History

Known Mazarrón

The oldest testimonies of human settlement in the municipality are from the Middle Paleolithic, found near the Lighthouse dike.


The oldest testimonies of human settlement in the municipality are from the Middle Paleolithic found near the Lighthouse dike. The Upper Paleolithic leaves its mark in the Cuevas de Morote and the Palomas. In the cave of Los Tollos, El Palomarico and Hernández Ros, Solutrean remains were found. The Upper Magdalenian period and an emerging Epipaleolithic can be found in the Cueva del Algarrobo.

In the Eneolithic, Cabezo del Plomo is the most important archaeological site, in the foothills of Sierra de las Moreras,the culture of El Argar has representative settlements in Ifre, Cerrito Jardín, Las Toscas de María and Las Víboras.

Archaeological remains from the Phoenician colonizations found on the beach of Isla and in Los Gavilanes are very important, the first finding is crucial in the underwater archaeology as part of a Phoenician ship was extracted and the extraction of another one, which is more than 2.600 years, is projected. Such remains made Mazarrón be a linking point for the Phoenician trade in the Mediterranean Sea between Ebusus (Ibiza) and Gañir (Cádiz), probably they would be attracted by the silver and lead mining existing in this zone.

The proximity of Carthago Nova and the mining wealth in the county of Mazarrón attracted the Roman colonization, which was quickly produced in the Late-Republican period. Archaeological remains from that period appeared in Loma de Sánchez and Coto Fortuna. However, the real Roman colonization was produced between the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C., many remains from that period were found around the mines of the Cabezos de San Cristóbal and Perules (placed near the present town centre), Coto Fortuna and Pedreras Viejas. As a consequence from the mining activity, birth of the metal industry was produced; furnaces and casting slag heaps were found, Loma de las Herrerías is one of the main slag heaps.

If mining was the driving force for the Roman colonization over the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. and until the early years of the 1st century A.D., the coastal area increased in importance thanks to the factories making “garum”, a kind of salted fish that was exported all over the Roman Empire, and whose most important archaeological remains were found in El Mojón, La Azohía, El Castellar and the Port of Mazarrón.

There is no news on the Visigothic and Byzantine occupation, however, we think that mining continued. The disturbance conditions in the peninsula make us think that it was not a brilliant period for mining activities in Mazarrón.

In the Muslim age, some mines were operated in Cabezo de San Cristóbal, but the warlike spirit in this period makes us discern that the economy in the municipality was paralyzed. When the Kingdom of Murcia was conquered in 1243, Mazarrón integrated in Lorca and occupying a border area, faced a period of invasion from Moorish and incursions from Muslims in the Nazarí Kingdom.

From the taking of Granada in 1492, the industrial reactivation started all over the Kingdom of Murcia. In the middle of the 15th century, "alum" was discovered, alumina and potassium sulphate used for fixing the colours in the textile industry, glass making and medicine preparation among other applications. Alum was abundant all over this area and this is the reason why a group of houses belonging to the municipality of Lorca is called "Casas de los Alumbres de Almazarrón".

In 1462, Enrique IV conceded the mining rights to Juan Pacheco, Marqués de Villena, who transferred half of his rights to Pedro Fajardo, Major Governor of the Kingdom of Murcia and holder of the marquisate of Vélez. They organised the alum mining personally or by means of lease contracts.

In 1572, thanks to the increase of this sector that produced the settlement of fixed population around Cabezo de San Cristóbal, the title of "villa" was awarded by Felipe II and it became a municipality independent from Lorca. At the end of the 16th century, the decline of the alum mining started, caused by the Italian alum competition, excessive taxation and conflicts with Flanders and England, which produced the prohibition to export to these countries that were the main markets for the alum from Mazarrón.

This period of economic increase left its mark in the appearance of Mazarrón with buildings such as San Andrés Church, built under the sponsorship of the Marqués de Villena; San Antonio Church and its Castle, built under the sponsorship of the Marqués de los Vélez, and the Purísima Church, product from several periods mainly from the 18th century when it was transferred to the Franciscanos de San Pedro de Alcántara, who founded a convent and a hospice next to it.

When the alum mining activity decreased, the red clay replaced it during the 17th and 18th centuries, which was bought by the Real Hacienda for the arsenals and for the famous red tobacco of Sevilla. Esparto grass was also made for cables and ropes for ships. At the end of the 19th century Mazarrón recovered again its splendour with the mining of iron and lead (galena argentífera). It was of much importance the discovery of the Prodigio seam in the Santa Ana mine, which was the main richness of Mazarrón. The excessive demographic growth produced in Mazarrón was one of the consequences from the mining rise, mainly from the nearby mines in Almería. The railway provided this industry with logistics support. The railway from Mazarrón to the Port was started in 1886. There was also another railway carrying the mineral from Morata to Parazuelos, where it was shipped for transformation.

At the end of the 19th century, the modern foundry Santa Elisa was set up, owned by the Compañía de Águilas, which had the main advances and developments for this type of industry. Salt mining in the Port, fishing and rainfed agriculture complemented the mining activity. In the middle of the 20th century, mining almost disappeared and economic reactivation started again in the 70s of this century, thanks to the intensive agricultural farms, mainly winter tomatoes and tourism.

 

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