Without mentioning the importance of archaeological sites Villaricos in the study of the Carthaginian and Roman civilizations, if only for his contribution to the knowledge of the history and culture of the Phoenicians, deserves to occupy pride of place in the world of archeology. And so it acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture of the Andalusian Government by stating that it is “an archaeological site known for its broad chronological sequence, with origins dating back to the Copper Age and a habitat that endures to this day altomedieval. It is known primarily as one of the key locations in the study of Phoenician colonization in the Iberian Peninsula” (Order of 14 February 2005, laying resolve inscribe, with specific character, in the General Catalog of the Andalusian Historical Heritage, as archaeological site, the site of Villaricos, situated in Cuevas del Almanzora, province of Almería. 7/03/2005).
Already in the seventh century. C. the Phoenicians, dominators of trade routes in the Mediterranean, they knew choose a strategic place to facilitate trade relations between their land to the other end of the sea with the peninsular our, for what ended up founding Baria, la actual Villaricos, enclave that allowed them to travel by boat across the river Almanzora, navigable until Rozas, and by land through the Depression Vera. At the same time, They could control the exploitation of minerals both in the district of Herrerias as in the rich Sierra Almagrera.
Probably the knowledge of the importance of this historical past Villaricos must have its weight in the decision to create last year Historical Cultural Association "Phenicia Baria Villaricos", which according to its president, Francisco Javier Fernandez Espinosa, "He was born with the idea of claiming the entrance of caves in Red [Network Route of the Phoenicians in Spain] as the main argument, at the same time we want to value the heritage and the work Villaricos Luis Siret made in the region ", adding that "it is time to ask sensitivity with hipogeos and invest in their rehabilitation and improvement, issue that is critical to getting a cultural and quality tourism product leveraging existing infrastructure, with realistic projects ".
The recuperation, study and appreciation of this past Phoenicians were the reasons why Antonio Fernández Liria, Mayor of Cuevas del Almanzora, and Arturo Ruiz, responsible for the route Spain, who, as can be read on the website of that association- signed last Thursday called "Letter of Jaén", document by which the undertakings are set to be adopted by the members of the Network, thus initiating a collaboration of great impact cultural and tourism as a catalyst aimed at promoting the regional economy resource hypogea Villaricos, where there are five Phoenician burial tombs of all fifteen there throughout Spain. The mayor of Cuevas it is "an event of great importance for our town, because of participating in an international impact platform using history and our heritage as a strategic element for tourism ".
Route of the Phoenicians, Route considered the Mediterranean Interculturalidad, It is a cultural route that passes through 18 countries and over 80 cities, and focuses on the legacy of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians from three continents. It is recognized by the Council of Europe, which aims to promote Mediterranean culture and strengthen the historical ties between Mediterranean countries. The accession of Cuevas del Almanzora this route allows the name Villaricos, Phoenician Baria, and the city itself part of a tour that served the Phoenicians to connect from the twelfth century. dec. its maritime routes as the primary means of commercial and cultural communication in the Mediterranean and through which, as experienced sailors and traders, They expanded their Western culture and civilization.
Also, as happens to other member cities Network, you belong to this route will provide the City of Caves promote his legacy as a tourist attraction throughout Europe to join their municipality of Cultural Tourism Guide Route of the Phoenicians in Spain, produced by this intercultural program, that, as we said, runs 18 countries on three continents bordering the Mediterranean, giving the opportunity to turn Villaricos a major focus of international tourist attraction.
It is common knowledge the current state of neglect, neglect and oblivion archaeological sites Villaricos in that place special place for the study of the Phoenician history have been living since the pickaxe Luis Siret give the first blows on them, Despite the exceptional nature of ad hoc and sporadic interventions whose contributions have just transpired and nothing have contributed to this municipality in most cases.
Misfortune posed to the progress of studies lethargy irresponsibly too many years maintained by different administrations, we must add other factors that blacken the state of affairs. An example is the lacerating unfairness inevitably established between the intelligent cooperation of the Government of Murcia with its University and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, in the case of culture-of which Argárica, certainly, our province is also cradle-, with what our university and our Regional Government. The, also serve as an example, insulting and derogatory use of the Phoenicians hipogeos -after a significant investment and action to put it into value- as pens to enclose cattle sheep and goats, to the inexplicable passivity and neglect of friends and strangers.
Therefore we must congratulate and commend people and organizations that have made possible the more timely accession to the Route of the Phoenicians by signing the “Letter Jaén”, especially the City of Cuevas Almanzora, University of Jaen and the Historical Cultural "Phenicia Baria Villaricos" Association. We are confident that this, in addition to the injection of enthusiasm for many cuevenses and scholars in general, new possibilities are born again and to deepen the study of the contribution of this municipality to the history and culture Phoenician, as it is seen in the formulation of some paragraphs of that “Letter Jaén”: “Support scientific research programs for the study, detection and recovery of areas that have been the scene of the Phoenician-Punic presence and protohistoric cultures like Iberian in Spain”. As well as new possibilities valuing “recent experiences in the field of tourism development of the territory and the growing need for professionalization of the sector to operate in an integrated and systematic way in the fields of culture, tourism and local development at different territorial levels in terms of sustainability” (I Assembly of the Spanish Network Route of the Phoenicians. Melilla, December 2016).
Pedro Perales Larios