ABSTRACT

Malvarez, G.; Navas, F.; Tello, C., and Hidalgo, R., 2020. Environmental control on Roman time coastal industrial settlements at the confluence of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. In: Malvárez, G. and Navas, F. (eds.), Global Coastal Issues of 2020. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 95, pp. 870–874. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Ancient industries linked to the coast flourished in the rich realms of the temperate latitudes around the Iberian Peninsula from the VIIth century BCE to well after the Vth CE. Central to success during this time was the high productivity of the coastal waters and the value of the products manufactured in the then most important market in western Europe: the Mediterranean countries. It is during Imperial Rome when great romanization standardized the roman world that a network of industries, villae and cities flourished with valuable goods for the Empire even in the distant shores of southern Iberian peninsula (Baetica). Emperors were born in Baetica and olive oil and garum, the precious condiment sauce, generously exported to the heart of Imperial Rome. However, despite the generalized standardization, environmental control at the confluence of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean made that -a short distance apart- two distinct modes of coastal settlements developed. On the Atlantic coast, large scale garum production and fish salting factories generated both industrial settlements -where only workers lived along the installations- and prosperous cities with circa 30.000 inhabitants and municipal status. In the Mediterranean, but only close to the Strait of Gibraltar, a specific type of industry flourished that combined industrial scale but provided enough to establish very wealthy villae maritimae in the Alboran Sea along the current Costa del Sol. The presence of meso tidal conditions in the Atlantic promoted tidal fishing traps and extensive salt extraction, whereas the marked upwelling of the Alboran Sea and incised river valleys serving as natural ports of the estuaries in the Mediterranean approximately 2000 years ago, depicted a very diverse coastal paradigm. This paper revises the environmental control that determined why the different types of settlements occurred and why very distinctive cultures developed in such a short distance.

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