Marmora Hispaniae. Exploitation, use and spread of Espejón limestone in Roman and late ancient Hispania

 

Carranque,Toledo, fragmentos

The main aim of this research project is to deepen understanding of the exploitation, use and distribution of Espejón limestone in Hispania, putting the results obtained in the context of the exploitation and use of other Hispano-Roman lapidary resources (marmora, marble) which have been being studied in recent years, such as the marmora of Estremoz, Mijas-Coín, Macael, Almadén de la Planta, Buixcarró, Santa Tecla, Broccatello, Antequera-Torcal, Travertino rojo de Mula, etc.

The very scant information available to date about its use in Hispania suggests that Espejón marble could have been the main ornamental rock in the inland peninsula, obviating the initial idea that this limestone was a second-class material almost only linked with the nearby city of Clunia. The main line of study is that Espejón limestone was a very highly valued lapidary material because of its appearance and lift the logical characteristics and, as such, was profusely exploited in Hispania from the time of Augustus on in the framework of the new public ornamental programmes for cities immersed in process of marbleisation, e.g., Segobriga, but also to meet the needs of the Hispano-Roman upper class. Use of this limestone was still popular in the late Roman age, when it was used for the interior decoration of important rural complexes such as Carranque, Toledo.

The research proposed will concentrate on the archaeometric characterisation of all the existing varieties of Espejón limestone, study of its presence in the decoration of the Hispano-Roman cities and villas and characterisation of its uses at all times and in all cases, finding evidence of ancient quarry faces and, finally, analysis of the trading routes for this material throughout Roman and late ancient times.

 

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