For the first time since the 1920s, the lesser known “Spanish Stonehenge” has finally been revealed by NASA satellite images back in July after being unable to be observed for over 50 years. The last time it was visible was by a German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier. The structure was dubbed as the “Spanish Stonehenge” but its proper name is Dolmen of Guadalperal, but also goes as the Treasure of Guadalperal. Until and after the 1920s, when Hugo Obermairer stumbled on the site, it was greatly ignored and neglected. The German priest dedicated two years to excavating the stones and sending the remaining treasures to the Munich museum back in germany. The Treasure of Guadalperal is a 7,000 year old structre that is located in Peraleda de la mata. In the Dolmen of Guadalperal, there are approximately 150 stones that it makes up.
While the structure’s purpose has not been confirmed, philologists believe that is a map of the Tagus River. The philologist Castano states, “I am quite convinced that it is a map of the Tagus River as it passes through the area.” David Barreira in his article on Angel Castano and his rediscovering of the Guadalperal dolmen continues by writing, “One of its millenary menhirs presents an elongated and wavy engraving that could correspond to the drawing of the passage of the Tagus river by the area.” If Angel Castano’s suspicions are true, the Treasures of Guadalperal could be one of the oldest maps in the world. Currently, this is just a plausible hypothesis, but this hypothesis revealed a reason for more institutions to send archaeologists and scientists to analyze the site quickly before it gets engulfed back into the water, which is only a few weeks away.
During the Franco-era in Spain, a dam was built that created a new water reservoir, flooding the site and hiding it from view. It is said that the reason for this reservoir is due to the former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s civil engineering program in 1963 that involved flooding the valley where the stones sat. The Reservoir brought water and electricity to underdeveloped parts of Western Spain. The reservoir, now named the Valdencanas Reservoir, now holds the dolmen. Valdecanas Reservoir generates power today due to this man-made lake. Hugo Obermaier’s findings had not been published until the 1960s and by this time the Dolmen was already flooded.
For the first time since 1963, satellite images show the Dolmen of Guadalperal because or record heat and extreme drought throughout Europe. While tips of some of the rocks from time to time have penetrated the surface of the water, the entirety of the stones have not been viewed since 1963.
Neglected and Mishandling from the Spanish Government has damaged the Dolmen of Guadalperal during the building of dams and reservoirs and has been disguised as an ideal option to improve water supplies in rural areas of Spain. Along with the Dolmen of Guadalperal, even older Roman architecture has been flooded.
Flooding the site has caused endless damage to the site and shows the lack of care for historical sites that Francisco Franco had. In order to preserve the site, archaeological are calling for the stones to be moved. Many groups are signing petitions to get the monument to a higher terrain. They want to be able to study and visit the site to create an appreciation for the past and to understand its purpose. The problem with moving it now is it will have to be done hastily, due to the water beginning to rise, and this will possibly cause damage and harm the site. The granite stones are porous and flooding the site has caused signs of erosion and have made the stones fall over and others have began cracking. With the water slowly rising, archeologists are running out of time to decide what they must do.