THE ROMAN CITY OF POLLENTIA

Roman consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus conquered Mallorca around 123 BC and it is thought that Pollentia was founded between 70 and 60 BC during Pompey's bid to vanquish pirates from the Mediterranean.

Pollentia soon became the main urban settlement on the island, named a Roman colony during the reign of Augustus.

In the 1920s historians discovered Pollentia's ruins in the modern town of Alcudia.

SEE AERIAL MAP OF POLLENTIA HERE

They are the best preserved Roman remains on the island and they have become an important reference for the study of the introduction and spread of the Roman culture in the Balearic Islands. Systematic excavations at Pollentia began in the 1950s under the auspices of the William L. Bryant Foundation, a U.S. project linked to Dartmouth College.

The foundation oversaw the dig until 1997, when the current archaeological team took over. To date, archaeologists have uncovered three main areas: a residential quarter, the theater and the Forum.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT POLLENTIA IN 'CURRENT WORLD ARCHAEOLOGY' MAGAZINE

In the residential area of Sa Portella archaeologists excavated the remains of three houses. Two of the homes bear colorful names: The House of the Bronze Head, because diggers found the bronze head of a young girl in one of the rooms, and the House of the Two Treasures, because of two coin hordes found dating to the mid-3rd century and the late 4th century.

This 10-room house, which dates to the Augustan period, is the best preserved domus in Pollentia.

Also built during Augustus' reign, on the outskirts of the settlement, the theater's foundations were carved into the bedrock. Eleven rows of seats remain. Following its use as a theater toward the end of the Empire, Pollentia's inhabitants used the spot as a cemetery as some of the tombs are visible in the rock.

The ArchaeoSpain group will focus its research and work on the Forum, the city's public square. Over the years archaeologists have uncovered the remains of several temples, platforms and altars, in addition to an open space lined with tabernae (shops). The constant activity in antiquity in the Forum makes for a complicated but exciting archaeological project, and each year's work helps clarify the chronology of the structures being uncovered.

Archaeologists at Pollentia have also excavated more than 200 graves dug into the Forum layers, suggesting that the plaza ceased to be used as such sometime during the 4th century.

A summary of the Bryant Foundation's work at Pollentia can be found here.

Reading Material:

Orfila Pons, M.; Chavez Alvarez, M. E.; Cau Ontiveros, M. À. "Pollentia and the Cities of the Balearic Islands." Early Roman Towns in Hispania Tarraconensis, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series, 62 (2006). Portsmouth, Rhode Island. pp. 133-145.

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