Caminito del Rey. / SUR

New book dates first agricultural settlements around the Caminito del Rey back more than 7,000 years

The work is based on a comprehensive study of the Ardales cave and focuses on the history of ten sites that were key to understanding the development of the area

Andrea Jiménez
ANDREA JIMÉNEZ

According to a new book published by the Diputación provincial authority, the first agricultural villages in the area of the famous Caminito del Rey gorgeside walkway in Malaga province were settled more than seven thousand years ago.

The work of three local researchers, María del Mar Espejo, José Ramos and Pedro Cantalejo, the book is based on a comprehensive 30-year study of the nearby Ardales cave, which was abandoned 7,500 years ago.

Published in Spanish with the title Prehistoria en el Entorno de Caminito del Rey. Ruta por los Orígenes de Málaga, (Prehistory around the Caminito del Rey - Route through the Origins of Malaga), focuses on the history of ten sites that were key to understanding what happened in the area of the Gaitanes gorge more than seven thousand years ago.

The authors claim that there was an “early and immediate” occupation of this territory due to a profound climate change and the new technology introduced in the south of the Iberian peninsula during the Neolithic period.

The book confirms that this large area (currently represented by the set of reservoirs and the Caminito del Rey) became an authentic “socio-ecological project”.

According to the researchers, although these human groups from the Palaeolithic period were hunters, gatherers and fishermen, they were incorporating new ways of life and work favoured by a landscape full of natural resources.

The book claims that large game was still abundant, fishing in the three rivers was very important, while the gathering of wild vegetables and honey was “fundamental”, providing food and natural medicines.

The introduction of cereals like wheat and barley, and pulses such as broad beans, peas and lentils, transformed the settlements and the landscape by intensifying cultivated land to the detriment of forests, “causing the first great erosion of the humanised landscape”.

The book was launched on Saturday (3 December) in Ardales, along with another publication of a historical investigation concerning the Mozarabic rock church in Bobastro, a book by the medieval historian, Virgilio Martínez Enamorado.