, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 113–123 | Cite as

The Significance of “White Macael” Marble Since Ancient Times: Characteristics of a Candidate as Global Heritage Stone Resource

  • R. NavarroEmail author
  • D. Pereira
  • A. S. Cruz
  • G. Carrillo
Original Article


The ornamental use of marble from Macael region (Almería, southeast of Spain) began more than 5000 years ago. The first small objects are from the Neolithic period (3400–3000 B.C.) and the first known sculptures are from the Phoenicians period (fifth century B.C.) Since then, the marble’s use has been continuous, especially since the eleventh century. Some of the best known examples of Macael marble in Spain can be observed in Roman cities (e.g., Itálica), in Muslim buildings (e.g., Mosque of Córdoba or the Alhambra palace), or in Renaissance buildings such as the monastery of El Escorial, among many others. Some are declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. This makes the region one of the most important extraction centers in Spain, both at present and historically. The oldest and most famous variety of marble is known as White Macael (Blanco Macael). There are other marbles such as Gray Macael, Anasol Yellow Macael, and serpentinites which are traded as Green Macael. These have less importance in terms of their use in heritage but great importance in current regional trade. In this work, we provide a full characterization of the main characteristics of the White Macael marble from Macael and propose it as a candidate for “Global Heritage Stone Resource.” This work is important for duly recognizing a natural stone that has been used profusely in heritage buildings in the past and present with important international significance.


Natural stone Macael Marble Global heritage stone resource Heritage 



The authors want to thank the association “Macael Antigua” and the Association of Marble Businessmen of Andalucía (AEMA) for the supply some pictures and data to improve this work. IUGS and UNESCO are acknowledged for the continuous support of the research on natural stones and their implication in cultural heritage recognition through IGCP-637.

Our sincere thanks go to Nate Lawrence (Iowa State University) for his linguistic revision and suggestions to improve this paper.

The authors thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped to improve this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Cestema Ingeniería MineraAlmeríaSpain
  3. 3.Asociación de Empresarios del Mármol de Andalucía (AEMA)AlmeríaSpain

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