The Encebro, a wild Iberian equid, left an indelible mark on the Iberian Peninsula before facing extinction in the 16th century. Standing at an impressive 1.30 meters and weighing 300 kilograms, this equid outpaced domestic horses in speed, as recorded in medieval texts from the kingdoms of Castile, León, and Portugal. References abound in up to 80 Castilian and Leon “fueros” (See below) from the 12th and 13th centuries, offering a glimpse into its significance in the region’s history.
The Swift Legacy: Last Mentions and Geographic Range
One of the final references to the Encebro can be found in a report from 1576 in Chinchilla (Albacete), ordered by royal officials of Philip II. Describing the land as home to many zebras, akin to ashy mares with hair the color of rats, the report attests to their remarkable speed—so swift that no horse could catch them. Thanks to such detailed documentation, researchers have traced the equid’s geographic range, determining its expansion in the 12th century from the entire Western Peninsula to Extremadura, the eastern Castilian Plateau, and throughout the interior lands of Andalusia and Murcia.
Beyond Documentation: Clues from Ekain Cave and Artistry by Jose Ramon Castello
While historical records offer valuable insights, additional indications, such as the rock caves of the Ekain (Deva, Guipúzcoa), hint at a potentially broader expansion. The intricate details of the Encebro’s existence and range are further illuminated through the plate and infographic crafted by the talented Jose Ramon Castello, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of this fascinating chapter in Iberia’s natural history.
Visit the caves of the Ekain
Discover the Basque coastline’s most stunning cave paintings, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, through a journey for all of your senses, to the origins of culture on our planet through this magnificent replica. Get the most out of your visit by experiencing how the people who inhabited this place 14,000 years ago lived, how they hunted and how they made fire.
What does “fueros” mean?
The term “fueros” refers to a set of legal codes or charters that were prevalent in medieval Spain. These charters typically granted specific privileges, rights, and exemptions to a particular town, region, or group of people. The fueros were often granted by monarchs or other authorities and served as a kind of legal framework for the respective communities. They covered a range of issues, including local governance, taxation, and judicial matters. In the context of the provided text, the mention of “Castilian and Leon fueros from the 12th and 13th centuries” indicates that references to the Encebro were found in legal documents from these regions during that historical period.
Zebras owe their name to the Portuguese because of an Iberian horse or donkey called zebra (Equus hydruntinus), which had a list on its back and stripes on its legs, extincted in the Sec. XVI.
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