A RECENT project carried out by the water company Aguagest, in the town of Villajoyosa, has revealed the existence of a Roman city much bigger than previously thought. Bore holes made by Aguagest in carrying out surveys prior to undergoing works, have now for the first time revealed the extent of the old city.
The works are to create two metre storm drains to protect the town, and the digging of 15 boreholes as a prelude to the main works revealed the extent of the old city. The presence of such a site had long been suspected amongst archaeologists, who had been searching for the last 500 years to rediscover what records showed to be a substantial settlement in the area.
The city was called Allon, and was the capital of the Marina Baixa area under Roman rule. In AD 74 the Emperor Vespasian gave city status to Allon, indicating its importance. Allon ruled over other settlements such as Alfas del Pi and Altea, where there has been discovered evidence of rural estates and mansions.
The importance of Allon for trade is reflected in records showing a cohort (500 legionaries) was stationed in the vicinity to guard the city. Excavations have also produced evidence of two graveyards from the ancient city, which were in constant use for a thousand years from Roman time.
Modern day excavations by the town have been ongoing since 1996, but the recent discovery sheds much light on what had previously only been the subject of speculation, in that the ancient city extended beyond its walls with a settlement existing outside the old protective battlements.
The city actually predated Roman times as researchers have come across references to a city in this area known by its Greek name of Alonis. Architectural riches are alive and well, and thanks to the works of the heritage departments of all of the Marina Baixa and Alta towns, are constantly being unearthed in the area.
The Costa Blanca really is more than skyscrapers and mass tourism; it is a rich source of history.
By Paul Deed