The Island of Menorca (Spain), located in the western Mediterranean, is the easternmost island of the Balearic group. It is a relatively small, rocky island measuring 50 km across at its widest. The island has attracted the attention of many archaeologists due to 35 mysterious stone megaliths scattered throughout the island. The “taulas” of Menorca look remarkably similar to the famous Stonehenge megalith in England.
Humans have been known to inhabit Menorca for more than 4,000 years, perhaps even earlier. Some experts suggest the first people to arrive were of the eastern Mediterranean. The Talayot civilization flourished there for thousands of years until the arrival of the Romans in 2nd century BC.
The Talayotic people never documented the exact purpose of the mysterious stone monuments. The name “taula” means table in the Catalan language spoken on the island. It originated when the only remaining feature of these buried megaliths were the flat, table-like tops, protruding from the surface of the earth.
The Menorcan taulas all share the same basic features. They are set in a horseshoe enclosure with a wall of surrounding stones. Another common feature of the taulas is that they generally face south, with an unobstructed view of the horizon.
There are no records identifying the religious practices of those who built these taulas. In fact, if they did worship a god, we do not know its name. One theory states that the taula was a representation of their deity, much like a cross would be to Christians. Another theory suggests the taulas were oriented to the Centaurus constellation, which includes the Southern Cross and the bright stars Beta and Alpha Centauri. Although these clusters of stars are no longer visible in the night sky of Menorca, they were clearly visible over the southern horizon 3,000 years ago.
As time passed, the Centaurus constellation became harder to see in the southern sky. By 1,000 BC, this star cluster was barely visible at all. This may explain why the taulas were eventually abandoned. Once Centaurus was out of sight, the Talayots no longer found the taulas to be relevant.
The third and probably the most realistic theory emerged when in 1930, German archaeologist, researcher and artist, Waldemar Fenn, came to Menorca and studied its history. He was fascinated by its ancient culture and remained in Menorca for the rest of his life.
Fenn realized that if somebody looked at the entrance of the taula in December, the full moon would be located on the left corner of the top of the taula. After 9 years, the moon would be on the exact opposite side of the top of the Taula.
According to Fenn, ancient people of Menorca who created these taulas over 3,500 years ago followed the moon and accurately predicted lunar eclipses.
But none of the theories are undoubtedly proven and the purpose of the taulas of Menorca will remain a mystery.