Acinipo ruins

Acinipo settlement ruins in Ronda, Málaga.

Acinipo. Its archaeological remains clearly show what it surely was a Neolithic Settlement and eventually becoming an Ibero-Roman village.

Next; we shall briefly contemplate some features which describe this place such as; the zone, morphology, location, the aproaches, the richness of the soil, geopolitical events, etc, which will help us to understand a little better, the reasons of Acinipo.

The Romans not only conquered the city of Málaga, Malaca, but also, many other places which were under Carthage power, after the punic wars in the year 218 b.C. These inland villages were fastly won over by the Romans at the beginning of the first century, being the most important, shaped into real cities, and enjoying a certain autonomy degree, but always under Roman control. The Romans unified the peoples from the coast and inner regions under the usual Roman power; furthermore, Italic peasants settled down to exploit the natural resources and introduced certain customs and habits that would change the way of life of the existing settlers.

The settlements and villages in the course of their history came gradually into due shape, and Acinipo complies, with good reasons, to meet such requirements in a prosperous way. Many iberian cities were in places so strategically located that the Romans founded their own cities on the same locations, (settlements). Acinipo flourished due to being situated alongside an active commercial axis. A seeries of circumstances takes place in the area, inviting the long-suffering man, at the time, to dwell those hill-sides. The city, in the first century a.D. under the rule of Cayo Julio Caesar Augusto was well peopled and perhaps in its height remains of slabs from tombstones, inscriptions, pedestals, necropolis, etc, have been found and it is even observed that the adjoyning zones were inhabited. Acinipo was then recognized as a city enjoying wellfare and hob-nobed along the main communication chanels, the Herculeam way, with other important cities at that time as Malaca, Hispalis, Carteia, etc.

Bética province

The remains of extant Roman ways in the area, like the Roman way, which starts in Ubrique, may very likely belong to this Augustan Way

Roman road from Benaocaz to Ubrique province of Cadiz

We have seen that after Carthage defeat in the second punic war, the Carthagenians left Hispania being their presence replaced by the Romans who had to face and quell some resistance groups like the Turdetan rebellion in 197 b. C.

First province Hispanic Ulterior Second province Hispanic Ulterior

As a consequence of the Roman victory, the provinces of Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior were founded. In the year 27 b.C. and under the Augustan Imperial reorganization, Hispania was divided into three Imperial Provinces; the Betic, the Tarraconense and the Lusitanian. The Betic was since then a senatorial province ruled by a proconsul the capital of which was Corduba. The actual Cordoba.

The Betic Roman province was out of the three, the host dinamic and economically developed of the empire being rich in resources and deeply romanized, absorbing the cities of freedslaves that togeher with a stable wealthy elite which as a social group lasted several centuties although never was exempt from disorders like the ones that took place during Septimo Severo's ruling who sentenced a great number of Betics to death, including women. The deeply romanization of the province was rewarded by the emperor Vespasiano, who granted the rights of Roman Citizenship when he enacted the Ius Latii Minor, via the proclamation of latinity that was granted not only to Betic people but also all Hispanic citizens.

Acinipo views from Grazalema site

Location of Acinipo.

As we depart Ronda, en route towards Algodonales - Seville on road A-374 and upon just crossing over the bridge of the Guadalcobacin brook. we keep on, leaving the Legion Barracks of Ronda on our left side. Now we must pay attention to the right border of the road we are on and where a small by-way MA-449 protrudes with a climb over eleven kms. in length amidst fertile farming fields, vineyards, olive groves, cherry trees, corck oaks, pasture grounds and some animal husbrandy. When finally this giant table-land mountain comes to an end. Inclined towards the east is when we find the access area to the site which together with its sorroundings was until recently times an estate with agriculture and cattle breeding. These lands were expropriated in order to deposit the remains and debris of ensuing excavations. Its exact position would be coordinates north latitude 36º49'55'' and west longitude 1º33'13''. It's bordered on by Cadiz province but belongs to Málaga province.

Morphology and orography.

The materials forming the relief of this huge bulk up to the top are mainly formed by sedimentary debris which render fertile lands throughout the whole mountain sorrounding environment which reaches an overall one thousand meters in height. This area could be marked off as the foothills of Grazalema's mountain range forming part of the sub-betic mountain range. The Betic system stretches fron the Strait of Gibraltar to the alicante province. It is made up by complex sedimentary layers tectonically overlapped dating back to precambrian times with sundry changes which took place during the Alpine metamorphic stages from the seas in the pleistocene age and dating back from 5.500 to 3.500 years. The continents from the Pangea land mass shifting along and causing the collision between the African and Euro-Asian plates, formed all these foldings, well, more or lesslike nowadays, except that we contemplate them under the point of view of past times.

Prehistory, Old Age and Copper Age in Acinipo.

Fertile fields of cereal

Probably, since Man became sedentary and evolved to form part of the Neolithic period, and also due to the richness of the soil, there were settlements at different levels. The site offers very good soils to cultivate and excellent countryside with an extraordinary visual field allowing to safely scan the arrival of undesidered visitors to the site.

In short, rich soils to mainly cultivate cereals, vineyard and water obtained this from streams and springs and was kept in small deposits and also a little lake constructed with the purpose to prevent an attack from other tribes.

Remains in stone walls or a tower

Íberians and Phoenicians both dwelt around here as testified by the remains of necropolis and other type of constructions found, pertaining to that time and occasionally sharing areas with the Celts. These areas, were gradually transformed from circular shape into rectangular plants. The Celts occupied the peninsular center, north and west.

In fact, they were a very varied group of peoples with far different cultures, which did not form a real homogenous culture, although they shared certain common features. In general and as they were far from the influence of Phoenician colonizers. The Celtic area lagged behind more.

The constructs were circular layout by changing to rectangular

Celtic influence which extended over the Guadiana and Guadalquivir rivers together with their adjoyning environments along their way to Lusitania, Roman province, nowadays Portugal, from the iron age until the Roman annexation in the first century.

This way, and from the first century on the whole part of Baeturia was integrated into the Betic senatorial province although with a different judicial-administrative dependency; while the Celtics pertained to the Hispalic juridical ethnic group, the Tordoulos remained under the depency from Corduba.

copper coin Acinipo Taking into account the amount of coins found in-situ, on which appears the name of the city on one side and a cluster of grapes on the other side of the coin. Thus, etimologically the name ACINIPO comes from the latin word Acinus, meaning a cluster and the greek synonyms to rax, or ragin and polisthis latter, city in Greek.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the year 476 a. D. the barbarian hordes and alike bands ravaged and plundered causing havoc and destruction in the third century until the city disappeared in the fith century. After the Roman Empire weakening the Iberian peninsula was invaded by German Barbarians i.e. Suevi, Vandals and Alany tribes. Under these events although Malaka and the province has lost the greater part of both her richness and splendour which had formerly attained under the Romans and that still maintained a certain grade of prosperity suffered both the distruction and plundering of her more important municipalities such as Nescania, Singila and Acinipo sites which never were either reconstructed or peopled afterwards.

Settlement of the Copper Age

We can contemplate in this picture the constructions which were transformed into small cities of circular shape as the Celts did. Turning them later on into rectangular shape constructions.

The up-to-date extant remains.

What has not been found yet in the zone and which still is pending excavation must not be scarce, together with other minor remains pertaining to former times prior to Copper Age.

A general overview of extant remains that can be seen.

The Roman Theatre with its highly built facades, deeply excavated in sedimentary rocky grounds dating backto the first century a.D. attests the reason why Acinipo has a Roma Theatre and it is because Acinipo coincided with the splendour times, when some other theatres were being built at the same time. Such as the ones; in Merida, Malaka and Sagunto, of very alike construction resembling and showing Greek influences being them all Roman Republican Cities. There also exists some scarce traces of extant remains in the zonwe where the public baths were located.

ancient Roman latrine, or private.

Some other services are also conserved in the area, such as the public latrines besides some private services which tipically would have existed in those Roman cities.

The city, itself, could have probably housed based on the size of the coliseum together with its sorrounding structures and along with the comprising area an overall environmental area, plus estimates based upon the bulk of barley and wheat cereals and the recollected grapes of up to 5.000 inhabitants, according to some sources.

However such an amount of souls seems to many Copper coins were minted with the Acinipo effigy on the one side and barley and wheat spike, or a cluster of grapes engraved on the other side. Coins which were frequently found around by local peassants while they were toiling the soils.

The photo above does not belong to the archaeological site of Acinipo, is a contemporary Latrina of the third century b.C. in the port of Ostia, very common in the Roman cities at that time

At the inclosure. Once we cross the gate and received by the keepers the first thing which attracts our attention are the huge mounds of rocks scattered throughout the site. Their only value is the efforts exercised by both peasants and cattle breeders in clearing these barren lands for further cultivation. Thus, a great amount of pieces of all sorts were found. Mainly the already described copper coins.

The site, due to its altitude 950 meters above sea level, enjoys, I dare to say, continental climate; cold air stands out in winter season and the sun overheats in summer season.

We can observe in the sequence of drawings how scanty both plants and small brushes are among their stones, taking place a slow and inexorable disintegration that should be avoided.

Upon contemplation of the roman theatre we see on the left side of the structure an interior space where the artists probably stayed on, prior to going on to stage. As we can infer from the remaining structure there should have probably been a second floor with a train of different rooms.

While climbing up the mountain in a westerly direction we come across the profile where the mountain is cut. From here, the views are astonishing. Many kms. can be seen in the distance and can appreciate Grazalema´s white houses and the high picks of its sorrounding mountains.

From Grazalema can be distinguished an huge mountain. This unmistakably mountain shows a white appearance which corresponds to the rocks forming the Acinipo mountain.

Do not miss the site. The visits are recomended mainly in the mornings from Wednesday through Sundays.


The below drawing recreates a metal-working village pertaining to a copper-iron metal age.