YACIMIENTO ARQUEOLÓGICO DE NAVALVILLAR Y NAVALAHIJA
The Dehesa de Navalvillar, located to the north of the municipality, has two Visigothic sites of great importance to understand the transition between the ancient and medieval world in the area. These are the villages of Navalvillar and Navalahija, two establishments located a short distance away, with a dispersed habitat and an economic system based on livestock, mining and iron metallurgy.
They are both in the Dehesa de Navalvillar, separated from each other by the Tejada stream. Numerous excavation campaigns have been carried out on them, especially in recent years, which have brought to light buildings with very simple architecture. The buildings studied show a very simple architecture, with gneiss stone elevations, from the area, well-tamped earth floor, with some exceptions, as in one of the rooms in Navalvillar, which has a small cobblestone, and which has been interpreted as a kitchen. The roofs could be made of tile, imbrics, or with perishable materials. There are some exceptions at the Navalvillar site, with a tiled floor appearing in one of the rooms (which has been identified as a kitchen). The covers could have been made of tiles, imbrics, or some other perishable material. (from between the end of the 6th century and the first half of the 8th century AD). You can see two well-differentiated spaces, separated by a street, which are dedicated to family homes and services.
Among the materials found are ceramics, kitchen utensils such as pots, decorated with small waves made with a multi-toothed comb, and knives. There is no shortage of work tools such as punches or a compass. But more outstanding are the lithic objects, small quartzite spheroids, which have provided the key to understanding the main economic activity of these two villages. On the floor of several of these rooms and even on the floor of open spaces there are remains of slag and garbage from the charges of the furnaces to reduce the iron ore, magnetite, extracted from the surroundings. This industry would lead to the high population density in this area from the end of the 6th century until well into the 7th. The reasons for its abandonment are not known, which could perhaps be due to the attraction exerted by the new Muslim cities, with a new control of the territory, mainly dand the border villages as they were these two. The discovery of a dirham from the year 710 in one of the Navalvillar houses is striking, which has given rise to the belief that it is the first Muslim house on the peninsula.
What has been excavated so far does not reach 1% of the extension of the deposits. Some of the findings from these excavation campaigns are found in the Casa-Museo de la Villa. Since 2012 it has been part of the Visitable Sites Plan of the Community of Madrid, as is the Los Remedios necropolis in the same municipality.
The Archaeological site of Navalahija (7th century AD), shows a Hispano-Visigothic settlement in which remains of a forge and baked clay tile have been found. In recent excavation campaigns, it has been possible to document a structure with different rooms for working iron, something that provides valuable information on this economic activity in the area.
All the buildings in this enclave were built with irregular stone walls mixed with mud. The craft zone is made up of four rooms, the two central ones with exterior access and the lateral ones connected by openings in the dividing walls. The central body of the building had a pitched roof made of tiles, while the two side rooms were covered by a green roof. In one of the central rooms an oven and a forge have been documented. Associated with these structures, instruments related to metallurgical craft activities (mallets, straighteners, etc…) have been found. In the room next to the furnace, traces of ash and iron slag have been found.
A housing area has also been documented, whose walls are made of stone masonry with mud. The two rooms that make up the small house were covered by a vegetal roof. One of the rooms had a fireplace and the other was used as a bedroom, in addition to other domestic uses. Anthracological analyzes of the coals from the furnace have been carried out, and remains of holm oaks, holm oaks, kermes oaks, cork oaks and oaks have been detected. These studies of tree species allow us to reconstruct the landscape.
A third zone of the deposit has also been interpreted as an artisan zone. It consists of a small room covered by tiles and two open spaces. Several knives were found in the northern room and on the south-facing porch, a bench and a support for a work table or oven were found.
Elena Cardenal for URBS REGIA
Other interesting information
García Aragón, E., et al., 2015: “El hierro en los yacimientos de Navalvillar y Navalahija (Colmenar Viejo), durante la antigüedad tardía. Siglo VII y VIII d.C.” Actas de la Reunión de Arqueología Madrileña, 137-145.
Andrés, M. de (Coordinador), 2010: Reconstruyendo el pasado. 1999-2009 Intervenciones Arqueológicas en Colmenar Viejo, Colmenar Viejo, Concejalía de Cultura Ayuntamiento de Colmenar Viejo.