Excavations

The picture at the top shows the geographical location of each of the archaeological interventions carried out. Click on them for more information.

The excavations at Puig Ciutat consisted in opening several test trenches and their subsequent enlargement to be able to make out coherent structures: dwellings, streets, city wall, etc.
In the course of the excavation, structures and layers have been objectively documented by giving them correlative numbering and calling them ‘stratigraphic units’. For each stratigraphic unit, a written record (data sheets) and a graphic record (photograph and archaeological drawing) have been made. Almost from the beginning, the fieldwork included the use of a robotic total station and orthophotos and photogrammetric studies, considerably streamlining and improving the record.

On completion of the excavation, all the material recovered was cleaned, classified, inventoried and labelled. At the end of this process, the most outstanding material was photographed and/or drawn so as to continue studying it. In many cases, this study has provided a more exact date for the settlement or a better understanding of the day-to-day life of the inhabitants.

Building 3

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.

Building 4: exploring the northern part of area 19

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.

Building 4: area 4

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.

Building 1

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.

City Wall Buildings

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.

South-east wall

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.

East 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.

South-west surveys nos. 20, 21, 22 and 23

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.