Emeralds were formerly extracted from a mine at Moron, in the Sierra de Leyta; white sapphires and agates at Cape de Gata,1 at the eastern extremity of the Gulf of Almeria; amethysts at Monte de las Guardas, near the port of Plata, "in a precipice (sic) about twenty feet in depth." According to Laborde, garnets have been discovered down to modern times "in a plain half-way on the road from Almeria to Motril. They are very abundant there, particularly in the bed of a ravine, formed by rain-torrents, at the foot of a little hill, upon which a great number of them are likewise found. The emeralds are in the kingdom of Seville, all the others in that of Granada. It has been said for some time that a pit in the mountain of Bujo, at Cape de Gata, contains a great many precious stones; but none could be found there, notwithstanding the prolonged and careful searches that were lately made."
1 Possibly, as Bowles suggests, for Cabo de Agata - "Agate Cape." "It would not be strange," he adds, "if diamonds were found at this cape, since there are signs of their presence. I found white sapphires, slightly clouded, together with cornelians, jaspers, agates, and garnets."
Silver mines exist, or have existed, at Benasque, Calzena, and Bielza, in Aragon; at Cuevas, near Almeria; at Almodovar del Campo; at Zalamea, in Extremadura; at Puerto Blanco, in Seville province; in the Sierra de Guadalupe; at Fuente de la Mina, near Constantina; and near Alma-zarron, in the province of Carthagena. Not far from this latter city was another mine, that sent to Rome a daily yield of five-and-twenty thousand drachmas, and was worked by forty thousand men. Twenty thousand pounds in weight of pure silver proceeded yearly from Asturias, Lusitania, and Galicia. Hannibal extracted from a Pyrenean mine three hundred pounds a day. The fair Himilca, wife of Hasdrubal, was owner of a silver mine at two leagues' distance from Linares. Laborde wrote of this mine: "It was reopened in the seventeenth century, when a vein five feet in breadth was found, from which many pieces of silver were taken; the working of it, however, has been neglected. It belongs to the town of Baeza."
The same author, who wrote about one hundred years ago, gives curious and instructive notices of several other Spanish silver mines. "The mountains of the kingdom of Seville, on the confines of Extremadura, towards Guadalcanal, Alanis, Puerto Blanco, and Cazalla, which form a part of the extremity of the chain of Sierra Morena, contain several silver mines, which have been worked. There is one of these in the Sierra Morena, three miles from Guadalcanal, which to all appearance must have been very rich: there were three shafts for descending, the mouths of which are still to be seen: it was worked in the seventeenth century, and given up in 1653. It is believed that it was inundated by the workmen, in revenge for a new tax that was laid upon them. Another silver mine was also worked formerly, a league and a half from the other; it has a shaft, and a gallery of ancient construction; the vein is six feet in circumference, and is composed of spar and quartz. There is also a third mine, a league and a half from Guadalcanal, and half a league south-east of the village of Alanis, in the middle of a field; it is two feet wide; the Romans constructed a gallery in it, from south to north; a branch of it running eastward has been worked since their time: it originally contained pyrites and quartz, but it is by no means rich; there is lead at the bottom."
Gold mines, or traces of them, have been found in the neighbourhood of Molina in Aragon, San Ildefonso in Old Castile, and Alocer in Extremadura; in the Sierra de Leyta; in the valley of Hecho in Aragon; and at Paradeseca and Ponferrada - this latter town the Interamnium Flavium of the Romans.
It is said that the chieftains of the ancient Spaniards adorned their robes with rude embroidery worked in gold, and that the men and women of all ranks wore gold and silver bracelets. These statements cannot now be either proved or controverted. Gold or silver objects older than the Roman domination have not been found abundantly in Spain. Riafio describes a silver bowl, conical in shape and evidently fashioned on the wheel, engraved with Iberian characters on one of its sides. A similar bowl was found in Andalusia in the seventeenth century, full of Iberian coins and weighing ten ounces. Gold ornaments, such as earrings, and torques or collars for the neck, have been discovered in Galicia less infrequently than in the other Spanish regions, and may be seen to-day in private collections, in the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, and in the National Museum of Archaeology.1 Villa-amil y Castro has written fully of these torques (Museo Espanol de Antigiiedades, Adornos de oro encontrados en Galicia). In nearly every case, he says, they consist of a plain gold bar, C-shaped and therefore not completely closed into a ring, and with a knob at each extremity, as though their pattern were suggested by the yoke of cattle. One or two are decorated with a somewhat rude design extending through a portion of their length.
On one of these occasions a pair of curious, kidney-shaped earrings was found, together with a torque. These earrings, apparently of later workmanship than the other ornament, are decorated over all their surface, partly with a filigree design, and partly with a fine, beadlike pattern executed with a small chisel or graving tool in the manner known in French as fuse, guilloche, or hachie. Their material is hollow gold, and when discovered they were filled with a substance resembling powdered charcoal, mixed with a metallic clay.
1 A fresh find of torques and fibulae has occurred in the spring of this year at La Moureta, near Ferrol.
These ornaments are ascribed by most authorities to an undetermined period somewhere previous to the Roman domination. I think, however, that less improbably they were produced by Spanish craftsmen in imitation of the Roman manner, and during the time of Roman rule in the Peninsula. This would account for their deficiencies of execution, and also for certain characteristics which they evidently share with Roman work.