Corsairs on an islet in the Balearic Islands

Corsairs on an islet in the Balearic Islands

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Islet of sa Conillera, in the Balearic Islands. Four burials with no other human vestiges other than four corpses of 16th century corsairs. Young, about 24 years old and of eastern Mediterranean ethnic features, possibly from the Anatolian peninsula. This is all that has been found in the surroundings of the necropolis of the Balearic Rock, after a week of archaeological surveys conducted by María José Escandell and Ricard Marlasca, since the graves were found in January 2009.

The results of the laboratory analysis and anthropological study of the corpses would arouse even greater delight for fans of pirate stories. Not only because of his young age and origin, but also because revealed obvious signs of nutritional deficiency and physical deformation at the cost of the hard work of a rower and whose anatomical study testifies to deaths far from being pleasant, with one of the bodies devoid of a skull, and others with bullet holes and scimitar sabers everywhere.

Not counting the necropolis with a complete archaeological context, just some ethnological remains such as coal rubble, small corrals and ovens, the corsairs found on the islet are a complete mystery to historians and archaeologists. This is how the experts explained it last Friday, January 24, in a conference organized to publicize the study of the burial site with the captivating title «Pirates in sa Cornillera«.

The topic gives for all kinds of speculation: if they were Turks and therefore Muslims, why were they buried in an inappropriate position for Islamic ritual? They even found remains of ash that indicate that one of them was cremated, something impure in Islam, but as the archaeologists explain, their undertakers, if they had won in a shooting, would not have much consideration in granting them a dignified burial. Or maybe just they were ibicencan and did not know the oriental customs. The matter of the beheaded corsair could be explained because the delivery of enemy heads to the governor was remunerated.

Carbon 14 analysis allows corpses to be dated to the 16th century and they determine a young age, between 20 and 14 years old, but whether they were buried simultaneously or at different times is still an unsolved question. The more knowing that each burial had been executed differently: one covered with slabs, another encased in a pit and a third whose remains were simply piled up. And one last cremated corpse.

What remains of all this ultimately? Violence, shootings and a small island: a whole panoply of enigmatic elements combined worthy of any piracy tale. And for historians, a thousand unsolved questions and hundreds of other possible avenues of investigation and interpretation. Quite a historical enigma.

Romantic, in the artistic sense of the word. In my adolescence both family and friends reminded me over and over that I was an inveterate humanist, as I spent time doing what perhaps others not so much, believing myself to be Bécquer, immersed in my own artistic fantasies, in books and movies, constantly wanting to travel and explore the world, admired for my historical past and for the wonderful productions of the human being. That is why I decided to study History and combine it with Art History, because it seemed to me the most appropriate way to carry out the skills and passions that characterize me: reading, writing, traveling, researching, knowing, making known, educating. Disclosure is another of my motivations, because I understand that there is no word that has real value if it is not because it has been transmitted effectively. And with this, I am determined that everything I do in my life has an educational purpose.

Video: Balearic Islands