Italica, was a great Roman city in the Hispanic province of Baetica and the birthplace of Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Placed 9 km NW of Seville, Spain is the town of Santiponce in modern days. Italica was founded in 206 BC by the great Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio (Africanus) to settle his victorious veterans after the Second Punic Wars against Hannibal and the Carthaginians. The city was built upon a native Iberian town from the Turdetani, dating back to the 4th c. BC. Italica could have been named after the Italian origin of the veterans or directly after the Italian peninsula, for it was the first city founded outside this territory.
The vetus urbs (old city) developed into a prosperous city and was built on a Hippodamian street plan, with public buildings and a forum at the centre, linked to a busy river port. At some point members of the Roman tribes Gens Ulpia and Aelia had moved to Italica, as these tribes were the respective families of the Roman emperors Trajan (97-117) and Hadrian (117-137) who were later born here.
Italica thrived under the patronage of Hadrian, like many other cities in the empire under his influence at this time, but it was especially favoured as his birthplace. He expanded the city northwards as the nova urbs (new city) and, upon his request, elevated it to the status of colonia as Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica. He also added temples, including the enormous and unique Trajaneum in the centre of the city to venerate his predecessor and step father, and rebuilt public buildings. Public services for water drains and gutters were also created.
The city started to dwindle as early as the 3rd century; a shift of the Guadalquivir River bed, probably due to siltation, a widespread problem in antiquity that followed removal of the forest cover, left Italica's river port high and dry while Hispalis (modern Seville) started to grow nearby. The city may have been the birthplace of the emperor Theodosius I too.
Italica was important enough in late Antiquity to have a bishop of its own, and had a garrison during the Visigothic age. The walls were restored by Leovigildo in 583 AD during his struggles against Hermenegildo.
As no modern city covered many of Italica's buildings, the result is an unusually well-preserved Roman city with cobbled Roman streets and mosaic floors still in situ. Many rich finds can also be seen in the Seville Archaeological Museum, with its famous marble colossus of Trajan.
The site has been excavated extensively and some renovations have been done recently. The small baths and the Theatre are some of the oldest visible remains, built in the time of Augustus. Italica’s amphitheatre was the third largest in the Roman Empire at the time. It seated 25,000 spectators, about half as many as the Colosseum in Rome. The central pit was used for animal cages (bears and wild boars) during gladiatorial combats. In 2016 it was used as a filming location for the internationally famous TV show Game of Thrones.
Beyond this, on and around the wide main avenue or Cardus Maximus, about five large houses of prosperous families have been excavated, some with well-preserved, colourful mosaics, including floors with exquisite design of birds, the Neptune Mosaic, the Birds Mosaic, the Planetarium Mosaic, the mosaic of Hylas, and the Rhodian Patio. These mansions measured up to 15,000m2. The remains of the Traianeum, temple of the Emperor Trajan, Termas Menores and Mayores (baths), and the sophisticated sewer system normally seen in larger cities can also be seen here.
The Traianeum was a large imposing temple in honour of the Emperor Trajan, built by his adopted son and successor, Hadrian. It occupies a central double insula at the highest point of nova urbs. It measures 108 x 80 m and is surrounded by a large porticoed square with alternating rectangular and semicircular exedra around its exterior housing sculptures. The temple precinct was decorated with over a hundred columns of expensive Cipollino marble from Euboea and various fountains.
The aqueduct of 37 km total length was first built in the 1st c. AD and extended under Hadrian to add a further spring to supply the expanding city. It fed a huge cistern at the edge of the city which remains intact. Some of the pillars of the arches are still visible near the city.
Also worth visiting is Cotidiana Vitae, a Roman-themed visitor centre in Santiponce, with a reconstruction of a 2nd century AD Roman house, complete with bedrooms and kitchen, a plan of how Italica would have looked like, and an audio-visual presentation showing the construction of the Roman town.
The House of Cañada Honda.
The excavations started in the seventies directed by prof. Luzón. The perimeter of the house of Cañada Honda was found and some of the walls restored, but most of the work was surface cleaning. Now, there is a two-year project to deeply study and excavate the house, of which one third of the plant still unknown.
This is not just any Domus. Although in Italica most of them are wealthy houses, this one is located on the street that leads to the Traianeum, the biggest temple to worship the emperor in Hispania and that is believed to have the same scheme as the library of Adrian in Athens. The house faces two streets with numerous tabernae that give a sense of the important role of commerce in this area of the city close to the temple.
This house has something very rarely found before the IVth century. In the peristilum (garden), surrounded by brick columns, there was a ninfeum (fountain) surrounded by a stabadium (semicircular bed) for feasting. This could be an early triclinium, a place for gathering and celebrating big banquets. There is only another example in Villa Adriana in Tivoli.
As a curious fact, the colossal forearm that is now in the Archaeological Museum of Seville was located in one of the taverns of this house that overlook the street that leads to the Traianeum.
dates & fees
Program Dates 2018:
May 27 – June 16
Program Fees Include:
• Full Room and Board
• Fieldwork training
• Excursions and other activities
• Transportation to and from airport on first and last days of program
• Medical Insurance
• Application fee
• Administrative costs
Part of your fee will go toward the research project.
Fees DO NOT include airfare.
To reserve a space, you must pay a $300 application fee. (Included in the price of the program).
The remainder of the program cost will be due by May 10th.
Application fees will be refunded if the applicant is not selected.
Rolling application. We accept applications until all spaces are filled.
Cancellation and Refund Policy:
-Before March 1st: All payments, except for $50 from the application fee, are refundable.
-Between March 1st and April 10th: Application fee non-refundable. The remaining balance is refundable.
-After April 10th: All payments are non-refundable unless your application is rejected by the program director.
You should begin making travel arrangements as soon as your place in the group is reserved, and you should complete them upon being notified of your selection. We strongly recommend that participants purchase travel insurance to cover all needs including medical, accident, baggage loss, delays and personal liability. ArchaeoSpain is not a travel provider nor is a registered travel agent. Your travel arrangements to and from Spain are subject to the terms and conditions of your travel agency. In the rare event that the program is cancelled, ArchaeoSpain will refund program fees, but is not responsible for non-refundable airline or other tickets or payments or any similar penalties that may be incurred. It is your responsibility to protect yourself against airline and travel agency cancellation fees.
All ArchaeoSpain participants are covered with an insurance packet that provides medical and surgical treatment and prescription drugs in case of accident or sudden illness. This insurance also provides some compensation for baggage loss or theft. With your program packet we will send you more details regarding this coverage, but you may contact our staff for more information.
European students should bring an EHIC card with them.
Right of Refusal:
ArchaeoSpain reserves the right to refuse an applicant’s selection. This is a rare occurrence and is most likely due to a person’s inability to meet health requirements or in the interest of group compatibility. Once in the field, the program director and ArchaeoSpain reserve the right to send a participant away from the program should that person’s behavior compromise the safety, research objectives and general performance of the group, or violate Spanish laws, regulations or customs.
ARCHAEOSPAIN GROUP LEADER
It is difficult to visit Sevilla without falling in love with the city. Its historic centre, towered over by a colossal Gothic cathedral, is a crazy mix of resplendent Mudéjar palaces, baroque churches and winding medieval lanes. Flamenco clubs keep the intensity of this centuries-old tradition alive whilst aristocratic mansions recall the city’s past as a showcase Moorish capital and, later, a 16th-century metropolis rich on the back of New World trade. We won't be able to see all its wonders in one or two days, so we will take advantage of its proximity to enjoy the city on several evenings.
For years, Seville has been the scene of films and TV shows. Films like Lawrence of Arabia or Kingdom of Heaven have been filmed in the city. But perhaps the brightest stars in cinematographic Seville are the "Palace of the Kingdom of Naboo", of Star Wars (Plaza of Spain), the "Palace of the Kingdom of Dorne" (Royal Alcazar of Seville) and Dragonpit (Amphitheater of Italica) of Game of Thrones.
Baelo Claudia is an ancient Roman town situated on the Costa de la Luz, some 15km north of Tarifa, next to the town of Bolonia and the beautiful beach. Its history lies in the trade routes serving Europe and North Africa - the town's strategic position on the coast near the Straits of Gibraltar made it a crucial stopping-off point between the two continents. The ruins of Baelo Claudia, with its impressive temple, forum and basilica, and especially the large fish-salting factory, show how important the town was. Deriving its wealth from the fishing industry, Baelo Claudia supplied the popular Roman delicacy, garum (fish paste) to the whole Roman Empire. It was thriving at the time of Emperor Claudius (41-45 AD), who gave the town his name.
Cadiz stands on a peninsula jutting out into a bay, and is almost entirely surrounded by water. Named Gadir by the Phoenicians, who founded their trading post in 1100 BC, it was later controlled by the Carthaginians, until it became a thriving Roman port. It sank into oblivion under the Visigoths and Moors, but attained great splendour in the early 16th century as a launching point for the journey to the newly discovered lands of America.
Cadiz was later raided by Sir Francis Drake, in the struggle to gain control of the trade with the New World, and managed to withstand a siege by Napoleon's army. In the early 19th century Cadiz became the bastion of Spain's anti-monarchist, liberal movement, as a result of which the country's first Constitution was declared here in 1812.