Studies of the castle have shed unexpected light on Marbella history

2016-03-10 04:00:00

The most recent investigations carried out at the castle in Marbella have indicated for the first time that it was probably built before the time of the Moors. For historians, this conclusion is like finding a pot of gold.
José Suárez Padillo, from the Archaeology Faculty at Malaga University, says the two recent archaeological surveys are extremely important. They mean that further excavations can be carried out and it is likely that these will show that Marbella existed as a town during Roman times, something that until now had only been a matter of conjecture.
Archaeological excavations had indicated that there had been a Roman settlement of some kind in the area, but there was nothing to show that the castle pre-dated the Moorish period. Now, unexpectedly, the archaeologists have discovered that the layout of the castle is from an earlier time. This raises numerous questions: Who built it? When, exactly? And why?
While tests are being carried out to try to date the construction, Pedro J. Sánchez Bandera, who led the latest study, says pre-Moorish construction exists on three of the castle’s four sides, including some of the towers. One is the tower in Calle Trinidad, another is the one by the Plaza de la Iglesia and the third is the Homage Tower on the north side. The experts are not sure about the western side of the castle, because of changes that have been made over time to incorporate it into the rest of the town centre.
Experts are hoping that further investigation may reveal whether present-day Marbella was once the Roman ‘Cilniana’, of which historians have been aware, or whether it was a different place altogether. However, they stress that it will not be enough to accurately date the castle to Roman times: archaeologists will need to find other items such as coins, inscriptions or ceramics from the same period to be certain of the existence of an important town.
Historical data could support the idea. Due to numerous civil wars in the the 1st century B.C, during the Roman-Republican period, Rome fortified various coastal areas for defensive purposes.
Later, the Pax Augusta, settlements sprang up close to the sea and Marbella has three good examples of these: the Roman Villa at Río Verde, the baths at Guadamina and the Vega del Mar basilica. In the end, however, the defence priorities of the Umayyads placed the focus firmly on the the castle.
Historian Catalina Urbaneja, the president of the Cilniana Association, is sure Marbella was occupied before the time of the Moors.“It’s logical because documents state this was a natural enclave that was protected because of its own geographical location. The Phoenicians weren’t going to build at Rio Real, and the Romans at Río Verde, and completely ignore Marbella,” she insists.
Urbaneja is very hopeful that the latest findings will back up her belief that the history of Marbella began long before the Moorish domination of the region.source surinenglish