May 14, 2021

The refuge of the legions of General Sertorio | Culture


Between the years 82 and 72 a. C., Rome lived a civil strife known as sertorian wars, and that in Hispania faced the generals Pompey and Sertorius. Now, experts from the Institute of Archeology, the University of Extremadura and the Complutense of Madrid have verified that troops of the latter – a military man who supported the Celtiberian and Lusitanian tribes– they lived with the natives in the streets of the fortified settlement built on the outskirts of the current municipality of Botija, in Cáceres. For the first time, the existence of a Roman camp within a Veton settlement has been confirmed, something completely unusual. Your name? Possibly, Tamusia, but until March, when the excavations will resume, no more data will be available.

So far, all prospecting has been done by combining four advanced detection systems. And so the structures, in addition to the city, have appeared roman quartering adhered to the walls. In any case, the scarce 1% of the excavated site so far has already given its material archaeological fruits. A mixture of utensils has been recovered from the daily life of the indigenous population with objects that are typical of the military: sling shells, amphorae imported from Italy, tableware and other personal ornaments that are characteristic of the places where soldiers from that time have lived.

In the sixties of the last century, the first investigations in the upper part of a promontory formed at the confluence of the Tamuja river and the Verraco stream. It was a Celtiberian city divided into two adjacent nuclei, one of 4.7 hectares and another of 2.4, built around the fourth and third centuries B.C.

The call Minarq project -in which the Archaeological Institute (CSIC and Government of Extremadura) and the Complutense University participates- is now investigating this site called Villasviejas de Tamuja, in which advanced non-destructive remote sensing techniques have been used. In addition to georradar, magnetic methods, electrical tomography and electromagnetic induction have been used, according to Cristina Charro, archaeologist of the Extremadura joint.

Aerial view of the Villasviejas de Tamuja site in Botija (Cáceres).


Aerial view of the Villasviejas de Tamuja site in Botija (Cáceres).

With these systems, experts have achieved – superimposing the results – an almost perfect x-ray of what the terrain hides. This has confirmed the existence of a seven-meter-wide avenue, which served as the backbone of the city, four-meter mouths, a large square and numerous buildings for the population, “examples of indigenous urban planning of the time”, such and as Victorino Mayoral, researcher of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

In one of the two urban centers of the settlement, the one that is located further south, two buildings called his attention: a quadrangular with three rooms around a corridor, from the late-republican era and possibly destined for storage, and another attached to the walls surrounding the settlement. This construction was divided into numerous battery rooms up to five meters wide each and corresponding, according to experts from the team led by archaeologist Pedro Salgado, to military barracks. “It is the first time,” adds Victorino Mayoral, “that a Roman barracks is detected inside a vetone city.” “The barracks for the legions used to settle outside. In fact, about 25 kilometers from Botija, the so-called Cáceres el Viejo is documented, which protected the Ruta de la Plata, but never inside an urban settlement ”.

Two archaeologists, in front of the remains of the wall of Tamusia, in Botija (Cáceres).


Two archaeologists, in front of the remains of the wall of Tamusia, in Botija (Cáceres).

Specialists believe that Sertorius reached a pact with local tribes and negotiated – “the generals were the true representatives of Rome,” says the historian – build the barracks within the population.

In March, the archeologists of the CSIC and the Junta de Extremadura plan to resume the excavations in the settlement, which, according to the first investigations, was abruptly abandoned and forgotten for more than 2000 years. We are very encouraged, in addition to the full involvement of the Botija Town Hall, by the combination of non-destructive methods to determine the characteristics of the deposit without damaging it. Now, we are going on insurance and trying to discover more about the life of the soldiers of Rome and the natives in the great fortified town, ”concludes Mayoral.

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