The Official Gazette of the Andalusian Government (BOJA) has published the initiation of the procedure for the inscription in the General Catalogue of Andalusian Historical Heritage (CGPHA), as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), with the typology of Activity of Ethnological Interest, the marble quarrying of Macael, in Almeria. This practice encompasses knowledge, techniques, instruments and tools and cultural spaces that are inherent to it, and which the people of Macael recognise as part of their cultural heritage.
This activity, which will be protected with the status of BIC, is distinguished, among other aspects, by being the hallmark of the identity of a people, and is manifested in the toponomy, vocabulary, oral expressions, religious rites and local festivities, in craft practices, as well as in socialised and cultured spaces such as roads, meeting places and the landscape of the opencast quarries.
Already exploited in Roman times, the extraction and working of marble has been carried out in Macael, uninterruptedly, at least from the 9th century to the present day. Among the heritage elements linked to this activity are the trades, the marble – whose characteristics have guaranteed its use as a building and ornamental material for centuries -, the techniques and the landscape, forming a unique cultural landscape.
Macael marble, with its excellent physical properties and good durability, has been appreciated since ancient times for its physical properties and aesthetic qualities, as evidenced by its presence in the most emblematic Andalusian monuments, such as the Palace of Madinat al-Zhara, the Alhambra and the Generalife.
In relation to the trades linked to this activity, not only the stonemason’s trade stands out, one of the oldest in history – whose knowledge and techniques have been passed down from generation to generation – but also the craftsmen and marble workers, and other trades such as artillerymen, machinists, transporters and stone cutters.
The protection of the quarrying of Macael as an Asset of Cultural Interest also includes a series of movable and immovable assets, closely linked to this activity, such as the Cross of May, the Cross of the Mozos, the marble sawing factory of Los Pardo, the Episcopal coat of arms, the Book of Apeo and Repartimiento of Macael, the tracks of the carts, the minutes of the sentence of the quarrying lawsuit, the forge of Barraco Arispe or the collection of tools and objects linked to the exploitation of marble.