ZARAGOZA – Researchers from the University of Zaragoza have discovered in the archaeological area of La Cabañeta, in the province of Zaragoza, the remains of the oldest Roman forum yet found on the Iberian Peninsula.
According to Borja Díaz, a researcher at the Institute of Heritage and Humanities at the University of Zaragoza and one of the leaders of the excavation, it is a large, architecturally complex square. This square is surrounded by porticoes and contains a series of spaces that may have had a commercial function.
Unknown Roman city at this location
The researchers place the forum in El Burgo de Ebro in the last third of the 2nd century BC. Moreover, this coincides with the foundation of a Roman city at this location. Its name, however, is unknown. The city had a short life, as it was probably violently destroyed during the Sertorian Wars in the 1st century BC.
“This tragic event has made it a key location for knowledge about the Roman presence in the interior of the Iberian Peninsula, just after the defeat of the Celtiberians in Numancia,” says Borja Díaz.
Moreover, the discovery of this ancient Roman forum can supplement and also change the knowledge about the introduction of Roman architecture in Hispania during the early conquest times.
Location La Cabañeta is cultural heritage
Excavations at La Cabañeta resumed this July after a ten-year hiatus. They were led by Borja Díaz and archaeologist Alberto Mayayo, and were attended by university students and volunteers.
The systematic work on the site, categorised as a cultural heritage, began in the early 2000s thanks to the efforts of archaeologist Antonio Ferreruela Gonzalvo and Professor José Antonio Mínguez Morales of the University of Valladolid.
Storage building and public baths
Previous excavation campaigns revealed the remains of a remarkable storage building, probably used as the headquarters of an association of Italic merchants, as well as public baths accompanied by a large palaestra, considered one of the best-preserved Roman thermal sets from the Republican era in all of the Western Mediterranean.
A Roman forum was the central market square in a Roman city. The forum was used for trading and judicial and official civil meetings.