuka in Japan, and San Agustin in Colombia.

NB: We had no sponsoring for this post. We arranged and paid our travel to and around Menorca ourselves.

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