The Strait of Preserves

From the Garum of Baelo Claudia to the Frigate Tuna of Tarifa.

By Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Salting Factory and Cannery of Tarifa. (2012) by Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García and José Ángel Expósito ÁlvarezConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

This display offers an overview of the first photographic exhibition to be shown at the Archeological Site of Baelo Claudia, presented by the Museum of Cádiz and the Castle of Guzmán el Bueno (Castle of Tarifa), between 2016 and 2017.

The exhibition was devised as a dialogue, matching photographs connecting the classical period with the present day. It started with the link of the canned fish tradition, and the common ground of the Strait of Gibraltar.

The results of archeological digs carried out at Baelo Claudia by the University of Cádiz were connected to the tradition of the "Conservera de Tarifa" canning company.

These snapshots represent the humble image of a traditionally manual economic activity, which has always permeated the life and progress of the people of the Cádiz coast.

Baelo Claudia by the sea (2016) by Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira GarcíaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Fishing and canning towns

The coasts along the Strait have been populated with fishing and canning towns since Phoenician-Punic times. Baelo Claudia is one of the best examples of ancient urban settlements, which flourished by taking advantage of marine wealth. On the other hand, the city of Tarifa perfectly illustrates the fishing and seaside towns that have characterized the settlements along the Cádiz coast since medieval times.

Tarifa city, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2010, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Logo Cannery of Tarifa (2010) by © Conservera de TarifaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Iconographic emblems

Fish are iconographic emblems for many societies populating the coasts of the Strait. A good example is the reverse side of a bronze coin from Baelo (1st century BC) depicting a tuna fish; this exemplifies numerous coins with reverse sides using tuna as a symbol. Also shown here is the logo of Conservera de Tarifa, inspired by the Phoenician-Punic coins of Gadir (Cádiz), which also used tuna as a symbol of its economy.

Bailo coin Drawing, José Ángel Expósito Álvarez, 1st Century BC, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Logo Cannery of Tarifa, © Conservera de Tarifa, 2010, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Roman remains of tuna (5th Century BC) by Darío Bernal CasasolaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Tuna and mackerel

Tuna and mackerel have been the royalty of the sea since Phoenician times. One exhibit from the Roman period displays the remains of tuna tails (5th century AD), from the XII Industrial Complex of Baelo Claudia; they are testament to the importance of this species in ancient fish preparations. The close-up shows mackerel in the Conservera deTarifa manufacturing facilities. Mackerel is another key species, both in ancient times as well as now.

Mackerels in the factory, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2014, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Melvas (bullet tuna) in the Cannery of Tarifa factory (2015) by Laura Medina GrandeConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Everything from the sea can be used

Everything from the sea can be used. The Roman mosaic in the marine thermal baths of Baelo Claudia (2nd century AD) depicts a moray eel, sea urchins, and other fish, highlighting the Romans' regular consumption of seafood. Frigate tuna are very popular now, as seen in the factory at Tarifa. Species that were rare in ancient times are now widely consumed; new times have brought new traditions.

Mosaic of the moray, Archaeological Ensemble of Baelo Claudia, 2nd century AD, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Melvas (bullet tuna) in the Cannery of Tarifa factory, Laura Medina Grande, 2015, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Salting factory of Archaeological Ensemble of Baelo Claudia (2016) by Paisajes Aéreos S.L.Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Processing and canning factories

Shellfish farms, processing, and canning factories reveal an element of the cultural landscape of the Strait. An aerial comparison of the fishing-canning neighbourhood of Baelo Claudia, with the area occupied by canning factories in Tarifa, shows how a beach-side position enabled an easier catch process.

Cannery factories in Tarifa, Manuel Rojas, 2005, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Corridor and acces in the Cannery of Tarifa facilities (2012) by Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira GarcíaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Canning factories

The canning factories were, and still are, austere, functional, and perfectly adapted for processing fish. This is shown in the entrance to the V Industrial Complex of Baelo Claudia, one of few Roman factories to have preserved its facade and doorway in their entirety. A modern example can be seen in the corridor and entrance to the Conservera de Tarifa facilities; the layout is very similar architecturally to that of Roman shellfish farms, with reinforced floors designed for moving merchandise around.

Acces to the V factory of Baelo Claudia., José Ángel Expósito Álvarez, 2016, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Corridor and acces in the Cannery of Tarifa facilities, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2012, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Patio of the Industrial Complex VI (2016) by José Ángel Expósito ÁlvarezConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Processing rooms

Large rooms for processing and scaling: an essential element of the factory. The VI Industrial Complex of Baelo is an example from the Roman period, with a patio made from damp-proof concrete (opus signinum), and where the cleaning and processing took place. Modern arrangements are not dissimilar, as seen in the Conservera de Tarifa scaling room and loading area; this is where the workers coordinate to scale, fillet, and manually stack the fish, and is one of the busiest areas in the factory.

Peeling and stowage room of Cannery of Tarifa, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2012, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Hanging tunas (2005) by Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira GarcíaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

"Ronqueo"

Ronqueo (traditional tuna processing) is a thousand-year-old art. Remains of tuna processing were found in the excavations carried out at the Industrial Complex of Baelo Claudia in 2014. Remains of fins, spines, and "parpatanas" (cuts from between the head and body) that were buried following the filleting of the flesh are found in the excavations. In contrast, this snapshot shows tuna hanging on a boat in Tarifa, en route to the port for processing.

Remains of the cutting of tuna from Baelo Claudia, Darío Bernal Casasola, 5th Century AD, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Hanging tunas, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2005, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Salinas (First half of the 20th century) by José María Abad CasalConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

From salt to freezers

Preservation methods have evolved over time. The image of the salt mines of San Fernando, in the middle of the last century, shows the traditional system for the collection of "white gold." In ancient times, salt was the primary preservative, and as such it was key for the preserving process. These days, the freezers in the Conservera de Tarifa factory allow production processes to be controlled, and for fish to be available on demand. This represents one of the most important technological innovations in the sector.

Freezers of the Cannery of Tarifa, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2016, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Tins of mackerels (2014) by Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira GarcíaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

From amphoras to cans

A Roman amphora from the late 2nd century AD, found on the coast at Baelo Claudia, is an example of a traditional container used to preserve fish. Nowadays, cans are the most widely used containers to transport preserved fish; the image of a stack of cans containing mackerel fillets illustrates this point. Throughout medieval and modern times, wooden barrels were used to trade fish in brine.

Salting fish amphora Beltrán IIB/Puerto Real IA, 2nd. century AD, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Tins of mackerels, Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García, 2014, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Taberna of Baelo Claudia (1st half of the 1st century AD - 1st half of the 3rd century A.D.) by Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira GarcíaConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

From tabernae to gourmet stores

In the Roman period, there were stores (tabernae), such as the one illustrated on the Decumanus Maximus of Baelo Claudia, that had small salting rooms which could be used to sell fish products directly, in small quantities. A modern-day example is Conservera de Tarifa's Traditional Store and Gourmet Space. Here, they sell canned fish and other marine and fresh produce, considered authentic delicatessen products.

Traditional shop of Cannery of Tarifa, Laura Medina Grande, 2015, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Archaeologist working in the salting factories of Baelo Claudia (2014) by José Ángel Expósito ÁlvarezConjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia

Maintaining and restoring traditions 

Archeologists are trying to recover testimonies from the past, and protect the importance of garum and salted fish. This archeologist is cleaning the vertebrae of a tuna found in one of the salting factories of Baelo Claudia (XII Industrial Complex). The activity of workers in the fish canning factory in Tarifa also demonstrates the preservation of artisan traditions and professions associated with the sea. Between them they endeavor to maintain the traditions of the coastal populations of Cádiz, forever linked to the sea.

Workers in the daily job of Cannery of Tarifa., Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García., 2014, From the collection of: Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia
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Credits: Story

Organized by
Industrial Conservera de Tarifa S.L. (LLC) (conserveradetarifa.es)
Regional Government of Andalusia. Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Archeological Site of Baelo Claudia.
University of Cádiz

Collaborators
Asociación de Amigos de los Museos de Tarifa (Association of Friends of the Museum of Tarifa)
Campus de Excelencia Internacional del Mar CEIMAR (International Campus of Excellence of the Sea)
Ministry of Economy and Competition (projects HAR2103-43599P and HAR2015-71511-REDT)
Museum of Cádiz

Curators
Darío Bernal Casasola. University of Cádiz
José Luis Muñiz García. Conservera de Tarifa
Ángel Muñoz Vicente. Archeological Site of Baelo Claudia
Manuel Quero Oliván. Association of Friends of the Museum of Tarifa

Digital editing in Google
José Ángel Expósito Álvarez. Agency of Cultural Institutions.
Francisco Javier Rojas Pichardo. Agency of Cultural Institutions.

Thanks
José María Abad Casal, Manuel Rojas Peinado, and Laura Medina Grande.

Photographers
Juan Sebastián Vicente-Franqueira García. Professional photographer (juansebastiantarifa@gmail.com)
José Ángel Expósito Álvarez. Agencia Andaluza de Instituciones Culturales (Andalusian Agency of Cultural Institutions)
Darío Bernal Casasola. University of Cádiz
Laura Medina Grande
Manuel Rojas Peinado. Professional photographer (digital@fotorojas.com)
José María Abad Casal

A printed catalog of the complete exhibition from 2016 at the Museum of the Archeological Site of Baelo is available to buy.

For more information, see the Store of the Archeological Site of Baelo Claudia, and the Publications Service of the University of Cádiz.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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