Archaeologists from Arbotante Heritage and Innovation, LLC, made an exciting discovery while digging at Castillo de Matilla de los Caños del Río near Salamanca, Spain. They found a full set of armor buried underground.
Uncovering a piece of history right out of medieval stories, a group of archaeologists struck gold in the heart of Spain. They stumbled upon a complete set of armor from the 16th century, lost in the forgotten armory of the early 14th-century Castillo of Matilla de los Caños del Río. This discovery is not only a significant achievement for Spanish archaeology but also a valuable reminder of Spain's rich military heritage.
The Castillo de Matilla de los Caños del Río is a castle from the early 14th century located in Salamanca, Spain, near the town of Matilla. The region is rich in history, with stone dolmens and ancient burial megalithic monuments dating back to the fourth millennium BC.
The castle's weathered walls and towers, perched on a hilltop with a sweeping view of the countryside, tell tales of fierce battles fought here. The suit of armor found within speaks volumes about brave knights and epic sieges, echoing the legends of the past.
Until recently, people mistakenly believed the castle was built after the 8th-century Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. However, a team of archaeologists from "Arbotante Heritage and Innovation, LLC" have debunked this notion. They assert that the castle's architecture lacks Arab or Moorish influences and was actually designed and constructed by the Christians who governed the region in the 14th century.
Digging into the castle's foundations
Archaeologists made an exciting discovery beneath the castle, unearthing a collection of weapons and a complete set of plate armor hidden in an underground armory. Since the start of 2023, a dedicated team from Arbotante Heritage and Innovation, LLC, has been diligently excavating both the interior and exterior of the castle.
A recent article from Salamanca24horas reveals that the researchers have identified key features within the site, including a potential gateway entrance, a cistern, circular towers, and an armory housing remnants of weapons and armor pieces.
Inside the hidden armory, researchers stumbled upon a crossbow and a knife, alongside a fully intact 16th-century suit of armor. The armor, consisting of nearly 50 separate parts, includes essential components such as a helmet, breastplate, trellis, elbow pads, greaves, and additional protections for the arms and legs, as shared by Arbotante archaeologist Iván García Vázquez with Salamanca24horas.
When craftwork resulted in life or death
In the 16th century, Spanish suits of armor, referred to as "armaduras" in Spanish, underwent notable changes in both design and functionality. These modifications mirrored the shifting tactics and technologies of warfare during that period.
During the 16th century, armaduras, skillfully made from high-quality steel, boasted full plate construction, offering extensive protection to the wearer. These suits were designed with articulated joints, enhancing mobility during battle.
Symbolically, armors were frequently adorned with elaborate etchings, engravings, and embossments. Knights also added extravagant feathers or plumes to their helmets, not just for visual appeal but to elevate their awe-inspiring presence and emphasize their perceived status and wealth.
A national symbol of military might
In the most recent round of excavations at Castillo de Matilla de los Caños del Río, archaeologists unearthed several stone cannonballs, locally known as bolaño. Alongside these cannonballs, researchers discovered crossbow bolts, with some featuring socketed heads.
This type of bolt, designed in response to plate armor, gained popularity during the medieval and Renaissance eras. Socketed head bolts proved to be potent and efficient ranged weapons for infantry and cavalry units alike, featuring large spiked tips specifically crafted to pierce chain mail.
Speaking of the complete 16th-century suit of armor, it's worth noting that during this era, Spain played a significant role in exploring and colonizing the New World. Spanish conquistadors often wore suits of armor similar to this one during their travels and conquests.
The discovery of the armor is not just archaeologically important; it stands as a potent symbol of the military strength of the 16th-century Spanish Empire at a national level.