Los Saladares – rediscovering an archaeological site

by Deborah Cater
Los Saladares

An archaeological site near Orihuela, dating from the 9th to 4th centuries BC, Los Saladares is “awakening”. The Orihuela City Council plans to turn the site into a museum.

Orihuela is an historic and monumental city. Within its extensive heritage is an archaeological site dating from the 9th to the 4th centuries BC. It is “Los Saladares”, that is among the archaeological recovery works currently being carried out by the Orihuela City Council, through the Department of Historical Heritage and in collaboration with the University of Alicante.

The site is “awakening”

After years buried between earth and rubble, “this historical natural area is awakening within our commitment from the City Council of Orihuela to value this Asset of Cultural Interest”, according to the mayor of Oriolano Historical Heritage, Rafael Almagro. The Oriolano Consistory acquired these lands in 2019 and Alberto Lorrio, Professor of Prehistory at the University of Alicante is directing the excavation and research.

The Los Saladares site covers mainly Argaric and Iberian cultures. Initially, in the 1970s, Professor Arteaga directed and documented the excavations. However, “it was abandoned and forgotten until we reached the municipal government in 2015”.

Because of its historical value, the Orihuela City Council aims to “make it a museum, recreate it, and make it visitable, complementing the historical and archaeological interest of the enclave of great environmental value; turning it into a cultural-environmental tourist visit point”, Almagro said. After completing the first phase of the work, the second phase will start in early 2022. This will focus on creating a museum of the site.

Villa Nova Spain

What is Los Saladares?

Los Saladares is an important town whose origin is in the final Bronze Age. It lasted until Ancient Iron Age and later became iberized. “Its importance lies in being one of the first sites in which it was possible to investigate the iberization process. [We can] assess how Phoenician and Greek influences are assimilated by indigenous peoples and ended up originating the Iberian culture,” says the Councilor for Historical Heritage. The main interest this site has to other similar ones, is that it continued so long, giving it greater archaeological wealth.

Orihuela City Council will also recover the wetland and surroundings of “Los Saladares”. In this way “we complete the actions by creating a renewed environment, and at the same time maintaining the identity of this historical element so important Orihuela”.

Related article: early human presence found in Malaga caves

Registered as wetlands

Last October the Municipal Plenary approved a motion to urge the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition to include “Los Saladares” in the Catalog of Humid Areas of the Valencian Community.

In addition, the procedures will begin with the declaration of Municipal Natural Area. The Oriolano City Council will also commission a study to discover the alternatives that allow the connection of the site with the Segura River, as well as access on foot and by bike.

The Data of the Archaeological Site of “Los Saladares”

  • Date: 9th to 4th century BC
  • Cultural: Argaric and Iberian cultures
  • Land: acquired by the Orihuela City Council in 2019
  • Phases of the plan:
  • Completed first phase of excavation works
  • 2nd phase in 2022: Musealization
  • Recovery and enhancement of the environment (wetland, flora and fauna)

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