Bulls’ heads returning to Mallorca

Bronze bull's head, iron age

Bronze bull's head, iron age, James Blake Wiener CC attribution share-alike https://www.worldhistory.org/image/7543/ancient-bull-from-costitx/

The three remarkably fine bronze sculptures of bulls’ heads were created two-and-a-half thousand years ago, between 500 and 300 BC.

Bronze bulls' heads, Costitx

The iron-age figures were discovered by chance by the owner of the Son Corró estate in Costitx in 1895.

They formed part of the Talayotic archaeological site or temple. Talayotic culture is so named due to the stone towers, or talayots, at the sacred sites.

Bought by Madrid for a song

The Madrid administration promptly bought the bulls’ heads from the owner of the Son Corró estate in 1895, paying 3,500 pesetas for them (equivalent to €21 euros today).

They have been in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid ever since, revisiting Mallorca only once to celebrate the centenary of their discovery in 1995.

Artefacts returning in 2025

However, these cultural treasures could be temporarily returned to Mallorca in 2025 when the archaeological rooms open in the Museu de Mallorca.

Crafted using the traditional lost-wax casting technique, these beautifully sculpted pieces are hollow inside with details added in later through a process called cold drawing. The ears and horns were made separately and then attached to the head with rivets. Sometimes, the eyes were even filled with a colourful vitreous paste to bring them to life.

It is thought that these figures represent a god, rather than being objects of worship themselves.

In 2018, the vice-president of the Consell de Mallorca petitioned the Secretary of State for Culture for their return to Mallorca.

The answer was a resounding “no”.

The Secretary of State was only prepared to send them to Mallorca on temporary loan, saying “the bulls form part of the [Madrid] museum personality, so they will have to stay”.

Other unexpected figures have also occasionally been found in Costitx.

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Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.