Cova des Moro is a cave at Cala Varques in Manacor. The chamber, which is of great size, has revealed secrets from millennia past. Excavations in the mid-90s found remains of human activity that correspond with the Talayotic culture, while there is also evidence of myotragus balearicus, the goat-rat that was the only endemic mammal in the Balearics and which is believed to have become extinct some 5,000 years ago. If myotragus did indeed become extinct around 3000BC, then this was well before the Talayotic culture. The assumption is that it was hunted to extinction. But who were the hunters?

In February 2020, findings of a study of remains in the cave were published by the Spanish National Research Council. Researchers had made an astonishing discovery - what is probably the genome of the oldest inhabitants of the Balearics, and it is linked to the genes of shepherds in the steppes of eastern Europe, the vast area between the Ural Mountains and central Ukraine.

This discovery conformed with at least two theories regarding when the first settlers arrived. These theories have proposed 4000BC and 4500BC. The remains in the cave are dated to 4300BC. There is conjecture as to whether these first people, whoever they were, can be classified as settlers. There is a view that the ancient navigators who arrived in Mallorca would have used the islands as what has been called a 'stone bridge', moving from island to island. Maybe they were a type of sea traveller, but rudimentary means of sea transport would surely have tempted them to stay and to establish settlements.

The most likely reason for having come to Mallorca was that the island, when conditions were right, would have been seen from the Iberian Peninsula. Today, photos are periodically made available of the silhouette of the Tramuntana Mountains as seen from Barcelona. This would have been the silhouette that piqued the curiosity of ancient peoples. Perhaps they were merchants who hoped to find something of value; perhaps they were people seeking refuge from conflict. No one can say.

But what about the genome? As such, it gives the person whose remains were found in the cave an origin among the Eurasian nomads. Hunter gatherers of the Middle Stone Age did make their way to the Iberian Peninsula from the steppes. By at least the sixth century BC, an ancient people - the Iberians - were settled on the eastern and southern coasts of the peninsula.

The first settlers, in all likelihood therefore, were Iberians, and they had, by that time, absorbed cultural influences from the Greeks and the Phoenicians. These influences and their language set them apart as the 'pre-Indo-European' group, as the Indo-Europeans were to include the Celts. There is an alternative theory linking the first settlers to Sicily, given that the Y chromosome mutation that was characteristic of Iberia at that time has also been found in samples from Sicily, but researchers lean far more strongly to the connection with the Catalan coast and to that view of Mallorca.

Settlements were eventually created, although little is really understood as to how Mallorca developed before the Talayotic culture, the starting point of which is put at around 1300BC and about which there are competing theories as to who these new settlers were and why they had come to Mallorca and Minorca. The consequences of their arrival range from peaceful assimilation with the existing inhabitants to total annihilation. Were they from the peninsula, from what is now Occitanie in France or maybe from Sardinia? Was their arrival connected with the disturbances in the eastern Mediterranean caused by the Sea Peoples?

Wherever they came from, their establishment in Mallorca has been linked to the Celts and to Celtic culture, of which it is suggested some already existed. This is because of dolmen burial sites, said to be indicative of a Celtic culture, although as there was seemingly so little communication with the outside world, it is questionable as to whether these were influenced by the Celts or were indeed built by Celts. But as to the talayots, there is a celebrated book from 1819 about the structures in Minorca, the title of which is 'Celtic antiquities on the island of Minorca'. The talayots were built by Celts.

This isn't necessarily how the Talayotic culture is now perceived, but the possible Celtic connection in Mallorca crops up at this time each year, and so with Halloween and the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain. The eve of Samhain is October 31, which is traditionally considered to be All Saints Eve, as tradition in Mallorca has attempted, with increasingly less and less success, to distance itself from a commercialised Anglo-Saxon Halloween.

As Mallorca tradition also includes fascination for the demonic and a dark side, Halloween's pagan origins would seem to fit very nicely - the eve of Samhain was a time for sacrifice. Yes, but Mallorca isn't a land of Celts. Or is it? The remains in the cave would seem to be Iberian. But who arrived later?