In Sterlongaabout 50 kilometers from Rome, created Tiberius his refuge and his paradise. There, in his luxurious villa by the sea, the emperor ordered the construction of fish nurseries and in the middle an artificial island. That way I could celebrate in this space their grand dinner parties while the delicacy was fished straight which was going to be tasted. This ostentation and this symbol of wealth was the ultimate goal of these fish farms which spread throughout the Mediterranean and whose Five have been documented in Spain so far. Four of them, in the province of Alicante: Xàbia, CalpeEl Campello and the albufereta.
It is in the latter that the Archaeological Museum of Alicante has just carried out work aimed at compiling the archaeological documentation of this vestige which It was used between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD..
“At first we thought they were rRelating to salting plants for commercial purposesbut that has nothing to do,” he says. Manuel Olcine, director of MARQ, who has made several publications and participated in various conferences on this subject. “Is this so linked to the major maritime cities along the coast and are a symbol of wealth, of high social status. All of them, except that of Illeta de El Campello, which “deviates from this standard” and was used to market the fish.
That of the Albufereta, whose measure is 9.20 by 7 meters, it is a suburban villa in the town of Lucentum. “It belonged to a wealthy owner because although now everything is urbanized, we know that in the 1930s high-class remains were found, such as column bases and mosaics it would be part of the luxury villa in front of which the nursery was built,” says the archaeologist.
For several years, MARQ and Manuel Olcina have been study these buildings“of great difficulty both in iconstructive and biological engineering“. For years, “they had gone virtually unnoticed and we are now at the forefront of your study because we reversed this first interpretation”.
In the case of Albufereta, where they worked for eight days two archaeologists from the University Institute for Research in Archeology and Historical Heritage of the UA, José Antonio Moya and Alejandro Pérez, supported for a day by the GEAS of the Civil Guard, a total of 326 aerial photographs and nurseries have been fully documented with photogrammetry and orthophotography techniques.
“Several surveys had to be carried out in the nursery to verify the depth, which is close to two meters, since it was filled with modern sediments,” says Moya. The size of four seawater circulation channels“which will reveal more about the technique used to keep the fish alive.”
Precisely, this made it possible to document the two inlet channels and the two water outlet channels of the nursery, necessary to avoid stagnation and increased salinity, which leads to the reduction of oxygen which endangered the life of the fish. In these spaces are kept the closing door marks and indentations which would aim to regulate the flow of water.
One of the important conclusions was the identification of the other tunnel, “a narrow space without visibility”, which was thought to conduct fresh water to the nursery. However, when removing the heavy layer of sediment, using the suction technique, “a compartmentalized structure, built of brick and mortar“, forming square cells on both sides and at the bottom, measuring 13 centimeters high and 15 centimeters wide.
From there, the investigations led to associate it with the operation of a restaurant near the crèche, which operated for the 30s and 40s of the last century. As confirmed in newspaper records of the time, the bar owner was using the Roman pool as a a lobster farm to offer to customers.
These works, according to the Vice-President and Assistant for Culture, Julia Parra, “They will serve to enhance and document the nurseries linked to the Roman city, a work that will be reflected both in publications of a scientific nature and in others of an informative nature that will make the discoveries known to a wide audience.