Andalucía: A Cultural History

Andalucía: A Cultural History

Andalucía: A Cultural History

Andalucía: A Cultural History

Synopsis

A garden at the foot of Europe and a crossroads between Spain, Africa and the New World, Andaluc a has been a cultural customs house on the border of the Mediterranean and Atlantic civilizations for more than ten thousand years. This book traces its origins from the earliest hominid settlers in the Granada mountains 1.8 million years ago, through successive Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Muslim cultures, and the past five hundred years of modern Castilian rule, up to and including the present day of post-modern novelists in C rdoba and Sevilla, guerrilla urban archaeologists in Torremolinos and Marbella, and underground lo-fi bands in Granada and M laga.

Excerpt

There is no other place in Europe that contains and embodies the idea of Europe as much as Andalucía. Nor indeed is there any other place in Spain that contains and embodies the idea of Spain as much as Andalucía. Europe—and Spain—were invented here, long before there was either a Europe or a Spain. Adventurous migrants from Africa first settled in Andalucía 1.8 million years ago, before moving north to settle the rest of Europe. in its more recent history, specifically the past five hundred years, Andalucía has become emblematic of Spain itself: land of flamenco, land of bullfighting, land of gypsies and poets, land of heroes and adventurers. in the millennia before those five hundred years, Andalucía was Spain, except it did not call itself either Andalucía or Spain. Those two places were only invented and named after 1492.

Much of what makes Andalucía unique has been due to its landscape, a landscape transformed by almost every wave of settlers over the past 15,000 years or so. Phoenicians and Greeks brought vines, olives and other crops that still underpin its modern economy. the olive groves of Jaén alone, visible from space, are the largest concentration of olive trees anywhere on the planet. Similarly, the cork oaks of the Alcornocales forest, among the pueblos blancos or white villages of the west, dominate the world’s two billion euro cork industry. the pueblos blancos themselves, straggling from Vejer near the Atlantic to Setenil near Ronda, are just the most visible reminder of a cultural history stretching back millennia. Most of these villages are named after the Muslim families who introduced a sophisticated agriculture to Andalucía in the eighth century—and more besides.

If we are looking for a deeper thread running through Andalucía, from its prehistory to the modern day, it is of a place as an open, indeed at some . . .

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