We’ll let your imagination struggle with the pronunciation, but we will say that “molin” means windmill. This might lead you to believe this is a museum on windmills, but the name only comes from the old windmills that sit atop the crest where the excavation grounds of the museum are found. The topic of this museum, instead, is the ancient necropolis–burial ground, literally “city of the dead”–that makes up the northerly slope of that hillside, the protected side that faces away from the sea.
Some 24 centuries ago, give or take a few years, the ancient people of Ibiza–first Phoenicians, eventually Romans–began burying their dead on this hillside. As the museum’s introductory film (available in English) informs you, the story the museum seeks to tell is that of death: how the ancient Ibizans practiced rituals around death and burial, what those rituals tell us about their society and culture, how those rituals evolved as society changed, and how our conclusions on all of the above can be drawn by what archaeologists have found through the years.
Pristine ancient burial grounds are second only to trash pits for archaeological information. At this site in Ibiza, graves were hewn out of the soft rock. The earliest burials were entirely cremations. You might assume this would be because the holes necessary to carve from the rock could be smaller, yet entire rooms were carved out to hold urns and ossuaries and elaborate ceremonies and rituals were conducted. As society changed, cremation fell out of favor, and instead bodies were elaborately prepared and buried with protections and valuables for the afterlife. Such interments continued until the 5th or 6th centuries. All the while, people mourned the dead and celebrated their lives and memories for years after their burial. The hillside necropolis was littered with the evidence of centuries of their rituals, their celebrations, and their tributes to their family and friends.
The museum’s outside area allows visitors to wander through excavations and actually descend into a burial chamber with sarcophagi in several rooms. It’s a thoughtful display, much more interactive and enjoyable an experience than just peering down into a hole. Inside the museum, there are 5 main display rooms packed with artifacts from the necropolis. The rooms are logically arranged by period, so be sure to look for “Room I”, “Room II”, etc. The display cards next to the artifacts aren’t in English, unfortunately, but as you enter each room, don’t miss the English introduction film (cartoon, really): it will explain the rituals and practices employed during the period of the room, and you’ll learn what those items were used for.
|Artifacts on Display|
|Magnified Inspection of an Artifact|
While we wished there were more English signs adjacent to the actual artifacts, the museum employed some great, thoughtful display techniques. Clay amphoras which were used to bury ashes and bones are displayed in cases that you can view from multiple angles. Similar items are grouped together and relate well to the introduction film for each room. And a few of the items–small amulets intended to protect the dead, for example–are displayed under a magnifying glass so you can appreciate the ancient artisan’s attention to detail.
Ibiza’s Puig des Molins archaeology museum is well worth an hour or two’s diversion from Ibiza’s sun, sand, and nightlife.
|Original Archaeologist’s Notes and Tools from 1920’s|