The geophysical survey carried out in the field to the west of the site revealed a building that clearly differed from its surroundings; this was identified as “Building 3”.
In 2017, it was decided to excavate in this location with the aim of characterising this construction with regard to both its structure and function. In addition, this excavation enabled us to document more of the settlement’s urban structure.
Since that first campaign, every summer this building has been the site of a dig that is used as part of the theoretical-practical course organised for students at Edinburgh University.
The excavation has, so far, led to the discovery of an almost rectangular building, measuring 8m x 11.5m. It has two rooms in the north and a large area on the southern side, which is still being excavated.
A great deal of material has been found in this building. It tells us about both the life of its inhabitants (pottery ware for drinking and eating, game pieces, coins, etc.), and about its end, as several charcoal deposits show that it caught fire. Among the rubble of the largest room, the first anatomically connected human remains from the settlement have been found.
Anthropologist and restorer preparing to extract human remains
The wooden doorway was burned during the destruction of the settlement. From top to bottom and from left to right: when the threshold was still covered by the rubble from the walls; as part of the rubble was removed, the first charcoal pieces were exposed; the progress of the work shows how part of the clay from the fallen building was hardened by the fire (white blocks on top of the charcoal); the burned wooden lintel completely uncovered.
Excavation of the threshold of one of the doors
Top, from left to right: bronze buckle, Iberian coin and lead sling projectile. Bottom, from left to right: tip of a catapult projectile and iron key.
Example of material found during the unrestored excavations
Example of material found during the excavations
Left: small bronze medical spatula (specillum). Right: spindle whorl. Piece that is placed at the lower end of a spindle to help spin the textile fibres by twisting them.
Scattering of pottery, specifically several jars, fallen onto the floor of one of the rooms.
Several fragments of burned wood. One of them had fallen onto the mouth of an amphora from Africa that has been completely crushed.
The room contains the remains of burnt beams, iron elements possibly associated with a door, and various pottery pieces
End of the 2018 campaign
Bird’s-eye view of the two areas excavated during the 2017 and 2018 campaigns
During the 2019 campaign, the entire surface of the building was surveyed to determine its full extent.
To preserve the archaeological remains, at the end of each campaign, and as long as the building is not completely excavated, the space is covered to await the next excavation period. Once the work is finished, it will be consolidated and exhibited in a museum.
Closure of the dig
Area 19 is the second room in Building 4 that has been explored. It was excavated in autumn 2019, and it has been verified that it was a large covered space (5 x 14 m along its sides). It opened to the street located to the west, which it was separated from by a row of wooden pillars. At least two of the supporting pillars rested on a circular stone base. Due to the dimensions of this room and the large volume of material in it, it has only been possible to excavate the 5 northernmost metres of the area.
This work has led to the discovery of up to seven amphoras near the northern wall, completely crushed by rubble from the building, as well as a large rectangular structure of carbonised wood (3 x 2.5 m), which is still being studied. Also worth noting are a pair of burned wooden pillars that would probably have supported the roof and which have fallen into the space. Charcoal and groups of keys have also been found. These could correspond to part of the doors that connected the space with both area 4 and the room located to the east.
With the knowledge we currently have, it is not possible to say what the room was used for, beyond pointing out its food storage role, as suggested by the amphoras found there.
Before the excavation of area 19 began, the building was delimited following its perimeter walls.
Topography work on Building 4 during autumn 2019
Excavation work at the northern end of the area
The wooden structure has been preserved thanks to having been burned, it would otherwise have rotted and disappeared forever.
General view of the structures excavated in 2019
Fallen pillars in the north of the room
Circular support base for a wooden pillar with stone wedges
Conserved part of a wooden structure
Cleaning the carbonised structure
Protection for the carbonised structure to shield it against inclement weather
Cleaning the scattered pottery
Scattered amphoras. On the left, just at the boundary; on the right, once the upper part of the pieces had been lifted and their bases uncovered.
The geophysical survey carried out at the beginning of the project revealed, among other elements, part of the urban structure of the site. Building 4 was detected in the centre of the field. It is a large building (about 450m2), with a prominent “C” shaped room (area 4), which had apparently been burned.
The 2011 to 2013 campaigns focused on this area and demonstrated that it is a closed space, even though the east wall, which is narrower, deeper, and built with smaller stones, was not detected by the geophysical techniques. The only access to the area is on the south side.
The traces of fire were also corroborated during the excavations, as several burned beams were found, probably from an attic, which had fallen on several pottery pieces. One of the pottery pieces is a black-glazed krater from present-day Sicily, which was used to mix wine and water. The resulting liquid would have been consumed using cups, also ceramic, in this case imported from the Italian peninsula.
The presence of these elements denotes a certain level of luxury. This makes us suspect that the building could have played an important role in the settlement, although future work is needed to confirm this.
Learning to shuvle
Excavation campaign summer 2013
The "C" building from the geophysical prospecting results
Experimenting with the data, the first steps taken with the total station at the site
Wedge of an attic support pillar
Amphora crushed between two burned beams
Appearance of the area after the excavation
Aquest sondeig es va realitzar amb l’objectiu de confirmar la presència i les característiques d’un edifici de grans dimensions, que havia estat prèviament detectat per les prospeccions geofísiques.
The archaeological excavation revealed a square building, 11 by 11 metres, divided up into various rooms opening onto a central distribution space. This was reached by a passage that communicated with the building’s only entrance, open in the southern façade. The date provided by the ceramic material recovered confirmed that the building belonged to the latest phase of occupation of the settlement, in the Late Roman Republican Period.
The work revealed that the structure had been heavily affected by farming work in the field in recent times and some of the walls that divided up the complex have not survived. Despite the poor condition of the remains, carbon was found which could have been part of the door latch.
Two surveys performed in the interior of the building showed that it had been looted in ancient times, probably to recover some of the stones from the north and west walls.
Its large size make this building an important one in the settlement’s complex of buildings. According to documentary sources, a building of these characteristics could have been the praetorium, or residence of the Roman camp’s Commander, or the principia, or administrative building. In the case of Puig Ciutat, this building could have fulfilled both functions.
[left] Drawing of the structures located superimposed on the ground-penetrating radar data. [right] Interpretation of the located structures superimposed on a photograph taken from a drone.
July 2010-December 2015
Excavation work in the building
Excavation work in the western rooms of Building 1
View of the entrance and the passage leading into the building from the south. In the foreground can be seen the carbon which could have been part of the door latch
South-west section of the central building after the tops of the walls have been marked out
Two views of the test trench dug at the south-west corner of the building. The original wall can be seen damaged below the layer of small stones with which the robber trench was filled in
Magnetic surveying showed evidence of an urban layout in the north-east of the site and important signs of combustion, which could have been from fireplaces or they could have been traces of a possible fire.
The excavations confirmed the presence of archaeological materials and structures from the settlement’s three occupation phases, going from the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age (mid-9th – 7th centuries BC) to the Late Roman Republican Period (mid-1st century BC).
Five dwelling spaces and a street from the last phase were found built onto the north-eastern section of the wall. These constructs could be part of one large building combining the functions of dwelling and storage.
The state of destruction of the different rooms, with abundant crushed ceramic material above the living level, and the presence of abundant military projectiles above the ruins (indicating they were fired from outside) speak for a military confrontation which may have begun at this end of the settlement.
Excavation work in the buildings close to the Late Republican Roman wall
Surveys of the different occupation phases at Puig Ciutat (Late Bronze/Early Iron (9th – 7th centuries BC) up to the Late Roman Republican Period (mid-1st century BC)
The inner face of the wall is built over the two walls from the previous occupation phase (intermediate phase) and above the demolition level of this same phase
Photogrammetric study of the different constructions excavated at the north-eastern end of the settlement
Constructions abutting the wall
The process of excavating the hearth (redder area). At the bottom of the picture can be seen the test trench thanks to which the wall from the intermediate phase was discovered
Excavation of the floor of the hearth, made with heat-resistant ceramics
Scattered fallen material above the living level
[left] Various fallen materials (remains of animals, metal objects, etc.) above the living level. [right] Fallen dolium and amphora above the ruins of a ceiling or a first floor
Northern room abutting the wall
Articulated animal remains located under the ruins of the northern room
Projectiles located in the rooms abutting the wall
Photographs by CRBMB-Ramon Maroto. July 2011-2012.
The intervention at this point reveals the presence of one of the main entrances to the settlement in its last phase. The suspicion that it was here was based on the fact that a path to the top of the hill from the east converges here with the main street in the area, which runs north-south.
The work located two sections of wall at this point, separated by a certain difference in height between them, at the ends of which there could have been the gate. It wasn’t possible to confirm this as they have been largely flattened. Even so, this idea is backed up by the presence inside the settlement of a wall parallel to the city wall that forms an entrance passage leading to a second gate, which was found to be sealed.
The structures preserved inside the settlement are totally unknown as the area was found covered by a thick layer of stones whose purpose could not be explained. The dating of the various associated articulated animal remains gave a date for it during the last occupation phase.
As a hypothesis, it was suggested that the layer of stones could have something to do with reinforcing the area or sealing it off in the settlement’s final moments, but we shall have to wait for future campaigns to be able to corroborate this.
Fill level from the Late Roman Republican Period
Western part of the trench
Structures dated from the Late Roman Republican Period can be observed. Decembre 2014.
Part of the cranium and a bovid articulated limb
Sloping section of wall
Part of the wall and its ruins can be seen towards the slope. The wall running parallel to the city wall can be seen on the left, forming an entrance passageway. Decembre 2014.
Section of city wall (north-east stretch)
[left]. Photogrammetric study at the end of the 2014 season. [right] Location of various excavated structures
At bottom left and top right, stretch of Late Republican city wall
Work on this point was carried out with the object of finding out all about the entire stretch of city wall already located and, at the same time, to see how the structure was laid down.
The work showed that the city wall was laid down directly over earlier strata. On this side it could be seen that the walls of the intermediate phase were visible under the Roman wall. A wall was also located belonging to the settlement’s oldest phase (Late Bronze/Early Iron). This is the earliest structure located for this period.
View of the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age structures outside the Late Republican city wall
View of the Late Republican city wall from the north-east
[left]. Photogrammetric study and [right] drawing of the excavations at the end of the 2014 season
he outline of the Late Roman Republican city wall and the excavated structures can be clearly seen. Late Republican city wall and earlier structures located outside the area occupied by the Roman Republican settlement. Decembre 2014.
Surveys 20 to 23 had a common goal, which was to locate the city wall on the south side of the settlement.
Survey 20: both the geophysical survey undertaken in 2010 and the electrical tomography at the end of 2014 indicated the presence of a stretch of city wall at this point. The work made it possible to locate the defensive structure of which only one level of stones has survived.
Survey 21: no remains of archaeological interest were found at this point. The stratigraphy seemed to respond to farm work in the area.
Survey 22: surface observation of two walls at this point, plus the marked difference in height, suggested that the city wall might be found here. The work showed that they were terraced vineyards from a more recent date.
Survey 23: surface observation of a wall at this point, plus the marked difference in height, suggested that the city wall might be found here. The work showed that they were terraced vineyards.
[left] Survey 20. Section of Late Roman Republican city wall. Survey 23: View of the test trench at the end of the excavation
Survey 23: View of the test trench at the end of the excavation
Survey 21: View of the test trench at the end of the excavation
Location of the different surfaces intervened
The stretch of city wall located in survey 20 can be seen. Decembre 2014.
Electrical tomography (data acquisition by GS Ingeniería)
In red: rocky elements that could be bedrock or anthropic built elements. Decembre 2014.