Es Rossells

In the context of an ERASMUS lecturer-exchange with the University de les Illes Baleares (Área de Prehistòria) internships for applied Computational Archaeology including survey and prospection are conducted at the virtually undocumented and as yet unexplored late iron age Talaoit settlement (approx. 550 – 123 BC). The monumental wall of the enclosure is imposing as it measures 307 m in length and has an average width of 3 m, which in part still stands 2 m high.

Project management:
  • Dr. Christoph Rinne (Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel)
  • Dr. Bartomeu Salvà i Simonet (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
The project is assisted by:
  • Prof. Dr. Dirce Marzoli (German Archaeological Institute, Madrid departement)
The project is funded by:
  • Consell de Mallorca
  • Ajuntament de Felanitx
  • Amics dels Closos de Can Gaià
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  • Veins de Cas Concos des Cavaller

Location of the site

The settlement „Es Rossells“ lies between the city Campos (to the west) and Cas Concos des Cavaller (to the east), in the parish Felanitx southeast of Mallorca (Illes Balears, Spain). The region of Migjorn in which the site is located, is a southern extension of the flat central part that extends between the popular tourist spots S'Arenal de Palma and Cala d'Or to the southeatern coast. The slightly raised ground to the west and the southern extension of the Serra del Llevant with the Puig de Sant Salvador (510 m) near Felanitx are barriers to the landscape and eastern coast.

view larger map

Aerial photography (current, 1956) of IDEIB and a geological map (WMS) can be opened in a new window.

The Serra del Llevant is geologically speaking very diverse. It consists to a large extent of various formations of the Upper Trias to the Jurassic with substantial portions of dolomite and limestone. The Migjorn in contrast is very uniform in its consistency and has mainly limestone in its subsoil, as is also the case at the site of Es Rossells. In the plains of Campos, to the west of the wooded hills, local quaternary sediments consisting of silt and gravel dominate. Accordingly the extent and intensity of agricultural use increases from East to West and decreases in the scrubby, wooded areas. The aerial photographs made in 1956 show a markedly thinned landscape also around Es Rossells, probably caused by grazing animals such as goats. 

In the immediate vicinity of the fortified settlement another tiered hillock made of large limestones (named 'túmul esglaonat') was erected as well as several unidentified constructions during the Talaoit period right up to the Roman occupation.

General information and objectives

The site lies within the private property of an old finca in the Felanitx parish to the Southwest of the Island of Mallorca, about 3,5 km Southwest of Cas Concos des Cavaller. The path to the site consists of dirt and gravel tracks and a final 10 min walk. This relatively remote location is probably the reason for the lacking archaeological documentation and scientific awareness of this site.

Previous Research

EsRossells_Plan1956.png The site at Es Rossells was first surveyed in 1956 by collaborators of the German Archaeological Institute Madrid. A part of the wall was sketched and parts were photographically documented. The following illustration  of this documentation consists of a short description and four photographs taken by Guillermo Rosselló Bordoy of the general site report (1962, 267-268). There is a further mention in an article about the Talaiot settlement of S'Illot written by the cooperation partners Otto-Hermann Frey and G. Rosselló Bordoy. Presented here are a revised plan and the elevation drawings of the wall as well as a short description of the context of documentation (1964, 68-71).Survey 1956 (Frey/Bordoy 1964, ill. 7).

Project Objectives

Es Rossells Plan 2014 The Talaoit settlement of Es Rossells is unexplored which is a unique circumstance considering the size and preservation of the monument and the fact that it lies on a fully developed island. The project is planned for three years and its objective is, aside from the training of students, the documentation of materials and their conditions with the least possible intrusion on the vegetation. These are the specific objectives: (1) Tachymetric documentation of the outside wall including the inner edges in order to quantify the mass and determine the preservation conditions (Plan 2014). Photogrammetric documentation of the entire facade in order to analyse the design characteristics, stone works and sizes. (2) To clean and document the visible structures on the surface at the possible Talaiot to the Northeast of the settlement and its immediate vicinity. (3) A small sondage close to a recently located entry in the Northeast so as to clarify the stratigraphy on the outside of the wall, its fundamentation and in order to extract organic materials for radiocarbon dating.


O.-H. Frey/G. Rosselló Bordoy, Eine Talayot-Siedelung bei S’Illot, Mallorca. Madrider Mitteilungen 5, 1964, 55–71.

G. Rosselló Bordoy, Notas de arqueología de Cataluña y Balears. Ampurias 24, 1962, 267–268, 270 ill. 25, Taf. V.1–2.

Research History

The former research history of this site consists of a survey and documentation by collaborators of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) 1956. A first overall plan depicting the outer boundaries and inner, over ground lineaments of the wall was composed by using photos, elevation drawings of a wall-segment, a height profile and several sketches as well as a depiction of the entry on the southern part of the wall which illustrates the monumentality of the enclosure. These plans from 1956 were published as an attachment of the 1964 article in the „Madrider Mittelungen“ by Frey und Rosselló Bordoy on the settlement of S'Illot. Even compared to the tachymetric survey conducted in 2014, the plan is very precise and only depicts the run of the inner wall that was visible at the time. In the Northeast a lime kiln is only indicated as being a possible Talaiot. Of specific interest are the lineaments of the inner wall whose age and context are undocumented but are now overgrown and barely accessible. Unfortunately the plan does not depict the northeastern entrance.

Previously a plan with similar wall lineaments had been published in the journal Ampurias by Tolós und Rosselló Bordoy (Rosselló Bordoy 1962). In contrast to the preceding plan, the wall enclosure is depicted clearly and stereotypically completed. The plan further only shows a few walls on the inside and distinctly illustrates the northeastern Talaiot. A marked difference to the DAI plan is the third primary entrance in the Northeast of the enclosure.

The pottery pieces that are visible on the surface were already noted in 1956 and confirmed during a sharding in 2009 and a survey in 2014. The pottery has been identified as prehistoric (with occasional characteristic talaiotic traits) and Roman as well as Punic.

Survey 2014

Es Rossells Plan 2014 EsRossells_Fotogram2014.png The survey from the 26.04.2014 to the 03.05.2014 was carried out with two tachymeters and a notebook with AutoCAD, TachyCAD and Photoplan software. The contors of the outside wall and any structures in its imidiate vicinity were measured along their inner and outer edges as three-dimensional polylines (PDF). The entire facade was documented in 100 survey photographs which must now be equalized and digitalized (Bild). The results of this survey are the first three-dimensional documentation of the wall and a full documentation of the facade including the individual stones. Due to the new data it is now possible e.g. to view the run of the wall on the site, to approximate the heaped soil on the exterior of the enclosure or even to assess the thickness of the collapsed wall segements on the inside which could belong to the still standing construction. The photogrammetry conducted on the facade allows for a detailed description of the constructive differences of individual wall segements (already observed on site) and the quantification and statistical analysis of the used stone sizes. First results show that the wall is 307 m long, on average 3 m thick and is still standing up to 2,5 m tall. The entire constructed area spans 6,640 m² with the interior spanning 5,500 m². The clearence and survey exposed a previously unknown entrance, details on a talayot tower (which was used as a lime kiln in recent history ) as well as further wall structures in an adjacent area.

EsRossells_MauerNW_2014.png The joint project of the Universitat de les Illes Balears and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel was carried out by the two lecturers with three students from Kiel and 42 students from Palma (33 of which only attended the survey half-time) with specific assignments in preparation and execution. The endeavor was aided by the (Amics dels Closos), the significant Bronze Age site of the region Els Closos de Can Gaià and Ca’s Concos des Cavaller for the provision of accommodation and provisions for the german students as well as the parish Felanitx for the hardworking employees of the „Grünamt“ for the targeted removal of the abundant vegetation.

The digitalisation of the 100 equalized survey photos were digitalised which made it possible to determine the size and location of every individual stone. The outside measurements of the 3,173 stones can be used for statistical analysis. By visualising the results in a box-plot the very different sizes of stones in various wall segments becomes apparent. The graph confirms, what was apparent in the field that the southern wall stands out in its monumentality compared to other wall segments, making it the representative and imposing facade of the settlement.Es Rossells, Steingrößen der Mauer

Survey 2015

The cooperation between the two universities was continued on the site of Es Rossells from 16 to 20 of March. During this short time span the students from Palma University (UIB) and Kiel University (CAU) had to carry out the planned tasks.The main objectives were:

  • Correction and suppelemtation of the fotogrammetry of the outer wall of the settlement with a total of 103 pictures.
  • First field survey and documentation of the neighboring site Es Rossells III east of the settlement.

Again the work was documented with a small multicopter (Blade 350 QX), but this year a raspberry pi with camera without an infrared filter (NOIR) was used for consecutive fotos. The fotos show a reduction of the otherwise dominant green tones and a slightly higher contrast but unfortunately only low image quality. The heavily overgrown artificial hill with its stone walls was documented with a total station under dificult conditions in the two days left. Parallel to this, prospecting took place in the largely inaccessible terrain between the settlement and the artificial hill.

Luftbild der Mauer von Es Rossells im Nordwesten der Siedlung Vermessung des künstliche Hügels.
Areal foto of the wall of Es Rossells in the northwest of the settlement. Documentation of the artificial hill of Es Rossells under dificult conditions.

Subsequently, the collected data were processed in the software SketchUP, depending on the interpretation a texture was assigned to each stone and all the information extracted with additional data on size as well as position for further analysis. In addition, a simple 3D model was created for Google Earth, which allows the perception of the monument in the landscape.

  • 3d model of the wall of Es Rossells (KMZ)
  • 3d model of the stones from the artificial hill of Es Rossells (KMZ)

Excavation 2016

In the third year, three trenches were excavated in the area of ​​the Wall in order to examine the preservation and, above all, to collect material for the dating of the foundation. The work was carried out in 9 working days from 14.03. until the 23rd of March 2016. The sections were dug in natural layers and documented in numerous strata. The recovered finds were recorded in 3d with a total station or at least in relation to context and stratum from sieving.

Trench 1 was layed out in the north, near the possible Talaiot and inbetween the two-layered masonry. In the 2.0 m x 1.0 m large section, the bedrock was reached in 0.7 m depth. From the filling, dominated by stones, a total of 407 finds could be recovered. They show a distinct distribution in relation to the depth and their dating, which can be explaned as secondary infill of prehistoric material in a pre-punic building phase. Due to the situation the material is very fragmented, a detailed datation can not be given at the moment.

Trench 2 was layed out next to the east passage with a dimension of 1.7 m x 1.1 m and reached the bedrock after 0.6 m. The trench provided  a total of 833 finds. The distribution of the datatable pottery was strongly intermixed in front of the wall in this area and thus points to a continuous use until the Roman period.

Trench 3 was layed out with 1.0 m x 1.0 m next to the western passage and reached the bedrock after 0.2 m. The 24 preserved finds do not permit any further interpretation of the situation in this area of ​​the archaeological monument.

Trench 1 pottery
stratum bone prehist. punic roman
1     1  
2   17 1 2
3 10 4 1 1
4 86 8 1  
5 45 19    
6 15 3    
7 88 53    
8 10 25    

Distribution of finds in trench 1.
Trench 2 pottery
stratum bones prehist. punic roman
2 15 1 6 7
3 31 6 11 5
4 55 4 22 15
5 21 1 13 5
6 103 4 58 34
7 287 12 143 97
8 130 57 28 7

Distribution of finds in trench 2.
3D Modell von Schnitt 1 3D Modell von Schnitt 2 3D Modell von Schnitt 3
3d model of trench 1 (PDF). 3d model of trench 2 (PDF). 3d model of trench 3 (PDF).


Press Review

  • Ultima Hora, Saturday, 3. May 2014 (PDF)
  • Mallorca Zeitung, Nr. 731, 8. May 2014, p. 36 (PDF)
  • Felanitx, Friday, 11. March 2016 (PDF)
    Felanitx Zeitung
  • Mallorca Zeitung, Nr. 829, 24. March 2016, p. 31 (PDF)
    Mallorca Zeitung



In addition to the planning, including the application for funds and permits, the implementation and data processing , the scientific publications and conference talks  represent an important part of the students' training in the project.


  • RINNE, C. / SALVÀ, B. (2017): Die Posttalaiotische Siedlung von Es Rossells (Felanitx, Mallorca). Madrider Mitteilungen 57, 2017, 273-306.


  • BERGAS, X; RIVAS, J.; GALMÉS, A.; GONZÀLEZ, C.; RINNE, C.; SALVADOR, P.; FONT, R. i SALVÀ, B. (e.p.): Es Rossells. Tres anys de vida d’un projecte. IV Jornades d’Estudis Locals de Felanitx.
  • DEPREZ, M.; GALMÈS, A; GONZÀLEZ, C.; PONS, A.; RINNE, C.; RIVAS, J.; SALVÀ, B.; SALVADOR, P. I WEISS, D. (2013).: Els Rossells. Noves perspectives d’investigació i difusió. A: Sisena Fira de Sant Nicolau de Tolentí. Cas Concos des Cavaller. 15 de setembre de 2013. Felanitx.
  • GALMÉS, A. i JAVALOYAS, D. (2015): Les intervencions arqueològiques d’equips estrangers a Mallorca durant el franquisme: El cas de l’equip alemany amb Otto Herman Frey. III Jornades d’Estudis Locals de Felanitx. pp. 19-29.
  • GALMÉS, A.; GONZÀLEZ, C.; RINNE, C.; RIVAS, J.; SALVADOR, P.; FONT, R.; SALVÀ, B. i BERGAS, X. (2016) El projecte Es Rossells. A: Festes de Sant Nicolau de Tolentí. Cas Concos des Cavaller. Setembre de 2016, Felanitx.
  • GONZÁLEZ PINA, C. i DEPREZ, M. (2015): El treball de camp a Es Rossells. III Jornades d’Estudis Locals de Felanitx. pp. 43-46.
  • RIVAS, J (e.p.): La ceràmica d’importació al jaciment dels Rossells. Estudi preliminar dels materials del Sondeig 2-16. IV Jornades d’Estudis Locals de Felanitx.
  • RIVAS, J. i SALVÀ, B. (2015): Els poblat dels Rossells i el seu context cultural i territorial. III Jornades d’Estudis Locals de Felanitx. pp. 9-18.
  • RIVAS, J.; BERGAS, X.; GALMÉS, A.; GONZÀLEZ, C.; RINNE, C.; SALVADOR, P.; FONT, R. i SALVÀ, B. (e.p.): Es Rossells: Resultats preliminars de la primera campanya triennal. VII Jornades d’Arqueologia Balear. 30 de setembre al 2 d’octubre de 2016. Menorca.
  • SALVÀ , B.; RINNE,C.; WEISS, D.; SALVADOR, P.; GALMÉS, A.; RIVAS, J.; BERGAS, X.; FONT R.; GONZÁLEZ, C.; DEPREZ, M.(2015): Es Rossells: Ahir i avui. VI Jornades d’Arqueologia Balear. 26 al 28 de setembre de 2014. Formentera.