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Pla de les Figueres
This archaeological site is located in the archipelago of Cabrera on the largest island that gives its name to the group of islands. To reach Cabrera it is necessary to take the boat that leaves the port at Colònia Sant Jordi every day, or go in your own boat or a hired one.
Once in the island’s natural harbour, you can visit this archaeological site that is located very close to the sea on the Pla de les Figueres.
The monastery is part of the range of religious communities that appeared all over the western Mediterranean, shortly after the adoption of Christianity by the Roman imperial authorities. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire this monastery became part of the Vandal kingdom, as did the Balearic Islands as a whole. A short time later it returned to the Roman sphere, this time as part of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. This community of monks was active from the 5th century until the late 7th or early 8th century when it was abandoned.
There are written mentions of this monastic community from the early 7th century, in a letter from Pope Gregory the Great, ordering disciplinary measures for the monks.
On the island there is a series of archaeological sites like Clot des Guix, Son Picornell and Pla de les Figueres. This is where most of the community of monks of this archaeological site lived. It is also where excavations have discovered a series of production structures and an isolated chamber of unknown use located in a high place, and a burial area. In the burial area 5 individual tombs have been found, three of which have been excavated, finding the individuals in question, all of them male. By studying these human remains it has been possible to obtain information about the diet of the members of the community. This was rich in animal protein and fairly soft, as the animal remains found in the archaeological site also show. On the skeletons it is interesting to note lesions caused by agricultural tasks and environmental conditions, such as muscular lesions and osteoarthritsis.
It is interesting to note that the items found include a collection of pottery tableware that would be used on a daily basis by the monks. This pottery came from several areas of production. The pottery from North Africa is particularly interesting, with various types of Christian symbolism printed on them. In these pottery dishes some fifty pieces of graffiti have also been recorded, done by the monks, who might have been individualising them.
There are also decorative and functional items made from different types of marble from different places in the Mediterranean, from both the Iberian Peninsula, and from Anatolia, including Paros, the famous Greek island of white marble. This shows that the community that inhabited this archaeological site was not isolated from the rest of the world.
Following the monastic maxim, ora et labora, it is assumed that the monks of Cabrera must have worked all the possible land. They also focused their productive work on making wine, producing natural purple dye, the production of salted food… These activities have been recorded by analysing a number of structures. It is also important to mention the possible production of iron and glass objects, as are shown by a variety of types of slag, that imply the existence of these production workshops.
After being abandoned, the monastery was occupied by prisoners of war, during the Napoleonic Wars of the 19th century, accelerating the transformation and destruction of the monastic remains.