Galicia, Spain DNA

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The Megalithic culture:
This was the first great culture to appear in Galicia and was characterized by its surprising capacity for construction and architecture, together with deep sense of religion, based on the cult of the dead, the mediators between man and the gods.

Historians consider that Megalithic Culture had an oriental source, which was predominant in the Mediterranean area, and one in the Atlantic which originated in the north of Tagus River. It had to be the latter, because of its geographical proximity with Galicia, that could explain the abundance of traces of this culture in this area. That this should be the first great culture also meant that it constituted one of the basic pillars that was to endow Galicia's cultural personality.

From this era there remain thousands of dolmens (mámoas), a type of tomb or sepulchre, throughout the entire territory. From its social organization it has been confirmed that it corresponded to some type of clan structure.

Historians such as Gordon Childe affirm that even today it is possible to find remains of traditions from that era in a number of superstitions and idiosyncrasies of local Christianity.

The Bronze Era (The Celtic Tradition begins):
This may be considered as the second and most important cultural stage. This was the time when great developments in metallurgy were being achieved as a result of intense mining activity that started way before. Some historians attribute the boom in this sector to the extremely dry and warm climate of the time which revealed, due to erosion it caused, the mining richness of the North.

Due to the fact that Galicia was also very humid since it was near the Atlantic, the towns of the Castilian plateau moved to the territory, thus increasing the population.

The increase in the number of inhabitants caused certain conflicts, but also contributed greatly to the mining surge with heavy production as much in weapons as in objects of usefulness. It goes without saying that the splendid jewels of gold and bronze were not amiss either. Pieces of jewellery crafted from Galician metals circulated throughout all of the Peninsula and Europe also.

The Era of Castroes:
This was to flourish in the second half of the Iron Age, when features differed according to the area of the Peninsula in which it manifested itself. In the Northwest, the central nucleus was situated within the confines of present day Galicia towards the East of Návia River and the south of Douro River.

This culture was to be the result of the fusion between cultural forms derived from the Bronze Age and even before that, although with a few novel contributions. In many cases they were to survive until the arrival of the Romans. The Celts brought new varieties of livestock such as the tamed horse and rye bread. The first Celtic township established in Galicia was that of the Saefes in the 10th Century BC. The Celts were to conquer the Oestrymnio, and this would also especially influence religion, political organization and maritime relations with Brittany and England. Their distinctive warring attitude led Strabo to say that they were the most difficult people in the whole of Lusitania (Portugal) to defeat.

The Castroes are circular fortified areas, each possessing one or several concentric walls, preceded generally by their corresponding moat (or defensive ditch) and situated mainly on the top of hillocks or mountain. Among the castroes found along the coast the most outstanding include Fazouro, Baroña and O Neixón. Further inland Castromao, Viladonga or Santa Tegra are also worth a mention. Something common to all of them is the fact that their inhabitants adapted to the land, and not the other way round. Such a tradition is yet respected in all the rural Galicia.

As far as the temples are concerned, the only construction uncovered has been that of Elviña. The one found at Meirás preserves a necropolis. In other castroes box-like constructions existed where ashes used to be stored. There also existed others found partially underground with a reservoir for water, where evidence of fire was found indicating that they must have been used for burning corpses.

From the end of the Megalithic period inscriptions could be found on the rocks of granite below a clear sky, whose true origin and meaning still remain a mystery to this very day.

The Roman occupation (The Celtic era comes to its end.):
After the battle of Mount Medúlio, the Romans conquered Galicia in order to take advantage of the rich mining resources. With time they were to transform it into a province of the Empire and would recognise its personality, calling it Gallaecia. With their presence, the castroes were to lose their defensive worth. They introduced new techniques, new means of communication, new ways of organising property and their own language, but showing some tolerance of the existing culture.

Christianity came to Galicia with the Romans, achieving something that Latin would never achieve, and imposed itself on the Arianism of the Suebi and on pre-Roman paganism.

In 409 AD, the Suebi (a Baltic people) and their king Hermerico established themselves in territories making up the NW part of the Iberian peninsula, the Roman Gallaecia. The number of the Suebic invaders is estimated in less than 30,000 people. These had been settled mainly in the zones of Braga (Bracara Augusta), Porto, Lugo (Lucus Augusta) and Astorga (Asturica Augusta). Bracara Augusta, the modern city of Braga, became the Capital of the Suebi, has it was previously the capital of the Gallaecia Roman province.

The Suebic Kingdom eventually received official recognition (foedus) from the Romans for their settlement there in Gallaecia. It was the first kingdom separated from Roman Empire that minted coins. In 438 Suebi king Hermerico ratified the peace with the Galaicos people and, tired of fighting, abdicated in favor of his son Requila.

In 448 Requila died leaving a state in expansion to his son Requiario who imposed his Catholic faith on the Suebi population. In 456 Requiario died and some candidates for the throne appeared, grouped in two factions. A division marked for the river Minius (Minho/Miño) is noticed, probably a consequence of the two tribes, Quados and Marcomanos, who constituted the Suebi nation in the Iberian Peninsula.

There were occasional clashes with the Visigoths, who arrived in Iberian Peninsula in 416 and came to dominate most of the peninsula, but the Suebi maintained their independence until 584, when the Visigothic King Leovigild invaded the Suebic kingdom and finally defeated it. Andeca, the last king of the Suebi, held out for a year before surrendering in 585. With his surrender, this branch of the Suebi vanished into the Visigothic kingdom.

The Suebi held Galicia as an independent kingdom for some 175 years (the kingdom was called Suévia), but they were lastly overwhelmed by the Spanish Visigothics. During the Suebi reign it was definitively enforced the use of the Latin language and Christian (Arianistic) doctrines, which at first moved towards Galician (Galego) and secondly became mixed with pagan customs.

Islam people conquered all the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain in 711 AD, but they never ruled over Galicia and were forced to retire in a few years mainly because of the climatic conditions, quite different from the Castilian plateau ones.

The invention of Compostela:
The Reconquest war, because of its largely religious motives, was to bestow an extremely important role upon Galicia with the invention of Saint James' tomb. Santiago de Compostela was thereby the opposing religious center to Mecca.

All of Europe was to make its way to Compostela and the Pilgrim's road to Santiago was to become a cultural highway along which romanic art and the trobadoresque lyric would spread. The fact that it became a religious centre was to contribute to the preservation of its cultural identity and principally as a buffer against the centralism of Castile. The Saint James Way was thereby a very important way to spread European culture through Galicia, but it also served to fade away the native Celtic Galician culture.

At the Royal Panteón in the Santiago Cathedral are found the graves and the corpses of the last kings of Galiza before our land was eventually absorbed by the Crown of Castile under Ferdinand III "The Saint".

Since the death of Afonso VII "The Emperor", king of Galiza and Leon until both kingdoms were absorbed by Ferdinand III, Galiza was under the kindoms of Afonso VIII and Ferdinand II in a period of 73 years in which it experimented the biggest development of its History until 20th century: it flourished the agriculture, a big fishing industry was created, the commerce took off, cities and villages were consolidated and organized, the Santiago Cathedral was finished and the Mondoñedo, Ourense, Lugo and Tui cathedrals were builded up. It also had place the big moment of the trobadouresque literature and the wars against muslims extended the Galician language until Extremadura, where even today is spoken in some valleys.

The Dark Centuries:
Monarchical absolutism, Catholicism and official Castilian culture were to be the three driving forces that would uniform Spain and killed Galician culture, excluding it from official texts. The Galician language could only continue to survive through its people, and after the splendour of Galician-Portuguese literature, the first of all the Peninsule, came the Dark Centuries.

In the 18th Century, the cultured minority began to grow in awareness of the situation that divided the people, who spoke Galician, from the powerful ones, who spoke Spanish. An example of this dismay of the economic and cultural circumstances was to be Father Sarmiento.