1st Edition

The Archaeology of the Spanish Civil War

By Alfredo González-Ruibal Copyright 2020
    390 Pages 111 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    390 Pages 111 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Archaeology of the Spanish Civil War offers the first comprehensive account of the Spanish Civil War from an archaeological perspective, providing an alternative narrative on one of the most important conflicts of the twentieth century, widely seen as a prelude to the Second World War.

    Between 1936 and 1939, totalitarianism and democracy, fascism and revolution clashed in Spain, while the latest military technologies were being tested, including strategic bombing and combined arms warfare, and violence against civilians became widespread. Archaeology, however, complicates the picture as it brings forgotten actors into play: obsolete weapons, vernacular architecture, ancient structures (from Iron Age hillforts to sheepfolds), peasant traditions, and makeshift arms. By looking at these things, another story of the war unfolds, one that pays more attention to intimate experiences and anonymous individuals. Archaeology also helps to clarify battles, which were often chaotic and only partially documented, and to understand better the patterns of political violence, whose effects were literally buried for over 70 years. The narrative starts with the coup against the Second Spanish Republic on 18 July 1936, follows the massacres and battles that marked the path of the war, and ends in the early 1950s, when the last forced labor camps were closed and the anti-Francoist guerrillas suppressed.

    The book draws on 20 years of research to bring together perspectives from battlefield archaeology, archaeologies of internment, and forensics. It will be of interest to anybody interested in historical and contemporary archaeology, human rights violations, modern military history, and negative heritage.


    Chapter 1. Introduction

    A war too close.

    Outline of the book.

    Chapter 2. Time to kill (July 1936 – February 1937).

    The path to blood.

    The nature of violence.

    Patterns of murder.

    The language of the drowned.

    Chapter 3. Capital of Glory (October-December 1936).

    Enemy at the gates.

    Crossing the gates: the fight in Casa de Campo.

    War at the university.

    They did not pass.

    Chapter 4. Capital of Misery (July 1936-October 1938).

    Nationalist lines at the University City.

    Republican lines at the University City.

    The underground city.

    Chapter 5. The path to total war (February-October 1937).

    The last Nationalist attempts to take Madrid.

    War in the Basque Mountains.

    Belchite: beyond the ruins.

    The End of the Northern Front.

    Crumb under belt.

    The fall of Oviedo.

    Massacre of the innocents.

    Chapter 6. Wait and retreat (November 1937 – March 1938).

    Idle time in Extremadura.

    Killing time in Guadalajara.

    Waiting and raiding in Aragón.


    Chapter 7. Forgotten battles (April-July 1938).

    The Offensive of Alto Tajuña.

    Death in the sheepfolds.

    The siege of La Enebrá.

    The Battle of La Nava.

    The end of the offensive.

    War on the Levant.

    Lost soldiers, forgotten hills.

    XYZ: The line that stopped Franco.

    Bombers over the Levant.

    Chapter 8. The Battle of the Ebro (July-November 1938).

    The archaeology of the Battle of the Ebro.

    The last day of the Battle of the Ebro.

    Chapter 9. Dead men walking (November 1938-March 1939).

    Into exile.

    The trenches of the victors.

    The trenches of the vanquished.

    The last Republican offenssive.

    The fall.

    Chapter 10. The never-ending war (April 1939-1952).

    Guerrilla warfare.

    Spaces of punishment.

    Chapter 11. Aftermath. Heritage and memory.



    Annex: Tables.



    Alfredo González-Ruibal is a researcher with the Institute of Heritage Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council. His work focuses on the archaeology of the contemporary past and African archaeology. Among other books, he has edited Ethics and the Archaeology of Violence (2015, with Gabriel Moshenska) and is the author of An Archaeology of the Contemporary Era (2018), the latter also with Routledge. He is the managing editor of the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology.