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The City and University of Málaga work together to excavate the “Cerro del Villar”

The City and University of Málaga work together to excavate the “Cerro del Villar”


Published on 1 March 2022

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“Cerro del Villar” is one of the most important cities in the Phoenician expansion throughout the Mediterranean.


In 2017, researchers from Málaga, led by the University of Málaga (UMA) professor of the Prehistory José Suárez Padilla and commissioned by the Municipal Urban Planning Department of the Málaga City Council, carried out surface surveys with geophysical methods, which made it possible to precisely define the city.

Last summer, hand in hand with the University and the City, a project was carried out to determine if that important settlement was devastated in the 8th century by a tsunami, as proposed by the archaeologist María Eugenia Aubet, who led excavations in the 1980s that brought to light the remains of this unique Phoenician colony.

Within the framework of the earthquakes and tsunamis in the Iberian Peninsula project called “TSUNIBER”, the University studied the settlement located at the mouth of the Guadalhorce River to learn more about the marine catastrophe that destroyed it 2,700 years ago and that, without a doubt, “has a lot to say about the origins of our city”.

Led by Manuel Álvarez Martí-Aguilar (professor of Ancient History at the UMA), this project of the Ministry of Science and Innovation has as its general objective the study of earthquakes and tsunamis that occurred in the Iberian Peninsula in ancient times to assess their economic, social and cultural impacts on peninsular coastal communities. The professor of Prehistory at the UMA points out that in previous excavations, levels of high salinity contained in the subsoil were identified, which reinforce evidence of the existence of at least two episodes of extreme marine waves in the settlement.

Now, the Málaga City Councilor for Culture, Noelia Losada, is especially determined to continue promoting research and enhancement of the remains of the Phoenician city “Cerro del Villar” hidden by the soil. The current plan is to continue to excavate in the area, only 5% of which has been analyzed through land surveys, so that the result of these excavations can help the Andalusian Government to make decisions regarding the project for the enhancement of the remains. Ms. Losada has clarified that these excavations would be carried out by professionals from the University of Málaga, and that the Department of Culture would finance them with two items: 60,000 euros for this year and 50,000 euros for the next.

This new action has the approval of the General Directorate of Historical and Documentary Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Historical Heritage of the Junta de Andalucía. “The research will represent a great advance in the knowledge of the origins of Malaka, whose oldest archaeological remains are currently preserved in the Rector’s Office of the University.”