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Formentera Council puts wheels in motion on mobility plan

The Formentera Council's Office of Mobility has taken the first steps towards creating a sustainable mobility strategy for Formentera. The coming weeks will see the start of a process to solicit bids to execute the plan.

According to infrastructure chief Rafael Gonzalez, the strategic document will define the underpinnings and action necessary for an island where transport methods are more sustainable. Gonzalez indicated the Council would push public transport, cycling and electric vehicles and encourage Formentera's car owners to be sensible about how often they decide to drive.

The current procurement contract for public transport on Formentera expires on December 31, 2018. The sustainable mobility plan will serve as a starting off point for overhauling the service when it is next tendered. The plan will receive roughly €70,000 in financial backing and the Council has five months to produce a draft. The initiative will be brought before Formentera's league of local associations (Consell d'Entitats) to engage the community in the plan's creation.

Byzantine necropolis unearthed in Sant Francesc

Foto necropolis3Susana Labrador, the administration's patrimony councillor, joined by her department's staff specialist Jaume Escandell and archaeologist Maria José Escandell, held a press conference today on recent archaeological findings in Sant Francesc. Labrador explained the unearthing—a cemetery with origins in the Byzantine Empire—was a fortuitous corollary to preventive dig work being done in the urban centre of Sant Francesc Xavier. It is the second of its kind to be discovered on the island, she said.

Labrador underscored the importance of the preventive work that preceded the find. The councillor asserted that discoveries such as the necropolis justify the Council's heightened precaution, despite the additional cost such prevention imposes on project leaders. “We've got plenty of hidden treasure here on the island,” Labrador proclaimed, “and as we conduct more of this kind of work we'll see more cases like this”.

The four burial sites uncovered, which held the remains of at least 12 individuals (eight adults and four children), also enclosed funeral rites that allowed the team to identfy the site as seventh century Byzantine. Escandell hailed the cemetery as “highly significant in terms of cultural heritage, not least because this is a period on which scant information exists”. The ensuing study, he pledged, would “shed relevant scientific light on the historiographical study of Formentera in the late Antiquity".

At this point, the fate of the necropolis will depend on the decision reached by a special archaeological commission created in 2013 to provide technical review to archaeological initiatives of the Council.

Preventive archaeological efforts
The burial grounds were unearthed during preventive archaeological work ordered by the Council's advisory body on land, historical patrimony and other activities. Formentera's catalogue of cultural heritage sites, adopted in September 2010 at the same time as a series of municipal regulations, requires a review of any planned disturbance to subsoil on protected archaeological sites.

The review must then be evaluated by the special commission, whose green-light is necessary before building permits are issued.

Dig
The archaeologist and project head said the discovery was the of its kind first since 1916, when Josep Colomines i Roca uncovered three burial sites—two from the Later Roman Empire and a third from the Byzantine—at can Gabino.

Maria José Escandell also highlighted the discovery of 23 holes, used for planting trees, which would have succeeded the cemetery. The tombs themselves, unearthed just as central efforts were concluding, were discovered when four cutouts were taken on the westerly edge of the dig site. Given the attributes of similar findings in the Pityusic Islands, it is likely that the necropolis in question extends further west and southwest.

Through the Antiquity the only village in the Pityuses was Eivissa. Individuals were spread throughout the countryside in single family units, the archaeologist said, which is crucial to understanding life, and death, on the islands at the time. Transporting a deceased person to the nearest village would have required several days' travel and that one temporarily abandon both home and land. Hence, from the start of Punic settlement of the countryside, inhabitants buried their deceased at family plots located quite near to their dwellings. Such “rural” cemeteries lasted continued through the Roman and Byzantine empires.

The archaeological team concluded that graves were initially devised to contain no more than one individual and that the decision to reuse them came after. They also pointed out the absence of iron nails, inferring that, unlike at similar sites, these buried individuals were not placed in wooden coffins.

Necropolises from the Roman and Byzantine epochs are often found to contain deposits of both cremated and non-cremated remains, which span the first to seventh centuries. It is the absence of signs from that five-hundred-year period, says Maria José Escandell, that suggests the newly uncovered necropolis is in fact much more extensive.

As for illnesses or other aspects of the interred individuals' health, work and diet, forthcoming studies will address those issues. For now it can be observed that the remains in question belonged to peasant farmers of grand stature who, judging by the funeral rites found nearby, were of modest means.

Archaeological work was overseen by the POSIDÒNIA firm, comprising Ricard Marlasca, J. M. López Gari and Maria José Escandell.

High court shelves Punta Prima case, clears accused officials

April 7, in a provisional ruling on the 'Punta Prima case' by the Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands, the court's civil and criminal divisions cleared the defendants and moved to close the case. The court found that the facts did not constitute legal offence and dismissed any discredit to the defendants' characters.

The lawsuit filed February 1, 2012 by Sunway S.L. charged that in restricting the development approval of land in Punta Prima, the Gent per Formentera governing team composed of Jaume Ferrer, Sònia Cardona, Bartomeu Escandell, Josep Mayans and Sílvia Tur perverted the course of justice.

Bartomeu Escandell, vice-president and one of the defendants, expressed his satisfaction with the conclusion, for him confirmation that “we've always done our best to get things right and act in the best interests of the people of Formentera”.

Administration seeks to promote culture through Espai Frumentària pact

Foto signatura conveni espai frumentaria 2017Jaume Ferrer, president of the Formentera Council, and Miquel Costa, chief of Espai Frumentària, signed off on a deal to promote cultural initiatives in 2017.

Under the agreement, which is aimed at expanding the island's cultural cache, Espai Frumentària promises to coordinate events like “El 7 a les 6,” film screenings, concerts and exhibitions in addition to the theatre courses it also offers. For its part, the Council has pledged to provide €6,000 in funding for the measures.

Espai Frumentària was formed in 2013 and, according to its founding tenets, is committed to channeling dynamic energy into creation and the performing arts.

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