The first "skyscraper" of the Middle Ages | Culture

The first "skyscraper" of the Middle Ages | Culture


The guilt was of the bears, who hid themselves among the dense forests that stretched about 30 kilometers from the capital of the Visigothic kingdom, Toledo. Such was the abundance of plantigrade and wild boar that the doge (maximum military and civil office of a province) decided to raise a large hunting lodge on two floors when the sixth century dawned. A century later, the church was built, the warehouse, the dam to retain the waters of the stream of the Sierra and the wall of more than two meters wide that surrounded those buildings that extended for five hectares. Thus, in what is now the hamlet of Arisgotas (in primitive German the "Army of the Goths or the Good"), term of Orgaz (Toledo), the first "skyscraper" of the High Medieval Europe. A team of more than 100 specialists from the Complutense, Autonomous University of Madrid, CEU-San Pablo, the School of Mines of Madrid, the Agronomists of Cordoba, the Geominero Institute and the CSIC, among others, and under the co-direction of Isabel María Sánchez Ramos, of the Institute of Archeology of the University College of London, has been reconstructing this enigmatic enclave for three years where they have unearthed more than a hundred bodies (including the doge) and calculating the height of the building: more than 12 meters. It would not be until the ninth century when the Arab architects surpassed it with the minaret of Córdoba (20 meters).

The peasants of the sixteenth century of Arisgotas did nothing but bump into large stones when plowing the field, which is known as milestones, name from which the denomination of the deposit comes. Those "boulders" carved (friezes of the palace) were transported to the village and reused as construction material and can be seen today between the walls of the houses of the population. In the first decade of the twentieth century, "Uncle Simon" found an alabaster tomb. The Republic, in 1938, He then sent a team of experts. In the seventies, excavations began. Result: it looked like a church with sarcophagi and graves around it.

In 2016, new excavations were started, which extend to the present, and allow the experts to determine that it was a "palace of some member of the high nobility of Toledo". Jorge Morín, director of the works and the consultant Audema, explains that the building, according to the calculations realized by means of the technique of double Pythagorean square, reached the 34 feet, "reason why it is possible to be said that it is the first skyscraper of High Medievo". "It would take centuries to overcome it." "The appearance of abutments to increase the parietal height," he explains, "with a view to the vaulting and the construction of an upper floor, is undoubted, as confirmed by the existence of buttresses and the access staircase to the upper floor".

At the door of the palatial building, the tomb of the doge in whose bones the traces of its main activity (horsemanship) were marked, surrounded by other interments of notables and relatives, including the bodies of women. At the entrance to the church, the skeletons of nine children (buried with small pots that would serve to illuminate them in the afterlife) were located, as well as other remains that have not yet been analyzed, but that could coincide with tombs of monks It has also found a large tombstone that refers to the construction of the temple, ordered by someone – a king or a doge– whose name ended in the syllable "do".

In total, the specialists have already located more than a hundred bodies. There is no record of who could be the main burial, only that it is a noble and that this, given the system of election of the visigid kings, could reach the royal crown. But, at the moment, they are only assumptions. What does seem clear is that the whole was built during the reign of Atanagildo and Gosvinta (551-567) and extended during that of Recaredo I (586-601).

Researchers found in 2017, adjacent to the palace, a temple with only one nave and two porticos. Its interior was decorated with marble and kept several with sarcophagi of alabaster and granite. The option that specialists handle is that it is an aristocratic private church with burial vaults. Antonio Malalana, director of Research Methodology at the CEU-San Pablo University, explains that in the next campaign anthropologists will extract more bodies in a "confined environment to avoid DNA contamination." It is a very complicated job that forces these are perfectly equipped and covered. "

Technicians estimate that it will take more than a decade to remove light the palatial complex of Los Hitos.The georrádar works, directed by Felix Teichner, of the University of Mamburg, have unveiled four other large underground structures of approximately 20 meters in length and 10 meters wide.

In the ninth century, already in the Al-Andalus era, the whole undergoes great changes. The church, for example, is reoriented towards Mecca and converted into a mosque with a mihrab. The palatial pavilion is attached to stairs and doors are blocked. The complex is used as a fortified space by Muslim garrisons. With the taking of Toledo in 1085 by Alfonso VI, it is abandoned and will serve as a quarry for Arisgotas. Until now, when the experts will bring it back to life.

The small and spectacular museum of all

In 2018, the mayor of Orgaz, Tomás Villarubia (PSOE), made available to researchers enough money to convert the old municipal schools into a museum. There are kept more than a hundred pieces and objects from the excavation, most donated by neighbors who have also helped to reform the building offering low prices for their work masonry, carpentry or wrought iron.

"At the beginning", says Juana Martín, the mayor of the district of Arisgotas, "some asked for money for the pieces, but soon they realized that the donation meant the wealth of the town and, little by little, they were delivering what they had " Thus, each piece bears the name of the donor. "There were people who delivered several and said: 'This put on behalf of my son, this to my daughter, this to my wife …', he laughs.

Even so, some vestiges have not been recovered because they are part of the buildings of this small town of about thirty inhabitants. However, the City Council has placed panels so that visitors can get lost in its streets looking for the pieces of history that neighbors show in their homes with pride.

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