Saturday, June 23, 2007

Days 13 & 14: Burgos and Clunia

I'm back in the States now; once again wi-fi access in some of my hotels was less than promised. I have one last update regarding my trip. In days to come, I will discuss some of the topics that have been brought up in more depth.

The main objective last weekend was to make it to Clunia, formerly an important city in Roman Spain, with a total population between 30 and 50 thousand people. Today, it's in a relatively isolated area, but one with tremendous natural beauty. Thanks to help from the team currently excavating there, I was able to make a brief visit, on which more below:

Clunia was excavated in a series of campaigns beginning in the 1930s and 1960s, although only some 10% of the total area has been dug. Most of the remains date from the heyday of the city in the first and second centuries A.D. The first building you encounter as you ascent the hill on which Clunia sits is the theater, built into the natural limestone of the plateau.

My camera was running low on memory towards the end, which is why the end of the video seems a little rushed. The theater is one of the largest known from Roman Spain, and is currently undergoing further excavation, which indicates that it was transformed into an amphitheater late in its life, a transformation paralelled in other Roman towns.

On the road from the theater to the forum, you pass two large bath complexes, also dating to the late first/early second centuries. The larger of the two, Los Arcos II, is also the most fully excavated. I shot a short video of the baths, which are quite lovely. I begin by entering through what would have been the main entrance, marked by a semicircular porticoed space. The bath complex is symmetrically arranged, with one half reserved for men and the other for women. After heading towards the right side of the complex, I swing back toward the left, passing through a porticoed garden or exercise yard (palaestra), a changing room (apodyterium) with opus sectile flooring, a cold room or frigidarium with plunge bath, a warm room or tepidarium, and finally the hot room or caldarium. The latter two can be recognized by the hypocausts or suspended floors, used to circulate hot air and keep the rooms warm. To help you follow along I will include a map of my route:

Proceeding further up the hill, one comes upon a residential area, with a large house originally dating to the first century, but which over subsequent generations slowly absorbed other nearby residences until it took up an entire city block. This is House #1 or the House of Taracena, and it has some absolutely gorgeous mosaics:

More on this house later. Finally, one gets to the buildings around the forum. Clunia had a very large public area, much of which is now buried or otherwise obscured. Here is a shot of the forum as it is now; the large hummock in the distance is the podium of one of the chief temples of the colony; either a temple to Jupiter or to the Imperial Cult.

All in all a very spectacular site, which I will discuss more in future posts. The last few days of my trip were spent travelling and consulting with people about future fieldwork. I hope you enjoyed this little experiment. I learned a lot, and hope to have the opportunity to do this again and learn from the problems I encountered. Thanks for following along!


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