Methodology

Regarding the methodology, it will get properly adequate to the scope of our field of study that, as previously mentioned, is a multidisciplinary one. For this reason, we have gathered a work team with such features. Each of us is specialised in a particular field of medieval history, but we all share a common factor: we are all medievalists working on the history of Western Islam. The first step is the collection and creation of a bibliographic repertoire on the subject. Therefore, the intention is to formulate a status of the issue about the southeastern cities of Al-Andalus and the Riff, and about the exchanges between both littorals in accordance with the historiography and the archaeological works. This will lead the way to the study and revision of the different kinds of sources, especially the geographical ones in Arabic dealing with the description of what they call “Magrib al-‘Arab” (“the West of the Arabs”), expression that includes both Al-Andalus and north of Africa. And this is because the Arab geographers have been specially interested in the physiognomy of the cities as well as in the products, the ethnological aspects of the populations and even the taxes, as in the case of Ibn Ḥawqal (9th century). In any case, other sources, like the Latin texts, will not be disregarded, either. We know first-hand that there is evidence of the activities of the Aragonese and Italian merchants in the corresponding archives of these communities. For this reason, it would be interesting to revise all this documentation from a new perspective. Ultimately, we also have chronicles and documents in Hebrew. These, frequently drafted in the Arabic language with Hebrew letters, have turned upside down our knowledge on the Mediterranean commerce in the last century. We are especially referring to the important vein to exploit with the Hebrew documents of the Genizah, discovered in Cairo and whose classification and edition were started by Shelomo D. Goitien (1960), who, not without certain exaggeration, spoke about some kind of “free trade” in the Mediterranean, a thesis radically opposed to H. Pirenne's theory in Mahomet et Charlemagne (1937). 
 
Another route planned for exploration will be the analysis of the cartography and planimetry—both modern and historical— of the area, in direct relation with the archaeological work developed in the second phase. In this sense, it is of great value the nineteenth-century French cartography and the one the geographical institutes have been generating so far. With this, we aim at collecting the interesting toponymy, the morphology of the coasts and their evolution, with special emphasis on the port areas. All this will surely help us for the second phase, centred on the archaeological visits and activities. 
 
Thus, the next phase, undertaken simultaneously to another team section committed to the study of documents, will consist of the development of a programme of archaeological visits, prospections and studies in certain locations of the coasts. In this sense, we have resolved to start from the area between Jate and Torre del Mar, in the province of Malaga, and, in the north of  Africa, from the territory between Al-Mazamma (port and dockyard) and Qart Wādī-l-Baqar. Our main goal here is to sound two port areas directly interconnected through their harbours in a constant way, as the sources attest. Al-Mazamma (in Alhucemas), which was already studied more than half a century ago, and whose results should be revised, is the port and dockyard of the well-known city of Nakūr, and gets quoted throughout the Medieval Ages. According to Arab authors, it took between one and half a journey to get to the Iberian Peninsula from there. Regarding Jate or Jete, depending on the source, it is found next to La Herradura (Almuñecar), and it presents a port whose weight would be worth an approach. In principle, our archaeological acting will be non-destructive and on the surface, and it will include from the collection of archaeological material, previously authorised by the corresponding authorities, to the study of emerging structures. In respect of the prospecting, the methodology to follow will be the examination of the field by transects—lineal track—on the plain areas, and through spiral tracks on the hills and buttresses, combing the whole surface for prospection, through the equidistant location of, at least, two technicians spaced at an interval of two metres. Meanwhile, regarding the study of facings, the typical methods of archaeology will be followed, consisting, basically, of the adaptation of facings to the stratigraphic principles outlined by Edward C. Harris in 1973. The wall structures are conceived, thus, as vertical stores of stratified historical information, since there is a series of structural actions on every building, either in addition or subtraction, leaving marks and getting ruled by the same principles of the archaeological stratification.      
 

 Al-Mazamma, port of Nakur (Rif, Morocco)

Translated into English by Luis F. Bravo Morales, luisbravomorales[arroba]lenguasmodernas.com