The research process
The research undertaken at Casa Montero has, in its different phases and activities, involved over 300 archaeologists, assistants and specialists in different disciplines. From the time of the initial studies in 2003, until 2006, the company Trabajos de Arqueología y Restauración, Soc. Coop. Mad. undertook all the archaeological work performed.
Surveying: Three systematic surface surveys with sondages of the site and its surrounding area were undertaken with the aim of localising the mine and establishing a ‘caution zone’ in the area affected by the construction of the M-50 motorway (spring-summer 2003). In the spring of 2004, with the first excavation field season complete and a new route designed for the motorway, the possible extension of the mining area beyond the initial excavation site was checked. In the summer of 2005, the spatial limits of its prolongation towards the west were determined and potential settlements associated with the use of the mine were sought.
Field seasons: The site was excavated over three field seasons owing to practical and methodological difficulties. In the first field season, archaeological investigation of the initially cleared area (some 24,000 m²) showed the site to be of special scientific interest. Some 212 structures (125 Neolithic, 26 Bronze Age, and 49 of unknown age) were excavated before the route of the M-50 motorway was changed - a move that would preserve 60% of the site. During the second field season, the cleared area of the site was increased to 4 ha. However, because of imposed health and safety restrictions, only 36 of the 154 structures in which excavation had started were fully examined. In the third field season, when safety was assured through the use of a new excavation method, systematic sampling was performed to ensure that a statistically significant amount of information was obtained. This field season saw 221 new structures excavated (184 Neolithic, 2 modern and 35 of unknown age). After adequately protecting the preserved area of the site, road construction resumed.
Studying the archaeological record: The study of the excavated material and its archaeological documentation was initially performed while excavation was still underway. This was necessary to process the huge quantity of lithic industry remains recovered from the shafts and to prepare the results for use in preliminary reports. However, it was not until all excavation was over that a full study of the site was undertaken as part of the Proyecto Casa Montero.
Surveying the area affected by the construction of the M-50 motorway
Photo: The Casa Montero Team
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