Original paper

Roman quarries of the Iberian peninsula: "Anasol" and "Anasol"-type

Morbidelli, Paola; Tucci, Patrizia; Imperatori, Claudio; Polvorinos, Angel; Preite Martinez, Maria; Azzaro, Ettore; Hernandez, Maria Jesus

Abstract

The Iberian peninsula is rich in marble, both white and coloured, of excellent quality, used in the past (Pliny NH, XXXVI, II) and also at the present time as material for building and decoration. Many types of these marbles are similar to some, better known, Greek, Italian, Egyptian and Asian marbles. During the Roman Empire "marmor carystium" was extensively used. Taking into account the great similarity of this marble with the "anasol" and "anasol"-types mined in Spain and Portugal, this work presents a minero-petrographic, chemical and geochemical characterisation of these lithotypes, aiming at finding parameters to distinguish them from the better-known Greek and Italian "cipollino verde". This result is of great importance in solving archaeological questions regarding the provenance of artifacts made of this marble. In fact, as hypothesised by some researchers, mainly in the Iberian peninsula (i.e., archaeological sites of Italica and Cartagena) in Roman Empire times the less expensive local marble was used instead of importing that from the imperial quarries. Study samples come from well-known Spanish (21 samples; Macael-Almeria, Almaden de la Plata-Seville) and Portuguese (14 samples; Viana do Alentejo-Evora, Vilavicosa-Evora) quarries. Thin sections microscopy, X-ray diffractometry, qualitative and quantitative determination of insoluble residues, chemistry, and O, C and Sr isotopes were carried out on these samples.The results clearly distinguish Spanish "anasol" from the Portuguese "anasol"-type, and also the Iberian "cipollino verde" from Greek and Apuan types based on petrographic and geochemical parameters including occurrence of dolomite and other non-carbonate minerals, metamorphic facies, rock texture and structure, insoluble residue contents, δ13C vs δ18O, and/or δ18O vs 87Sr/86Sr.

Keywords

anasolspainportugalroman quarrypetrographygeochemistryarchaeometric implications