Murcia (Spain): Archaeologists from the University of Barcelona have discovered the remains of a building believed to be the first example of a Bronze Age political headquarters in Western Europe in the southeastern Spanish region of Murcia.
The excavations began in August, led by a team from the university's department of prehistory. Their findings suggest that the area, inhabited for more than six centuries between 2200 and 1550 B.C., was a centre where political leaders would gather and parley.
The site includes several buildings, as well as dozens of tombs containing a number of oblations and gifts.
Around 50 tombs were opened in the basement of the buildings, including one holding the remains of a man and a woman beside 30 artefacts, including some made of precious metals and semi-precious stones.
Among the most important pieces is a silver crown that once decorated the woman's head. For archaeologists, that signifies a discovery of great scientific value, as only four similar crowns were retrieved from a single site in Almeria more than 130 years ago.
Archaeologists have concluded that the structure, as well as the expertise involved in its construction, are unique outliers in our current knowledge of the prehistoric period in Western Europe.
Among the notable discoveries is also a spacious high-ceilinged hall with a raised platform and walls lined with seats for 64 people.
Researchers believe the hall was a venue for government meetings.
Archaeologists say that it is the earliest example discovered to date of a specialised governmental complex in Western Europe.
Inside the hall, numerous metal, stone, bone and ceramic objects have also been found in an exceptionally good state of preservation.