Roma no vino aquí a nada. Detrás de la conquista hay unos intereses que mueven al naciente Imperio a desplegar todas sus fuerzas sobre un pequeño rincón en los confines occidentales de Europa. Entre esos objetivos estaban los abundantes yacimientos de oro del Noroeste ibérico, especialmente ricos en zonas como la comarca leonesa de Cabreira. Con el fin de estudiar el impacto de la conquista y las profundas transformaciones que la siguen, el pasado mes de agosto nuestros compañeros Andrés Menéndez, Valentín Álvarez y David González excavaron en el poblado fortificado de El Castru (La Cuesta, León).

La intensísima actividad minera de este territorio en los siglos I y II d.C., con complejos productivos tan notables como los de las faldas del Teleno, implicó unos cambios radicales en los poblados preexistentes y la fundación de otros asentamientos nuevos. El importante recinto fortificado de El Castru no fue ajeno a ello, a la vista de las abundantísimas escorias de hierro localizadas en su entorno. Por esta razón fue escogido para abrir un sondeo valorativo que pudiera dar pistas acerca de su potencial arqueológico, que se mostró impresionante. Hasta el momento, la breve campaña realizada este verano permitió sacar a la luz parte de una estancia que, a juzgar por la gran cantidad y tipología de los materiales encontrados, puede considerarse un almacén de época romana.

La intervención ha sido financiada por el Ayuntamiento de Truchas, la Junta Vecinal de La Cuesta y el Instituto Leonés de Cultura de la Diputación de León. Actualmente los materiales están en proceso de estudio y se está considerando la preparación de nuevas campañas dados los excelentes resultados obtenidos.
Como complemento a la excavación se ha realizado una prospección del territorio que facilitase la contextualización del yacimiento. Esto nos ha permitido localizar e inventariar para su protección un nuevo campamento militar temporal romano en el valle del río Eria.

Augustus’ as minted by his legate Publius Carisius (25-22 a.C.) and recovered in Penedo dos Lobos camp

NW Iberia rarely attracted the attention of the classical authors, who transmitted a caricature-like depiction of the land and its inhabitants. Some of the episodes related by these authors were fragmented records of military campaigns carried out by Roman generals during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, when the region was effectively annexed by Rome. For centuries, different scholars tried to reconstruct these events, but the lack of archaeological data led to fed the articulation of circular debates and outdated narratives about the conquest. Roman military archaeology has been quite a late development in Iberia (modern-day Spain and Portugal) and the research has been mainly focused on the sudy of Asturian and Cantabrian areas, where the last war episodes took place in Augustan times. This way, wide areas in NW Iberia (such as Galicia or Northern Portugal) remained out of the scientific spotlight, silenced by the ancient sources and forgotten by modern scholars. One of main the aims of romanarmy.eu as a collective is to develop new archaeological narratives to help reconstruct the ancient story of NW Iberia as a whole. To understand the conquest and integration of this area into the Roman imperial structure can also help to better know the policies and strategies later developed by Rome across Europe.

In this vein, the archaeological intervention in the Roman camp of Penedo dos Lobos (Manzaneda, Galicia, Spain) has made it possible to discover the oldest Roman military presence documented so far in the territory of present-day Galicia, which could be chronologically related to the Cantabrian-Asturian Wars. In the course of an archaeological survey campaign carried out by the Romanarmy.eu collective and directed by João Fonte (Institute of Heritage Sciences –Incipit-, CSIC), materials linked with the Roman army were found, including shoenails coming from the famous Roman military sandals (caligae). But the most striking pieces of evidence recovered were two bronze coins minted by Publius Carisius (who was Augustus’ legate during the Cantabrian-Asturian Wars) in Emerita Augusta (present-day Mérida, Extremadura) between 25 and 22 BC to pay the legionnaires who fought in the above mentioned campaigns.

These findings imply that the construction of the Roman camp of Penedo dos Lobos took place in a chronological horizon prior to the change of our era, and that it is possibly contemporary to the Cantabrian-Asturian Wars, after which the last independent territories in Iberia were annexed by Rome. This is the oldest Roman military presence documented so far in the territory of present-day Galicia, and it is a finding of great historical significance for the understanding of the first stages of the Romanisation process in the area. Until now, many specialists considered that the Galician region had been on the fringe of the conflict. Although it is not possible at this time to determine the actual mission of the military contingent of Penedo dos Lobos, these findings will redefine what was known about this period and will help to contextualise the Roman military presence in this territory. According to what has been discovered by the romanarmy.eu collective and other research teams in recent years, this presence is broader and more diverse than what has been understood until now.

The archaeological campaign ended last Saturday and is promoted by the Institute of Heritage Sciences (Incipit) of the CSIC, the Town Council of Manzaneda, and Sincrisis Research Group (Department of History, University of Santiago de Compostela).

An exceptionally well preserved archaeological site

Penedo dos Lobos Roman camp is located close to the ski resort of Cabeza de Manzaneda, and was traditionally a grazing area with low vegetation which made the identification of archaeological structures difficult. Its size (2.34 hectares) implies that it was a small camp with capacity to accommodate up to 1000 soldiers. Archaeologists noted the “excellent” state of preservation of the defensive structures. This way, Penedo dos Lobos still shows the canonical four gates which define the Roman military enclosures, and almost the entire perimeter of the defensive rampart is still in place. Quite unusually, thede defences were built in stone.

Penedo dos Lobos was occupied for a short period of time. However, the detailed analysis of the evidence already gathered makes the archaeologist believe that it the site might not correspond to a marching camp (built to the soldiers to rest for one or two days), but to a seasonal military installation, which would serve for a longer period of time (week or even a month) to fulfil an specific mission that is still unknown.

The camp was discovered by a local citizen, Rubén F. Lorenzo Pérez, who contacted romanarmy.eu collective mentioning the existence of an enclosure of strange morphology on a mountain summit.

Heritage under threat

The existence of this Roman camp was officially notified to the Directorate General of Heritage of the Galician Regional Government in February 2017 romanarmy.eu collective. Despite the importance of this archaeological site for the history of Galicia, the land is currently affected by a reforestation plan that will irreversibly damage it. The archaeological teams was informed about this plan while on field.

An ambitious social outreach programme

The archaeological intervention in the Penedo dos Lobos was daily broadcasted through the Internet by the romanarmy.eu collective, using live videos and innovative scientific communication formats. Only the Facebook profile of the group reached more than 65,000 people throughout the week of archaeological intervention. Not only the public could follow the evolution of the intervention day by day, but also guided tours with a large number of visitors of the site were conducted by the archaeological team.

Rematamos a campaña de Penedo dos Lobos e mañá, martes 28 de agosto de 2018, coñeceredes os relevantes resultados desta campaña de prospección arqueolóxica. Pero hoxe queremos presentarvos unhas fotografías aéreas que revelan o magnífico estado de conservación desta estrutura defensiva e habitacional temporal do exército romano.

Queremos agradecer á Brigada do Concello de Manzaneda o seu entusiasta e ilusionado traballo para facer posible estas fotografías que van a se converter en iconas e referentes deste sitio arqueolóxico.


Vista da porta principal no sur do sitio


Vista da porta principal (abaixo) e porta en clavícula este (dereita)


Vista da porta en clavícula este

Este luns 20 de agosto comezará a intervención arqueolóxica no campamento romano de Penedo dos Lobos (Manzaneda, Ourense). A intervención ten por obxectivo documentar e estudar pormenorizadamente o que é un dos recintos militares de campaña mellor conservados do noroeste peninsular, realizarase do 20 ao 26 de agosto. Está dirixido por João Fonte, investigador do Instituto de Ciencias do Patrimonio (Incipit) do CSIC, e nel participarán outros arqueólogos e investigadores do colectivo científico romanarmy, unha singular iniciativa de ciencia e divulgación que ten por obxectivos investigar a presenza militar romana no noroeste peninsular. No caso de Penedo dos Lobos, o obxectivo é entender o encaixe deste singular recinto no proceso de conquista e control do noroeste peninsular por parte do Imperio Romano. A campaña está promovida polo Instituto de Ciencias do Patrimonio (Incipit) do CSIC, o concello de Manzaneda, e o Grupo de Investigación Síncrisis, do Departamento de Historia da Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.

A campaña realizará unha particular énfase na comunicación do traballo e dos resultados das intervencións. Todos os días entre o 20 e o 25, as 12 da mañá, os arqueólogos realizarán unha transmisión en vídeo en directo, a través de Facebook Live, contando as novidades do día (www.facebook.com/romanarmynw).

Ademais, o sábado 25 de agosto realizaranse actividades gratuítas abertas ao público. Ás 12 da mañá realizarase unha visita guiada ao campamento. O punto de xuntanza é na estación de esquí de Manzaneda. E, pola tarde, ás 19 horas, o salón de actos do concello de Manzaneda acollerá unha charla, tamén de acceso aberto a todo o público interesado, sobre a intervención arqueolóxica a cargo de João Fonte e José Manuel Costa García.

Penedo dos Lobos: próximo obxectivo de investigación

O verán de romanarmy é un non parar! Entre o 20 e o 26 de agosto estaremos traballando nun dos recintos militares máis interesantes aparecidos nos últimos anos: Penedo dos Lobos, no concello de Manzaneda. O noso compañeiro e investigador do Instituto de Ciencias do Patrimonio (Incipit) do CSIC João Fonte, dirixirá o equipo que investigará entre o 20 e o 26 de agosto de 2018 un dos recintos militares de campaña mellor conservados do noroeste peninsular. O obxectivo é estudar en detalle a morfoloxía do xacemento e o seu encaixe no proceso de conquista e control do noroeste peninsular por parte do Imperio Romano. A campaña está promovida polo Instituto de Ciencias do Patrimonio (Incipit) do CSIC, o concello de Manzaneda, e o Grupo de Investigación Síncrisis, do Departamento de Historia da Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.

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While João explores the Roman conquest of Dacia, Rebeca digs early modern age fortifications in Northern Portugal, and Jesús and Jose investigate the hillfort of Cerro Castarreño in Olmillos de Sasamón, our colleagues David González Álvarez y Valentín Álvarez Martínez are in the field exploring in the mountains of Babia (León), together with Jorge Canosa Betés and some Archaeology students from the Complutense University of Madrid and Durham University (United Kingdom)..

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General perspective of the Orăştie Mountains (photo credit Dr. Ioana Oltean)

At the moment I’m doing fieldwork in Romania as part of a collaboration project between the University of Exeter, UK (Dr. Ioana Oltean) and the Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (Prof. dr. Gelu A. Florea), and within the framework of my current postdoctoral project.

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We are back in the lands of the Odra-Pisuerga. As you may remember, we explored some Roman military structures located in the area of Sasamón (Burgos) in August 2017, always under the impressive presence of Cerro Castarreño. At its summit there is an oppidum – a large hillfort – which our colleague Jesús García began to survey in 2008 for his doctoral thesis, recovering then numerous material evidences related to the Second Iron Age. In addition, the aerial photographs taken in 2011 and 2012, the geophysical survey of 2017 and a new flight with drone in 2018 revealed the presence of some anomalies in one of the plateau’s corners which could correspond to a trench and a stone wall. This possible fortification is of great interest to us, since this region played an important role in the early stages of the Astur-Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC), as various classical authors mention. Therefore, we are interested in understanding the occupation sequence and abandonment of this pre-Roman settlement (probably the Segisama of the Turmogi people) in a context of an already attested heavy Roman military presence.

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El trabajo de laboratorio de romanarmy.eu no es sólo arqueológico! Seguimos procesando datos sobre nuestra intervención en el campamento romano de A Penaparda (A Fonsagrada). Ya sabéis que en nuestro colectivo no sólo tratamos de innovar con tecnologías para localizar sitios arqueológicos, sino también en el propio proceso de comunicación.

Aquí os presentamos nuestro primer vídeo en 360º, en el que tú estás en el centro de nuestra experiencia arqueológica. Es un experimento audiovisual que te lleva a nuestro trabajo en A Fonsagrada, siguiendo el camino del equipo desde el bar en el que desayunamos hasta el coche en el que marchamos del campamento. Nos puedes ver interpretando los sondeos, y también las estructuras que se distinguían sobre el terreno.

Intentamos sacar provecho de algunas de las posibilidades de la tecnología de grabación en 360º y ver cómo nos pueden ayudar a contar mejor la práctica de la arqueología. Aún es un experimento, en el que debemos mejorar muchas cosas, pero es una de las primeras experiencias en España (que nosotros sepamos) en emplear esta técnica para contar historias de trabajo de campo en arqueología. Y ya os adelantamos que no será la última.

< strong>¿Cómo verlo?strong>

Pues de muchas maneras. La mejor es con el móvil, unas gafas de realidad virtual y unos auriculares. Esa es la manera de estar más cerca de nosotros en el vídeo. 😉 Pero también con el móvil, si lo mueves a tu redor, podrás experimentar también la dimensión espacial.

A new volume of the scientific Journal Gallaecia. Revista de arqueoloxía e antigüidade, edited by the History Department of the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, has been released. It contains a paper in which four new Roman military sites located within the provinces Lugo and Ourense have been published. These sites reveal an active Roman military presence in the area and could help to understand the historical processes of conquest and absorption of these territories by the Roman empire. From the discovery of the site of A Recacha (Navia de Suarna) in 2011 onwards, up to 17 new Roman military sites have been detected -totally or partially- in Galicia, although some have not been publicly released yet. We must stress that the early Roman empire forts of A Cidadela (Sobrado dos Monxes, A Coruña) and Bande (Ourense) are also situated in Galicia.

The Roman camp of Penedo dos Lobos.

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