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XVI.—The Linares Bas-Relief and Roman Mining Operations in Baetica.

  • Horace Sandars

At a short distance from the Saltus Castulonensis, one of the northernmost points of the Sierra Morena, in the Province of Jaen (Spain), the mountains become blended, to the east, with a seines of ranges running with a southerly trend towards the Sierra Nevada. This, in its turn, is merged into other ranges that stretch their arms to the coast of the Mediterranean on the south; while their main body continues to the west towards the mouth of the River Baetis, and terminates in a series of elevations, which include those known to the Romans as the Ilipula Mountains, the Alpujarras of modern times. From, my point of departure, and to turn again to the north, the Sierra Morena, which the Romans knew as the Montes Mariani, stretches away in a south-westerly direction, broken here and there by valleys and gorges, but still forming a continuous range, until it dips into the sea on the eastern side of the River Anas, the Guadiana of modern geography. These mountain ranges, or rather groups of ranges, form the eastern and western watersheds of the River Baetis. Indeed, they may be said to form the casket which encloses the jewel of the Spanish peninsula, the rich, the fertile, the beautiful Baetica of the Romans, the Andalucia of to-day.

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page 319 note a As an instance I may again mention the old Roman highway which went from Cástulo to Libisosa by the Ad Morum; Solaria, Mariana, and Mextesa of the Vicarello vases. This road, as I have already pointed out, is not shown on the Antonine Itinerary, and at the present time it might be hard work to follow it, but yet in that part where it can be traced and it has been proved to exist it is still locally known as the “Via Cartagines” or “de Anibal,” the “Carthaginian” or “Hannibal's road.”

page 321 note a The bas-relief was first described by Monsieur Daubrée, an eminent French mining engineer who wrote several very interesting accounts of Roman mining operations in France in the Revue Archéologique of April, 1882. Sr. Berlanga of Malaga, whose erudite works on the bronze tablets of Malaga, Osuna, and Aljustrel are but too little known outside his own country, described it and reproduced a photograph of it in 1884, while others have referred to it in a perfunctory manner at times, or have described it incorrectly. The foreman has been turned into the god Mercury, the miners into Christian martyrs, and there have been dissertations on the archaic character of the sculpture by reason of the supposed archaic form of the eyes; but such theories and conclusions have generally been due to the fact that the writers who dealt with the subject had but incorrect representations of it before them.

page 325 note a Tomo xxxix. Cuademo v. Noviembre 1901, p. 455.

page 326 note a I would mention that within the last few days I have received a letter from a Spanish archæological friend in Madrid who has re-examined the stone, and in which he says that there can be no doubt that the word reads Salagm.

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The Antiquaries Journal
  • ISSN: 0261-3409
  • EISSN: 2051-3186
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquaries-journal
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