The habitat

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Foto de la Sala 1 - El Habitat

The configuration and distribution of aboriginal settlements throughout the island suggest a complex pattern of occupation determined on the one hand by the biogeographical conditions of the island -as shown by the map located  in the centre of the room- and, on the other, by variables such as the economic strategies adopted by the population, their sociopolitical structures, technological means, etc.

Several large settlements have been identified, which suggests that they supported a sizable population, and some of them played an important island-wide sociopolitical role. That would be the case of settlements such as El Agujero (Gáldar), Arguineguín (Mogán), los Caserones (Aldea de San Nicolás) or Cendro and Tara (Telde), of which there are images and archeological material on display in this room. Many of them were found in fertile lowlands     -areas especially suited to farming- which is not surprising considering the importance of agriculture for the ancient Canarians. Apart from these large settlements there were other smaller ones which probably had a relation of dependence with neighbouring larger communities.

Regarding their physical characteristics, as the scale models in the room show, prehispanic Canarian dwellings can be divided into two types, stone structures and caves.

-    The model located in the centre represents a drystone dwelling house. A double drystone wall was raised and the space in between was filled with smaller stones. Its floorplan was based on a central room to the side of which other rooms were attached in cruciform fashion. They were covered by a roof made of wooden beams that supported slabs and  flattened soil.

-    The second scale model represents a troglodyte village. This type of settlements comprised in some cases natural caves or, more frequently, man-modified natural caves or completely manmade caves, manually excavated in areas of  tuffaceous or soft stone material. Their floorplan was similar to those of the drystone dwellings: a central chamber opening upon adjacent siderooms. In both types of settlement it is possible to observe a clear arrangement and structuring of space.

Stone structures and caves did not serve a habitational function alone; some of these spaces were used for cooking activities, storage, as stables, or for political activities. Funerary enclosures were located nearby. In short, these settlements were intended to house successive generations and, consequently, to be inhabited over a long period of time.

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