About the Project

The goal of the Najerilla Valley Research Project is to better understand the cultural sequence in the valley and to investigate the changes in settlement and material culture in the region between the Late Iron Age and the 14th century A.D. In the process, we hope to foster closer cooperation between American and Spanish institutions and scholars. For the 2014 and 2015 field seasons, the project will be sponsored by Central Michigan University.

The Najerilla Valley Research Project (NVRP) is planned as a series of linked investigations by American and Spanish scholars. Each component of the project, although focused on a specific research objective, will contribute to the goals of the project as a whole and will serve to develop and refine future questions regarding the ancient and medieval occupation of the valley.

The first component of the NVRP is a study of the medieval ceramic wares found in the valley. Although the Roman-era finewares produced in and around the ancient city of Tritium Magallum (modern Tricio) have been extensively studied, there has been little systematic investigation of the medieval ceramics of La Rioja. The first season of ceramic study was completed in Summer 2013 and focused on a collection of grey cookware from the Jewish Quarter of Nájera, stored in the Museo Najerillense. The data from this season are currently under study. A major objective of this study is to explore links between the medieval pottery in the Najerilla valley and the material found the excavations of the kiln site at Calle Hospital Viejo in Logroño, which was excavated by the co-director of the NVRP, Dr. María Milagros Martínez, and which dates to the 13th-15th centuries.

The second component of the NVRP is the documentation of standing remains in the city of Nájera and its immediate environs. The goal of this project is the creation of a spatial database and 3-D model incorporating all known archaeological, architectural and documentary evidence for the city of Nájera between the 10th and 16th centuries CE.

The third component of the project is a study of Roman and medieval remains in the upper valley of the Río Tirón, in Burgos. Presently this includes a study of Roman and medieval funerary stelae that were reused in the fabric of the early medieval church of the Assumption in San Vicente del Valle. We hope that a study of this neighboring valley will help to put our study of the Najerilla valley into a larger regional context. While the Najerilla valley was the site of a well-known ceramic industry in the Roman period, the Roman presence in the upper Tirón valley is much less understood. We also hope to clarify the effects of royal and ecclesiastical patronage by contrasting the developmental patterns of the two valleys in the Middle Ages.