Thursday, December 21, 2006


This site is quite amazing. It all started as a result of my son not being at school today and finding something to do. After a thinking session I decided to show him some history, both ancient and modern.

The modern history is the site where I work. I had heard of Carteia from another expat some time ago, but this was my first visit. I cannot recall a site with more handicaps than this one. It is hidden, no, VERY well hidden behind an oil refinery. During out time there we were the only visitors. There was no admission fee, and after a few minutes we were sorted out with a guided tour on a golf cart. The staff seemed genuinely surprised to see us. The tour guide (and administrator, workman etc.) was helpful and friendly - obviously from Andalucía but not local.

He explained that the site was first uncovered in 1927, though nothing much was done to the site until about four years ago. Because of this the site has been robbed of some items, nobody knows how many or how important.

According to our guide the site was originally Punic, but greatly extended by the Romans, and he estimates that up to 4,000 people lived there at one stage. Although clearly not on the grand scale of Rome or Mérida, I became entranced by the man's enthusiasm for the site he looks after.

Because of money constraints, only about 5% of the site has been excavated so far. Digs operate during the summer only. Uncovered so far is the temple, with a piscina at the back (see photo). The temple is partly covered by the site of a c.16th cortijo built by a Gibraltar family. They have also partly excavated the theatre on the North-East of the site, though we were not shown that. Part of the town has also been excavated and its sewers which have yielded some coins and other artifacts. A little further away is a lookout tower built by Phillip II from the Roman town walls.

I felt and mentioned to the guide that the site is like Fishbourne Roman Palace in the UK but with so much waiting the be discovered. I've entered the site on Wikimapia. You can see the ruins quite clearly - and also its appalling location!

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