Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Los Millares—The largest Known Fortified Neolithic Settlement in Europe

Los Millares was inhabited by more than one thousand inhabitants. This ancient settlement—dated circa 3200 BC—is the largest known European fortified settlement excavated to date.


Located in Santa Fe de Mondújar in Almería, Spain, we find an ancient settlement surrounded by intricate, complex walls built thousands of years ago. The archaeological site of Los Millares is a massive Neolithic necropolis formed by about 80 collective tombs and a double line of forts that visually control access to the entire archaeological site.

Los Millares, an incredible ancient site

One of the most fascinating ancient sites in Europe, whose existence is not well-known to the general public, is called Los Millares. According to experts, this ancient settlement—dated circa 3200 BC—is the largest known European fortified settlement excavated to date. Located in modern-day Spain, Los Millares is perhaps the best evidence of a long-lost ancient civilization in the Iberian Peninsula.

The archaeological site has an approximate length of 1.5 km on its east-west axis and has an area of around 19 ha, of which most, about 13ha, correspond to the necropolis and the rest to the town. It is believed that between 3,200 and 2,300 BC, Los Millares was inhabited by more than one thousand inhabitants. As noted by experts, although primarily farmers, the culture of Los Millares is exceptional in metallurgy, especially in the smelting and forming of copper. Furthermore, the site is crucial in understanding the region’s transition from the Neolithic Period to the Bronze Age.


Los Millares was built in three phases

Constructed in three phases, the settlement includes a massive cemetery of around 80 megalithic tombs. The settlement itself is divided by three walls, all of which surround an inner citadel built having an elaborate entrance. Archeologists have identified up to thirteen circular enclosures built thousands of years ago to protect them. The interior of the settlement is evidence of an organized and well-planned society.

The Necropolis of Los Millares is formed by 80 collective tombs on the western part of the plateau outside the town occupying some 13 hectares. The tombs, sometimes called Tholos–aka Beehive tombs– are one of the site’s main features.

A sophisticated settlement

Tholoi tombs were used as burials in several cultures in the Mediterranean and West Asia. According to scholars, the exact chronology of tomb construction at Los Millares is unclear. Based on the study of the tombs’ form, size, and contents, the dead were buried inside the Tholos based on social ranking, with higher-ranked individuals from the community being buried in the tombs closer to the settlements. In addition to the incredible fortified walls and massive tombs, the site of  Los Millares has uncovered the remains of at least two areas inside the settlement that once housed metallurgical workshops.


Archaeologists have identified a curious similarity between the architectural style of Los Millares and the step pyramid of Sardinia known as Monte d’Accoddi. It is believed that the wall-building civilization of Los Millares, which came to dominate the Iberian Peninsula, was replaced by the arrival of Bronze. This was circa 1,800 BC, by the El Agar civilization.

Have something to add? Visit Curiosmos on Facebook. Join the discussion in our mobile Telegram group.

Written by Justin Gurkinic

Hey, my name is Justin, and my friends call me Gurk. Why? Becuase of my last name. It sounds like a vegetable. Kind of. I love sleeping and writing. History is my thing.

Write for us

We’re always looking for new guest authors and we welcome individual bloggers to contribute high-quality guest posts.

Get In Touch