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New finds at the Hispano-Roman site of Lucentum

The excavations carried out in July at the site of ancient Lucentum, predecessor of the Spanish city of Alicante, have revealed the oldest and longest road dating from the original Carthaginian settlement.

New finds at the Hispano-Roman site of Lucentum
Aerial view of the forum at Lucentum [Credit: MARQ]
This discovery has led the team of archaeologists, headed by the director of MARQ, Manuel Olcina, together with Antonio Guilabert and Eva Tendero, to determine the importance of this Carthaginian city and its urban complexity, which is evident from the dimensions of the road, indicating that it was in fact a significant settlement.

"This was the first thoroughfare and we could see that there is nothing underneath it, which is very important for the reconstruction of the history of this site," says Olcina. "We also now know that the main city gate of the first defensive walls is to be found to the right of this section of road."

New finds at the Hispano-Roman site of Lucentum
View of Lucentum amongst the backdrop of modern Alicante [Credit: MARQ]
"The quality of the paving stones that cover the road also reveals that the original city had an urban plan that is structured along two major thoroughfares, the widest of which would be this one," Olcina adds. "Moreover, the paved layers show that there were successive repairs and alterations, which means that the authorities were attentive to the road's maintenance. This shows that it is a city built with urban criteria, planned and founded from scratch where there was nothing earlier, with important avenues that define the rest of the settlement."

"The course of this avenue, which in parts reaches 5.80m. in width, was traced a few years ago when it was excavated at a point in the heart of the forum at a depth of 2.80m. There, a perpendicular street appeared to the one that has now been excavated. We then hypothesized that it should cross another at this point and now we have proved it," says Guilabert.

New finds at the Hispano-Roman site of Lucentum
Remains of houses at Lucentum [Credit: MARQ]
"The evidence for this road has led to a date of between 230 and 220 BC, the same as that seen at other sites dating back to the Carthaginian period, and the entire settlement was inhabited for only 25 years, since it was destroyed by the Romans in 209 BC. The event occurred during the Second Punic War, when other Carthaginian settlements in the Iberian peninsula were also destroyed," adds the director of MARQ.

"Following its destruction, the Romans did not occupy the site again until a hundred years later. Local conflicts led to the need to recover strategic sites and the Romans built Lucentum on the ruins of the Carthaginian city. The importance of the discovered road, which is going to be covered again so that the reconstruction project of the temple in the forum can be carried out, is demonstrated by the fact that the Romans then built one of their main thoroughfares on top of it."

New finds at the Roman site of Lucentum, in southeast Spain
Manuel Olcina, on the right, next to Antonio Guilabert and Eva Tendero, in front of the open road next to the forum 
[Credit: MARQ]
"This was an important mountain crossing, a major road axis, and when the Romans resettled the city they continued to use it, while the rest of the streets had nothing to do with the old city," Guilabert points out.

"One of the important goals in the future is to locate the city gate and to expand excavation work in other parts of the site, but it is difficult because above the Carthaginian city lies the Roman city and you have to be very careful. Up until now, all you could see in Lucentum from the Carthaginian era were some house walls and cisterns about three metres deep," says Guilabert.

"Lucentum continues to reveal information about its history. It is an icon of our past and an opportunity for our future," says César Augusto Asencio, deputy for culture. "Since its inception, the Diputación de Alicante has supervised the work of consolidation and museum work through MARQ and for almost three decades it has been responsible for excavating and transforming this Roman city into one of the most important sites in the Valencian Community."

Source: Diario Informacion [October 09, 2017]

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