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Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata - Níjar

Níjar History: From Neolithic to SXX


 The History of Nijar.

The oldest human reference in the region has been found in Los Escullos, where remains of stone carving go back to the Mesolithic period, 10,000 years ago and, even further, to the Paleolithic.

But it is in the final Neolithic and in the Copper Age (3000-2000 ad C.) when the first important collective settlements take place, belonging to the "Culture of Los Millares" (2500-1800 ad C.) and, already in the middle of the Bronze Age, to the "Culture of the Argar" (1800-1300 ad C.).

These settlers settled near the mines, abundant in the area, in natural locations where they found water and shelter. Both cultures are today considered among the most interesting in Western Europe for the study of the early period of metallurgy. Its decline occurs during the final Bronze Age (1000-800 AD) when Tartessos, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, takes the cultural revelation of the West.

The culture of the Thousands (2500 - 1800 AD):

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXLos Millares is a prehistoric town located in the municipality of Santa Fe de Mondújar, 17 km from Almería, Spain. It is one of the most important deposits in the Europe of the Copper Age, and gives its name to the Culture of Los Millares, which spread through Andalusia, reaching Murcia and southern Portugal.

It was a megalithic people capable of developing complex customs based fundamentally on the flint industry and the agricultural economy, introducing the important novelty of the extraction and manipulation of copper, becoming a bridge culture towards the age of metals.

The use of masonry stone in walls, forts and tumular burials, ceramics decorated with solar motifs, objects of oriental influence found in the tombs and the exploitation of mining resources, characterize these first settlers.

In Níjar we find the El Barranquete necropolis, with the source of El Tarajal and Amarguilla (Cerro de Las Palomas) to the east of the neighborhood. It is the most important necropolis in the region with eleven burials excavated in Tholos, dating from 2330 AD.

We also find vestiges in Los Escullos and near Genoveses and, already in Sierra Alhamilla, in the Inox enclosure, in Los Cerricos, southeast of the Villa and in El Tejar (La Tejera) between the town of Níjar and La Granatilla.


The culture of the Argar (1800 - 1300 AD):

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXWithout drastic rupture, although with notable urban development, the culture of the Argar appears to replace that of the Millares. These settlers are characterized by the orderly exploitation and commercialization of mineral deposits, advances in agricultural techniques, communication routes and achievements of social and border organization. There are no necropolises, since they went on to bury their dead individually in cists (burial consisting of four lateral slabs and a fifth that acts as a cover) or "Pithoi" (pithos). El Argar is an important archaeological site of a prehistoric town in the Iberian southeast (Antas, Almería) that gives its name to this culture.

In the Níjar region, deposits have been found in the Marchal de Inox and the Cerro de los Tiesos, in the town of La Molatilla near Las Negras, in Hortichuelas and nearby, in Sierra Alhamilla, in the Cerro del Rayo and the Cerro de In the middle. The square floor plan now appears in the house, coexisting with the circular one in what seems to be a mixture of traditions of doubtful explanation.

Again it is the mines that determine the location of this culture. Its center was now further north, between the valleys of the Antas, Aguas and Almanzora rivers, within the province of Almería, although it developed mainly in Murcia, Alicante and south of Albacete.

At the end of the second millennium BC, the Argaric world gradually disappeared and the final period of the Bronze Age began, with the region receiving numerous influences from the interior. The main one will come from the kingdom of Tartesos, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir. Around the year 1000 ad C., the advanced civilizations of the Mediterranean East began their maritime-commercial expansion towards the limits of the known world.


The Phoenicians (800 - 600 AD):

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXCabo de Gata, which the Phoenicians called Promontorio Charidemo (Promontory of the Agates), was a place of passage towards Tartesos on their trade route. They founded Gádir (Cádiz) and located towns and factories from Malaga to Villaricos, north of Almería. Although no material remains are known in the region, some citations suggest a means of communication between the two colonies through the fields of Níjar.
Experts in the export of the mineral riches found on their expeditions, the Phoenicians introduced the cultural advances of Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, etc., beliefs in the afterlife, representation of nature in decoration, ceramics, metallurgy of the iron, writing, industries, ultimately the first social bases.



Greece and Carthage (600 - 300 AD):

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXDuring the 6th century AD, the Phoenician capital was moved from Tire to Carthage (Tunisia); The Punic or Carthaginian period was born and the first commercial exchanges with Greece began. The Punics camped in Huebro and a temple in the Cape seems to date from this time, dedicated to a maritime goddess, perhaps Tartesia, who the Greeks identified with Aphrodite.

In the «Maritime Ora», of Avieno it is explained that after the «Promontorius Pityussa» (tip of the sabinar) and the «Sinus Urcitanus» (Gulf of Almería) we reached the «Promontorium Veneris» or mountain of Venus (Cabo de Gata) . The "lugun Veneris", a temple in honor of Aphrodite that the Romans later assigned to their Venus and that must have been located on the Cerro de la Testa, in the Cape itself.



The Iberian peoples (6th - 3rd centuries ad C.):

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXBetween 535-264 ad C. the Southeast of Iberia was under the Punic hegemony and that of its famous generals Almílcar, Asdrúbal and Aníbal. After the struggles of the Greeks and Carthaginians, the latter agreed with Rome (348) their control from Mastia (Cartagena) to the west over Andalusia.
With mining interests in Baria (Villaricos), Malaka, Sexi (Almuñécar) and Abdera (Adra), the Níjar region was surely a transit area, in which there have been hardly any documentary or archaeological references.


The Roman occupation:

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXThe landing of Rome in Ampurias (Gerona), in 218 AD, would mean the end of the Carthaginian world, leading the Mediterranean to a common destiny: Roman unification.

The material remains of the time abound: stocks and amphoras in the Cape and beaches of San José, Cala Higuera, Escullos and Rodalquilar, villas, salting factories, burials and remains of the Roman road and hydraulic works.

The occupation took 150 years to consolidate, coinciding with the peace of Augustus. Until then, the interest of Rome revolved around the metallurgy in the Southeast and in Níjar to the gold of Rodalquilar, the fishing activity and the salt flats. The cisterns were made for local cultivation and to stock up on the routes to the interior. Before the fall and division of the empire, the barbarians of the North and "mauros" already invaded these lands, falling into oblivion in the 6th and 7th centuries, when Byzantium ruled from Carthage Spartaria (Cartagena).

This era left influences from the Aegean, such as the whitewashed wall, the central plan and the colored domes. In the S. VII, under the Visigothic bishopric of Urci (in Huércal de Almería), oriental merchants and Jews coexisted with remains of the Roman, Greek, Iberian and North African population.


The Islam:

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXX From the year 711 to 1492, Andalusia will be an Arab society, with very different phases of alternative military and cultural domination.

From 711 to 755 the region experienced a period of instability that ended with the arrival of the Emir Abd-Al-Rahman I "the Emigrant" (756-788). He ordered the construction of a watchtower in Chanca, over the current port of Almería, and enlisted the support of the Banú Hasan, a tribe of Yemenis: the former Visigothic Urci now became Urs-Al Yaman, "Urci of the Yemenis". with capital in Pechina, north of Almería.

Abderramán II (822-852) expanded the port with the construction of an arsenal, and in the so-called “War of the Vine Leaf”, a conflict born in Lorca between Northern Arabs and Yemeni Tribes, he exiled the latter who settled with his brothers from Pechina.

Between the years 840 and 861, the constant Norman attacks encouraged the Umayyad emir to build defensive fortresses on the coast. The first and most famous was located in Qabit Bani Aswad (Cabo de Gata or Ágatas, as the Rumí called it), probably in Fabriquilla (850). This ribat (fortress of mystical and warrior life), today disappeared, will be the first Islamic communal construction of importance in the Níjar region, which together with the ribat de la Chanca, served to consolidate the flourishing of the province. Its defense was entrusted to the family of the Banú Sirach ("the sons of the sillero"), later known as the Abencerrajes, who shared control of the Pechina valley with Jews, Muladíes (converts to Islam) and Mozarabs.

At the end of the Muhamhad government (852-886), there was the arrival (884) of "the Marines" (bahriyyum), Mozarabs and Spanish mules who had fled Cartagena, in the Cora de Tudmir (Murcia). After the initial conflicts of coexistence, both groups agreed to the birth of the maritime and commercial Republic of Pechina (891), independent of the Cora de Elvira (Granada) and twinned with Tunisia and the Maghreb for control of the Alboran Sea. The activity was centralized in the anchorage of Chanca, trading with slaves, crafts, agricultural products and fabrics, in the flourishing era of the Silk. Elvira's Arabs attacked Pechina in retaliation, requesting protection from Córdoba in exchange for vassalage.

Emir Abd-Alláh (888-912) agrees to incorporate Pechina into the Umayyad central government, creating the Cora (administrative district) of Bayyana. Marchena and La Chanca were fortified around Al-Mariyat (translated by some as "watchtower and by others as" The one with the mirror sea ") and the entire area from Alhama to Nijar along the coast and north to Purchena, creating a total of twenty fortified squares, giving here and now the order of foundation of Nijar on the ruins of a remote past.


The Umayyad Caliphate:

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXIn 912, Emir Abderramán III, Nasir "El Protector", ascended to the throne, who will proclaim himself Caliph in 929 and will reign until 961. Determined to end the instability of Al-Andalus, he inaugurates a period of splendor that will last almost a century. Of his reign, it is interesting to note that in 915, the Republic of Pechina fully submitted to the central power of the new Caliph, accepting a Cadi from Córdoba as governor of the Cora. The system of towers and alcazabas (Níjar Arab foundation) is consolidated to face the threat of the Fatimids, who, after long years of hostilities, attacked Almería in 955. These hostile incursions encouraged the caliph to fortify the Medina of Almariya , favoring the foundation of Almería capital and the beginning of the decline of Pechina.

Alternative years of crisis and splendor followed, the Taifa kingdoms (1010-1091) with Jayrán, governor of Almanzor, Zuhayr Almotacín (1037-1091), the Almoravids (1091-1147), Alfonso VI and VII, with the first Christian conquest ( 1147-1157) and the Almohad reconquest (1157-1238). Of all this we can hardly cite as genuinely Nijarian episodes the landing of the Genoese in 1147, on the beach that today bears his name, when Alfonso VII, in command of a Christian confederate fleet, decided to end the uncontrolled piracy carried out by the Republic of Pechina in the Alboran Sea.

Nijar also had to succumb in 1169, when Almería fell into the hands of Ibn Mardanis "the wolf king", an ally of Alfonso VII. In 1225 Ibn Hud de Murcia rose against the Almohads of Almería and in 1228 conquered Nijar, with another possible destruction of the fortress.

From then until 1488, the Nasrid kingdom of Granada was established, during which the castles of Huebro, Inox and Tartal, the watchtowers of the coast and the fort of Rodalquilar were founded. From this time we have news about Al-Hawan, Agua Amarga, as a stable human settlement (1348), and the anchorage of Chávala (San Pedro).

We do not hear from Nijar again until his taha capitulates, which also included Turrillas and Lucainena, in the summer of 1488 before the troops of the Catholic Monarchs. The adoption of San Sebastián as the patron saint of Níjar must date from this moment and a hermitage today disappeared was consecrated to him, which stood at the beginning of the slope of the current Carrera street. Almería fell in 1489 and Granada in 1492, ending eight centuries of Arab culture. With the s. XVI the Moorish period begins.


The Moriscos (1492 - 1568):

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXThe capitulation of Granada in 1492 guaranteed the defeated freedom of Muslim worship. The Mudejars (mudaijan: domesticated) coexisted with the Christians since the s. XI, respecting their customs, home and work in exchange for tribute. The abuses of the Christian colonists now appear, ending with a revolt in Níjar in 1501, enslaving and selling their settlers.

The pragmatic law of 1502 obliges the Mudejars to renounce their religion or go into exile. Those who stayed, although clinging to their faith and customs, were called Moriscos (New Christians). Níjar went through a difficult period of coexistence (1502-1568): the "old Christians" learned the agricultural irrigation techniques of the Moors, the cultivation of moral and mulberry for the artisanal activity of silk weaving; carpentry, esparto grass, pottery and also the local grazing of goats, wool and cattle from the mountains to the plains of the coast.

The church began to be built, with three naves, taking advantage of the dimension of the fortress tower of the old mosque: head with pointed arch and rear choir, whitewashed walls and coffered ceiling of magnificent conservation and beauty.

The Huebro church had similar characteristics. Lucainena, Turrillas, Níjar, Inox, Tarbal and La Matanza were the main inhabited nuclei until the Moorish uprising of 1568 and the definitive expulsion in 1570.

During the Christmas riots of 1568, Moorish families from all over the Níjar region took refuge in the castle of Peñón de Inox, waiting to embark for Africa. Informed the Christians, arrived with armies of looting mercenaries from all over the peninsula, took the hill and obtained 3,000 slaves among women and children.

It was the famous "stainless steel business" concluded next to what is remembered today as "the town of La Matanza."

After this war the population of Almería was reduced to 7,000 inhabitants. In 1571, Níjar had a scattered Moorish population, hidden in the mountains. Except for the town, all the towns were abandoned from Almería to Mojácar (1574). Repopulators arrived in stages from Cazorla, Levantines, Castilians, Aragonese and Extremadurans, in total 170 people (forty-five were soldiers). The repopulation failed and it took more than a hundred years for the region to regain the population of the Moorish stage.


The 18th century. The castles:

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXFrom the year 1600, the habitat of the region was definitively configured by the assaults of the Berbers and pirates from the coast, by sources and frequent earthquakes, lobster plagues, plague and the immense herds (up to 600,000 head of cattle) of the cattle ranching oligarchies of Granada and Baza (the Mesta, heir to the Nasrid transhumance routes) that came to graze the region, collaborating in the desertification of the landscape.

In the middle of the s. XVIII Carlos III promulgates the Regulation of defense of the coast. Since the expulsion of the Moors, there were forts (San Pedro and Santiago in Rodalquilar) that had a garrison and several towers that, neglected because they were insecure, did not serve to stabilize the region.

Before the end of the century, new ones were restored and built, such as the castle of San Felipe in los Escullos (1771); that of San José, of which today only the foundations remain; San Ramón, in Playazo de Rodalquilar, and San Francisco de Paula, in Cabo de Gata (dismantled). Until now, the attacks by pirates and landings by African ships had the Níjar Urban Militia Company in suspense, which served from the Mesa Roldán tower to the Vela Blanca tower and the Castillo de San Francisco de Paula, in Cabo de Cat.

The improvement provided by this system favored the consolation of population centers such as Fernán Pérez, Pozo de los Frailes, Los Escullos, Cala Higuera and the fishermen of Almadraba de Cabo de Gata, inaugurating a new habitat system.

In the last decade of the century the Marquesado de Campohermoso was created. From now until the middle of the 19th century, cattle ranching and dry cereal crops, small property and the dispersion of parcels took over the region, generating a spectacular increase in the population (6,000 inhabitants in 1840). The Elizabeth II reservoir (1850), a megalithic hydraulic work inaugurated by the queen, which was suddenly obsolete, marked the transition from agricultural to mining life in the region.


The new mining century:

Historia de Níjar: Del Neolítico al SXXThe technology of the s. XIX and XX made possible new methods of extraction, manipulation and transport of minerals. The mines returned to yield. Railroads, cables, dumps, towns, aqueducts, lighthouses, and roads were built.

An appearance of prosperity returned to the mountains of Cabo de Gata, the population increased to 14,000 inhabitants (1900). It is the time of the lead quarries, when transport cables ran from the Colativí and Huebro cliffs to Cabo de Gata, and the Lucainena railway carried ore to the Agua Amarga discharge point.

It lasted until 1930, when the gold phase began in Rodalquilar. At the beginning of the exploitation the neighbors reached a thousand, at the end, in the 60s, the town was abandoned. Today, like the Sierra Alhamilla farms, they are only silent witnesses of the past.

Rodalquilar offers the elements of the exploitation of a gold deposit: workers' town, with church and colonial-style houses, school, barracks, warehouses, washing, grinding and pulverization building, benches for cyanidation, cylindrical precipitation tanks, large reinforced concrete structures stained reddish by rust and a landscape of washed rock in the form of small canyons. It is a specimen of industrial archeology of unusual and suggestive beauty.

Plants in Andalusian Culture