Years of work, effort, and dedication have borne fruit in the form of a project that has exceeded expectations and gone beyond previous limitations of excavation in classical archaeology. The rebirth of Cástulo is now a fact. This ancient city, which was once the capital of the Iberian region of Oretania, has returned to life. The walls of the city’s buildings and the spaces where its population lived are rising from their slumber. We’re beginning to see Cástulo as a living space, a city whose streets can be walked, a meeting-place, a place where people from different cultures and nationalities can share unique and unforgettable experiences.
The Cástulo Archaeological Group (Conjunto Arqueológico de Cástulo), which joins together the site and the Archaeological Museum of Linares, manages a total of 3,141 hectares, including parts of the municipalities of Linares, Lupión, and Torreblascopedro. In 1972, the group came under state control, and since 1984 it has been part of the Andalusian Cultural Council. The urban center covers 76.5 hectares of public property. It is surrounded by fortifications measuring four kilometers in length, which even today preserves both walls and towers. The city dominated a crossroads, called the Salto Castulonensis, between the upper Guadalquivir River and the Meseta plateau of central Spain.
Cástulo reached its greatest prominence during the Second Punic War, between the Romans and the Carthaginians, one of the key moments in the history of the western Mediterranean. The city controlled the mineral resources of the Sierra Morena. It became the capital of the Iberian region of Oretania, then a Roman municipium with the right to coin its own money. Later on, in the later Empire, it became the seat of a bishop.
Currently, excavation efforts are being undertaken by the archaeological team of Forvm MMX. We’ve focused our work on a series of objectives that cover all phases of the site’s occupation and the most important zones of the city. The first part of the project has been to locate the forum of the Roman city of Cástulo – the meeting point and core of everyday life and of Roman civilization. The second part is the excavation of the northern gate, which, from a figurative standpoint, forms the link between antiquity and modern times. Our other plans include locating the pre-Roman Iberian city (the largest on the Iberian peninsula); investigating the river port of Cástulo, mentioned in classical texts and the last navigable port on the upper Guadalquivir, as a practical example of a crossroads for ancient trade between civilizations); investigating the last bastion of Cástulo, the thirteenth-century castle of St. Euphemia; and, finally, studying a Phoenician temple, discovered by earlier archaeological work beside the river, as a place of worship and of Near Eastern influence.
As you can see from the video above, Forvm MMX is bringing together the necessary tools from every discipline for the rebirth of Cástulo. This project signifies a resurgence not only from an archaeological point of view, with the recovery of lost history from the soil, but also from a social point of view, since it includes broad community involvement and a focus on the sustainability of our work.