The Lost City of Titiakos: Ruins of Celtiberian Stronghold From 2,000 Years Ago Discovered in Spain
In the midst of excavations in north-central Spain’s Soria province, archaeologists stumbled upon the remarkable discoveries of a Roman camp and the ruins of the 2,000-year-old ancient Celtiberian city of Titiakos! Titiakos was a Celtoiberian stronghold from the Sertorian war (80-72 BC). This region, inhabited since the 3rd century BC, was a home to tribes of mixed Celtic and Iberian descent, who settled in the hill country and valleys between the Tagus (Tajo) and Iberus (Ebro) rivers.
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The Celtiberians and the Infamous Sertorian War
The Celtiberians are believed to have created a vibrant culture and history that has not yet been fully tapped into for lack of evidence. They were renowned for their warlike nature and military abilities. The aforementioned twin discoveries were announced by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) via a press release, in addition to a limestone quarry which was also found.
They believe that the quarry was used for the construction of this large military base. The vast expanse of the current province of Soria, along with significant portions of the neighboring provinces of Guadalajara and Teruel, served as the abode for the Celtiberians.
Historical records and references to the Celtiberian city of Titiakos have been scarce, leading to speculation and uncertainty about its exact whereabouts. Over time, it became known as the "Lost City" because no concrete evidence or significant archaeological findings had surfaced to confirm its existence definitively, till now!
The Sertorian War was fought between a faction of Roman rebels (Sertorians) and the government in Rome (Sullans) which occurred from 80 to 72 BC. It represented a final stand for the Marian faction, following their defeat in Italy during Sulla's Second Civil War. Quintus Sertorius, after whom this war was named, was a prominent figure of the time. He defied all odds by holding out in the Iberian region for over a decade before ultimately succumbing to the combined forces of Pompey and Metellus Pius.
Panoramic view of Deza from the “Rueda del Cañón” (1. Calcareous tuff terraces; 2. “La Huertaza”; 3. “El Cabezuelo”) (Perez, E.S. et al/ Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences)
A Typical Roman Quarry: A “Perfect” Roman Military Engineering Project
Published recently in the prestigious journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, the research focused on the locality of Deza, where aerial photographs initially led to the identification of these historical sites. Striking images revealed sections of a rock-cut road, bearing the unmistakable wheel ruts left by carts from time immemorial .
“Despite its relevance, this site has never been studied and has remained ignored. To date no systematic study has been carried out that has tried to discover its historical importance”, says Vicente Alejandre, mayor of Deza.
At the culmination of these paths stands a formidable 2.5-tonne block of stone, a structure that has for long confused and mystified researchers and historians alike. The lead investigator, Professor Eugenio Sanz, expressed how this treasure trove of historical significance had remained "totally unnoticed".
This was because both the location and the rock formation had melded seamlessly with nature over the course of more than two millennia. The quarry fronts were cleverly disguised as natural terrain features, evading detection for generations, reports The Heritage Daily.
Aspects of the settlement and ruins found at the location of Titiakos. B Main front of the limestone quarry and access road trench. C Another front of quarry exploitation. D The “Rueda del Cañón” stone. E Roman camp wall built with the emplecton technique. F Lead glans (slingshot projectiles) (Deza); G. Ace of Titiakos (Deza) (Perez, E.S. et al/ Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences)
“This is a perfect Roman military engineering project: on the one hand, the geological deposit was exploited selectively, differentiating the areas of extraction of large and small blocks of stone, according to the needs of the work. On the other hand, the material was transported by means of small roads along a carefully studied and laid out road of about 600 m in length and of clear Roman origin. The archaeological evidence shows the existence of a large camp that, according to previous surveys, adopts the known classical models of rectangular plans and the typology of Roman construction,” write the archaeologists.
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From Quarry to Settlement: Strategically Engineered Roman Fortification
Sanz further expounded that this military camp likely played a crucial role in safeguarding the Celtiberian-Roman city's "most vulnerable" side. The construction of this camp demonstrated amazing craftsmanship and strategic acumen, which display the early engineering prowess of the Romans.
The expedition also revealed that approximately 12,000 cubic meters of limestone had been extracted from this very quarry. This finding directly corresponds to the volume and type of rock found in the remnants of walls and reused stone boundaries in the surrounding agricultural estates. The quarry's significance lies in its association with the construction of the city's fortifications.
As the team delved deeper into the excavations, evidence of warlike elements and conflicts began to surface. The discovery of projectiles and coins from the city's mint points to the likelihood that the fort was constructed by allied Sertorians to protect the mint and its precious resources, reports Arkeo News.
“The results obtained are relevant for the advancement of scientific and historical knowledge of the Celtiberian and Roman world in the context of the Sertorian Wars. On the one hand, it points to the existence of the capital of the Titiakos ethnic group and of a Roman military camp of considerable importance. Further studies would be necessary to confirm this statement with a systematic geophysical survey of the battlefield in order to increase the monetary record,” conclude the authors of the study.
Top image: Archaeologist found ruins of the lost city of Titiakos, dating back to more than 2000 years ago, in Deza, Soria in Spain. Source: (Perez, E.S. et all/ Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences)
By Sahir Pandey
Altuntas, L. 2023. A Celtiberian city more than 2000 years old found in Spain. Available at: https://arkeonews.net/a-celtiberian-city-more-than-2000-years-old-found-in-spain/.
Milligan, M. 2023. ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNCOVER CELTOIBERIAN CITY. Available at: https://www.heritagedaily.com/2023/07/archaeologists-uncover-celtoiberian-city/148030.
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). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 15 (39). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-023-01736-1.
UPM. 2023. They discover a Roman camp and the Celtiberian city of Titiakos. Available at: https://www.upm.es/?id=59507a3cf97e8810VgnVCM10000009c7648a____&prefmt=articulo&fmt=detail.