|Location of La Bastida in the context of El Argar culture (source)
Arguable I guess because it will be susceptible to further research for example in the Castro do Zambujal (Torres Vedras, Portugal) or in the El Argar culture area itself but that is what the current archaeological team has claimed through a press release
According to the researchers, La Bastida[es]
(Murcia) was back in the day the largest city in all mainland Europe, next only to some Minoan
cities of Crete.
On first read it may sound to exaggeration but, after all, they have pushed forward the age of foundation of La Bastida and hence of El Argar culture to c. 2,200 BCE, some three or four centuries before El Argar proper… what means an older age than the founding of the Mycenaean
cities (Mycenae, Athens, Thebes…), which are not older than c. 1600 BCE.
The civilizations of Los Millares and the already mentioned Zambujal (culture of Vila Nova de Sao Pedro), both in Iberia, are still older (c. 2600 BCE) but now La Bastida de Totana stands between these Chalcolithic civilizations and the Bronze Age ones, whose paradigm is El Argar, of which La Bastida may have been seed.
|Hill of La Bastida (Totana, Murcia) – source: La Bastida[es].
Honoring its name (etymologically related to “bastion”) La Bastida was a heavily fortified city spanning four hectares on top of an strategical hill. Its 2-3 meter thick stone walls are the oldest known of its kind in all Europe, although they have precedents in West Asia:
The fortification consisted of a wall measuring two to three metres
thick, built with large stones and lime mortar and supported by thick
pyramid-based towers located at short distances of some four metres. The
original height of the defensive wall was approximately 6 or 7 metres.
Until now six towers have been discovered along a length of 70 metres,
although the full perimeter of the fortification measured up to 300
metres. The entrance to the enclosure was a passageway constructed with
strong walls and large doors at the end, held shut with thick wooden
One of the most relevant architectural elements discovered is the ogival
arched postern gate, or secondary door, located near the main entrance.
The arch is in very good conditions and is the first one to be found in
Prehistoric Europe. Precedents can be found in the second city of Troy
(Turkey) and in the urban world of the Middle East (Palestine, Israel
and Jordan), influenced by the civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
This indicates that people from the East participated in the
construction of the fortification. These people would have reached La
Bastida after the crisis which devastated their region 4,300 years ago.
It was not until some 400 to 800 years later that civilisations like the
Hittites and Mycenaeans, or city-states such as Ugarit, incorporated
these innovative methods into their military architecture.
|Recreation of La Bastida city (source)
|Pythos burial, style surely imported from Greece
For what I have read on the matter, I understand that El Argar culture, often imagined as a centralized state, would have been divided into three regions or smaller realms, of which the area of Totana and Lorca (roughly modern Murcia region) would be the northern one.
From the pushing backwards of the age of La Bastida I deduce that the this region may well have been the origin of El Argar civilization itself, which surely absorbed Los Millares manu militari later on, maybe leading to the founding of El Argar city as new capital between the two realms, much like Memphis was founded in Egypt after the unification of the Upper and Lower kingdoms.
I am here speculating a bit of course – feel free to correct me if you know better.
Besides of El Argar cultural area, the influence of this state may have extended through much of Southern and Eastern Iberia, possibly into all the areas colored in this map:
|Possible wider area of influence of El Argar civilization, earliest Bronze (source)
Of course the areas in blank were not empty but had other cultures, in some cases also outstanding civilizations, like VNSP in the following map:
|Middle Bronze in Iberia (anti-copyright by me – same one as Sugaar)
In the La Bastida dedicated site
you can find much more information in Spanish language, as well as photos, about this fascinating site, which was maybe the navel of much of Europe four thousand years ago. Another complementary source for this entry has been the dedicated page
of Murcia regional government. Thanks to both.