Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Antonio Ruiz Castellanos, Francisco Antonio García Romero, Eugenio José Vega Geán, Inscripciones latinas de Jerez de la Frontera: epigrafía y contexto. Monografías. Cádiz: Universidad de Cádiz, Editorial UCA, 2016. Pp. 356. ISBN 9788498285819. (pb).

Reviewed by Benedict Lowe, Royal Holloway University of London (

Version at BMCR home site

Whilst recent years have seen a growing interest in the epigraphy of Andalucía, the municipality of Jerez has been largely overlooked. This volume is the first catalogue of inscriptions from the municipality; the only previous attempt is an unpublished catalogue from 1892 compiled by Augustín Muñoz y Gómez, Miguel Muñoz Espinosa and Ramón de Cala López that is now preserved in the Biblioteca Municipal of Jerez. The catalogue covers not only Jerez de la Frontera itself but also Mesas de Asta, Gibalbín and Bolaños as well as inscriptions from neighbouring areas – Sevilla, Bolonia, Jerez de los Caballeros - that pertain to the region. The volume includes 110 inscriptions, several of which are published for the first time, and each entry provides a detailed analysis of the text and its context and history, supplemented by an extensive bibliography for each inscription.

Contrary to Strabo's celebration of the writing, poetry, history and laws of Turdetania (3.1.6) the region has afforded little by way of indigenous epigraphy: only four inscriptions are included, two of which are no longer extant while the others are forgeries. The second chapter examines the most famous of the inscriptions from Jerez, the bronze inscription recording the decree of the governor L. Aemilius Paulus in 190/189 BC granting freedom to the inhabitants of Turris Lascutana. Discovered in 1867-1868 near Alcalá de los Gazules, the inscription has rightly attracted considerable attention not only for the light that it throws upon the activities of the governors and their relationship to the local population, but also for its use of archaic Latin forms such as the dipthongs ai and ei. The authors provide an exhaustive discussion of the context within which the inscription was found, the inscription itself and earlier scholarly work focusing in particular upon the identity of Turris Lascutana and its relationship to Asta Regia.

Asta Regia – modern Mesas de Asta – is the most significant of the sites in the region thanks to the excavations conducted by Manuel Esteve Guerrero in the 1940s and 50s. Nineteen inscriptions are included, including four tiles stamped with the name of M. Petrucidius the legate of either the younger M. Licinius Crassus, Octavian's colleague as consul in 30 BC, or his adopted son M. Licinius Crassus Dives, the consul of 14 BC. The following chapters focus upon the inscriptions from the town of Jerez de la Frontera and surrounding areas: Gibalbín, Dehesa de la Fantasía and Bolaños near the ancient mouth of the río Guadalete. Chapter eight catalogues nineteen inscriptions found on villas and estates from the hinterland of Jerez including a milestone of the emperor Nero from AD 57 that was discovered in 1744 on the Camino de los Romanos – possibly the Via Augusta en route to Portus Gaditanus. No trace survives of the milestone reported near the bridge over the Guadalete in 1850 (López Amador, Juan José and Enrique Pérez Fernández. El Puerto Gaditano de Balbo. El Puerto de Santa Maria Cádiz: Ediciones El Boletín, 2013 p. 160). Chapter nine examines inscriptions relating to the region from elsewhere – principally emigrants settled in other parts of the peninsula, for example, the unnamed Ceretanus at Jerez de los Caballeros and possibly the procurator Sextus Iulius Possessor who received a dedication from the scapharii (shippers of boats) that was reused in the tower of the Giralda in Sevilla.

The history of Jerez during the Visigothic and Byzantine periods remains obscure. The catalogue contains both funerary and votive inscriptions from Mesas de Asta, Jerez de la Frontera and an inscription of unknown provenance preserved in the Cádiz museum that records the death of Vigilia in 527 AD. Following the reconquest by the Visigothic King Sisebut a bishopric was established at Asido Caesarina – the earliest known bishop, Rufinus, recorded as attending the Second Synod of Sevilla in November 619. The catalogue includes two inscriptions from Jerez pertaining to the see: the first a tile bearing a chi rho and the name Aelia and the second a record from 16 March 1790 of an inscription recording the dedication of a reliquary by the bishop of Asido, Pimenius, on 25 May 648. Following a short discussion of two modern forgeries, the final chapter consists of a discussion of ceramic stamps and graffiti. Jerez lay within the economic hinterland of Cádiz and the inscriptions reflect the presence of Gaditanian families from the first century BC and the establishment of important villas and ceramic workshops.

The catalogue is complemented by a substantial and lavishly illustrated appendix (pp. 299-356) on the Roman archaeology of the province and the locations where the inscriptions were found. Some sections will appeal more to neophyte historians, for example, the section on funerary epigraphy and nomenclature (pp. 52-56), however, this will only increase the accessibility of the book to Jerezanos wishing to explore their Roman heritage. Whilst many of the inscriptions are of limited wider interest with many being fragmentary or no longer extant, this volume marks a significant expansion upon previous studies, most notably Julian González Fernández's Inscripciones Romanas de la Provincia de Cádiz (Cádiz: Diputación de Cádiz, 1982) and will be required reading for anyone interested in the epigraphy of Jerez and the history of the province of Cádiz.

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