Mallorca, one among the most beautiful Balearic Islands is sited in the Mediterranean sea and has a rich history to its credit. Traces of human settlement in Mallorca prove that humans inhabited the island as early as 3000 BC .i.e. almost 5000 years ago. This era is better known as the ‘Talayotic period’. The name has its origin from the word ‘atalaya’ which means tower and it then related to the uncanny tower-like structures that could be spotted at these sites. The Museum of Mallorca still houses the vestiges of the Talayotic period and remnants of 2 of these settlements can be found in the island even today.
Though initially Mallorca did not feel the heat of the several trade wars that was gripping the Mediterranean in the years nearing the birth of Jesus Christ, it later did. The battling countries did keep an eye on the natural and alluring harbours that the Balearics owned and shifted their focus to these islands when navigational and shipbuilding techniques alleviated, thus making these islands very valuable.
Greece was among first few countries to establish their trading posts on the islands and the Phoenicians were quick to follow. The islands soon became an important base for the Carthaginian trading empire from North Africa. It was during this time that most of the important ports were erected. The name of the island “Balearics” traces its origin to the early habitants of the island who had a peculiar fighting mode which involved a sling. Inspired by this act it was the Phoenicians and the Greeks who named the archipelago ‘balearides’ in about 300 BC. ‘Ballein’ in Greek means ‘to throw a sling’.
The Roman fleet spearheaded by Consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Carthage in 146BC to take over the islands. It was he who gave the name Balearis Major and Balearis Minor to two of the colossal islands here. During this period, Latin became the official language and the first few major cities were founded: Palmeria (Palma) and Pollentia (now Alcuida) were among them.
The Romans continued to occupy the islands till the 5th century AD when the powerful Vandal Kingdom conquered them. This period is referred to as the “Dark Era” as the vandals destroyed almost all the infrastructure of the island, leaving it ruined. In 534 AD, the islands escaped the clutches of the vandals and became a part of the Byzantine Empire.
The 7th century saw the quick rise of Islam with Islamic Arabs were taking over countries that were occupied by foreigners and converting them. The converts were called Moors. These Moors were on a non-stop invasion spree since when they arrived at Gibraltar and in seven years almost the whole of Spain was under their control. The 8th and 9th centuries began showing the first indications of Islam in the islands and in 902, Balearics was officially declared a part of the Arab world with the name ‘the Oriental Islands’. ‘Palmeria’ adopted the name ‘Madina Mayurka’ and the Moors built a lot of mosques, palaces, gardens thus making the island prosperous again. Arts and education as well as agriculture flourished and even technological innovations were encouraged and introduced.
Arabs reigned over Mallorca for as long as 4 centuries and these centuries of of Arab supremacy has cast a lot of influence on the Mallorcans which is evident even today.