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History of Jamilena

Jamilena History

by Saskia Mier

The known origins of Jamilena extend back about 2,500 years. Its early settlement was testified by the 1931 discovery of a necropolis and series of tombs in La Dehesa. Archaeological excavations on this site suggest a population nucleus of Iberians around the fifth century BC. However, this necropolis is predated further by the series of arrowheads and lithic instruments discovered in El Calvario by the Franciscan archaeologist Alejandro RecioVeganzones, which are thought to have belonged to the Palaeolithic period, specifically to the Solutrean industry.

During the Roman era, Lusitanian leader Viriato was defeated at the hands of the Roman general,Q. Fabio Máximo Serviliano in the mountains near the city of Tucci (Martos). This defeat meant the loss Viriato’s power over the people of this territory and its conquest by the Romans. The Romans established the new town in an area close to the ancient Roman road that was a tributary of the road that linked Écija with Cástulo.

The concession by the Emperor Octavio Augusto (first century) of the honorary title of Colonia Augusta GemellaTuccitana to the area between Martos (Tucci), Torredonjimeno and Jamilena made this area a place where several veteran Roman legionaries settled. This debate was already discussed in the eighteenth century. Two epigraphic remains are known from Roman times, one of which is now missing. The first refers to the tombstone seen by Diego de Villalta in the sixteenth century, which references Emperor Augustus. The second, although originally from Jamilena, is currently embedded in the walls of the Dominican Convent of Torredonjimeno, and this tombstone is where the Roman colony is mentioned.

There is not much historical and archeological data on the local settlement of the Visigoths, but inTorredonjimeno, an extraordinary treasure from that period was found. However, the latest research carried out in the mountains near Jamilena has brought to light interesting conclusions about the ruralizationof this territory during the Visigoth period. Thus, a phenomenon similar to the Italian incastellacions took place, that is to say, the passage from flat areas to mountainous ones. This process of ruralization has been interpreted as the abandonment of late Roman structures as a consequence of the collapse of the State and the pressure that it and the nobles had on the rural population. In this way, the peasant population moved to areas at the foot of the mountain, as is the case of the highlands between Jamilena and Torredelcampo.

The various late Roman settlements that existed in the territory continued to be occupied until the arrival of the Moors in 711. After the conquest, these settlements became small farmsteads that took advantage of the many springs that flowed at the foot of the mountains. Jamilena was formed as one of the rural nuclei between the old road that joined Yayyan (Jaén) and Tuss (Martos). A thirteenth-centuryMoorish castle, since disappeared, once controlled these roads. Later,thesame castle passed into the hands of the Order of Calatrava after the cession of Martos and its territory to the Calatravos by King Fernando II “El Santo”, on December 8, 1228.

The cession of this territory led to the creation of the Encomienda Calatrava de la Peña de Martos, to which other towns, in addition to Jamilena, such as Torredonjimeno, Higuera de Calatrava or Lopera, belonged. At that time,Jamilena (or Gimilena as it appears in the documentation of the time) was an agricultural community formed of numerous orchards irrigated by springs and surrounded by mountains. Being part of the vast dominion of the Order of Calatrava, the Encomienda de la Peña de Martos had several assets in the term of Jamilena, in addition to the right to collect tithes. These assets included a garden called Palacio Huerta, a bread oven and farms that respectively produced and managed tiles, olive trees, meadows and pastures.

Conflicts developed throughout the late medieval period, until, in 1251, the uncertainty of terms between the lands of the Council of Jaén and the possessions of the Calatravos resulted in the demarcation that Fernando III made in this territory. This was later ratified by his son Alfonso X, and they extended until the Modern Age.