Rome and cetaceans: Archaeological Evidence from the Strait of Gibraltar

Author(s): Darío Bernal-Casasola

Year: 2017


Over the past 10 years, bones from whales and other marine mammals have been uncovered from archaeological excavations of Roman cities around the Straits of Gibraltar (Baetica and Mauritania Tingitana coasts). The high frequency of archaeozoological remains and their location within fish-preserving contexts (cetariae) has suggested the active exploitation of cetaceans throughout the Roman Imperial period (II BC - V AD). This paper reviews the evidence from Baelo Claudia, Iulia Traducta, Septem Fratres and Tamuda, the sites from which the majority of the finds are located, and where the use of salted whale meat and other products has been proposed within fish-salting factories, as noted by some classical authors (Galen, among others). This is the area of ​​the Atlantic-Mediterranean region in which the most archaeological, zooarchaeological and iconographic evidence has been documented, and which is currently being investigated to demonstrate that whaling, traditionally attributed to Basque in the Cantabrian in the Middle Ages, began in classical antiquity.

Cite this Record

Rome and cetaceans: Archaeological Evidence from the Strait of Gibraltar. Darío Bernal-Casasola. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430923)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15185