A storm in Cádiz fortuitously reveals an ancient Roman aqueduct

storm-cadiz-ancient-roman-aqueduct_1Credit: ADIP

When local residents emerged from their homes after a storm at the Cortadura beach, they were surprised to find not one but two remnants that hark back to the incredible historical legacy of the southwestern Spanish region. The first of these pertains to seven fragments of a Roman aqueduct, probably comprising the remains of the famed 1st century AD aqueduct of Gades (Cádiz), the ancient marvel of engineering that stretched over a distance of 46 miles (75 km). This was complemented by the remains of another road system – possibly constructed between the 16th or 17th centuries.

These historical ruins, inadvertently ‘unveiled’ by the storm, were initially assessed by the Association for the Investigation and Dissemination of Cádiz’s Heritage (Adip), after some of the local residents were stopped from digging around the site. They were later joined by a municipal archaeologist, and together the experts have surmised that the aqueduct was probably a section of the aforementioned aqueduct of Gades, with two fragments still joined by their original mortar. To that end, when it comes to history, the 46-mile-long infrastructural scope was the largest aqueduct in ancient Hispania (and fifth largest in the entire Roman Empire). Build during the reign of Emperor Claudius in 1st century AD, the almost 2,000-year old waterway possibly connected to the springs of Tempul.


Credit: Silvia Manito Velázquez

Only 6 ft away, the researchers were witness to the remnants of two walls (7ft high) that possibly formed the boundary of a road system that was used at least till 1755 AD. According to the experts, this road was destroyed by a tidal wave triggered by the great earthquake in Lisbon (in 1755). The resulting tsunami ominously swept through Cádiz and Huelva, destroying properties and killing 1,240 people.

Lastly, it should be noted that similar aqueduct fragments have been found before in the Cádiz region, with some of the specimens being exhibited at the port city’s Asdrúbal square. And as for a further possible Roman connection, the researchers have hypothesized that even the 17th-century road could have been built over its original Roman counterpart (or an ancient Roman road existed parallel to this path) – claims that can only be confirmed by a more thorough investigation of the site.


Credit: CEN/ADIP

Source: El Pais