Skip to comments.Spain destroys lost Roman city for a car park
Posted on 04/30/2006 4:38:05 PM PDT by gd124
THE archeologists could barely hide their excitement. Beneath the main square of Ecija, a small town in southern Spain, they had unearthed an astounding treasure trove of Roman history.
They discovered a well-preserved Roman forum, bath house, gymnasium and temple as well as dozens of private homes and hundreds of mosaics and statues one of them considered to be among the finest found.
But now the bulldozers have moved in. The last vestiges of the lost city known as Colonia Augusta Firma Astigi one of the great cities of the Roman world have been destroyed to build an underground municipal car park.
Dr Sonia Zakrzewski, a senior lecturer in archeology at Southampton University who has worked on the site, said: It is a real shock when things like this happen. I am surprised it has gone ahead. There is no doubt this site is of fundamental importance to archeology.
Much of the site has been hurriedly concreted over: the only minor concession to archeologists and historians, is to leave a tiny section on show for tourists. The rest will be space for 299 cars.
The Roman city has proved to be one of the biggest in the ancient world. Its estimated 30,000 citizens dominated the olive oil industry. Terracotta urns from Ecija have been discovered as far away as Britain and Rome.
The region produced three Roman emperors Trajan, Theodosius and Hadrian and the research has shown that Ecija was almost as important in the Roman world as Cordoba and Seville.
The socialist council says that had it not dug up the main square, Plaza de Espana, to build the car park in 1998, the remains would never have been found. But it insists the town must press ahead with the new car park.
Nonsense, says the towns chief archeologist, Antonio Fernandez Ugalde, director of the municipal museum. For some reason, the politicians here think it is more important to park their own cars. It simply does not make sense.
But despite opposition from numerous other archeological groups and the Spanish Royal Academy of Art, there is now no possibility of restoring the 2,000-year-old Roman town.
The most exquisite discovery was a statue, known as the Wounded Amazon, modelled on an ancient Greek goddess of war. Only three other such statues are known to exist. The one in Ecija is in by far the best condition with some of its original decorative paint intact.
Juan Wic, the mayor, who is responsible for the car park project, said he was happy to have kept one of his main election pledges. He said it was essential for the commercial future of the square and city
They pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
Thank god he got rid of that 2000+ year old architecture. What an eyesore that would have been.
Didn't we just hear something very similar last week about keeping illegals so congress would have well maintained golf courses?
Dead Italians don't vote, living Spaniards with cars do.
What would we learn from this site that already has not been discovered?
I certainly believe we should preserve ancient sites that would add to our fundamental knowledge of the Roman empire we don't know.
I find it sort of bizarre that people in 4,500 AD would find Tampa, Fl or any other city so interesting as to want to preserve it.
Ah, the Punic Curse! Roman civilization is defeated by the Philistines.
Simply barbaric. No other way to describe this travesty.
Isn't Socialism grand?
Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got till it's gone.
Can you not see the great value and pricelessness of a typical car park? A new car park is surely more valuable and satisfying than the old run of the mill, one of a kind lost city from the Roman Empire. /sarc
Especially the Lower Nine.
My reaction also. I'm sure they posted notice the ancient city would be destroyed, so anyone could object - In an unlit basement behind a door that said "beware of the leopard."
How can we say up front what we'd learn about a dead civilization? That's a kooky premise from the git-go.
We have plenty of records from our civilization. Typing is a lot easier than etching into stone. There are not all that many records of what the Romans were like, let alone actual physical artifacts.