The archaeological works that have been carried out since the beginning of May at the site of Macael Viejo are providing new data on the funerary rites of the rural Andalusian communities. During this fifth campaign, the excavations focused on an area of the lower medieval necropolis, which is estimated to cover an area of approximately 2 hectares, where the orography of the site itself and the agricultural exploitation after its abandonment would have preserved it in excellent condition.
To date, around thirty burials have been located and documented, some excavated in the ground itself and others in the rocky outcrop, with a covering made of slabs of schist and slate arranged at an incline over the body. This type of burial had already been documented in previous years and shows us that the population of Macael Viejo had well-defined and homogeneous funerary practices. Proof of this is the orderly dispersion they keep, maintaining an almost regular space between them, with a southeast-northwest orientation with the face of the deceased towards the east according to the Islamic rite.
The pattern is broken by the set of three burials of adults whose separation between them is built with masonry and whose layout and orientation are more homogeneous than the rest. Although they were not made at the same time, as each one can be seen to have altered the previous one, they do form a clear relationship between them. These characteristics could indicate that the individuals have a possible family relationship between them.
Another highlight this year has been the in situ documentation of several shale and slate stelae that marked the position of the burial site and were its most visible element. Because of this, these pieces had disappeared either due to the passage of time or due to vandalism of the site, many of them appearing scattered around or fragmented over the burial sites. Except in some cases where partial fragments had been preserved in their original position, not so many and so varied pieces had been documented in the same space and without alteration. This has allowed us to identify various types of burials by their position at the head of the tombs, at the foot of the tombs or in both positions.
Their preservation has been possible thanks to the protective action of a cultivation terrace that was erected over the necropolis shortly after the site was abandoned and which sealed it at a time when it was still visible. This circumstance has given rise to another of the great surprises of the campaign, the documentation of burials whose fillings are based on lime nodules. Lime is a material with great economic value due to its usefulness and production, so its use in these cases establishes a differentiating element with the rest of the burials, which could be due to social or sanitary reasons.
With the results obtained in this campaign, together with those obtained in the interventions carried out in previous years also in the necropolis, we have a high level of information that will allow us to know in detail the population of Macael Viejo during the Late Middle Ages.