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Ancient Town Necropolis Madrid

Race is on to save Ancient Town from Housing Development in Madrid

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The government of Madrid in Spain is planning to build a massive housing community over the archaeologically significant Visigothic necropolis of Vicálvaro which is the burial ground for 1,500 bodies dating back to between the 5 th and 8 th centuries AD. Now the hunt is on to find the lost city that produced the bodies and which must be in a nearby area.

The ancient burial ground is in a state of dilapidation. The three-hectare lot contains more than 824 graves, but only half a dozen of them still preserve their Visigothic marks and most of the graves are covered with brush and weeds. Authorities have chosen not to preserve the site, as there are many others like it, and have earmarked the site for destruction because it has “no relevance”. 

However, archaeologist Jorge Vega, who is searching for the city disagrees and says the discovery would be “very valuable” as it would provide insight into life in the region many centuries ago.

The Visigothic Kingdom was a kingdom that occupied what is now southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula from the fifth to the eighth centuries AD. The earliest Visigoths were a Germanic group that alternated between opposing and serving the Roman Empire.  The Kingdom maintained independence from the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the attempts of which to re-establish Roman authority in Iberia were only partially successful and short-lived.  The Visigoths founded the only new cities in Western Europe between the fifth and eighth centuries.  It is certain (through contemporary Spanish accounts) that they founded four, and a possible fifth city is also ascribed to them. All of these cities were founded for military purposes and some of them in celebration of victory.

Before construction begins on the development of 15,400 new housing units, authorities have given permission for archaeologists to search for further traces of the people who once inhabited the ancient region.  Let’s hope they find it before the bulldozers do…

By April Holloway

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