Excavations at Lucentum unearth the furnace of the Popilio baths

In the 30s of the last century, Figueras-Pacheco he first excavated the Popilius Baths in the ancient city of Lucentum. They were not the only ones in the city, but they showed their interest, as part of the building had the “signature” of the person who paid for its construction. Later, it was in the 90’s. Provincial Archaeological Museum Diputación has consolidated the finds and since 2000 dressing room dug. Now, the work carried out in the region Tossal de Manises site in Alicante brought to light this is the furnace of hot springs and also in a perfect state of protection.

The significance of this find may lie not only in the location of the structure, but also in its appearance. Fully document one of the most important buildings in the city.

MARQ and also the director of this excavation campaign, Manuel Olcina, eve shopkeeper Y Anthony Gilbertassuring that they know the oven is there because they show it. cousins ​​of a belt, but it can correspond to this structure or be reused. “But it was indeed there, plus the full arch that forms the mouth of the furnace and communicates with the room below the building’s floors to heat it has been preserved.”

A piece of clover found near the oven. COLUMN CORTES

What emerges is a “rather irregular” semicircular arch, but the arches are “well made and the channel is lined with refractory brick, because the excessive heat will crumble the rock.” can also be seen where was the bonfire and on the sides they can be seen “like hooks to place a grill of some kind where they will put it”. a boiler to heat watera”.

Roman baths were heated by air passing under the floor, and the source of this hot air was the burning of wood to obtain heat. hypocaustYou can also see rooms made of bricks where the air coming out of the chimneys circulates. “It’s like underfloor heating,” says the archaeologist.

Heat binds water through air. “There’s probably a boiler pouring hot water from a lost pipe. What happens? Maybe it wasn’t enough and they adapted an old cistern as a boiler as well, so there were two. provide hot water to the tub. It was a very sophisticated system.”

The baths, consisting of hot and cold baths, were used daily.” It was a dense and much admired building, actually, in fact, it is usually built next to the forum, as in this case, because people were working and when they were done there. It was a year”.

The peculiarity of this structure is that there was a time when the locker room was closed “due to a problem with the floor, because it had a natural crack and possibly sunk”, and it was freed, Marcus PopiliusThe person who financed the construction of that facility on the other side of the hot springs is well known because he left a kind of stone bench with his name on it.

Baths, from the reign of Augustus At the end of the 1st century BC, and Popilius’ reform after 23 AD. “We know because a Cartagena coin minted in the 23rd was found on the pavement of the site he was building, so it must have been much later.”

Image from excavations in an area of ​​the Popilio baths. COLUMN CORTES

The MARQ director points out that these spas are small, “but they’re fine for the size of the city at the time.” bigger hot springs of the wall located on the other side of the city and built later first half of the 1st century our age. “They were more modern, Popilios were made using ancient techniques.” In fact, he says, “They make a tub very similar to the one in the Pompeii republican baths.”

Now, “We already know how this structure worked, what its history was, we know all the parts, how it was made, how it was made, and of course it was very satisfying because we found the furnace intact. All the pieces. harmony and now our task is to document, prepare the memory and publish it” . And for next year’s campaign “a museum project dig, lay panels and fix the walls of the furnace”.

Excavations also uncovered “important materials such as fragments of lanterns, some interesting small ceramic bottles, or an almost complete amphora.”

Deposit investments

On behalf of the Cultural Assistant, Julia ParraWith MARQ staff, a 14-member team led by Manuel Olcina, and volunteers, “significant progress has been made in archaeological research at the site” and also “pre-pandemic participation has recovered”. “We should be especially grateful for the work this year focused on exploring the uses and physiognomy of symbolic structures as well as Roman baths.”

In this sense, it assures that the Alicante Provincial Council has a commitment from the field of Culture that “continues its commitment to invest in six sites of great value on the archaeological map of Europe”.

Source: Informacion


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