Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement - History and Facts | History Hit

Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement

Amy Irvine

26 Jul 2023
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / stavros1 / CC BY 3.0

About Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement

Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement – a UNESCO World Heritage site – contains evidence of Ibiza’s first settlement, dating back well over a millennium. 

History of Sa Caleta

This important archaeological site spans over 10 acres and contains the foundation remains of simple stone buildings – the last remnants of an ancient Phoenician settlement dating back to the 8th century BC.

The Phoenicians arrived from the Iberian coast, and whilst the site may initially have been used a seasonal or provisional base for economic and geographic expeditions surveying the Pityusic Islands (Ibiza and Formentera), they eventually settled there, utilising the area until around 600 BC, when they appear to have intentionally abandoned Sa Caleta, relocating to Ibiza bay.

The site’s location was probably chosen due to its proximity to the island’s natural salt marshes. The Phoenicians exploited this valuable natural commodity, as the harvesting of the natural salt crystals left behind after the shallow pools of seawater evaporated would have provided them with a currency for trade – the first commercial enterprise of the island.  They also would have engaged in other activities including fishing, baking, weaving, metalworking and smelting galena in order to obtain silver.

Excavations conducted in the 1980s and 1990s revealed the foundations of simple stone buildings, an urban area with narrow streets, and a communal square, providing insights into the original layout of the settlement. The buildings were constructed with stone and mud-brick, featuring flat clay roofs supported on timber rafters. Most structures consisted of one room, with some exceptions, including a building in the centre that likely played an important role.

Archaeologists also found evidence of metal and ironwork, along with stone mills, kitchen implements, and circular ovens for communal use. The site’s significance led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. While some areas are still visible, others to the south have been lost to coastal erosion or were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

Sa Caleta today

There are around 6 buildings in total, grouped around narrow streets and courtyards, and today visitors can explore the ruins and gain insights into the agricultural, livestock and fishing activities of the ancient Phoenician settlement.

The site is also visible to tourists exploring the coastline, although parts of the delicate remains are fenced off. The terrace area near the top of the headland is not accessible for public viewing.

Getting to Sa Caleta

Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement is located on the southwest coast of Ibiza, within a small rocky peninsula near the Punta des Jondal between des Codolar beach and des Jondal hill, about 6 miles from Ibiza Town.

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