Archaeologists from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) have unearthed the remains of a 2,000-year-old Celtiberian city, during their excavations in the province of Soria, Spain. The discovery was made in the locality of Deza, where aerial photographs initially revealed some ancient sites.
This ancient civilization inhabited the central-northeastern Iberian Peninsula and had a mixed heritage of Celtic and Iberian origins.
The site remained largely unexplored and unnoticed, as it was concealed by an adjacent limestone quarry from where the city stones were sourced. Sections of a rock-cut road with wheel ruts, indicating cart movement, provided the first clues to this hidden city.
The researchers, led by Professor Eugenio Sanz, were astonished by the craftsmanship and strategic acumen displayed in the construction of the Roman military camp found near the Celtiberian city.
Mayor Vicente Alejandre of Deza expressed the significance of the find, stating that the site had remained ignored and unstudied until now. Over 12,000 cubic meters of limestone were extracted from the quarry, which corresponded to the volume and type of rock found in the city’s fortifications and surrounding agricultural estates.
The city is believed to be the elusive Titiakos, a significant Celtiberian stronghold during the Sertorian War that took place from 80 to 72 BCE.
The war was a civil conflict between Roman rebels, led by Quintus Sertorius, and the Roman government under the Sullans. The city appears to have been built by the allied Sertorians to protect the city mint, as evidenced by the discovery of warlike elements such as projectiles and coins from the mint.
The researchers point out that the Celtiberians of Titiakos were allies of Sertorius, and their city needed protection from attacks originating from the nearby plateau. This vulnerability led to the careful selection of the campsite for defensive purposes. The Roman military engineering project was skillfully executed, with differentiation between areas for extracting large and small stone blocks according to construction needs.
The discovery of Titiakos and the accompanying Roman military camp is of great historical importance. It enhances our understanding of the Celtiberian and Roman world during the Sertorian Wars.
The research was published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.
More information: Pérez, E.S., Alcalde, V.A., Álvarez, A.A.A. et al. (2023). A quarry for the construction of a Roman camp next to the Celtiberian city of Deza during the Sertorian Wars (Soria, Spain). Archaeol Anthropol Sci 15, 39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-023-01736-1