The Christianization of Western Baetica: Architecture, power, and religion in a late antique landscape, late antique and early medieval iberia 9789089649324, 9089649328

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The Christianization of Western Baetica: Architecture, power, and religion in a late antique landscape, late antique and early medieval iberia
 9789089649324, 9089649328

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Table of Contents......Page 8
Addendum: Location and Current Names of Places Mentioned in this Book......Page 14
List of Abbreviations......Page 18
Preface......Page 20
Acknowledgements......Page 24
Introduction......Page 26
Part 1 : Baetica in Late Antiquity......Page 36
1. Roman Baetica in History......Page 38
2. Cities and Landscapes in West Roman Baetica......Page 42
3. From Constantine the Great to the Arab Invasion......Page 52
Rome Was Not Eternal......Page 53
The Dark Ages......Page 56
History of the Goths......Page 59
Part 2 : Early Christian Topography......Page 66
4. The Ecclesiastical Organization of Baetica in Late Antiquity......Page 68
The City of Córdoba......Page 86
The Outskirts of the City of Córdoba......Page 106
The Outskirts of the City of Cabra......Page 150
The Territory of the Bishopric of Cabra......Page 164
The City of Écija......Page 174
The Territory of the Bishopric of Écija......Page 183
The City of Seville......Page 194
The Territory of the Bishopric of Seville......Page 209
The Outskirts of the City of Italica......Page 222
The Territory of the Bishopric of Italica......Page 225
The Periphery of Niebla......Page 242
The Territory of the Bishopric of Niebla......Page 244
Part 3 : Christianization: An Archaeology of Ecclesiastical Power......Page 256
11. The First Christian Buildings of Late Antique Western Baetica......Page 258
Episcopal Complexes......Page 260
Churches: Types, Topographic Context, Purpose......Page 266
Baptismal Buildings......Page 271
Baptisteries......Page 274
Monastic Complexes......Page 278
Towers......Page 282
Colonnaded Streets, Sigma-Places, and Atria......Page 283
Funerary Buildings......Page 284
Funerary Enclosures......Page 287
A Global Perspective......Page 288
12. The City of God: The Making of Church Power......Page 300
Bibliography......Page 324
Index......Page 352
List of Illustrations......Page 10
Figure 1 Early Christian topography in late antique western Baetica......Page 71
Figure 2 Evolution of bishoprics’ territories.......Page 72
Figure 3 Early Christian topography of Córdoba. Building complexes, inscriptions, and architectural decoration......Page 87
Figure 4 Building Complex C13. Church built on a termae. 1) a column; 2) door?; 3) decumanus occupied by the new church......Page 90
Figure 5 Fragment of sculpture broken and cast intentionally to the pool of the termae......Page 92
Figure 6 Building Complex C10. Mosque of Córdoba......Page 95
Figure 7 Building Complex C10. Phase 1 of the remains found under the mosque. Possible cross-shaped mausoleum......Page 100
Figure 8 Building Complex C10. Phase 2 of the remains found under the mosque......Page 101
Figure 9 Building Complex C7......Page 108
Figure 10 Building Complex C6......Page 112
Figure 11 Building Complex C4. Aerial photography of excavations (Hidalgo 1998). The places where problems with stratigraphy have been detected are indicated by numbers......Page 115
Figure 12 Building Complex C4. Reconstruction of the complex of Cercadilla (Hidalgo 1998). The letters indicate each of the buildings......Page 116
Figure 13 Building Complex C5. Baptistery (reconstruction of Rafael de la Hoz)......Page 121
Figure 14 Impost capital found in the area of the monastery of St. Christophorus, on the other side of the Guadalquivir river......Page 125
Figure 15 Building Complex C3. Archaeological remains found during the first excavations at El Germo (Blanco 1914)......Page 129
Figure 16 Building Complex C3. Plans of the church and of the annex building (Ulbert 1969)......Page 131
Figure 17 Building Complex C3. Plans of the church and a new interpretation......Page 135
Figure 18 Building Complex C3. Sarcophagus of La Chimorra......Page 139
Figure 19 Building Complex C1. Remains of the church of La Losilla......Page 141
Figure 20 Building Complex C1. Geophysical prospecting in the area of the monastery of La Losilla......Page 143
Figure 21 Building Complex C1. Provisional reconstruction of the church of the monastery of La Losilla (2013)......Page 144
Figure 22 Building Complex C2. Set of pools related to mining activities......Page 145
Figure 23 Building Complex C2. Baptistery......Page 146
Figure 25 3D reconstruction of the phases of the basilica of Coracho, a) Phase 1, fourth century; b) phase 2, Byzantine era; c) phase 3, Visigothic period; c) phase 3, mausoleum......Page 153
Figure 26 Building Complex C14. Sketch of the church structure (Santos Jener 1958)......Page 167
Figure 27 Building Complex S2. Reconstruction of the city of Écija and evolution of the funeral area in the city forum......Page 175
Figure 28 Building Complex S2. Sculptures and inscriptions thrown into a sacred pond in the city forum......Page 178
Figure 29 Sarcophagus with Greek inscriptions of Écija......Page 182
Figure 30 Building Complex S3. Baptistery of Estepa......Page 187
Figure 31 Building Complex S6. Small church of a late antique villa with an adjoining necropolis (Guerrero 2013)......Page 189
Figure 32 Early Christian topography of Seville. Building complexes, inscriptions, and architectural decoration......Page 195
Figure 33 Building Complex S7. Set of mausoleums of different types and historical phases......Page 198
Figure 34 Building Complex S8. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from González 2011)......Page 200
Figure 35 Building Complex S8. The columns of the possible atrium of the episcopium of the city......Page 202
Figure 36 Building Complex S9. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Ordóñez et al. 2013)......Page 206
Figure 37 Building Complex S9. Column base in the central courtyard, fifth century......Page 207
Figure 38 Building Complex S4. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Vera 1999)......Page 217
Figure 39 Building Complex S1. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Fernández, Alonso de la Sierra, and Lasso 1987) with a new interpretation......Page 228
Figure 40 Building Complex S1. Phases of the baptistery......Page 230
Figure 41 Building Complex B1. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Sastre 2010)......Page 238
Figure 42 Remains of the Visigothic period reused in the present church of Santa María de la Granada (Niebla)......Page 243
Figure 43 Mausoleum of Punta del Moral. Photograph taken at the end of the archaeological excavation. The door of the mausoleum is closed with a wall of adobes (from Del Amo 2003)......Page 251
Figure 44 ‘II Concilio Hispalense’. Emilianense Codex. Library of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, MS D.I. 1, fol. 205v. The author has painted the city of Seville, next to the river. In the centre of the city, the assembled council app......Page 317

Citation preview


Jerónimo Sánchez Velasco

The Christianization of Western Baetica Architecture, Power, and Religion in a Late Antique Landscape

The Christianization of Western Baetica

Late Antique and Early Medieval Iberia Scholarship on the Iberian Peninsula in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages is burgeoning across a variety of disciplines and time periods, yet the publication profile of the field remains disjointed. ‘Late Antique and Early Medieval Iberia’ (LAEMI) provides a publication hub for highquality research on Iberian Studies from the fields of history, archaeology, theology and religious studies, numismatics, palaeography, music, and cognate disciplines. Another key aim of the series is to break down barriers between the excellent scholarship that takes place in Iberia and Latin America and the Anglophone world. Series Editor Jamie Wood, University of Lincoln, UK Editorial Board Members Andrew Fear, University of Manchester, UK Nicola Clarke, Newcastle University, UK Iñaki Martín Viso, University of Salamanca, Spain Glaire Anderson, University of North Carolina, USA Eleonora Dell’Elicine, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Christianization of Western Baetica Architecture, Power, and Religion in a Late Antique Landscape

Jerónimo Sánchez Velasco

Amsterdam University Press

Reviewers/translators of part of the English text: Carmen Cuadro and Pedro Santamaría Cover illustration: Impost capital found in the area of the monastery of St. Christophorus, on the Guadalquivir river Photograph from the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba, reproduced with permission Cover design: Coördesign, Leiden Lay-out: Crius Group, Hulshout Amsterdam University Press English-language titles are distributed in the US and Canada by the University of Chicago Press. isbn e-isbn doi nur

978 90 8964 932 4 978 90 4852 825 7 (pdf) 10.5117/9789089649324 683

© Jerónimo Sánchez Velasco / Amsterdam University Press B.V., Amsterdam 2018 All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the written permission of both the copyright owner and the author of the book. Every efffort has been made to obtain permission to use all copyrighted illustrations reproduced in this book. Nonetheless, whosoever believes to have rights to this material is advised to contact the publisher.

To my dear wife, Carmen, and to my British friends, Colin, Janet, Viv, and Pauline, who never succeeded in having me master the English language. When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts. BBC’s ‘Face to Face’ interview with Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) in 1959.

Table of Contents

Addendum: Location and Current Names of Places Mentioned in this Book


List of Abbreviations


Preface 19 Acknowledgements 23 Introduction 25

Part 1  Baetica in Late Antiquity 1 Roman Baetica in History


2 Cities and Landscapes in West Roman Baetica


3 From Constantine the Great to the Arab Invasion Rome Was Not Eternal The Dark Ages History of the Goths

51 52 55 58

Part 2  Early Christian Topography 4 The Ecclesiastical Organization of Baetica in Late Antiquity


5 The Bishopric of Córdoba (Corduba) 85 The City of Córdoba 85 The Outskirts of the City of Córdoba 105 6 The Bishopric of Cabra (Egabrum) 149 The Outskirts of the City of Cabra 149 The Territory of the Bishopric of Cabra 163

7 The Bishopric of Écija (Astigi) 173 The City of Écija 173 The Territory of the Bishopric of Écija 182 8 The Bishopric of Seville (Hispalis) 193 The City of Seville 193 The Territory of the Bishopric of Seville 208 9 The Bishopric of Italica 221 The Outskirts of the City of Italica 221 The Territory of the Bishopric of Italica 224 10 The Bishopric of Niebla (Ilipla) 241 The Periphery of Niebla 241 The Territory of the Bishopric of Niebla 243

Part 3 Christianization: An Archaeology of Ecclesiastical Power 11 The First Christian Buildings of Late Antique Western Baetica 257 Episcopal Complexes 259 Churches: Types, Topographic Context, Purpose 265 Baptismal Buildings 270 Baptisteries 273 Monastic Complexes 277 Towers 281 Colonnaded Streets, Sigma-Places, and Atria 282 Funerary Buildings 283 Funerary Enclosures 286 A Global Perspective 287 12 The City of God: The Making of Church Power


Bibliography 323 Index 351

List of Illustrations Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6 Figure 7 Figure 8 Figure 9 Figure 10 Figure 11

Figure 12 Figure 13 Figure 14 Figure 15 Figure 16 Figure 17 Figure 18 Figure 19 Figure 20

Early Christian topography in late antique western Baetica 70 Evolution of bishoprics’ territories. 71 Early Christian topography of Córdoba. Building complexes, inscriptions, and architectural decoration 86 Building Complex C13. Church built on a termae. 1) a column; 2) door?; 3) decumanus occupied by the new church 89 Fragment of sculpture broken and cast intentionally to the pool of the termae 91 Building Complex C10. Mosque of Córdoba 94 Building Complex C10. Phase 1 of the remains found under the mosque. Possible cross-shaped mausoleum 99 Building Complex C10. Phase 2 of the remains found under the mosque 100 Building Complex C7 107 Building Complex C6 111 Building Complex C4. Aerial photography of excavations (Hidalgo 1998). The places where problems with stratigraphy have been detected are indicated by numbers 114 Building Complex C4. Reconstruction of the complex of Cercadilla (Hidalgo 1998). The letters indicate each of the buildings 115 Building Complex C5. Baptistery (reconstruction of Rafael de la Hoz) 120 Impost capital found in the area of the monastery of St. Christophorus, on the other side of the Guadalquivir river 124 Building Complex C3. Archaeological remains found during the first excavations at El Germo (Blanco 1914) 128 Building Complex C3. Plans of the church and of the annex building (Ulbert 1969) 130 Building Complex C3. Plans of the church and a new interpretation 134 Building Complex C3. Sarcophagus of La Chimorra 138 Building Complex C1. Remains of the church of La Losilla 140 Building Complex C1. Geophysical prospecting in the area of the monastery of La Losilla 142

Figure 21 Building Complex C1. Provisional reconstruction of the church of the monastery of La Losilla (2013) 143 Figure 22 Building Complex C2. Set of pools related to mining activities 144 Figure 23 Building Complex C2. Baptistery 145 Figure 24 Building Complex C17. Reconstruction of the church of Coracho with its different phases 152 Figure 25 3D reconstruction of the phases of the basilica of Coracho, a) Phase 1, fourth century; b) phase 2, Byzantine era; c) phase 3, Visigothic period; c) phase 3, mausoleum 152 Figure 26 Building Complex C14. Sketch of the church structure (Santos Jener 1958) 166 Figure 27 Building Complex S2. Reconstruction of the city of Écija and evolution of the funeral area in the city forum 174 Figure 28 Building Complex S2. Sculptures and inscriptions thrown into a sacred pond in the city forum 177 Figure 29 Sarcophagus with Greek inscriptions of Écija 181 Figure 30 Building Complex S3. Baptistery of Estepa 186 Figure 31 Building Complex S6. Small church of a late antique villa with an adjoining necropolis (Guerrero 2013) 188 Figure 32 Early Christian topography of Seville. Building complexes, inscriptions, and architectural decoration 194 Figure 33 Building Complex S7. Set of mausoleums of different types and historical phases 197 Figure 34 Building Complex S8. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from González 2011) 199 Figure 35 Building Complex S8. The columns of the possible atrium of the episcopium of the city 201 Figure 36 Building Complex S9. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Ordóñez et al. 2013) 205 Figure 37 Building Complex S9. Column base in the central courtyard, fifth century 206 Figure 38 Building Complex S4. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Vera 1999) 216 Figure 39 Building Complex S1. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Fernández, Alonso de la Sierra, and Lasso 1987) with a new interpretation 227 Figure 40 Building Complex S1. Phases of the baptistery 229

Figure 41 Building Complex B1. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Sastre 2010) Figure 42 Remains of the Visigothic period reused in the present church of Santa María de la Granada (Niebla) Figure 43 Mausoleum of Punta del Moral. Photograph taken at the end of the archaeological excavation. The door of the mausoleum is closed with a wall of adobes (from Del Amo 2003) Figure 44 ‘II Concilio Hispalense’. Emilianense Codex. Library of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, MS D.I. 1, fol. 205v. The author has painted the city of Seville, next to the river. In the centre of the city, the assembled council appears. At the top you can see personifications of the three bishoprics as armed soldiers ready to fight

237 242



Addendum: Location and Current Names of Places Mentioned in this Book


organización del territorio


Add. 1 Western Baetica in Roman Times (Atlas de la Historia del Territorio de Andalucía)


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Add. 2 Plan of the city of Seville (Hispalis)

1. Ronda Histórica – Tagarete 2. Plaza de la Encarnación (Metrosol Parasol). 3. Calles Cuna – Sierpes 4. Plaza Nueva 5. Avenida de la Constitución 6. Patio de Banderas del Alcázar 7. Cuesta del Rosario 8. Palacio Arzobispal 9. Iglesia de El Salvador 10. Calles San Leandro – Muñoz y Pabón 11. Palacio de San Telmo 12. Cathedral 13. Alameda de Hércules 14. Avenida de Roma 15. Puerta de Jerez 16. Calle Goyeneta 17. Iglesia de la Anunciación

18. Plaza de la Pescadería 19. Calle Alemanes 20. Calle Argote de Molina 21. Calle Segovias 22. Calle Abades 23. Puerta de Córdoba 24. Puerta del Sol 25. Colegio Salesiano de La Trinidad 26. Iglesia de Santa Catalina 27. La Corza 28. Calle Azafrán 29. Matahacas 30. Calles Gallos – Butrón 31. Convento de San Agustín 32. Calle San Luis 33. Calles Arrayán – Virgen del Carmen Doloroso 34. Archivo de Indias

Addendum: Location and Current Names of Pl aces Mentioned in this Book

Add. 3 Plan of the City of Écija (Astigi)

35. Iglesia de Santa Cruz 36. Plaza de España



The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Add. 4 Plan of the City of Córdoba (Corduba)

37. Puerta de Sevilla 38. Seminario de San Pelagio 39. Plaza de la Compañía 40. Patio de los Naranjos (Mezquita de Córdoba) 41. Sala de Oración (Mezquita de Córdoba) 42. Calle Torrijos 43. Cementerio de Nuestra Señora de la Salud 44. Antiguo Cortijo de Chinales 45. Antigua Facultad de Veterinaria

46. Antigua Huerta de La Camila 47. Santa Marina 48. Calle Duque de la Victoria 49. Iglesia de San Pedro 50. Calle Diario de Córdoba 51. Plaza de El Potro 52. Antiguo Barrionuevo de Tundidores 53. Concilio Provincial de la Bética 54. Teatro Romano de Córdoba 55. Calle Lucano 56. Calle Cordel de Écija

List of Abbreviations


Anuario Arqueológico de Andalucía Anales de Arqueología Cordobesa Archivo Español de Arqueología Année Épigraphique Boletín del Museo Arqueológico Nacional Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum II Corpus de Inscripciones Latinas de Andalucía Carmina Latina Epigraphica Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueología de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Epigrafia Romana de la Beturia Céltica Hispania Antigua Epigraphica Hispania Epigráfica Inscripciones Cristianas de la España Romana y Visigoda Inscriptiones Hispaniae Christianae Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres Inscripciones Latinas del Museo de Málaga Madrider Mitteilungen Mélanges de l’École Française The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire Die römischen Inschriften von Tarraco

Preface No siempre es un ejercicio cómodo hacer una presentación de un libro de investigación de una importancia como el que nos ocupa. Cuando no lo es, se suele incurrir en tópicos, generalidades y lugares comunes que en realidad encubren la necesidad de cumplir lo antes posible con un encargo que no se ha podido rechazar. Afortunadamente no es este el caso porque el autor forma parte del círculo de investigadores más jóvenes a los que admiro por su capacidad de trabajo, su honestidad investigadora y una dedicación altruista que tiene que compaginar con un número elevado de horas de docencia en un instituto público. También por su intensidad intelectual que, en ocasiones y en el cara a cara, puede acabar con la resistencia del interlocutor más preparado, al que no le queda más remedio que solicitar una pausa con un buen vino de por medio. Y es que el autor de este trabajo es también el andaluz más irónico, ocurrente y divertido, con quien me he encontrado, de manera que, dada mi rigidez castellana, siempre he tenido que echar mano de mis mejores recursos verbales e intelectuales para procurar estar a la altura de sus retos dialécticos cuando debatimos sobre arqueología, historia u otras cuestiones más mundanas. En lo que respecta al libro que aquí se presenta, se trata de la parte más sólida de una extensa, ambiciosa y bien trabajada tesis doctoral centrada en el estudio de la parte occidental de la provincia romana de la Bética en época tardoantigua. Precisamente un territorio económicamente sustancial para el Imperio romano, pero el más desconocido de la provincia pese a contar con un buen número de novedosas y rigurosas excavaciones arqueológicas en los últimos años que están abriendo nuevas perspectivas de estudio en la zona y ampliando sensiblemente el horizonte del conocimiento histórico. Sin embargo, y pese a esta riqueza informativa, faltaba por realizar un trabajo de estudio general, compilación, ordenación y síntesis de los materiales y datos elaborados a partir de ellos de manera individual y, a veces, dispersa. Faltaba el trabajo de conjunto capaz de facilitar la comprensión del contexto histórico general. Esta ha sido la labor principal del autor, labor difícil, exhaustiva y casi podríamos decir titánica, dada el volumen de información que ha manejado y conseguido aunar en un discurso coherente, reflexionado y bien trabajado. El elevado número de materiales arqueológicos que ha manejado para conseguir su propósito es sin duda indispensable si tenemos en cuenta la evidente y perturbadora falta de fuentes escritas para el estudio de esta época en este marco geográfico en particular y para todas las Hispanias en general. De manera que es la


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

arqueología y los estudios multidisciplinares que lleva aparejados la que se convierte de mano del autor en la esencia de los avances del discurso histórico de la Bética. Durante años el autor ha investigado materiales epigráficos, arqueológicos, artísticos de la Bética Occidental, algunos de los cuales por razones diversas ofrecían poca aportación seria a un trabajo de conjunto y dificultaban la labor del investigador. Una empresa de estas características la ha podido llevar a cabo gracias a su experiencia y la sólida formación como arqueólogo, resultado del elevado número de excavaciones en las que ha participado y ha dirigido que complementa con publicaciones en revistas de prestigio académico sobre materiales arqueológicos del territorio meridional peninsular. Pero también por el especial carácter con que ha afrontado un estudio de esta envergadura, no siempre fácil y sin lugar a dudas voluminoso, que ha supuesto un reto importante pero necesario de emprender. Ímpetu y valentía son las dos palabras que definen los inicios de su trabajo, constancia y perseverancia caracterizan los años empleados en el estudio, y el éxito sin duda concluye el final del mismo. Pero es evidente que un trabajo de este calado no puede ser publicado en su totalidad por razones editoriales, motivo por el que el autor se ha visto obligado a reducir la publicación del volumen de sus investigaciones a las manifestaciones arquitectónicas vinculadas al poder imperial en la provincia y a los poderes locales predominantes en ella, en particular en el espacio más reducido pero visible e imperante del cristianismo que se convierte en la época de estudio en la religión dominante. El volumen con el resultado de sus pesquisas se distribuye tres partes. La primera la componen los tres primeros capítulos que nos introducen en el contexto histórico y documental del tema que se va a desarrollar con la finalidad de que quienes no conocen bien la historia de la Baetica durante la Antigüedad Tardía puedan tener algunas referencias básicas. La segunda parte se compone de siete capítulos, extensos y enjundiosos, donde se presentan los datos arqueológicos de los más de 30 complejos edilicios que se pueden fechar en esta época, analizados cada uno de ellos pormenorizadamente y con exquisita y cuidada referencia entre sí y en relación a otros edificios similares del antiguo Imperio Romano, de manera que ha logrado el primer trabajo de recopilación y análisis de los edificios no residenciales tardoantiguos en la Baetica que tiene como punto de partida las actuales provincias españolas. Finalmente, la tercera parte comprende dos capítulos que a mi modo de ver son esenciales en un estudio de estas características. A través de ellos trata de reconstruir, en la medida de lo posible y con los materiales con que se cuenta, un panorama general de esta provincia en la época tardía,



panorama que hasta ahora era poco conocido. Es decir, que partiendo de la información arqueológica analizada de una manera crítica y exhaustiva, el autor se atreve a presentar una visión global e interpretativa de la historia de este periodo. Su finalidad principal es hacer Historia con los documentos que ha manejado, no quedarse simplemente en un estudio de los mismos, y con ello ir a la esencia de lo que persigue todo historiador que se precie como tal, el situar a su campo de estudio, en este caso la Baetica, en el contexto general del devenir histórico del Imperio de Occidente al que pertenece y al que no solo no es ajena, sino en el que tiene un papel importante. Aunque, como el autor reconoce, en este empeño queda todavía mucho camino por recorrer, muchos materiales que trabajar y mucha investigación que completar y por ello el último capítulo se centra en subrayar las ideas clave que se han expuesto en la obra y quedan abiertas las vías a través de las cuales se puedan generar nuevas expectativas de trabajo y las nuevas perspectivas que permitan en un futuro complementar y avanzar en la investigación y en los resultados que aclaren cada vez más el panorama histórico general de la Bética al final de la Antigüedad. No quiero finalizar sin resaltar una vez más el enorme esfuerzo que Jerónimo ha realizado en los años de dedicación a una empresa de la que el primer resultado es el libro que ahora tenemos entre las manos y que permite dar a conocer al mundo académico y científico los avances de la investigación en el extremo suroccidental del continente europeo. Esperemos que este trabajo sirva de aliciente y de ejemplo para futuros investigadores y de interés para el colectivo científico que se dedica al estudio del final de la Antigüedad, ya que en él se demuestra el papel esencial de la provincia romana de la Bética en la historia general del Imperio romano. Rosa Sanz Serrano Universidad Complutense de Madrid Grupo Barbaricum

Acknowledgements This is the most difficult section of this book to write. It would be practically impossible to thank every single person whose support has proven instrumental throughout the ten years of research presented here. The book that readers have in their hands ultimately derives from the interpretive part of my doctoral thesis, entitled Architecture and Power in Western Baetica between the 4th and 8th Centuries AD: The Christianization of the Cities and the Territory. This thesis includes the study of more than three hundred pieces of architectural and liturgical decoration scattered across more than twenty museums and private collections in five current provinces of Spain (Jaén, Córdoba, Seville, Huelva, and Badajoz); it also includes a catalogue consisting of tens of epigraphic inscriptions; and it fully studies thirty-four building complexes of Late Antiquity in western Baetica, an area of about 60,000 square km, only slightly smaller than Belgium and the Netherlands combined. Needless to say I could not possibly have done all this work on my own. Every visit to museums, archaeological sites, and research centres in both Spain and the rest of Europe was an opportunity to meet wonderful people, who have always been generously and selflessly willing to help. Naming who, where, when, and how all these people made my task easier would be a vast endeavour. To all of them my deepest appreciation for their support. Various people have accompanied me throughout most of this long process of study. I would like to mention the directors of the Archaeological Museum of Córdoba, Francisco Godoy and M. Dolores Baena, who greatly facilitated my work; my dear colleagues and students of the Santos Isasa High School (Montoro, Córdoba), who patiently endured my absences; my colleagues at the University of Seville, especially Salvador Ordóñez and Sergio García-Dils, who share with me this (rare) interest in late antique Baetica; my dear Portuguese archaeologists, André Carneiro (University of Evora), Virgilio Lopes (Archaeological Site of Evora), and Mélanie Wolfram; also the German Archaeological Institute represented by its director Dirce Marzoli; I cannot forget Neil Christie (University of Leicester, England) and his always-interesting notes; the directors of research groups in which I participate, Helena Gimeno (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Hispania), Javier Andreu Pintado (Los Bañales, Uncastillo Foundation), and Pilar García (University of Navarra); and, of course, my Catalan friends, from whom I have learnt so much, namely Pep Anton Remolà (Archaeological Museum of Tarragona), Meritxell Pérez (University of Rovira i Virgili), Gemma García, Antonio Moro, and Jordi López (ICAC).


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Special thanks are due to my dear friends of the Barbaricum research group at the Complutense University of Madrid – the only research group in the Iberian Peninsula which studies Hispania in Late Antiquity through different disciplines: Rosa Sanz, David Hernández, Rosa García-Gasco, Emilio Gamo, Saul Martín, and David Álvarez. They are the lifeblood of a group in which I have been able to fully develop my expertise in Late Antiquity, and where I have grown as a researcher thanks to their support and friendship. However, this book would not have been possible without the determination of three people. First, Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln), someone who really encouraged me to undertake this publishing project. Secondly, Erin Thomas Dailey, my long-suffering editor at Amsterdam University Press, blessed with a biblical patience displayed at every stage of the editing process. And finally, I must highlight the dedicated translation work of Pedro Santamaría and my dear wife, Carmen Cuadro. Heir to stoicism, they have translated a whole book about broken stones, destroyed churches, and people who have been dead for 1500 years. I have robbed Carmen and my two daughters, Carmen and Irene, of a lot of time together. From now on, I will be able to give them back every single minute. Jerónimo Sanchez Velasco Ante diem XVIII Kal. Ian. Era MMLIII

Introduction The purpose of this book is to analyse the process of Christianization in western Baetica, part of the southern-most province of Roman Hispania. At present it corresponds with the western zone of Andalusia and the south of the region of Extremadura. The common history of this territory within the Roman Empire provides the context for a comparative study of six different episcopal sites: Córdoba (Corduba); Cabra (Egabrum) in today’s province of Córdoba; Écija (Astigi) in today’s province of Seville; Seville itself (Hispalis); Italica (adjacent to modern-day Santiponce), also in the province of Seville; and Niebla (Ilipla) in today’s province of Huelva. The lack of historical sources of this period in Baetica forces us to work, almost exclusively, with data from archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics. Christianization has often been studied as a process of predominantly religious change. This is the traditional approach taken by ‘Christian archaeology’, the focus of which is on the expansion of the new religion and its liturgical modifications. However, this book analyses the process of Christianization in a very different way, from the point of view of social history. The central argument is that an exhaustive analysis of the earliest Christian architecture can provide us with a reliable picture of the transformations that triggered the end of classical society in Baetica, and that these changes happened faster and deeper than is generally admitted. In less than eighty years, a new architecture emerged that transformed cities and the countryside. Basilicas consecrated to the martyrs took over the necropolises. Churches and cemeteries arose in urban centres, on forums and baths, whose pagan decoration was destroyed. Episcopal complexes occupied large areas of the city. Monasteries controlled Roman roads and developed important economic activities. The Church was one of the main protagonists of these transformations, and demonstrated its power through an architecture that modified the landscape. This power was exercised by the figure of the bishop, as if he were the ruler of a small state, anticipating what is often considered a particularly medieval phenomenon. These bishops belonged to local aristocratic elites, and even formed episcopal dynasties. Archaeological, epigraphic, and numismatic data confirm the importance of episcopal control over society, politics, and the economy. Some proceedings of the councils that have come to us attempt to solve territorial problems and the balance of power between bishoprics, confirming the interpretation of the archaeological evidence offered here.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

This book thus aims to achieve a fundamental reconsideration of existing historical and archaeological paradigms concerning the impact of Christianity on territories and societies, moving away from what we might call ‘Christiancentrism’. The unusual social perspective used for the interpretation of the archaeological findings firmly guides the reader to the conclusion that it is not enough to talk about Christian archaeology in the traditional way; rather, we must talk about an archaeology of ecclesiastical power, since Christianity must be analysed as a phenomenon that certainly goes beyond faith. This book addresses, for the first time and from the basis of social history, the process of Christianization in western Baetica. The concept of ‘Christianization’ is central to the argument of this book. The use of the term implies more than just narrow religious claims about doctrine or liturgical practice. Rather, Christianization is a paradigm, a thread that will guide us through a series of social, economic, and political changes. Just as such changes affected the whole Roman Empire, so they decisively affected the history of Baetica from the fourth century to the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by Umayyad armies at the start of the eighth century. The scholarly critique of previous publications has been a necessary task because in many of the studies a significant over-reliance on traditional historiographical discourse was far too obvious. It is common to find studies of Christianity that adopt a narrowly religious starting point: for example, archaeological publications include categories such as ‘early Christianity’ or ‘archeologia Cristiana’ and focus on the appearance of new churches, the liturgy practised in them, or iconography.1 Such studies, the origins of which can be traced to nineteenth-century Italy, were consolidated during the twentieth century thanks to the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology and its publications (since 1925). Later, under the influence of French archaeologists, many of these publications studied the Christian topography of regions or the urban transformation of a specific city.2 That is to say, these studies stressed the implantation of the new religion and its expansion. Another group of works emphasized the study of historical sources, for example hagiographies,3 treatises about heresies, 4 ecclesiastical factions,5 or other aspects of the life of Christian communities.6 1 Testini 1980, 1:, ‘L’archeologia cristiana è una scienza storica, che ha per compito lo studio delle testimonianze monumentali dei primi secoli dell’antichità cristiana.’ 2 Duval 1971; Duval 1973. 3 Castillo 1999; Duval 1993. 4 Sotomayor and Fernández 2006. 5 Teja 1995. 6 Sotomayor 2006.



This approach has provided interesting results, but it has major limitations, since it focuses on the emergence and evolution of Christianity and disregards the society in which such processes occurred. It is true that some recent publications, under the influence of medieval archaeology, have studied the archaeological remains of churches and cemeteries in their social and economic contexts.7 However, the traditional view has prevailed, with very slight changes in the way of approaching the problem. In this sense, in Italy there is talk of the ‘archaeology of churches’,8 which focuses on technical analysis, expressly renouncing the study of the social and economic implications of these buildings.9 In France these quantitative and technical studies have also been imposed.10 And, finally, the largest European research project on the architecture of Late Antiquity is a catalogue of churches the aim of which is to create a large online database.11 The intention of this book is different. Christianization is understood as a phenomenon that best illustrates the process of transformation of the social, political, and economic order of Rome (in the fourth to seventh centuries). To be fully understood, this phenomenon must be studied from the perspective of social history.12 The research presented in this book demonstrates that religious changes have causes and consequences that go well beyond a mere change of beliefs. In fact, Christianization must be related to the evolution of the Church as an institution that accumulated more and more social, political, and economic power. In less than eighty years, Christianity went from a persecuted religion (as evidenced by the laws of Diocletian and Galerius in 303–304 AD) to the official religion of the whole Roman Empire (as shown by the edict of Thessalonica, 380 AD). It is impossible to fully understand this process from a narrowly religious perspective or by studying the institutional history of the Church through documents such as the canons of church councils. The key to this rapid process is undoubtedly to understand how and why the Church became a powerful institution under the Roman State during 7 Two examples of this type of publications are Pergola 2001 and Chavarria 2009. Medieval Archaeology developed studies focused on social and economic questions, leaving purely religious questions aside. This development is due in large part to scientific journals such as Medieval Archaeology (since 1957) in United Kingdom and Archeologia Medievale (since 1974) in Italy. 8 Chavarria 2009. 9 Chevalier 2010: 348. 10 Chapelot 2010. 11 Ripoll 2009. 12 Kocha 2008: 159.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

the fourth century. When Roman imperial power no longer reached into the former western provinces in the fifth century, the Church, through its representatives, especially the bishops, became one of the few institutions, and perhaps the most widespread, capable of coping with this crisis. In fact, the prestige and influence of the Church grew in the absence of the State. Under the leadership of bishops, as key members and representatives of local elites, many cities survived an extremely unsettled era. Later, in the seventh century, ecclesiastical power continued to grow, linked to the new barbarian kingdoms and the emergence of what we could call ‘national churches’. This book offers a synthetic view of this important region during Late Antiquity. Any study of the province of Baetica in this period must confront the lack of historical sources. The history of the evolution of Christianity in Baetica is especially affected by this lack of texts. For this reason, the present study is largely based on archaeological evidence and epigraphic evidence. Archaeology and epigraphy provide valuable information that will allow us to analyse the extent to which the Christianization of the cities and the countryside of Baetica was the direct consequence of the extension and strengthening of the power of the Church. Christianity is embodied in the archaeological record in a number of different ways, such as iconography, mosaics, funerary rites, and wall paintings. This book focuses on religious and funerary architecture, since not only is it archaeologically recognizable, but it also allows us to chart changes in the landscape.13 The necropolises of late antique Baetica are a secondary focus, while the funerary archaeology of late antique Baetica is not a main concern of this study.14 The subject of early Christian architecture has been approached from the theoretical concept of the ‘architecture of power’. The work of Sudjic is particularly important in our application of the concept to Late Antiquity: Building is not just about the practical provision of shelter, or the construction of the modern infrastructures of a state. Though it may appear to be rooted in pragmatism, it is a powerful and extraordinarily revealing expression of human psychology. […] It is a means of inflating the human ego to the scale of a landscape, a city, or even a nation. It reflects the ambitions and insecurities and motivations of those who build and, 13 The capacity of these buildings to determine the historical, social, and religious identity evolution in studies on Late Antiquity is widely recognized; an example in Chevalier 2011. 14 Carmona 1998.



because of that, it offers a faithful reflection of the nature of power, its strategies, its consolations and its impact on those who wield it.15

The relationship between architecture and identity is also important and, while the essential motivations may not have not changed, the processes, the materials, and the timescales that shape buildings may well have: On one level, architecture never changes. Despite the veneer of the contemporary, architecture is intimately concerned with the primal issues confronting us in our attempts to come to terms with who we are, and what life is. Architecture is constantly about the same things: power, glory, spectacle, memory, identity.16

How does the concept of the ‘architecture of power’ apply to Late Antiquity in western Baetica? The central argument of this book is that an exhaustive analysis of early Christian architecture (churches and funerary monuments) provides us with a reliable picture of the transformations that triggered the end of classical society in Baetica, and these changes are faster and deeper than generally admitted.17 The changes are not related to the personal religious conversion of the population, a topic that the available data cannot enable us to address, but to the ability of the Christian Church to build complexes that reflected and displayed its increasing power.18 In less than eighty years a new architecture emerged that transformed cities and the countryside. Necropolises were occupied by great basilicas consecrated to local martyrs, such as St. Acisclus (Córdoba) and Sts. Iusta and Rufina (Seville). These basilicas managed funeral spaces, establishing a clear hierarchy among the tombs. For example, there was stiff competition for burial near the relics of the saints (ad sanctos). This changed traditional Roman burial patterns, where gravesites were located outside the boundaries of cities and along roads. Churches and cemeteries arose in urban centres, in fora, temples, and baths, the pagan decoration of which was destroyed. In Córdoba, a church was built on the site of a Roman bath, while in Écija the temple of the Roman imperial cult was destroyed and its entrance converted into a huge cemetery. Episcopal complexes occupied large areas of cities such as Seville 15 16 17 18

Sudjic 2011: 323–324. Sudjic 2011: 324. Sotomayor 1994; García Moreno 2007. Papaconstantinou, McLynn, and Schwartz 2015.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

and Córdoba, and were embellished with colonnaded streets, sigma-plazas, and arches. All these architectural forms were highly charged with symbolic meaning and invested with power by reusing great columns (spolia) in an obvious attempt to imitate ancient Roman public architecture loaded with prestige.19 The monasteries functioned as architectural complexes that controlled important Roman roads. This is the case of El Germo and La Losilla, sites that were strategically located on the road between the city of Córdoba and the mines of Almadén. The monasteries also controlled important economic activities, such as in Seville, where a monastery took over activity within the port in the city. The Church was one of the main protagonists of these transformations, demonstrating its power through an architecture that modified cities and the landscape. This power was exercised by the bishop,20 as if he were the ruler of a small state, in some ways anticipating the Middle Ages. These bishops belonged to local aristocratic elites, and even formed episcopal dynasties. Perhaps the best known episcopal dynasty in Baetica is that of Isidore of Seville and his brothers, who controlled the bishoprics of Seville and Écija for decades. Archaeological, epigraphic, and numismatic data confirm the importance of episcopal control over society, politics, and the economy. Some proceedings of the church councils that have come to us basically deal with how to solve territorial problems and the balance of power between bishoprics. This was what happened, for example, in the Second Council of Seville (619 AD). This book urges us to deeply reconsider current historical and archaeological paradigms concerning the impact of Christianity on particular territories and societies. The characteristic focus of this study on interpreting archaeological findings within their social context firmly guides the reader to the conclusion that we must do more than talk about Christian archaeology merely in the traditional way. Rather, we should also consider the archaeology of ecclesiastical power, since Christianity must be analysed as a phenomenon that undoubtedly goes beyond faith. The structure of this book presents in detail this process of Christianization using the available evidence, particularly the relevant archaeological information. The first part of the book, ‘Baetica in Late Antiquity’, gives a brief historical overview to help to contextualize the archaeology of western Baetica. It is divided into three chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the 19 Jacobs 2014; Jacobs 2015. 20 Fear, Fernández, and Marcos 2013.



Roman period, on imperial interactions with Baetica, and on provincial responses to increasing integration into the Empire. The production of raw materials and food made the province prosperous. Baetican cities raised important monuments and experienced considerable urban development during the late Republic and early Empire. The archaeological remains of these imposing cities are explained in the second chapter. Chapter 3 introduces the reader to the history of late antique Baetica, beginning with the fourth century, moving on to the end of Roman rule during the fifth century, and ending with the Visigothic period. The intention is not to provide an exhaustive history, but to point out the main historical events and interpretations in order to contextualize later arguments based on the archaeological evidence. The second part, ‘Early Christian Topography’, forms the core of the book. This is the fruit of over ten years of research into the material record of late antique Baetica. It is divided into seven chapters that follow the ecclesiastical organization of the western part of the province. Chapter 4 seeks to establish the limits of the bishoprics of western Baetica. A chapter is then dedicated to each of the six bishoprics of western Baetica: Córdoba, Cabra, Écija, Seville, Italica, and Niebla. Each of these chapters follows the same structure. Firstly, we study the episcopal seat and then, later, each of the cities or places with remains that can be linked to Christianity. This is the first time that the detailed relationship of the Christian topography of Baetica has been published. Also for the first time, all the archaeological and epigraphic materials relevant to the process of Christianization over these four centuries has been collected together. What is more, the comparison of the findings with their analogues in Hispania and the Mediterranean allows us to offer a critical and accurate view of the type of archaeological evidence that we face. In order to explore further the introduction of Christianity and the architecture that mirrors it, we have found it convenient to sum up in this section those places where we believe there to have been a church. Thanks to certain elements of architectural decoration (such as the remains of altars) or epigraphy (foundation inscriptions), we have been able to discern the location of these churches. By attending to their distribution, we have been able to approach the organization of the territory and establish hypotheses about how and why churches were founded in certain places. The last part of the book, ‘Christianization: An Archaeology of Ecclesiastical Power’, is composed of two chapters that synthesize the evidence for the Christianization of the cities and the landscape of western Baetica and address the social repercussions of Christianization. Chapter 11 offers a


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

technical summary of the archaeological evidence for the different types of early Christian architecture in the region. Although the chapter aims to determine how Christian architecture developed in western Baetica in particular, it has also been possible to compare this to contemporaneous developments in Christian architecture elsewhere in Hispania and further afield. The chapter is organized according to the religious importance of each building. It begins with episcopal complexes and a discussion about their characteristics and location in the city. Then we analyse the different types of churches and the influences they received. Baptisteries and baptismal buildings are analysed from a liturgical and symbolic point of view, especially highlighting that new data allows for a comparison with funerary monuments. The monasteries are treated subsequently, distinguishing three basic types, and emphasizing how their architectural features conformed to their religious and economic functions. In the next section we provide data on three types of buildings unknown in Baetica: towers, atriums, and colonnaded streets. Funerary monuments close the catalogue of building types and demonstrate their relationship with the baptisteries of Baetica. The last section revisits early Christian architecture, establishing its relationship with contemporary architecture from the rest of the Mediterranean region. Finally, Chapter 12 synthesizes the data and summarizes the overall argument that the Christianization of western Baetica resulted from the evolution of an ever more powerful Church across Late Antiquity. The origin of this power differs across time, but it is clear that the support of the Roman imperial government and the Visigothic state were fundamental to the process. This powerful Church transformed urban spaces and rural landscapes. Over time, each bishopric shaped the layout of important cities to its interests, appropriated the most emblematic spaces, and took control of suburban areas and cemeteries. Bishoprics demonstrated and reinforced their power by controlling strategic routes and places through the founding and expanding of monasteries. Likewise, we will see how bishoprics administered the abundant economic resources of the territories that surrounded cities and competed to preserve their interests, sometimes against one another. Recent investigations have raised the possibility that some cities, or perhaps their bishops, minted bronze coins in Visigothic times.21 This would be a demonstration of political and economic independence. In short, this chapter offers a new interpretation of the end of the classical world in Baetica, in which the Church is one of the main protagonists and 21 Pliego 2015–2016.



undoubtedly one of the great beneficiaries of the profound changes that occurred. Due to lack of space, we have not been able to include in this book the complete list of all architectural decoration and inscriptions studied. However, we have incorporated them into the maps presented so that the reader can have an idea of their distribution. As will be seen, despite being a book based on archaeological data, this study still performs the much needed exercise of historical interpretation. In our case, we have tried to unite, consistently, the three main sources of information on this type of architecture: epigraphy, architectural decoration, and buildings, in order to unify aspects that have hitherto been treated independently. This book can thus serve as a unifying document upon which future research and interpretation can build. Detailed studies of buildings, towns, necropolises, grave goods, ceramic contexts, and domestic areas will further refine the findings presented here.

Part 1 Baetica in Late Antiquity


Roman Baetica in History

To speak of Baetica is to talk about the history of Rome itself. This province was, for almost three hundred years, where some of the most important issues affecting Rome as a state and civilization were decided. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight some of these relevant historical facts, which will allow the reader to grasp the importance of the region within that huge mosaic of territories that was the Roman Empire. The Roman province of Baetica was created by the emperor Augustus from part of a large republican province, Hispania Ulterior, around 16 BC. (The rest of the territory formed the Roman province of Lusitania.) It comprised most of the contemporary Spanish region of Andalusia and the south of Extremadura. Definitely, the heart of the new Roman province was the valley of the Guadalquivir river, known as the Baetis in Antiquity, and its tributary, the Genil river (Singilis in Latin). Both these rivers were navigable in Antiquity. The territory surrounding them was very fertile, and the mountainous area that delimited the region currently contains significant examples of mines worked in Roman times. The region was inhabited by Iberians and Turdetans in the interior, by Celtic tribes in mountainous areas, and by Phoenician settlers on the coasts and major ports. Since the battle of Baecula (208 BC), the territory had become entirely dependent on Rome, which thus managed to hold sway over the Carthaginian supply centre in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. After the battle of Ilipa (206 BC), effective control was absolute and Rome adopted a policy of conquest and subjugation of a region that enjoyed enormous agricultural and mineral wealth. Those lands, men, and resources that had enabled Hannibal to wage war against and almost annihilate Rome, 1 were now available to the victors of the Second Punic War.2 Almost immediately, the founding of Roman and Italic settlements and cities helped control the newly conquered territory: Italica (206 BC), Carteia (171 BC), and Córdoba (152 BC). Hispania Ulterior Baetica was the first province outside Italy, and thus a true laboratory of design and administration later applied in other territories, creating a modus operandi: respect for local autonomy in cultural or religious matters, close economic control, and the absence of provincial administrative posts.3 1 2 3

Hoyos 2008; Hoyos 2003. Marco 1990: 27–32. Jiménez and Ribera 2002.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Córdoba formed the provincial capital, being well-connected and with great agricultural and mining potential in the areas that surround the Sierra Morena (Almadén, Castulo). So-called ‘Romanization’ spread gradually, 4 and not only due to the arrival of soldiers or state administrators, but also with the appearance of negotiatores and publicani, attracted en masse in the hope of swift enrichment.5 Thus, the province became, in a relatively short time, one of the most Romanized areas in the Republic. The onset of instability in the Roman Republic (first century BC), which resulted in a series of civil wars, affected this region. In the context of the struggle between Marius and Sulla, particularly at the end of the Sullan period (82–79 BC), the controversial figure of Sertorius (80–72 BC) and his military uprising emerged in Hispania Citerior.6 This conflict had repercussions in Hispania Ulterior Baetica: Pompey (between the years 76–71 BC) began to establish close client relations with important families in Baetica, who remained faithful to his cause during the civil wars that trigger the end of the Republic. If there is a well-documented historical event in ancient Baetica, it is the war that pitted Caesar’s and Pompey’s families, described in the classical text The Spanish War (Bellum Hispaniensis).7 ‘Now that Pharnaces had been overcome and Africa recovered’, only the sons of Pompey stood in the way of Caesar’s race to absolute power. In fact, after Pompey’s murder in Egypt (48 BC), the optimates could only count on the prestige of what was left of the general’s family and on the support it had in Hispania in order to counter Caesar. Caesar’s victories at Ategua (19 February 45 BC), Munda 4 Tsirkin 1992: 205–206: ‘Romanization is a complex and manifold process including four major aspects. The first is economic Romanization, i.e. the integration of a provincial economy into an imperial one. Secondly, it is social Romanization, i.e. the spreading in the provinces of the social relations of Antique slave-owning society in its Roman variety including classical slavery. The third aspect of Romanization is political, i.e. the spreading of Roman citizenship, the superseding of native political institutions by Roman ones, the creation of municipia and colonies in place of local communities, the inclusion of the indigenous population into the political and order system of Rome. And, finally, cultural Romanization implies the expansion of the Latin language and its supplantation of local tongues, the assimilation by the natives of the Roman culture, religion among other things and, generally speaking, of Roman ways of life. In short, Romanization means the incorporation of the provinces and their peoples into an integral system of the Roman state. Romanization was carried out through two complementary channels, namely, a) through the immigration into the provinces of the Roman-Italian people who brought their habitual and familiar institutions and forms of living and b) through the transformation of the local society under the influence of the ruling ethnic.’ 5 On the relationship between mining and Romanization, see Blázquez 1996. 6 González Román 1990. 7 Diouron 2003; Damon 2015.

Roman Bae tica in History


(17 March 45 BC), and Córdoba resulted in the removal of that last stronghold for the optimates: victories in Baetica marked Caesar’s final step towards dictatorship and the end of the Republic and its political system.8 Given the noted destruction of cities in Baetica, one would think that the province was relegated to a secondary role on account of its overwhelming allegiance to the Pompeian cause. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Archaeological data, sources, and epigraphy reveal that the region recovered quickly.9 Cities such as Córdoba were reborn from their ashes, and then turned into colonies.10 But new colonies such as Écija were also created; these resulted from a new process of urbanization, in part a direct consequence of the outcome of the war.11 During this new phase, in time of the emperor Augustus, a whole political, economic, and cultural elite emerged in Baetica. This elite eventually reached Rome and give birth to the dynasty that led the Empire to its highest levels of greatness, power, and wealth. Often the economic importance of Baetica, particularly its oil and salted fish trades, is overlooked. But the political ‘weight’ of the region was directly proportional to the presence of important Baetican families at the heart of power in Rome.12 For example, Sextus Marius was the richest man in Rome at the beginning of the first century AD thanks to his mines in the Sierra Morena. Seneca the Elder went to Rome when he was twelve and met all the prominent characters that made up the Roman intelligentsia of the Augustan era. Marcus Porcius Latro, from Córdoba, was undoubtedly the best orator of the Principate. Iunius Lucius Annaeus Gallio, a Cordoban Senator, was a close friend of Emperor Tiberius. And not to forget Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the greatest intellectual figure on morality and politics of his time, and his nephew Marcus Lucanus Anneus, one of the most celebrated Latin poets of the first century AD. The Baetican families of the Antistii, Aponii, Dasumii, Annii, and Aelii were part of the intellectual, economic, and political elite of the Empire. They secured power directly or indirectly (through marriages and female lines contributing prestige) for nearly a century. Emperors such as Trajan and Hadrian, born in Baetica, led the Empire to its peak in the second century AD. Archaeology in Baetica, and in Rome itself, is confirming this image of importance. Cities like Córdoba, Écija, and Italica, all leading urban 8 A publication that analyses this period by different specialists, focusing on the Guadalquivir valley, is Melchor, Mellado, and Rodríguez 2005. 9 Fear 1996: 63. 10 Sánchez Velasco 2011a. 11 González and Saquete 2011. 12 Haley 2003.


The Christianization of Western Baetica

centres, witnessed a major monumentalization process. This was especially prominent during the Flavian era (late first and early second century AD), both at a public and a private level. Écija and Córdoba gained imposing imperial cult centres and their forums were built in the image of that in Rome. Also, the spectacles and games in the province were among the best in the Empire; in fact, the largest collection of epigraphic evidence for gladiators outside Rome is in Córdoba.13 The level of sophistication in baths and houses is evident from the quality and quantity of both mosaics and sculptures: stand-out examples are the Wounded Amazon of Écija and the Crouching Venus of Córdoba. While we have enough data to demonstrate the importance of the region during the first two centuries of the imperial era, unfortunately a lack of research means that we know little about what happened during the third century AD.14 It does appear, however, that invasions by the Mauri from north-west Africa, a change in dynasty in Rome, and the increasing transfer of economic activity in the western empire to North Africa, caused significant repercussions in Baetica. This was the time when smaller cities started to decline, mainly during the late second century AD. In larger cities the abandonment of certain areas and buildings also signifies an inability of the curiae (lower city councils) to maintain urban activity in its former glory. Similarly, significant downturns in the number of Roman farms, and a concentration of rural property in only a few hands, began to shape the landscape of large villae in the fourth century. However, the lack of historical data, the absence of contemporary inscriptions, and the shortcomings of the archaeological record (which has not been well defined), prevent us from knowing exactly what happened during the third century AD in Baetica. We must await the time of Constantine (306–337 AD) for Baetica and her elites to once more play an important role at the imperial level.

13 Ceballos 2002: 126; Sánchez Velasco 2006: 325–328. 14 Padilla 1989. An important examination of this issue referring to Baetica is Sáez et al. 2005. An alternative view, on the doubts whether there is evidence on the crisis of the third century in Hispania, can be read in Kulikowski 2004: 66–69.


Cities and Landscapes in West Roman Baetica

At its base the Roman Empire was organized according to its cities and the territories that surrounded them. In those places of the Empire where there were no cities, or where they were not sufficiently important, the Roman state struggled to create them. But what was the condition of the cities of Baetica? In the following pages we will present the most relevant data about the principal cities of this part of the Empire. In this way it becomes possible to estimate the intensity of the transformations that took place during Late Antiquity. Both historical and archaeological information clearly show that, upon Rome’s arrival in 208 BC, western Baetica already boasted a dense network of important cities and settlements.1 To a certain extent, a great part of Carthage’s success in the Iberian Peninsula was due to it being able to take advantage of such a structure. In fact, it would be impossible to understand either the Second Punic War or the magnitude of the menace posed to Rome by Hannibal Barca if this reality is not grasped. The region was extraordinarily wealthy in metals, grain, olive oil, and mercenaries. The agreements that the Barcas established with the various local powers of the region allowed them to channel these resources into their struggle against Rome. Undoubtedly the Roman state was eventually able to win the war because it seized Hannibal’s supply base, that is, southern Hispania. The conquest of the territory was not easy for Rome,2 and many Baetican cities became Roman tributary towns (civitates stipendiariae),3 owing to their opposition to the conquest. However, Rome also found support in the struggle against the Carthaginians, and other cities were conferred the title of allies of Rome (civitates foederatae). The battle of Baecula (211 BC) took place in the vicinity of the city of Castulo and was an essential Roman victory that facilitated control of a region endowed with great silver mines. 4 Nevertheless, the territory was not completely subdued until the decisive battle of Ilipa (207 BC). Rome’s leaders were quick to understand that, if they had the intention of dominating the territory, they needed to establish 1 2 3 4

Knapp 1977; Keay 1992; Keay and Belén 1998; Rodríguez Neila 2008. Keay 1992. Tovar 1974; Marín Díaz 1988. Domergue 1990.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

permanent bases there. This is why the Senate of Rome immediately set out on a strategy of colonization by founding cities in strategic enclaves. This seems to have lain behind the foundation of the city of Italica, even though the stated reason was to settle those who had been wounded in the battle of Ilipa.5 The city was founded 8 km away from Seville and was well connected with the sea and the route that led to the mining district of Aznalcóllar. It soon became the Roman operational base in the area. Later events, such as the brief anti-Roman revolt of some Baetican cities such as Almuñécar (Sexi), Málaga, and Carmona confirmed how judicious this strategy was. Further, Rome stuck firm to this approach and, in 171 BC, founded yet another city, Carteia, which controlled the Straits of Gibraltar and the activities of the ancient Phoenician colonies of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean seaboards. Sometime later (at a date that is the subject of scholarly controversy),6 Córdoba was founded as a Roman military enclave alongside the identically named Turdetanian town. This is the well-known phenomenon of dual cities (dipolis).7 This new Roman foundation controlled the valley of the river Baetis (Guadalquivir), and the only ford available for tens of kilometres. With a vast cereal production area to the south and an enormous mining district to the north, it was rich in metals such as lead, silver, and copper. These fine conditions eventually made Córdoba the capital of the new province of Hispania Ulterior. The region, packed with colonists, suffered during Rome’s civil strife. Thus, Sertorius disembarked at Baelo Claudia and fought side by side with Baeticans and Lusitanians against the Roman legates of the province, Cecilius Metelus Pius and Cneo Pompeius. Baetica was also the pivotal battleground of Caesar’s war in Hispania.8 The province was divided up into factions, for and against Caesar. The consequences were appalling, and some cities like Córdoba, which embraced Pompey’s cause, were razed and most of their inhabitants killed or sold into slavery. Caesar’s victory also provoked great changes in the province. The discharged soldiers of the victorious faction were settled in military colonies (deductiones) such as Écija.9 The province was later (16 BC) divided in

5 Appian, Iber., 6.7.38. 6 A summary of the polemic is in Canto 1997. The majority opinion is that the city was founded between the years 152 and 151 BC. There are also those who think that it could have been founded in 168 BC. Finally, a single researcher believes that, in fact, it was founded in 25 BC. 7 Knapp 1983: 13. 8 Melchor, Mellado, and Rodríguez 2005. 9 García-Dils 2015: 93–100.

Cities and L andscapes in West Roman Bae tica


two,10 Lusitania and Baetica, the former being assigned to the emperor, the latter to the Senate. The capital was still Córdoba, now called Colonia Patricia, even though four great judicial and fiscal districts were established, the conventus: Cordubensis, Astigitanus, Hispalensis, and Gaditanus. The reform also endowed the region with a network of communications that connected all the main enclaves. Bridges, roads, mansiones, mutationes, and well preserved river banks were basic requirements for the flow of the province’s immense riches to Rome.11 During the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14 BC–37 AD), the mining district of the Sierra Morena (Mons Mariorum) was controlled by the richest man in Rome, a Cordoban named Sextus Marius.12 But the main potential of the province was agriculture, particularly oil production, which reached Rome in amphorae that were not reused later. The dumping site of Baetica’s amphorae created, with the passage of time, a hill close to Rome’s port that came to be known as Monte Testaccio, which gives an idea of the volume of food required to supply the Roman army (annona).13 On the coast, the flourishing garum industry supplied the whole of Italy with this peculiar fish sauce. Archaeologically speaking, we know of the cities thanks to the remains that have appeared in the many excavations undertaken in the last few years.14 The material culture present in the initial moments of these cities is not well-known. Often, as is the case with Córdoba, the erection of great monuments in the city was thought to be related to their legal promotion (a Roman colony) in the Augustan era. However, archaeological evidence suggests that the great buildings of these cities were erected during the Flavian period (mid-first century AD), in many instances as an exhibition of power and wealth by aristocratic elites. Frequently, in studies related to Roman cities or Roman urban planning, it is forgotten that the first great ‘monumentalization’ of the city is seldom evident. The water cycle was essential to the functioning of cities, both to supply water and to dispose of liquid residue through sewerage.15 Córdoba, Écija, and Italica boasted truly monumental sewer networks, the result of 10 Canto 1997: 278–280. 11 Sillières 1990. 12 Tacitus, Annals, 6.19; Dio Cassius, 58.22. 13 Remesal 2003; Blázquez Martínez, and Remesal 2014. 14 The results of the hundreds of excavations (especially between the years 1998 and 2006) can be consulted on the web: . 15 Acero and Remolà 2011.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

careful planning by military engineers and direct investment by the state. Other cities, such as Seville, however, had only a modest system, which shows it was paid for by the city itself. The walls were important in order to demarcate the limits of the city, both at a military and a fiscal level. Hardly any remains of the first precincts have been found (but for some tiny stretches in Córdoba).16 It is surprising that walls were built at the city of Munigua as late as the second century AD.17 As regards the walls of the late antique period, we barely know anything. The walled late antique precinct presumed for Italica has simply not been excavated and therefore we cannot even date it.18 Public buildings in Roman cities played an important role in the creation of a local identity, as an expression of the power and influence of the urban elites that competed with nearby cities. A good example is the provincial concilium of Baetica, located in Córdoba,19 a terraced complex of the Flavian period that shows many similarities to the provincial concilium of Tarragona.20 These include a temple nearly identical to the great temple of the imperial cult in Nîmes, Maison Carrée, surrounded by a treble porticus on the top terrace, a wide plaza in the middle, and a circus and (probably) an amphitheatre in the lower area. The council meetings and religious ceremonies linked to the imperial cult were held in this complex. Another public area of great importance, at a local level, was the forum. We know that during the republican period there was a basilica in the forum, since it was there that the assassination attempt of a provincial quaestor, imposed by Caesar, Quintus Casius Longinus, took place. Later, after the city was rebuilt, the great forum was erected and enlarged on various occasions. The forum was tiled, and can still be seen today in the basements of some buildings. We do not know whether other buildings existed around it. Córdoba also had other prominent buildings, such as temples and baths. Regarding the former, some inscriptions have been found that prove their existence, such as a temple to Tutela and Magna Mater,21 even though at an archaeological level no meaningful remains have been found. Both east and west of the forum, thermal facilities have been unearthed and identified thanks to the finding of the natatio of each of them. The better 16 17 18 19 20 21

Dupré 2004. Schattner 2004. Verdugo 2003. Sánchez Velasco 2006. TED’A 1989: 185. CIL II2 7: 228.

Cities and L andscapes in West Roman Bae tica


preserved forums of western Baetica are those of Écija and today’s Torreparedones. Thanks to the excavations undertaken at the Plaza de España of Écija,22 we know of the existence of an impressive forum and portico. Within this portico, there was a temple of enormous dimensions, at the back of which was a sacred pond. The latter was found clogged with remains that bear witness to the grandiosity of the place: grilles of golden bronze, architectural ornaments made with imported marble, an intact Wounded Amazon, a head of Doryphoros, the torso of a fighter, a foot of bronze of great dimensions, and numerous monumental inscriptions. It is the only temple in Hispania which, owing to epigraphy, we know for certain was consecrated to the imperial cult. The access to this immense forum was from the north, through a roofed street called porticus Munatiana, in honour of the evergetist who built it. Today’s site of Torreparedones (the name of the city is unknown) has quite a wide forum, which was remodelled during the Julio-Claudian period.23 However, it is thought that it must have undergone heavy reforms under Augustus, as shown by the excavations carried out in an extra-urban sanctuary dedicated to Dea Caelestis. Old ex-votii were buried in a large ditch, near an ancient temple of Carthaginian influence (Tanit?). Munigua has also undergone years of excavations, and therefore we know its public urban layout fairly well. This city, the wealth of which was based in mining, built a spectacular terraced sanctuary that imitated the great sanctuaries of Lacium. Its similarities to the sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia are obvious. Within they built temples, cellae, a basilica and, maybe, an archive.24 Italica, also extensively excavated (although quite devastated), had a temple of great dimensions, with a portico and an aedes interpreted to be part of the imperial cult of Emperor Trajan.25 Both the surface area and the ornamentation closely resemble those of the period of Emperor Hadrian, such as the Library of Athens. Other cities such as Carmona, after limited excavations, also show the existence of such public areas. In Carmona, a forum of the Augustan period was found, reformed during the imperial period with a great platform of slabs surrounded by tabernae.26 Another form of public architecture, buildings for public entertainment, became prominent in the region and were decisive in urban planning. 22 23 24 25 26

García-Dils 2015: 169–266. Merino 2016. AE 1972: 263 and AE 1972: 257. Schattner 2004. Caballos, Marín, and Rodríguez 1999. Caballos 2001.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

It could be said that each sort of spectacula corresponds to a particular historical period, becoming emblems of urban development. Theatres must have existed during the republican period, as shown by the Lex Ursonensis.27 However, the best examples seem to have been erected at the turn of the era, like the theatres of Italica, Córdoba, or Acinipo. Those of Regina and Singilia Barba date to the Flavian period. Italica boasts one of the biggest amphitheatres of the Empire.28 It was built close to the Hadrianic enlargement of the city and took advantage of the course of a stream; and it is one of the best architectural examples in the region. Carmona’s amphitheatre is not as well preserved, carved as it was in soft and porous rock. A small cella consecrated to the cult of Nemesis has been found in each of them. The remains of another amphitheatre have been found in the western area of Córdoba, however, its chronology is doubtful and its interpretation has proved controversial. Some studies locate a fossilized amphitheatre in the eastern area of the city, by the circus, even though it would be necessary to excavate in order to confirm the hypothesis. An amphitheatre has also been found in Écija,29 albeit far too damaged. It was found under the framework of the old bull ring of the city. It is rather large, and the only certain amphitheatre of Baetica built with the same techniques as the Colosseum, that is to say, on a plain and supported by great pillars. It is only in two cities, Córdoba and Écija, that circus related structures have been found, though as always the remains are scattered and much damaged.30 The final definition of those buildings will only be possible after more thorough excavations, but at least locating them has allowed us to understand part of the urban evolution of the cities, particularly of the suburbium. One of the great problems at an archaeological level is domestic architecture. Roman cities, of course, contained more than just great buildings and spectacular works of engineering. Their wealth was also displayed in their residences and villae, which filled agriculturally prosperous territories. Examples are few in number and the thorough excavation of complete houses or villae is still a pending project. Thus, the overall picture known to us is only provisional and in need of completion. Baetican cities, particularly Córdoba and Italica, had houses which followed the usual Italian pattern, raised around an atrium. However, Helenistic influences also appeared, 27 28 29 30

Jansen 2005. Golvin 1988; Jiménez 2015. García-Dils 2015: 267–273. Humphrey 1986; Nogales and Sánchez-Palencia 2001; García-Dils 2015: 274–285.

Cities and L andscapes in West Roman Bae tica


resulting in houses with peristyle, generally on a linear axis, in turn giving way to great and generally long blocks. The capital, Córdoba, barely has any complete houses remaining, these being in today’s San Fernando, Fray Luis de Granada, and Ramírez de las Casas Deza streets. They all have a peristyle and toscan style columns, and are decorated with rich mosaics and frescoes on the walls. Those found in Italica are far more numerous, even though their state of preservation is poor. Their most characteristic trait is that many of them show their mosaics mostly intact, these having been used to name today’s houses: Casa de los Pájaros, Casa de Hylas, Casa de las Columnas, Casa del Planetario, Casa de Venus, etc. Most of these were excavated more than a century ago, and are distributed orthogonally, in blocks 5000 m2. Some show peculiar floor plans and extremely rich decoration (and are thus labelled collegia), as was the case of the so called Casa de la Exedra, even though such interpretation is not beyond doubt. The better preserved domus of Seville were found during the excavations of the Plaza de la Encarnación, which is today a ‘musealized’ area called Antiquarium. At the site, it was possible to excavate a sequence of houses, workshops, and commercial areas dating back to Tiberius and through to the fourth century AD. The area was linked to the port, and its apogee arrived during the fifth century AD, when the area was occupied by a huge house with atrium and exedra. In Écija, thanks to a meticulous recovery programme, documentation, and restoration, a good number of domestic areas have been excavated.31 These have produced an enormous amount of widely-themed mosaics of an extraordinary quality. Houses of great dimensions have also been unearthed, such as ‘la Casa del Oscilum’, showing different phases of occupation from the Julio-Claudian era through to Late Antiquity. A recently discovered phenomenon in the cities of Baetica is the construction, by the end of the Julio-Claudian era, of ample extra-mural districts which turn the suburbia of the cities into urbanized and densely populated areas. These are not isolated villae close to the city, but well-laid-out districts endowed with an infrastructure. A paradigmatic case, the first to be excavated, was Italica, where a huge district called (pompously at times) Nova Urbis enlarged the city and provided it with a huge forum and an enormous amphitheatre. In Córdoba, the construction of the western amphitheatre also brought with it the construction of a great district around the building, with huge streets up to 12 m wide and a magnificent water disposal system. The necropolises of the Julio-Claudian era were reused and, on top of them, 31 García-Dils 2015: 287–446.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

we find a district of great domus, which in some cases even reused part of the great circular mausoleums for their own structures. In the eastern extra-mural area, which was transformed during the medieval era, the whole of the circus was surrounded by wide streets with houses richly decorated with mosaics. In Seville, even though the process is not well documented, we find the remains of supposedly extra-mural houses, such as those on the streets of San Luis, San Fernando, Acera de la Catedral, and Reales Alcázares. This whole urban explosion happened while the religious and public entertainment buildings were being built – and this is not an isolated case. This process must be related with the economic development of the Baetican cities, which became the main product suppliers of the annona. The legal promotion of these towns was a direct consequence of this wealth and the importance that these cities, and their ruling elites, gained during the Flavian period. Beside the suburban areas lie the necropolises,32 most of which were widely excavated during a single decade (1998–2008), in areas that underwent the construction of great infrastructure projects and modern dwellings. Numerous studies stress the survival of rituals or of ethnic and cultural identity. Undoubtedly, one of the most spectacular necropolises is that of Carmona, dated to the first century AD. A powerful Phoenician influence has been assumed, owing to its hypogeums and graves like ‘El Elefante’ or the ‘Servilia’. However, in typically Roman necropolises such as those of Osuna or Torreparedones, hypogeums were also used. Towershaped monuments are typical of Baetica, but unfortunately we do not have any undamaged examples. Part of the reliefs which decorated them have been found in Osuna, Estepa, and Alhonoz. The epigraphy and decoration of truly monumental sepulchres always display military iconography. Very frequently in the eastern part of the province we also find monumental altars, wholly linked to Italian presence and the new colonists. The first necropolises of the imperial period have been excavated in Córdoba. In the northern area we frequently find funerary compounds, of families or collegia. In the western area, by the walls, two huge mausoleums flank the funerary path that gives way to an extensive necropolis which occupied both margins of the Arroyo del Moro. The necropolis of the Puerta de Gallegos and of the Camino Viejo de Almodóvar was an extensive funerary area, which was later urbanized, built around the western amphitheatre. A nearly intact necropolis was excavated in the northern area, in a place called La Constancia, where a large amount of grave goods of outstanding quality 32 Vaquerizo 2010.

Cities and L andscapes in West Roman Bae tica


were found. The distyle of Zalamea (Zalamea de la Serena, Badajoz) or the tower of the Cincho (El Arahal, Seville) are examples of another common occurrence in Baetica: great monumental graves of the imperial era, the context of which is unknown. Finally there is one further matter to address. Many of those funerary monuments and mausoleums have no ditch or graves in the interior. This could be explained by the Baetican tradition of being buried in sarcophagi, usually placed on the floors of the mausoleums, either individually or in groups. There are magnificent examples of sarcophagi imported from Roman workshops, such as the sarcophagus of the ‘Gates of Hades’. But there are also examples of high quality sarcophagi made in local workshops, most probably in Córdoba itself. Beyond the outskirts (suburbium) and the necropolises that surrounded the city was the territory (territorium) over which the city held sway. It is frequently thought that the fields that surrounded the urban territories were full of villae, halfway between agricultural production and leisure. This is true, in part, but we cannot pass over the fact that the rural landscape was full of inhabited areas that were not villae and that are well documented in the sources: templum, lucus, vicus, pagus, mansio, mutatio, cella, etc., are but some of the realities that filled the fields and that, unfortunately, are still to be identified. We should add that, from the third century onwards, a process of property accumulation took place, leading to the disappearance of tiny settlements. Most of these have been detected due to casual finds or traditional prospecting, and have not been excavated. Some did undergo geophysical surveys, and we know of their importance, however very few villae have been completely excavated and, among these, fewer have been published. Such a discouraging outlook does not conceal how important this sort of settlement must have been, particularly the villae of the imperial period. Within the territory of study we must outline the villa of Almedinilla (Córdoba province),33 which is one of the few to have been completely excavated with its findings published. Its last phase is the most spectacular, as it underwent a great restructuring during the fourth century. A semi-circular stibadium was constructed, with a fountain at its centre and, beside it, a monumental nymphaeum. The restructuring of the Villa del Mitra (Cabra, Córdoba) could be dated to the same period, which resulted in numerous rooms with mosaics and an interesting set of sculptures, among which we

33 Vaquerizo and Noguera 1997.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

find an intact Mithra Tauróctonos.34 Two of the excavated and ‘musealized’ villas are those of Fuente Álamo (Puente Genil, Córdoba) and the Villa romana de la Estación (Antequera, Málaga). However, very little has been published in this respect. Thanks to geophysical surveys we know of the existence of a huge Roman villa in El Carpio (Córdoba). It spans the whole width of a tributary of the Guadalquivir, with a pars urbana of nearly two hectares, a rather extensive pars rustica, a possible river port, the production of mulsum, and a potter’s workshop where amphorae were made. This whole landscape substantially changed during the last centuries of the Roman Empire, particularly from Emperor Constantine’s reign onwards. The cities of Baetica dating to the classic era changed radically. For this reason it is so important to present, even briefly, the reality that existed during Classical Antiquity. Otherwise, it is impossible to know the degree and depth of the transformations that were carried out. These transformations will be analysed exhaustively and globally (and for the first time for Baetica) in the second part of this volume.

34 Jiménez and Martín 1992.


From Constantine the Great to the Arab Invasion

Despite fairly regular references in the ancient sources to various aspects of Baetica in Late Antiquity, in truth its history is rather poorly known, and there is a particular scarcity of references to the cities of the region. Here we aim to provide the general historical framework of Baetica during Late Antiquity, beginning with the accession of Constantine the Great (AD 313) and ending with the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (AD 711). The process can be divided roughly into three stages, starting with the great transformation of the Roman Empire in the fourth century AD, of which the best known and best studied phenomenon is the process we call ‘Christianization’. The next stage covers the fifth and much of the sixth century AD, a period characterized by the end of Rome as a state in the West and a loss of control over these territories, a fact ultimately triggered by the arrival of externae gentes.1 The intent of these peoples to settle in different parts of the Iberian Peninsula, the different attitudes of the Baetic (and Iberian) elites to this reality, and attempts by Rome to regain control (nominal and effective) of its former territories, will be the key features during this difficult and turbulent period. Finally, the third historical stage is characterized by the Visigoths. The attempt to control the south of the Iberian Peninsula by the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo does not seem to have occurred earlier than king Teudis (AD 534–548). With a bit of irony we could say that this stage is usually portrayed as a sequence of conflicts and disasters: civil wars among the Goths, wars of conquest against the Baetic cities, Byzantine wars, wars of all against all, murders, treasons, rapes, sacrileges, anti-Semitism, plus depredations by the nobility. We could also use that same irony regarding the archaeology, where churches and cemeteries remain the focus of attention. If we tried to reconstruct the history of the Visigoths through just these two types of archaeological features, it would seem that the only two activities which took place at the time were praying and dying. Obviously, the historical reality is complex, as we will demonstrate later. Throughout this book we 1 The profound changes that took place in the Roman Empire from the end of the second century AD eventually weakened it to dangerous limits. The arrival of several barbarian peoples, in a context of civil war and deep economic crisis, triggered irreversible changes in the Empire (Halsall 2012), and in Hispania in particular (Ubric 2003: 48–70).


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

will be able to verify how the archaeological data allow us to reconstruct an important part of the history and society of Visigothic Hispania. A final issue must be taken into account. Most of the data refer to Córdoba, Seville, and Écija, while we only have some information that refers to the other three bishoprics, those of Cabra, Italica, and Niebla. Therefore, much of this book will refer to the former three bishoprics, rather than the latter.

Rome Was Not Eternal In the fourth century, Córdoba remained the most important city in the province. Yet it is a city that is barely mentioned in the surviving historical sources, although its importance at this time is beyond doubt, since the poet Ausonius included it in his Ordo Urbium Nobilium,2 and since Diocletian maintained it as a provincial capital after his major administrative reforms. As the capital of a Roman province (provinciae caput), Córdoba must have been the seat of the governors (praesides Baeticae). In the administrative centre of the city, that is to say in the forum, evidence has been found of the official activity of these governors, namely the dedication of honorific inscriptions to the emperors of the fourth century. Thus, Octavius Rufus dedicated an inscription to Constantius I,3 Egnatius Faustinus to Constantine I (or II),4 and Decimius Germanianus to Constantius II.5 According to some controversial theories, Seville became the capital of Baetica after the death of Constantius II.6 Regarding the government of the city itself, we do not know for sure if it was maintained, and until when. The information is very scarce, but we suppose that there must have been some type of municipal government, because we know that some corporations of municipal workers still existed in fifth century.7 The governors, as representatives of the increasingly powerful central administration, had to collect taxes, administer justice, officiate the ceremonies of emperor worship, receive hearings, and grant official concessions. Formally they answered to the Vicarius Hispaniarum, the 2 Arce Martínez 1997. 3 CIL II2 / 7: 261. 4 CIL II2 / 7: 264. Some researchers (Salvador Ventura 1998, n.105, 69-70) think that the data that appears in the inscription can make reference to any one of the two emperors; on the other hand, others (PLRE, vol. 1, s.v. Faustinus 9) assign it with certainty to Constantine I. 5 CIL II2 / 7: 265. 6 Arce Martínez 2005a. 7 Sánchez Velasco 2011b: 124, ‘collegium corporis Fabrorum subedianorum Patricensium Cordubensium.’

From Constantine the Great to the Ar ab Invasion


direct representative of the emperor in Hispania based in Emerita Augusta, chief tax collector and final judge of appeal. All these functions are known from epigraphic data, since the governors we have mentioned, as well as a Vicarius Hispaniarum (Q. Aeclanius Hermias), appear to have consecrated statues of the Emperor Constantine in Córdoba.8 In fact, the figure of this emperor is linked directly to Córdoba, since one of his most influential advisers here was a famed Cordoban: Ossius.9 Bishop Ossius was, without doubt, the most outstanding figure of fourthcentury Baetica. His personality is reflected in both his ecclesiastical and civil roles.10 He attended the Council of Elvira, a particularly important event since it followed the Great Persecution of Diocletian. Its proceedings provide a good picture of daily Christian life in the region. Together with Ossius, bishop of Córdoba, many more bishops of Baetica attended the Council. They, along with many others from the rest of Hispania, established the fundamental rules of the Iberian Church for centuries to come. We do not really know why, but Ossius was with Emperor Constantine on the eve of the battle of the Milvian Bridge in Rome, where the bishop of Córdoba was the interpreter of the famous ‘Dream of Constantine’ which encouraged the Emperor to instruct his soldiers to paint a Chi-Rho symbol on their shields. Later, as a member of the court and as the most influential adviser to the new emperor in religious matters, Ossius chaired the Council of Nicaea, where he sought consensus with the Donatists and vigorously fought to suppress the Arian heresy. However, the poor results overall led Ossius to return to Córdoba, where he surely played an important role in the city’s leading social classes. When he was almost a hundred years old, Ossius returned to politics, chairing the Council of Sofia (Serdica), where the intense theological debates and the political struggles, which were often in the background, led to the conviction of his friend Athanasius and his capitulation to certain Arian postulates. Sick, aged, and certainly very embittered by the events, Ossius seems to have died on the way back to his city, Córdoba. But the figure of Ossius cannot be fully understood without considering the evidence of Christianity in his hometown. Such evidence builds from the third century onwards, and its most important expression is the magnificent series of imported sarcophagi found at a number of necropolises in Córdoba.11 They reveal an upper social class of very high purchasing 8 9 10 11

CIL II2 / 7: 263. For the biography of Bishop Ossius, it is imperative to consult first De Clercq 1954. Fernández Ubiña 2000. Sotomayor 1994.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

power, wealthy landowners who lived and died in the city and who were Christians. In the mid-fourth century, the formerly underground religion of Christianity turned into a (quick) way to rise in politics within a changing empire that was rapidly abandoning the old pagan structures and becoming Christian.12 Only if we consider that many people saw Christianity as an effective way to thrive in the court of Constantine and, incidentally, to obtain tax exemptions (such as those granted by Constantine to the bishops), can we understand the extent to which religious, civil, and finally urban transformations responded to the impulses of some local elites that identified themselves with Rome and its power as much, if not more, than they did with their (new) faith. This process of change, we insist, cannot be described as a crisis, but rather as a gradual transformation of the Greco-Roman world into a Roman-Christian environment which had other concerns and faced other difficulties. Christianity, as the new dominant religion in Baetica (c. 330), shows a very strong presence in our limited sources of textual information. For most authors, this century is key to the consolidation of the new faith, whose regional characteristics have much in common with the primitive Christianity of the African provinces.13 And, as we will show,14 this process of ‘conversion’ was not only encouraged by the dominant power but witnessed episodes of religious violence from Christian groups which dated back to the end of this century, and which have been archaeologically documented.15 This leads us to think that the spread of Christianity in Baetica came from Africa – an old hypothesis,16 but one which has been recently revived.17 This book will provide new archaeological data that support this theory.18 To all this we must add that the flow of trade between the East Empire and Hispania, mainly involving oil exports, could have facilitated the arrival of Christian followers from the southernmost provinces of the Empire. Today we know that the olive oil from Hispania reached markets in Syria, Israel, and Alexandria on a regular basis.19 Maybe, as on many other occasions, with the products also arrived the ideas. 12 A major review of this process in Hispania has been published; see García-Gasco, González, and Hernández 2013. 13 García Moreno 2007: 441–449. 14 See chapter 12 below. 15 Sánchez Velasco 2013. 16 Blázquez 1967. 17 García Moreno 2007: 441. 18 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009. 19 Amores, García, and González 2007.

From Constantine the Great to the Ar ab Invasion


However, only from the end of the third century do we have the first undeniable reference to Christianity in Seville. The name of a bishop of Seville, Marcellus, appears in the Codex Aemilianensis kept at El Escorial.20 The account of the martyrdom of Justa and Rufina (287?) in Seville, as well as the presence of the bishop of Seville, Sabinus, at the Council of Elvira in the early fourth century, are the first evidence of a Christian community with a solid organization. Sabinus appears as the representative of his see in the Council, although he is also mentioned in the martyrial passio (in charge of the burial of St. Justa). Nevertheless, Baetican society at the time was mostly pagan, as seen in the episode of the female saints itself, the entire story of which took place during the celebration of the ritual of the Syrian αδώνια.21 These accounts reveal the strong presence in the city of eastern religions. Apart from a few inscriptions, there is no further information yet on the roots of Christianity in Seville.22 The importance of Seville is demonstrated by its flourishing urban life.23 The presence of provincial governors acting in the city (Tiberianus in the year 287 and Diogenianus in the year 335), and its mention in contemporary geographical sources (e.g. the Itinerarium Antonini Augusti et Hierosolymitanum), shows Seville as a main transport route with a strategic value in the collection taxes for the state. Through its port, Seville maintained its importance as an economic hub and as an administrative and fiscal centre. However, to infer from such data that the capital of the province shifted from Córdoba to Seville in Late Antiquity is totally unfounded, as we shall discuss in Chapter 4.24

The Dark Ages ‘Dark Ages’ is certainly the most appropriate term to describe the fifth century in Baetica. There are few periods in the regional history of Baetica about which we know so little. Indeed, from the arrival in Hispania of the Vandals, Alans, and Suevi in 409, the information provided by Roman 20 Sotomayor 2002: 470. 21 Cumont 1927; Gil Fernández 2002: 7. The Adonia was a two-day festival celebrated by women exclusively in honour of Aphrodite (also knwon as Salambo) and Adonis in most of Greek cities, as well as in numerous places in the East. 22 Epitaphs of Fundaniana (CILA II.1: 145, Seville, the origins of which are doubtful), Romulesia (CILA II.1: 153 = HEp 4: 820), and an unknown individual (CILA II.1: 158), all datable to the fourth or early fifth centuries AD. 23 Ordóñez and González 2011: 73–79. 24 Arce Martínez 2005b: 38 and 115–116.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

authors about Baetica, and even Hispania as a whole, is very scarce. It is generally accepted that the collapse of all Roman government structures took place in Baetica in 422, when the last Roman army, commanded by Castinus, left the region. It is also known that Seville was pillaged by Vandals only a few years after they burst into the Empire, and that it was sacked by the Silingi Vandal Gunderic in 425. Shortly afterwards, in 428, Gunderic occupied it on a permanent basis in a likely attempt to establish his regia sedes in the city.25 One consequence of the occupation was the desecration of a church, the cathedral, consecrated to the cult of the martyr St. Vincent.26 This is relevant as it certifies the existence of a cult of martyrdom in the city’s early days. In addition, the barbarians may have played an important role in the disputes between Catholics and Arians, the latter probably attempting to convert the cathedral into an Arian centre of worship.27 We do not know much more about the Vandal presence in the region and their influence or power over the regional elites, but they probably made ​​use of boats belonging to Baetica to cross the strait to Africa – a logistically complicated operation.28 Again, in 441, Seville succumbed to a siege, this time at the hands of the Suevi, who apparently roamed at will across the region until the foederatus Visigoth Theodoric expelled them in 458–459. At that time, the Suevi made Seville one of their royal capitals.29 We also know that the Suevi took sides in the struggle between religious factions in the city on account of news regarding the fraudulent removal of Bishop Sabinus, who was replaced in 441 by Epiphanius – an event encouraged by a faction supported by the Suevian Rechila.30

25 Hydatius, 86 (Spali eversa), 89 (capta Spali); Isidore of Seville, Hist. Wand., 73. Arce 2005: 115–116. 26 Hydatius, 89; Isidore of Seville, Hist. Wand., 73. 27 Gil Fernández 2002: 13–14. 28 Recently, Merrills and Miles (2010: 52–55) have analysed the crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar by the Vandals. These authors question previous theories and favour a very gradual transfer of vandals to North Africa. Their conclusions may seem logical, but it is very unlikely that the transfer would have been as gradual as they claim, due to equally logical reasons such as the supply of the Vandals transferred to Africa, the defence of population on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, and the effective occupation of the African territory. It was no more dangerous to transfer in a single trip than to prolong it for years. Consequently, we believe that this transit was carefully prepared, given the logistical complexity of moving tens of thousands of people, animals, and armament while maintaining security on both sides of the sea. 29 Díaz Martínez 2011: 77. 30 Hydatius, 124: 192a. Arce 2005: 258.

From Constantine the Great to the Ar ab Invasion


Notwithstanding these turbulences, Seville managed to preserve its commercial importance. News of the arrival at its port of ships with East Roman passengers in 456 seems to provide proof of this. They were, perhaps, negotiatores transmarini, who brought news of the victory of Emperor Marcian over the Caucasian peoples of Lazika.31 Thus, the presence of a foreign community is clearly a result of these dynamics.32 Additionally, there appears to be a certain continuity of southern peninsular links with both the eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa through Seville. The funerary inscription of Aurelius Aeliodorus attests to the flow of goods and people, including a possible Christian individual from Tarsus in Asia Minor who died in Tarragona, though the inscription notes that he was from natione graecus but usually lived in Seville (commorans Ispali).33 Nothing is said, however, about Córdoba or any of the other major cities in the region. Some modern authors state that these were probably also sacked, even though we have no records to prove it. The truth is that in the middle of the fifth century the political and military power of Rome in Andalusia was little more than a fading memory. Regarding the presence of barbarian peoples in the region, neither the sources nor archaeology are particularly enlightening.34 With the collapse of Rome as a real power, and the advent of barbarian incursions,35 the Baetic cities must have developed some sort of selfgovernment. Iberian elites faced the newly imposed reality that the presence of externae gentes represented in different ways.36 In the case of Baetica, two major theories have been put forward: 1) the cities had a government based on a local aristocratic oligarchy organized as a senatus,37 and 2) the unstoppable rise of ecclesiastical power filled the governmental void.38 In the case of Córdoba, it has been argued repeatedly that the city might have remained independent, ruled by an aristocracy (Iberian? Hispano-Gothic?) that kept the old local senatus in place.39 Yet some researchers argue that the Church progressively occupied all niches of power (public as well as

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

Hydatius, 177. See Ordóñez 2003: 64. Garcia Moreno 1972. ICERV 196 = HAE 810 = AE 1961: 331 = RIT 958. Sánchez and García 2013. Sanz Serrano 2009: 95–138. Sanz Serrano 2009. García Moreno 2007. Arce Martínez 2011. García Moreno 2007.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

private), 40 an accumulation of power that reached an absolute monopoly during the Visigothic period.41 However, as we shall see in Chapter 12, trying to partition the Iberian elites (whatever their ‘ethnic’ origin) in closed groups (civil v. religious, Roman v. Gothic) is a methodological error. The only crucial division is the one which exited between the ruling aristocracy (honestiores / inlustris / possessores) and all others (humilliores). And the Church reflected this society, since leading roles were taken up by the aristocratic elites, who used the mechanisms of the institution to further their own families’ political and economic interests. The ‘barbarians’, just as any other foreigner that settled in Hispania, acted similarly and assumed these ‘rules’. In addition, the complex political, religious, and socio-economic situation of such a vast territory as Baetica (not to mention Hispania as a whole) at this time allows for few generalizations. As Sanz has shown, responses to the new reality created by the vacuum of Rome’s disappearance as a state and the presence of the barbarians were very different depending on the region, and changed over time. 42 An objective reading of the available historical sources and the recent archaeological data support this view, namely that a multiplicity of factors must be taken into consideration. This is the complex context that the Visigoths encountered when they sought to control the whole of Baetica.

History of the Goths If there is one aspect of Visigothic history that meets with a unanimous consensus, it is the continuous reference to the absence of historical sources (nothing new). There is nothing for Baetica like the Vitae Patrum Emeritensium, which provides interesting insights into many aspects of urban life in sixth-century Mérida. Information is scarce and only a number of fragments tell us about isolated and often disjointed aspects of life in Baetic cities during the Visigothic period. The first reliable set of data concerns King Theudis (534–548), 43 who seems to have kept a royal residence in Seville. His Latin culture and acquiescence towards the wider Hispano-Roman 40 Arce Martínez 2011. 41 Arce Martínez 2011: 20, describes the identif ication between Kingdom and Church as: ‘el regnum dejó de existir cuando la Iglesia abandonó su función’. It is a pity that Arce thus dismisses (perhaps unknowingly) the later history of the ecclesiastical institution, and its own development within the Umayyad period in al-Andalus. 42 Sanz Serrano 2007. 43 Fuentes Hinojo 1996.

From Constantine the Great to the Ar ab Invasion


Catholic population enabled him to pursue a foreign policy focused on the containment of the (also Catholic) Franks in the north. It also allowed him to try to settle the vital domain of the Strait of Gibraltar controlled by the Byzantines on its African side. However, this all changed drastically with the advent of King Agila, which initiated the effective conquest and religious subjugation of Baetica that would lead to a number of uprisings, the most important being that of Córdoba. Agila besieged this city in 550, desecrating the tomb of a local martyr, Acisclus, and turning his basilica, located outside the walls (to the west of the city), into a stable. However, not only did the city withstand the siege, it also managed to fight back, defeating the Gothic king, who lost his son, his treasure, and much of his army, forcing him to flee to Mérida for refuge. This event should be interpreted as an indication of two important facts: first, that Córdoba had sufficient troops and strong defences; and secondly (and most importantly, in our opinion), that its ruling aristocracy was powerful enough to train and arm an army that could defeat a Visigoths force. Both assumptions give an approximate idea of the material, military, and organizational capacity of the Cordoban elite, who likely also could mobilize military forces from different settlements in the area. The disaster suffered by Agila disqualified him, in the eyes of his nobles, from holding the status of a warrior leader, and this favoured the revolt of the noble Athanagild in 551, who proclaimed himself king in Seville. Nothing suggests that he had the support of the victorious nobles from Córdoba, nor even of a majority of the Visigothic nobility. Perhaps for this reason he asked the Byzantines for help, and imperial troops landed in south of Spain under the command of the patrician Liberius in 552. 44 This intervention takes us onto a new historical stage, though one in which the city of Córdoba is still a protagonist, in part due to the scholarly controversy over whether the city was part of the Byzantine province of Spania, formed between 552 and 555. In truth, there are a number of very different theories. Thus for Goubert and Ostrogorsky, the city became one of the Byzantine capitals of the new province. 45 But for Goubert, the chain of uprisings that occurred from the reign of Agila to that of Hermenegild were the result of a tacit agreement between the Hispano-Romans and the Byzantines, both Catholic, against the Arian Visigoths. Opposed to these theories, Thompson, Garcia Moreno, and Salvador Ventura see nothing in the sources to suggest

44 Thompson 2007: 383–386; Vizcaíno Sánchez 2007: 49. 45 Goubert 1946: 81–83; Ostrogorsky 1984: 92.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

a Byzantine presence in Córdoba. 46 This latter theory is currently the one with a higher number of advocates, who circumscribe the territory of the Byzantine province of Spania to a narrow coastal strip, without an actual presence in the hinterland.47 What seems certain is that, no matter what the Byzantine limes was, its establishment did not hamper the buoyant trade and cultural relations that had been firmly established since the beginning of the fifth century. The immediate consequence of the arrival of the Byzantines was conflict and rebellion in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Seville would follow Córdoba in this sense. This led the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo to concentrate more efforts on trying to dominate the south. The accession of King Leovigild (571–586) was a major turning point in the history of the region.48 This king initiated a policy that we can describe as one of imitation of Justinian’s Renovatio Imperii – a growth of royal power, a suppression of the uprisings, a religious unity under Arianism and, finally, the territorial unification of the Iberian Peninsula. And he decided to kick off this policy by marching against the most troublesome of cities in the kingdom since the time of Agila: Córdoba. In 572, Leovigild, who had learned the lesson from the disaster of Agila, began by crushing some mysterious ‘peasant revolts’ and then conquered ‘many cities and fortresses’ before undertaking the final assault on Córdoba. Undoubtedly, the contemptuous label of ‘peasant revolts’ refers to those cities that had supported the ancient capital of Baetica against Agila. Without their support, Córdoba’s chances of winning were severely reduced. Indeed that same year it succumbed after a bloody nocturnal assault. But peace did not last long. Leovigild decided to entrust his son and presumed heir, Hermenegild, to the control of Baetica as a dux. It only took Hermenegild a few years to embrace Catholicism, rebel against his father, and declare war. The revolt of Prince Hermenegild meant war, yet again, for the south of the Iberian Peninsula. This uprising was rapidly followed by others in Mérida, Córdoba, and Seville, where the rebel prince proclaimed himself king, with the support of the Byzantines. The Byzantines seem to have been present in the Guadalquivir Valley and apparently established garrisons in its major cities, which certainly included Córdoba. Leovigild must be credited with great resilience to achieve his objectives. Otherwise, we could hardly understand his swift and firm reaction that 46 Thompson 1969; Garcia Moreno 1994; Salvador Ventura 1990: 45. 47 Vallejo 2012, expanding on Vallejo Girvés 1993. 48 García Moreno 2008; Salvador Ventura 2012: 238–245.

From Constantine the Great to the Ar ab Invasion


allowed him to recover Seville in 583. This event forced Hermenegild to take refuge in Córdoba, 49 which was manned by a sizeable Byzantine garrison. Only a very important cash payment in gold (30,000 solidi, more than 136 kg of fine gold) to the Byzantine commander allowed Leovigild entry to the city. Abandoned, betrayed, and hunted, Hermenegild, together with a small contingent, barricaded himself in the basilica of St. Acisclus, out of which he came only after obtaining reasonable assurance from his own brother (Reccared) that he would not be executed. Hermenegild’s wife and son, held by the Byzantines, were exiled to Constantinople, while the rebel prince was exiled to Tarragona, only to be murdered shortly afterwards. After the second conquest of Córdoba, Leovigild established an authentic Pax Gothica in the city. The proud and victorious king commemorated this feat with a series of coins with the legend CORDVBA BIS OPTINVIT. Furthermore, it appears that he prohibited the rebuilding of the walls in order to avoid future uprisings.50 The desire for independence never again manifested itself. Other cities, such as Seville, the epicentre of Hermenegild’s revolt, also suffered reprisals. Part of the territory of the bishopric was ceded to Italica – a city that had supported Leovigild. Other cities also benefited, for example Cabra, which possibly became an episcopal see, perhaps for the same reason. Other sources help us understand how the Visigothic state humiliated rebellious cities. At the Council of Seville in 619, the bishop of Córdoba, Honorius, requested the return of a parish usurped by the bishopric of Écija in a border area. Isidore, bishop of Seville and head of the council, ruled in favour of the usurpers – a fact that demonstrates both that Isidore sided with the policy of the Gothic kings and that strong family interests played an important role (as his brother Fulgentius occupied the see of Écija).51 The family history of Isidore of Seville greatly enlightens us as to the enormous complexity of the relations between the different factions of the ruling elites, and their struggle to keep their power intact. Isidore, probably of Jewish descent, fled with his family from Cartagena shortly after the Byzantines arrive. He settled in Seville, where his brother Leander later became a principal influence on Hermenegild to convert to Catholicism. After Leovigild’s victory, one might have expected the banishment of the 49 Gregory of Tours, Hist., 6.38; John of Biclaro, 68. 50 We know there was intense construction activity in the city after the Visigothic conquest (Sánchez Velasco 2006), but also that the rapid conquest of the city by Arab forces in 711 was aided by the city’s badly damaged walls. Thus we argue that Leovigild prohibited the rebuilding of the city walls. 51 García Moreno 1994: 563–564.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

family; however, Isidore ended up heading the see formerly occupied by his brother. At the same time, his other brother, Fulgentius, became bishop of Écija, while his sister became abbess of one of the largest monasteries in Seville. Thus, a whole ecclesiastical ‘dynasty’ (like others controlling different territories in Hispania) was forged. From the reign of Reccared, textual sources become scarce, and often restricted to religious issues or to mere lists of bishops attending the councils. In 612 king Sisebut sent a royal letter to several bishops, including the bishop of Córdoba, in relation to the ‘Jewish problem’. These letters sought to protect the Christians from the influence of Jewish communities which were spreading in the region.52 These communities and their distribution are important in considering the colonies of eastern traders,53 chiefly Greeks and Syrians who, during the fifth through to seventh centuries, seem well established in major cities. Around this time, various sources record the consecration of rural churches in villae, vici, and castella. These foundations are to be related, again, to wealthy landowners of Baetica. References to monasteries are, however, less common (as is true in the rest of Hispania), but when we take into account the historical documents of Moorish times, we can conclude that they must have been very numerous throughout the region.54 As will be seen, however hard it might be to establish the history of cities in Late Antiquity, the question becomes practically impossible when considering rural areas, given the near absence of research. In order to understand the final stages of the Visigothic kingdom, more in-depth research is needed into this rural world, which was the basis of wealth and power for the Hispano-Gothic nobility. We know that they had large villae, where the production and administration of their vast possessions was centralized. In many instances they even possessed private armies, which were sometimes made available to the Visigothic king. One clear example would be an inscription found near the town of Villafranca de Córdoba, which is a beautiful eulogy, in verse, that sings the story of Oppilanus.55 The story tells the tale of a wealthy nobleman 52 García Moreno 2005. 53 García Moreno 1972; Sotomayor 1994: 552–553. 54 Moreno Martín 2011. 55 CIL II2 / 7: 714, ‘Haec cava saxa Oppilani / continet menbra(!) / claro nitore natalium / gestu abituq(ue) co[n]s[picu]um / opib(u)s quippe pollens et ar/tuum virib(u)s cluens / iacula vehi precipitur predoq(ue)(!) / Bacceis destinatur / in procinctum(!) belli necatur / opitulatione sodalium desolatus / naviter cede perculsum / clintes(!) rapiunt peremtum / exanimis domu reducitur / suis a vernulis humatur / lugit(!) coniux cum liberis / fletib(u)s familia prestrepit(!) / decies ut ternos ad quater / quaternos vixit per annos / pridie Septembium(!) Idus / morte a Vasconibus multat(u)

From Constantine the Great to the Ar ab Invasion


who marched with his private army (and a load of arrows) to a war that the Gothic king was waging against the Basques; ambushed and killed, his servants struggled to recover their master’s body but finally managed to bring him back to be buried. This inscription provides a fascinating insight into how landowners, militarized and semi-feudalized, still nurtured their taste for Latin culture and poetry. Though surely a sign of the syncretism and diversity of those times, we cannot lose sight of yet another reality. In a social context, severe legislation against minorities (the Jews) and against the servile masses reveals an ever greater chasm between the upper echelons of society and those they governed – a clear sign of the concentration of wealth. As we approach the last stages of the Visigoth kingdom, the increasing power of the nobility and the weakness of the elected monarchy led to a series of acute political problems, revolts, usurpations to the throne, and revenge on the vanquished, which turned Hispania into a divided and virtually ungovernable territory. The last episode of this series of clashes resulted in the victory of a dux of Baetica, Roderic, over the heirs of King Witiza after a bloody civil war. Finally, the end of the kingdom is described in an episode that again features Andalusia, and the account comes mainly from the winning side.56 After the Visigothic disaster at the Battle of Guadalete River (July 711), the Arabs quickly overran Écija, the vital communication centre of the entire region. At this point we receive a blurry picture because of differing stories. Most accounts claim that King Roderic died in battle, though there are traditions that argue that he managed to flee to the bishopric of Niebla, only to die near the present Valverde del Camino, as he tried to reach Beja (Portugal).57 Muslim chronicles relate how Commander Tariq was warned by the Jewish community about the weak defences of the capital, Córdoba, and thus he decided to send his freedman Mugith to occupy the city, in an action that he undoubtedly regarded as minor. The siege was short and Muslim troops soon entered the city, forcing the small number of Visigothic defenders to desperately look for shelter at the very same place where, years before, Hermenegild had entrenched himself. The garrison managed to withstand the Muslim siege for three months by holding on to the extramural basilica of St. Acisclus, a complex surrounded by strong walls and with access to s / era sescentensima et octagensima / id gestum memento / sepultus sub d(ie) quiescit / VI Id(us) Octubres(!).’ 56 Collins 1989; Collins 2005: 119–147. 57 Sánchez Velasco 2010: 133–134.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

a fresh water supply. But a relief force never arrived, and they eventually capitulated, after which their throats were slit by the occupying troops. Cities fell one after another at a lightning speed; many of them offered minimal resistance, which might imply that agreements had been reached between the invaders and the local governments, represented by bishops in most cases or by the leaders of the local nobility in others.58 This is yet another sign of process of feudalization of the local and regional oligarchies: there is little to identify them with the Visigoth kingdom.59 Their only goal was to consolidate their power, maintain it and, if at all possible, increase it. And the Church, as an institution and an integral part of those elites, followed a similar behaviour. Some research dealing with the administrative division of early al-Andalus and its ‘fiscal’ organization provides a glimpse at how the Church cooperated with the new Islamic state: bishoprics and their territorial districts became, most likely, the first territorial basis of Arab administration and a true network of tax collection for the new state.60 The fiscal needs were immense after the conquest: the troops had to be paid, the administration had to run, and large sums of money had to be sent back to Damascus.61 These aspects of the Muslim conquest, together with the reports about the councils and other writings of the Mozarabic period, speak of the connivance of a Church that sought only to retain power, by all and any means, within the new Andalusian state. Just like many families and wealthy landowners, the Church adapted to the new situation by prioritizing their own interests against those of the fading Visigothic state.

58 For Baetica there is no textual evidence of this fact. But the situation, in some cases, could have been similar to the pacts reached by noble Theodomirus in the area of Valencia (Hitchcock 2008: 14–17). 59 Sanz Serrano 2009: 342–431. 60 Vallvé 1986. 61 Ibrahim 2011.

Part 2 Early Christian Topography


The Ecclesiastical Organization of Baetica in Late Antiquity

‘Christianization’, as it features in the central argument of this book, does not seek to purport any religious claim: it is a paradigm, a thread that will guide us through a deep social, economic, and political transformation that decisively affected the four centuries from the misnamed Edict of Milan to the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by Umayyad armies. This paradigm is embodied in the archaeological record in a number of different ways, although undoubtedly the one studied here, that is to say the ‘architecture of power’, is the most significant, enabling a better overview of the subject. This includes all the non-domestic architecture that served as a vehicle for the expression of power of the civil, military, and religious elites of western Baetica during Late Antiquity. As already mentioned, the absence of documents in this region means archaeology is our main source of reliable information. Therefore, we think the best way to approach the knowledge of Late Antiquity in western Baetica is, without doubt, through the paradigm of an architecture of power related mainly to the new religion, which changed towns and rural areas radically. Through the study of this architecture we can see how local aristocracies evolved, how they projected an image of themselves in the society they controlled, how they adapted to the changes experienced in the Roman state, and ultimately how they responded to the effective disappearance of the Empire. In the development and evolution of architecture itself, as well as in the spaces it occupied, we will see how these elites adapted to the formation of new political and economic orders. Furthermore, the planning and implementation of religious architecture in cities and rural areas makes it clear that its location transcends purely religious motives. The churches were built in symbolic, strategic places, near mines or controlling a road or a port. In fact, in order to explore further the introduction of Christianity and the architecture that mirrored it, we find it convenient to sum up in this chapter those places where we believe there was a church. Thanks to certain elements of architectural decoration (such as the remains of altars) or epigraphy (foundation inscriptions), we are able to know the location of these churches. Attending to their distribution we can approach the organization of the territory and establish hypotheses about how and why churches were founded in certain places.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Due to lack of space, we have not been able to include in this book the complete list of pieces of architectural decoration and inscriptions studied. However, we have incorporated them in the maps presented so that the reader can have an idea of their distribution. As will be seen, and despite being a book based on archaeological data, we still perform the much needed exercise of historical interpretation. In our case, we have tried to unite, consistently, the three main sources of information on this type of architecture: epigraphy, architectural decoration, and buildings. Our intention is to unify aspects that have, hitherto, been treated independently. It has been an arduous, difficult, logistically complex task. Perhaps that is the reason why the task has never been undertaken previously. From now on, there will at least be a unifying document from which to make proposals, disagree, or study in depth on a scientific basis. The scholarly critique of previous archaeological publications has been a necessary task because in many of the studies a significant over-reliance on traditional historiographical discourse was far too obvious. This essential task will involve detailed studies of buildings and towns, necropolises and grave goods, ceramic contexts and domestic areas. Only thus will we be able to better outline the most forgotten period of peninsular history. We believe we have achieved the most important goals we set out to accomplish with this research, especially concerning the search for the unknown, misunderstood, and poorly studied ‘architecture’, which, like the isolated pieces of a puzzle, display the new towns and new rural areas that emerged from the political collapse of the Roman Empire. Traditionally, the historiography of the ecclesiastical organization of Baetica has focused on the study of early Christian communities and their origins.1 But due to a lack of data, they have generally avoided specifically addressing how the Church was organized; nor have they attempted to explain the territorial expansion of the Church and its historical evolution. In this chapter we will try to expose the main changes in the territorial division and landscape of Roman Baetica, how they occurred, and how a new territorial structure emerged in Late Antiquity. The Church will play a very important role in this transformation of the landscape, actively participating in the creation of a new territorial organization. The f irst aspect to highlight is the lack of consensus regarding the geographical limits of Baetica, whose northern and eastern limits are particularly difficult to determine. Some authors believe in a ‘Greater Baetica’, 1 The literature on the subject is abundant; key works include Blázquez 1967; Blázquez 1986; Sotomayor 1982; Sotomayor 2002; and García Moreno 2007: 441.

The Ecclesiastical Organization of Bae tica in L ate Antiquit y


the limits of which approached the very gates of Mérida and encompassed quite a considerable chunk of the eastern area dominated by the ancient city Sisapo (La Bienvenida, Ciudad Real).2 Others, meanwhile, opt for a ‘small Baetica’, viewing the eastern, northern, and western limits as much more modest, thus creating a kind of ‘bow’ in an area where natural boundaries appear somewhat blurred at first sight.3 Concerning ‘Greater Baetica’, one recent publication that brought the northern limit of Baetica all the way up to the southern border of Mérida fails to convince, since topographic landmarks inferred from the sources remain questionable, while those obtained from epigraphy have possibly been displaced.4 One conclusion, for example, holds that a city like Emerita, as a provincial capital, must have had a sufficiently large dependent territory. But both logic and borders have a long history and a clear tendency to disagree. Nevertheless some of the proposals are acceptable, such as situating the northern boundary of Baetica in the Sierra de Santos. Others are not justifiable methodologically, such as denying that the present terminus of Valdecaballeros is correct. Therefore, we have developed our own provisional territorial map of Baetica, which includes proposals that seem appropriate (such as the inclusion of Sisapo within the boundaries of the province or the relocation of the northern border in the Sierra de los Santos) and have discarded others.5 Particularly problematic is the eastern border (we keep the terminus of Valdecaballeros), where the limits proposed by Ramírez seem plausible.6 Once the possible limits (at least those dating back to the fourth century) of Baetica have been established (Fig. 1), we face an even more thorny issue: the delimitation of the episcopal sees (Fig. 2). For this task, the absence of information is almost complete. Some researchers have sought alternative data by using different methodologies and sources of the largely unknown late antique and Visigothic periods. Overall, it is assumed that the limits of Baetica, at a provincial level, did not change. Thus, a dux provinciae, whose headquarters would be in Córdoba, must have held command.7 In the 2 León 2009. 3 Cortijo 1993; Vaquerizo 2010. 4 Cordero and Franco 2012; Cordero 2013. 5 Pliny included Sisapo as a city of Baetica (N.H., 3.13–14); Ptolemy, a century later, did not (Geog., 2.6.58). This contradiction between the historical sources demonstrates how complicated the study of borders is, especially when it does not take into account that all boundaries change over time. 6 Ramírez Sádaba 1994. 7 García Moreno 2007: 451.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 1 Early Christian topography in late antique western Baetica

religious sphere, the metropolitan see must have been Seville, at least from the sixth century onwards.8 Since we do not know the territorial division, either civil or ecclesiastical, of the Visigothic period,9 we must analyse the earliest Islamic peninsular choras, which in fact coincide with the Visigothic administrative units and, in turn and with very few exceptions, with the episcopal sees.10 We can compare information provided by Arab geographers with the scarce evidence that can be ascertained from the church councils about the resolution of conflicts between bishoprics over the ownership of certain parishes.11 Although the results vary according to the territories, this approach does give enlightening insights into the original situation. Indeed, we believe that this approach is currently the most appropriate if we are to try to establish the ecclesiastical divisions. Nevertheless, diverse diff iculties exist, and so it must be borne in mind that any

8 9 10 11

Ordoñez Agulla 2005b. Brassous 2011. Vallvé 1986: 210. García Moreno 2007.

The Ecclesiastical Organization of Bae tica in L ate Antiquit y

Figure 2 Evolution of bishoprics’ territories.



The Christianization of Western Bae tica

approximation is only hypothetical. Below we summarize some important issues involved: 1. This methodology can prove valid for the seventh century, under an established Visigothic administration, but its reliability is questionable prior to the mid-sixth century, as we lack data concerning the extent of the bishoprics in the fourth century and the administrative organization of Baetica after the collapse of Rome. However, we assume that, during the fourth century, provincial boundaries matched those of the imperial period. 2. The limits of the province, at least at a later date in the Visigothic period, do not coincide with the boundaries traditionally supposed for Baetica, since we know that bishoprics such as Beja, Toledo, and possibly Mérida expanded at the expense of their neighbours. Following the argument outlined above, we acknowledge that the bishopric of Beja bordered that of Seville next to Aroche, on the basis of the emiral chora of this city, several miles further towards the east than the supposed provincial boundary. 3. To consider Seville as the capital of Baetica, presumably from the fourth century onwards, has no secure basis:12 neither texts, archaeology, nor epigraphy allow us to substantiate such a claim.13 In fact, the capital of the Gothic province of Baetica, organized by Chindaswinth, was Córdoba, not Seville.14 Nothing indicates that the capital had undergone any changes, as Ausonius certifies.15 The assumption that the capital changed in the late fourth or early fifth centuries (since at that time the ecclesiastical organization became institutionalized) is unfounded, and other data strongly suggests otherwise.16 4. Seville, at a later stage yet to be pinpointed, but probably not earlier than the second half of the fifth century, became the ecclesiastical capital of the province.17 Theories vary on whether Baetica and Lusitania had previously formed a single ecclesiastical province or whether, instead, Córdoba boasted such hegemony. Of course, the position of the bishops of Córdoba concerning some organizational and dogmatic issues would undoubtedly have resulted in strong opposition from the other sees.18 12 Arce 2005: 38 and 115–116. 13 Brassous 2011. 14 García Moreno 2007: 450. 15 Ordoñez 2008. 16 These dates were effectively defined by García Moreno 2007: 450 (late fourth or early fifth centuries). Supporters of a later date are cited in García Moreno 2007: 450, n. 76. 17 Ordoñez Agulla 2005b. 18 García Moreno 2007: 450–451.

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5. Some bishoprics known from the fourth century, such as Epagrum, and others that do not appear until the sixth century, such as Cabra or Italica, have early Christian roots. For Italica, these roots reach to the city’s tradition about the figure of St. Gerontius. These bishoprics, for some reason or other, are not reflected in the councils. Were these bishoprics created only after the conversion of Reccared to Catholicism in 589? What about the bishoprics for which there is no record after the fourth century? 6. Why do administrative units and bishoprics not equate in the cases of Carmona and Morón? Was it be because of the Byzantine presence, as recently argued for the cases of Mentesa and Granada?19 Or does it respond to the much later revolt of Ibn Hafsum? 7. Do the early Islamic choras adapt to the existing administrative units or to the bishoprics? What reasons lie behind their implementation? Was there, as suggested by Tawfiq Ibrahim, an issue that relates to the tax and revenues levied in order to keep the payments of the Arab soldiers settled in the Iberian Peninsula in place?20 Was such use of the ecclesiastical structure the only way to raise money or in-kind taxes? 8. These encroachments and usurpations, unlawfully made by other bishoprics, were consecrated through the councils – as was the case with Écija, consecrated during the Second Council of Seville. Under the leadership of Isidore, bishop of Seville and successor to his brother Leander in the metropolitan see, important territorial claims by the bishopric of Écija were granted. Écija was ruled at the time by Isidore’s brother Fulgentius. ‘Episcopal dynasties’ and their impact on the division and organization of Iberian bishoprics is an issue that has not received the detailed treatment it deserves; more specialized research should be devoted to this matter, since studies are excessively centred on theological or literary subjects.21 9. What roads were still active in Late Antiquity, and how was the territory articulated beyond the mere administrative level? 10. Were the first Christian buildings primarily urban, suburban, or rural?

19 García Moreno 2007: 451. 20 Studies on coins from the beginning of the Arab conquest of Hispania are of value here; see Ibrahim 1987; Ibrahim 1995; Ibrahim 1999; Ibrahim 2006; Ibrahim 2011; and Pliego 2001. Other working hypotheses are hardly mentioned in publications; see Manzano 2006: 35–86. 21 This fact can be seen in the very meritorious work of Sotomayor and Fernández 2006: 557–565 and 719–728.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

In this sense, we have performed a basic GIS with different layers of information, namely: remains, sites, ancient roads, network of ancient cities, hydrology, physical geography, etc.22 The main objective was to obtain three sets of maps: a definition of the area of study with full characterization of the territory (ecclesiastical division, roads, hydrology, etc.), the location of archaeological remains, and the establishment of maps of visibility and presence in the territory of particular sites. Given the more than reasonable doubts on the number and extent of the administrative units, our topography is based on the probable episcopal division of the six bishoprics in western Baetica in the seventh century. This is the historical moment for which more data exist, thanks mainly to the following sources: the territorial disputes that appear in council records and the historical texts that refer to the organization of the first choras in Al-Andalus. Thus, from east to west, the following bishoprics existed:23 Córdoba, Cabra, Écija, Seville, Italica, and Niebla. In the case of Córdoba – the easternmost bishopric – establishing its limits is complicated mainly because we also have to consider the fact that it is a provincial boundary. We believe that, all data considered, the eastern boundary of the bishopric corresponded with that of the old conventus and province. In the south-eastern area, cities like Porcuna (Obulco) and Ossigi perhaps lay under the jurisdiction of the bishopric of Martos (Tucci). The early chora of Jaén occupied the territory of this bishopric, and its western boundary abutted Cañete de las Torres.24 Another problem is the north-eastern limit, mainly due to the lack of accurate data on the extent of the bishopric of Granátula de Calatrava (Oretum). To this we should add that for a great part of the seventh century the see of Toledo exercised an aggressive policy increasing its influence in the surrounding area.25 Regal backing and warfare in the southern territories for much of the sixth century favoured this expansion. Perhaps the limits of the chora Fahs al-Ballut, which bordered the chora of Toledo in the northeast,26 might also explain this situation. Something similar must have happened with the northern boundary. In light of the proceedings of the Second Council of Seville, we know that the borders of the district of Regina, of the bishopric of Córdoba, were delineated 22 Thanks to the indispensable collaboration of Carlos Puentes. 23 At this point we follow, on some issues, the latest research on the boundaries of the bishoprics of Baetica by García Moreno 2007, particularly 451–453. 24 Vallvé 1986: 253–257. 25 Vallejo 1993. 26 Del Pino and Carpio 1998.

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in reference to the complaints of a parish in the bishopric of Écija. But what were the limits of this district? Were they limited to the former Regina? What about the other potential districts of ancient Baeturia Turdula such as Ilipa? Perhaps the influence of Mérida was also felt in these lands, 27 although not as much as one might think, as we shall see when we come to the bishopric of Beja in the Western area.28 The western, south-western, and southern limits are easier to define. In our view, these boundaries were demarcated by the Retortillo River, the possible trifinium Ad Aras, and the old monastic boundary line (as discussed below in the paragraphs dedicated to Cabra). The northern border would, presumably, have been adjacent to the territory of the bishopric of Italica. Both bishoprics (Córdoba and Italica) would share the former territory of Beturia, thus coinciding with the boundary of the old conventus. The story of the cleric Ispassandus might give us a clue to help define this boundary: this priest of the bishopric of Italica fled to Córdoba and was forced to return to his parish in the bishopric of Italica.29 The ‘escape’ to the bishopric of Córdoba could be evidence of the fact that both bishoprics shared part of their borders. This story also illustrates the ties of dependency of priests, and the economic importance of parishes. It is difficult to draw exactly the limits of the bishopric of Cabra. As in all the other cases, the matter becomes trickier if we add the temporal variable. This way, Sinagius, bishop of Epagrum at the beginning of the fourth century, attended the Council of Elvira, whereas a presbyter attended this same Council as the representative of Cabra. This can be interpreted in two ways: either Cabra did not have a bishopric, or Cabra’s episcopal seat was vacant at the time. So when did Epagrum cease to be a bishopric? And what territory did it hold suzerainty over? While we know of its first bishop, John, documented with certainty in 589, when was the bishopric of Cabra founded? We can observe also a number of disputes between different bishoprics, such as Málaga, controlled by Byzantium in middle sixth century. When these localities were conquered by the Visigoths, former territories (which had passed to other bishoprics) were claimed. A well-documented example of this comes in disputes between Écija and Málaga, whose boundaries (altered by the Byzantine presence) seem to have settled in Puente Genil following a 27 For the territory of the early Islamic chora of Mérida, see Franco 2004. 28 The very existence of the Islamic districts of Firris and Fahs al-Ballut (Vallvé 1986: 313) can be taken as proof, in fact, of the division between the two Beturias. 29 Verdugo 2003: 362–363.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

judgement at the Second Council of Seville in 619. It would not be unreasonable to think that, in the case of Cabra, something similar happened. In fact, another dispute regarding limits was resolved in the same council, establishing Peñaflor as part of Écija and the district of Regina as part of Córdoba. Thus, the Genil River served as the boundary between the bishoprics of Málaga, Écija, and probably Cabra. Further north, the Garabato stream might denote the boundary between the bishoprics of Cabra and Écija. Even if not secure, when linking the points together with a line of what we know belonged to the bishoprics of Écija and Córdoba, the picture shows that a partition ran along the courses of the rivers Genil, Garabato, and Retortillo. The northern boundary of the bishopric of Cabra was likely the former border between the old conventus cordubensis and Astigitanus, with Ategua the northernmost city of the bishopric of Cabra. To the east, the situation is far more complex. Logically, one would think that the limits of Iponoba would have also been the limits of the bishopric because the rivers Caicena or San Juan were landforms that could have marked the boundary between the bishopric of Cabra and the bishopric of Martos. Further south, the Sierra de Albayate is a natural, almost impenetrable wall between the rivers Caicena and Genil, which would clearly have delimited the areas of influence of the bishoprics of Cabra and Granada. In short, the bishopric of Cabra encompassed a considerable area to the south of today’s province of Córdoba, that is, the central area of the former conventus Astigitanus. The whole territory would have been linked by a series of ancient natural paths, which became, in Roman times, well-structured routes in a wide network of communications.30 The main axes would have been the roads of Córdoba–Malacca (north–south pathway) and Córdoba–Granada (northwest–southeast pathway). The Camino de Metedores and the Roman road Cabra–Ipolcobulcula–Iliturgicola (east–west), connected the main roads transversely. In the case of the bishopric of Écija, its boundaries are relatively well known in the southeast (Puente Genil) and, perhaps, in the east: the stream Garabato and Ad Aras delimit the bishopric of Cabra and the southernmost part of the bishopric of Córdoba.31 We can also ascertain from the aforementioned legal case between bishoprics that the district of Peñaflor belonged to the bishopric of Écija, at least on or about the beginning of the 30 Melchor 1995. 31 A recent study (Martínez Melón 2008) sets this same limit for the ‘west’ area (probably a misprint) of the bishopric, but names the actual Garabato as Guadamellato (perhaps Guadalmellato, a river in the north of the province?). This limit would also correspond with the territorium of the colony, a key element, in our view, to keep it beyond the old convent limits.

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seventh century. Undoubtedly, this district was related to the boundaries of this bishopric, which held part of the Sierra Morena. We must assume that certain Roman lead mines sent their metal to the seaports via Écija, as evidenced by the metal ingots branded with the name of the city.32 This may have been the cause of territorial disputes between the bishoprics of Córdoba and Écija concerning the territory of Regina. Moreover, one should seriously question the continuity of mining activities into Late Antiquity (unless at a modest scale if compared to imperial times). The mining activity and the income it produced would explain the clash between bishoprics. Of course, the most complex borders to consider in relation to the bishopric of Écija are the southern and the western ones. At first it was assumed, based on inconsistent arguments, that both the present cities of Antequera and Ronda were within the limits of this bishopric.33 But it is unfounded to assume that, from a fiscal perspective, Antequera and its territory related more closely to Écija than to Málaga, as is the assumption that the beginning of a route, contained in the Antonini Itinerarium, which connected to Seville, is a sign of attachment to one bishopric or another – particularly when we know for a fact that certain products from the countryside around Seville were traded to the coast through Málaga at a time when the land transport systems had substantially improved.34 But, if Puente Genil belonged to the bishopric of Málaga, where do we place the boundary between the two bishoprics? Nor is it sensible to assume that both Morón and Ronda were assigned to Écija just because such ascriptions appear in the Arabic sources of a later period, since we know that both the choras of Morón and Ronda (Takurunna) were probably late choras related to the internal revolts of the emirate, rather than to fossilized episcopal limits. If to this we add a generalized – albeit not sufficiently documented – assumption amongst some historians that the Byzantine occupation was limited to the shore, as current specialist literature purports,35 it appears more prudent to set the southern limit of the territories of Écija at the foot of the Sierras Subbéticas. The limits set by García Moreno seem reasonable enough given the evidence he provides,36 although we do have serious doubts about the claim that the Andalusian area of Gilena-La Roda belonged to the bishopric of 32 33 34 35 36

Ordoñez Agulla 1998. Martínez Melón 2008: 120–122. García Vargas 2012. García Moreno 2007; Vizcaíno 2009. García Moreno 2007: 453.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Málaga, this limit being slightly more towards the southeast, mainly due to geographical reasons. The western boundary, as shown before, is uncertain along the wide strip between the territory of former Irni and the river Corbones. Nowadays this river marks a strong natural boundary in this area of Sevillian countryside,37 despite its proximity to Carmona. This was probably more of a fortress than a proper city. In decline since the late imperial period,38 its small size is evident in the ninth century, as reflected in the low number of cavalry men it contributed to the army of the emir:39 a mere 185 riders compared to, for example, 1200 from Écija or 900 from Priego de Córdoba. But one should not rule out either that the border lay still further to the east, in the area of La Campana. 40 Whether one assigns more or less territory to this enclave, undoubtedly its ideological and religious influence developed at a regional level because, thanks to the epigraphy (Calendar of Carmona, funerary epitaphs in Morón and El Arahal), local saints from Écija are recorded in inscriptions scattered along the countryside in modern Seville. The principal difficulties arise when pinpointing the bishoprics of Seville and Italica, due to their geographical proximity. We have very little geographic data on these bishoprics, and we doubt that the bishopric of Italica (as well as that of Cabra) existed before the middle of the sixth century. The creation of bishoprics ex novo in order to subjugate and reduce the influence of certain other bishoprics opposed to the central power is well proven in the time of King Wamba. 41 It is very possible that this course of action was applied earlier by King Leovigild, as a punishment to rebellious Seville, a city that had openly supported Hermenegild. Potentially, Leovigild created a new episcopal see right on Seville’s doorstep, with sufficient territory to act as a counterweight in the metropolitan territory of Baetica. But certainly the territorial division had to be clearly marked, between an Italica geared towards the north and a Seville that must have occupied a wide strip of land between the diagonal formed by its known limits of Aroche and Utrera. Indeed, we have some undisputed facts regarding 37 An interesting insight into the relationship between the city of Carmona and its surrounding area in Roman times, with Corbones as an integral part thereof, can be seen in Amores and Rodríguez Sáez 2001. Nevertheless, the boundary between Seville and Écija was likely around Loma Verdeja, given the dynamics of the historical development of the area (see Oria and García 2007). 38 Beltrán 2001; Amores 2001; García Moreno 2001. 39 Vallvé 1986: 204–206. 40 As proposed by García Moreno 2007: 453. 41 Sanz Serrano 2009: 319.

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the bishopric of Seville. Thanks to epigraphy we know of the existence of two, very close, large churches, one consecrated by Honoratus near Dos Hermanas (Orippo)42 and another one consecrated by Pimenius in the south of Utrera.43 They were built simultaneously along the Via Augusta itself, each close to the other. The singular display of relics from both ‘sides’ should be interpreted as a show of force intended to assert boundaries. 44 We do not believe this to be solely a ‘normal’ activity of bishops consecrating churches outside their territory;45 a complicated territorial delimitation would go hand-in-hand with the struggle for holding and exploiting new lands, obtained from an increasingly diminished Lacus Ligustinus. The other explicit data on the possible territory of the bishopric of Seville refers to its north-western limit, when Arab geographers cited Aroche as the boundary between the primitive choras of Seville and Beja. 46 This territory had places like Almonaster, definitely an ancient monastic foundation (as the name clearly indicates), with a strategic location. Again, we see the alleged old limit for Roman Baetica ignored in the episcopal divisions of Late Antiquity. As discussed below, in the treatment of the boundaries of the bishopric of Niebla, we think that the traditionally mining area of Rio Tinto and Nerva belonged to the bishopric of Seville, mainly due to issues related to the data given by Arab geographers, who were particularly explicit when defining the distance between Niebla and the border with Seville’s territory as rather small (20 miles). In fact, we believe a reasonable hypothesis would be that the increase of late antique data available to us in Aljarafe is due, among other reasons, to the development of this area during the late antique period, as a territory of agricultural production.47 It would also be the best path to the 42 This is the inscription IHC 363, found in the farm of Bujalmoro in 1868. 43 Inscription IHC 80. 44 While the Seville-side mentions the Cordoban relics of the Three Crowns, the other side notes those of John the Baptist, St. Eulalia, the Sts. Justa and Rufina, and St. Felix. The church in Orippo must have been consecrated between 636 and 641, while the church that we ascribe to Utrera was consecrated on 25 May 642 (648 according toVives 1969). Pimenius himself founded at least three other churches: Asido (ICERV 304, in 630), Vejer (ICERV 305, in 644), and Alcalá de los Azules (ICERV 309). This suggests that important building activity was taking place across whole width of the bishopric (with several possible interpretations), at a time when Chindaswinth (642–653) was organizing Andalusia administratively following the pattern established elsewhere by the Gothic kingdom of Toledo (García Moreno 2007: 451). 45 This differs from the view expressed in Martínez Melón 2008: 123–124, which failed to account for the chronological, territorial, and epigraphic context. 46 Vallvé 1986. 47 We refer to a possible basilica in Gines, the abundance of late antique funerary epigraphy, Olivares decorated bricks, etc.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

north-western territories of the bishopric, and an alternative to the traditional route,48 possibly now dominated by the bishopric of Italica, as we shall see. In favour of this delimitation, we can cite a similar situation documented (more clearly) in the southern boundary of the Seville bishopric. Around the Via Ab Ostio Fluminis Anae we have found two churches at a mere 15 kms apart from each other. One of them would have been in the vicinity of Manzanilla, the other in Tejada la Nueva, where the inscription CIL II, 1258, appeared.49 This inscription has a perfectly carved loculus at the top. In our opinion, it is possible that both churches were ‘marking’ rural boundaries on either side of a border, as can be assumed from Arab sources: Ostur would belong to the former bishopric of Niebla;50 Ituci would belong to the bishopric of Seville.51 The eastern boundary of the bishopric, as we have already mentioned (see above on the limits of the bishopric of Écija), is more difficult to establish. In our opinion, the River Guadaira sets the boundaries dividing the bishoprics of Seville, Italica, and Écija. This creates more problems than it solves, since it means allocating Carmona to the bishopric of Italica,52 even though this place has historically been the access to Seville. We believe that, due to economic, fiscal, and geographical reasons, both Carmona and Marchena occupied a prominent position in the bishopric of Seville, whose south-eastern boundary would have been near Morón de la Frontera and the Sierras Subbéticas. Italica, just 8 km upriver from Seville, was the next bishopric of Baetica. The proximity of this city to Seville, and the total absence in textual and epigraphic sources of material concerning the presence of bishops (except for an unclear legend of St. Gerontius, first bishop and confessor), makes us think that this bishopric was a late foundation.53 The report of the ‘reconstruction’ of the walls of this city by Leovigild during the civil war against his son may be the key to understanding the history of late antique Italica. García Moreno believed the territory of Italica was confined between Morón and Carmona, something we do not agree with basically due to the problems posed by these choras (of late appearance) and by the total lack of relationship between these territories and Italica. In our view, it is more appropriate to grant the city the territory to the north, including an area around the Guadalquivir (Alcalá del Río? Lora del Rio?), and always in relation to the sites of mining, livestock, and stonework that existed in 48 49 50 51 52 53

Jiménez Martín 2006. Sánchez Velasco 2010: 108–111. Mesa del Castillo, Manzanilla; see Pérez Macías 2006: 73. Tejada la Nueva; see Pérez Macías 2006: 74. García Moreno 2007: 452. García Moreno 2007: 442, n. 41.

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this area, over which the city had always had a significant influence.54 So we propose, as a hypothesis, that the demarcation of the ancient bishopric of Italica roughly matched the Baeturia Celtica and the Firris of the Emirate – a territory in western Sierra Morena, well defined before and after the Visigothic period, which ended up forming an extensive chora with Fahrs al-Ballut. That would also explain why, in the territories assigned to Seville, we can find allusions to Cortegana, Almonaster, and Aroche, although nothing is said of the area further north, even if in Late Antiquity this area boasted important populations such as Frenegal de la Sierra, Jerez de los Caballeros, Burguillos del Cerro, and Maimona. To the west, the territory of Italica occupied Gerena and the Guadiamar valley, controlling all the entrances to the northwest of ancient Baetica.55 Consequently, the lands mainly devoted to agriculture related to Seville, while the areas traditionally devoted to farming and mining related to Italica, which, as we shall see, was not an abandoned city but a major urban centre that struggled to survive in spite of the growing importance of Seville. It is easier to set the westernmost limits for Niebla. If we analyse the information provided by the descriptions of some Arab geographers, we can see that they certainly offer accurate data,56 which luckily includes a precise demarcation of the chora of Niebla. According to al-Udri, Niebla bordered the Guadiana to the west, about forty miles away. The sea encompassed it on the south, at Labb (Lepe?). On the east, its extension barely reached 20 miles, as far as the border with Seville. The northern extension was much larger, reaching 50 miles inland. To the former data we should add others such as Aurus belonging to the chora of Beja (Pax Iulia), which has been identified with Aroche, as Ibn Galib reports. The territories belonging to this chora, however, would not have extend much farther northeast, since both al-Udri and al-Bakri were within the chora of Seville, and the districts of al-Munastir and Qutursana / Qartasana are identified with Almonaster and Cortegana, respectively. The objective of our proposal is to establish a starting point for further, more detailed studies on the territory that would ideally define with more precision some aspects that are now difficult to determine, such as the inclusion of the Rio Tinto mines and Nerva in the territories of Seville or Niebla. We prefer to ascribe these territories to Seville, due to the poor development of the bishopric of Niebla to the east and to the insistence of 54 Garrido González 2011. 55 Fernández, Alonso, and Lasso 1987. 56 Vallvé 1986: 313–322.


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Arab geographers on highlighting the agricultural, livestock, and fishery resources of the chora, while failing to mention mining at all.57 Concerning the bishopric itself, the internal articulation is far from clear, although, considering the findings we have discussed already, it is likely that the territory was organized using the same roads and urban network as those established by Rome.58 Thus, it appears that both the coast and its immediately adjacent agricultural plains were the wealthiest areas, set around the Via Ab Ostio Fluminis Anae. The other major route of communication, at least as far as we can deduce from the available data, could be the old Huelva–Urion road, which crossed the Valverde del Camino and then linked up with Urion Arucci Pax Iulia through Serpa. Both from Urion and from Martos, the major roads of Roman times led to Italica, not Seville, an interesting trait that helps to answer questions about the territorial distribution and means of transport between territories. Indeed, it seems that the Italica–Urion–Arucci road articulated the territory of the region of the Sierra Morena which later belonged to the chora of Seville. Finally, we must not forget another route of communication that must have been of immense relevance in light of the pieces we will examine below: the Guadiana itself. This river must have been a veritable ‘motorway’ connecting the westernmost part of the bishopric with its see. To this, we must also observe the navigability of the Tinto (as far as near Niebla), of the Odiel (as far as Gibraleón), and of the Piedras (as far as La Barca), which means that the area immediately adjacent to the coast also enjoyed respectable communications by sea with the whole of the area surrounding the Gulf of Cadiz. Although we cannot, as can be imagined, infer a great deal, our provisional analysis allows us to set a series of guidelines that should help us attempt, in the future, a more in-depth study of such fundamental issues as the territorial implementation of the civil, economic, and ecclesiastical powers which – without doubt – used architecture as a public display and expression of their power. This constitutes the object of our archaeological study: a. Baetica, due to its particularly long-lasting tradition, is unique when it comes to territorial boundaries, both civil and ecclesiastical; this uniqueness, embodied in an ecclesiastical organization very similar to that of Africa and coexistent with a complex civil administration, the limits of which do not coincide, should be more thoroughly researched 57 Roldán Castro (1993) prefers to ascribe this area to the chora Niebla. 58 In regard to roads, we have relied on Sillières 1990; Ruiz Acevedo 1998; and, for the area of the Sierra Morena especially, Jiménez Martín 2006.

The Ecclesiastical Organization of Bae tica in L ate Antiquit y







through specific multidisciplinary studies in order to clarify the issue at a macro-territorial and micro-territorial level. The province boundaries do not seem to be useful as an immovable reference, let alone the conventus limits. Undoubtedly there are predominant fiscal issues, consolidated economic interests, and municipal territorial matters, when setting the borders of the bishoprics. These limits are not ‘written in stone’, as happens with any border. We can offer an approximate idea of the territorial limits in the seventh century; before that, it is almost impossible to articulate a proposal, since in fact we cannot be certain of the existing administrative and/ or ecclesiastical districts. Córdoba seems to always have been the administrative capital of the province, whereas, for some obscure reason, the metropolitan see went to Seville. In this sense, perhaps, we should talk about a precedent in the very organization of Baetica, since at least from the second century onwards, the provincial governor resided in Córdoba, even though the seat of the administration of the procuratores was in Seville.59 Did this duality remain due to tradition? Or was it part of a struggle between cities aspiring to become the visible head of the region? Was it a fight between the see of Córdoba and other bishoprics?60 Or was it due to the fact that the bishoprics eventually ended up playing the tax-collecting and economic roles that these procuratelas played and, therefore, the main headquarters remained in this city? In at least two of these instances it is highly probable that we are dealing with bishoprics created after the Baetic wars of Leovigild. This king would have favoured the creation of a new bishopric in Italica as a punishment to the see of Seville, from which wide areas of the northern edge would have been detached. Something similar happened to the bishopric of Epagrum, as confirmed by the proceedings of the Council of Elvira. This bishopric may have remained more or less intact at a territorial level, although its see would have gone to Cabra, perhaps because this city remained faithful to Leovigild. A quick analysis of the proposed territorial distribution indicates a division that may appear uneven and unbalanced in favour of Italica or Córdoba, but if we look at the capacity of these lands to generate revenue, the situation appears to be quite balanced, since those with a smaller amount of territory hold fields which are much more suitable

59 Ordoñez 2005. 60 García Moreno 2007.


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for agriculture (Écija, Cabra), from which more taxes, especially in kind, could probably be extracted. g. Between the Second Council of Seville (619) and Chindaswinth’s reform, the more or less final organization of the Baetic episcopal sees must have come into force, as well as the different administrative units, which do not always coincide. h. New roads were built, such as Aljarafe in Seville, in response to new economic and territorial interests. Other former routes became increasingly important, like the one leading from Seville to Antequera and, hence, to Málaga. i. The articulation of the territory was still carried out by the cities, welldefined in cores and suburbs, which were of great importance in the new process of monumentalization. The rural area was organized around increasingly large properties, and a new kind of organization came into being – the monastery, another type of large property, encouraged by the bishoprics, which occupied deserted (albeit well connected) places,61 and in which some researchers have tried to see a sort of ‘repopulation’ and coordinated exploitation of strategic resources.62 In summary, we have tried to present the data that allow us to know how the administrative divisions and the landscape of Roman Baetica disappeared. Although it is possible that the limits of the province were the same, we can be certain that the internal divisions (the conventus) were replaced by bishoprics. We have no reliable data to know what civilian administrative divisions existed, what they were, or how large they were. The landscape of classical times also changed with the appearance of monasteries and large villae, which sometimes had their own churches and cemeteries. The old pagan temples with their lands of labour, the small villae or mutationes that facilitated long-distance travel, also disappeared. Since we have defined our area of study, we will now discuss in detail the architecture, liturgy, and urbanism in the cities where these bishoprics were based, which is simply one way to approach the territorial, political, administrative, and economic organization of a society where the Church ultimately replaced the Empire in many of its functions. In doing so, we will also attempt to fill a huge historical void in the investigation of the history of Baetica.

61 Martínez Tejera 2007 62 García Moreno 2007: 458, n. 128


The Bishopric of Córdoba (Corduba)

With its seat in the city of Córdoba, this bishopric – the most eastern of those analysed in this book – is by far the place from which we have the most data. Within its vast territory, one also finds several magnificent examples of religious and funerary architecture from Late Antiquity that will be thoroughly analysed. For this reason, the next chapter is extensive, much more so than the other chapters dedicated to bishoprics from which, unfortunately, we do not have the same amount of information. First we will discuss the city, which retained its importance throughout the period, as evidenced by the archaeological remains found inside and outside its walls. Later, we will examine the territory of the bishopric, which is full of interesting data on the transformation of the landscape through architectural complexes that have been excavated for years. This information has never before been comprehensively collected and presented together. Indeed, this study is the first global analysis of all these data, which will allow us to reconstruct in a very detailed way the landscape of ecclesiastical power in the territory controlled by the ancient capital of Baetica.

The City of Córdoba Despite the numerous excavations carried out in recent years throughout the city (Fig. 3), no remains of late antique fortifications or defensive walls have been found. This would suggest that, as in many other cases, the walled perimeter of Roman times diminished or changed substantially.1 The latest excavations define a walled perimeter from Roman times, though they provide no data on whether there were subsequent reforms, or at what moment these might have been carried out.2 Therefore, it is generally accepted that the urban perimeter barely changed in Late Antiquity. Only in one case, in the south of the city, do we find a possible location of the late antique defensive perimeter, with structures that have been interpreted as a castellum attached to the wall of the Roman period. We will call this Building Complex C11. It is such a broad area that it is difficult to make a synthesis. There are two lines of thought about this place: the

1 2

Escudero 1999. Molina and Valdivieso 2007.


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Figure 3 Early Christian topography of Córdoba. Building complexes, inscriptions, and architectural decoration

hypothesis by Marfil,3 followed by other authors, 4 which we might call the ‘great facility’ theory; and the most recent view defended by León and Murillo,5 which we might call as the ‘castellum’ theory. Both rely on the alleged chronology of certain walls by means of morphological parallels, but there are no certain chronological references at a stratigraphic level for either of these theories. Similarly, in both cases, the sections of wall interpreted as part of a large military residence-palace, or on the contrary as a small and defensive castellum, barely reach 8 m in length, in the best case scenario. Furthermore, concerning the second hypothesis – articulated in a 3 4 5

Marfil 2000. Bermúdez 2008. León and Murillo 2009.



very confusing text indeed – we have to add the problem of the use of terms (castellum, civil complex) which appears not to be conclusively resolved. In contrast, the importance of Córdoba in the administrative organization of the Visigothic period is well documented. It was the capital of the province, the headquarters of the Dux Provinciae, the seat of the army barracks stationed in this province (under the command of the dux, together with the royal headquarters), and the mint. Furthermore, it was where important laws for the rest of the kingdom were usually passed.6 Therefore, it must have had adequate facilities for such purposes, and it is conceivable that the Arab invaders absorbed of them, and their functions, after the conquest. For this reason, we think the area later occupied by the Umayyad administration was probably the place where the government headquarters of the Visigothic state in Córdoba were based. It is a pity that no study based on the archaeological remains has been able to offer a glimpse of such an interesting historical reality. And this research, we would like to add, is very important since the picture provided, again by architectural decoration elements, hints at a large construction ‘fever’ and a monumentality that deserve greater attention by specialists. This is the case regarding a chancel screen deposited in the Archaeological Museum of Córdoba and dated to the sixth century, as well as the plateniche obtained from recent excavations,7 the most immediate parallels of which are in Syria.8 However, our investigations have led us to the location of a number of Visigothic pieces preserved in the National Archaeological Museum and at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which originated from the excavations carried out at the end of the nineteenth century on the site currently occupied by the Seminary of St. Pelagius. The existence of these pieces, along with the information provided by the sources, indicates that this was one of the great building areas of a city undoubtedly in the hands of the Visigoths, who therefore sought strategic control of southern Córdoba, possibly with its new bishopric, as well as access to the river (still navigable), the bridge, and the exits to the south of the Iberian Peninsula, i.e. towards Seville, Écija, Carteia, Málaga, and Granada. The city of Córdoba was the site of an extensive bishopric and capital of the province during the Roman and Visigothic periods. It was surrounded by numerous basilicas built on cemeteries and in the suburbs of Roman times, which connected with each other through the interior of 6 García Moreno 2007: 433–471. 7 Bermúdez and León 2008, n.8. 8 Michel 2001: 397–399, figs. 374–375.


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the city, by means of two major routes where churches can also be found. The bulk of the archaeological data, of course, corresponds to both civil and religious public buildings – which are practically the only ones that also appear, with verifiable data, in the written sources. With a few exceptions, all those that refer to a basilica, a monastery, or a ‘palace’ are Islamic or Mozarabic. Hence, archaeology is vital if we are to determine which churches were built before the Islamic conquest and which churches belong – at least until archaeological data proves otherwise – to a later period. In regard to literary sources, we can know the name and, in some cases, also the location of existing churches and monasteries as well as civil power buildings.9 Specifically, the palace of Roderic appears in Islamic sources, indicating it existed prior to the conquest, since governors resided there from 716 onwards.10 One of the churches mentioned above was St. Zoilus, perhaps initially dedicated to St. Felix, and which was located in the ‘neighbourhood of the embroiderers’. Then we have St. Acisclus, which appears in the Historia Gothorum of Isidore of Seville with the famous episode of the defeat of Agila, and which was situated in the ‘quarter of the parchment makers’ ( facientium pergamena) – located by the Arab sources in the western area of the city. The basilica of St. Eulalia of Mérida, located prope Cordubam in the neighbourhood of Fragellas, had been placed according to traditional historiography in the outskirts to the north of the city (although its location is unknown) and always opposed to a monastery dedicated to St. Eulalia of Barcelona, located in Sehelati – the plain, in Latinized Arabic. One of the most important buildings would be the basilica of Sanctorum Trium or the Three Crowns, located outside the city, to the east, in vico Turris; in this case, we have an inscription (and a very strange one at that) which informs us about a deposition of the relics of the ‘three saints’ together with those of St. Acisclus and St. Zoilus, which raises doubts about the location of the basilica, since it is not a consecration. The basilica of St. Ciprian also has an unknown location, like that of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, which is said to have been located in the suburb of Colubris. Thanks to our studies on the dispersion of the archaeological pieces without context (disiecta membra) of the late antique and Visigothic periods,11 we were able to establish the existence of at least fourteen probable building complexes, although, it must be said, four of them present deeper definition 9 Puertas Tricas 1975: 39–160. 10 Marfil 2000: 138–141. 11 Sánchez Velasco 2006a.



Figure 4 Building Complex C13. Church built on a termae. 1) a column; 2) door?; 3) decumanus occupied by the new church

problems simply because there is no reliable data on the existence of constructive structures associated with the appearance of architectural or liturgical fragments. Let us start with the area inside the walls of the city. What we call Building Complex 13 (Fig. 4) has undergone several excavations since the 1940s.12 The importance that the last excavation carried out in Duque de Hornachuelos Street has for the archaeological knowledge of Córdoba must be highlighted. During these excavations, the remains of a domus of the republican period were found.13 After the destruction of the city by Caesar’s troops, a re-founding took place, in this case one that involved the construction of some baths which, given their size and distribution, could well have been private, but of public use. These were embellished with mosaics and a set of fine quality sculptures during the imperial period, which related to the construction of a large pool. Already in the late Roman Empire, at the end of the third or early fourth century, there was a major intervention in the whole site, consisting of a remodelling of the rooms and, above all, the sewers, improved by a new pipe made of brick. New flooring and tiles decorated the new rooms. 12 Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 197–204. 13 Ruiz Nieto 2003.


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But undoubtedly the most interesting historical and archaeological stage is represented in the last two phases of the excavation, where we can see the transformation from a civil urbanism, of public and pagan use, to another of a religious and Christian nature. Thanks to pieces preserved in the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba which we can relate to this place, we know that in a small site of only 50 m there must have stood a building of great proportions, or rather a complex of basilicas comprising at least two major construction phases.14 One could date this to the sixth century. To these phases we can assign (among other pieces) a decorated double window and a magnificent marble plaque directly imported from Byzantium. Furthermore, the presence of capitals and small columns allows us to assume the existence of secondary architectural structures. At this stage we cannot rule out the presence of reused or reprocessed material of high quality, such as the helical column, found in an archaeological context in which many decorated bricks appeared. The second phase is reflected in the stratigraphy and the inscription mentioned earlier. This suggests a complete renovation of the building (a re-founding?), which must have had sizeable columns, monumental imposts, and a somewhat coarser decoration than that which characterized the previous stage. The continued appearance of small elements leads us to believe that the building resulting from this phase was also endowed with elements of liturgical furniture and, therefore, completed and in use. The explanation for the presence of these columns, side by side, should therefore be linked to the clearing of this building at a later (probably Islamic) period. The stratigraphic sequence shows an interesting architectural and urban succession. In an unspecified time of the fifth century, the private baths were covered, as was the case with the portico and part of the street. Instead, a large building was built, the plan of which was still to be determined in its entirety. The construction of this building implies the abandonment of the baths, which interestingly means the deliberate destruction of part of what must have been a set of sculptures of the early imperial period, later buried in a corner of the pool, and sealed under thick depositions of clay, compacted gravel, and lime. The report of the team of restorers of the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba leaves no room for doubt: the sculptures were broken (presumably using a hammer), sawn, beaten with sharp metal objects, stoned, dragged, and finally stacked. That is a great deal of effort to simply get rid of the statues. In addition, all the mosaics were hidden with significant piles of soil. 14 Sánchez Velasco 2006a, pieces 25, 31, 64, 87, 107, and 113.



Figure 5 Fragment of sculpture broken and cast intentionally to the pool of the termae

We have no hesitation in interpreting these events as a tangible demonstration of the conversion of a pagan space into a Christian one, after an intense action of intentional destruction of previous pagan architecture and sculpture (Fig. 5). The archaeological record allows us to assume that this change was traumatic and certainly not without rites of purification and/or exorcisms. Recent research has demonstrated the persistent policy of persecution the Church held against buildings like the baths, considered impure and unholy, as focal points of sin that had to disappear, although on occasion, if needed, some rooms of the large baths were reused as churches, as long as there was a clear prior exorcism.15 The cancellation of all memory of the building of the baths, and the subsequent finding of an inscription referring to the reform of a church, lead us to the assumption that we are witnessing the destruction of some baths for the construction of a church during the fifth century. Some walls remain from this church, which were made in a rather coarse and physically substantial way. Some spolia from Roman buildings have also survived. Today the plan is unrecognizable, since the emergency excavation that brought these remains to light covered a very limited area. We cannot state 15 Jiménez and Sales 2004: 194–201.


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categorically either that we are dealing with a church or a building this basilica could have contained, such as the baptistery. In fact, a capital was found in a ‘pool’ – we do not know whether it might have been Roman (and thus related to the thermal baths and still in use?) or whether it belonged to the late antique period, which could then be interpreted as a baptistery.16 This basilica, already in the sixth century, would have had its own decorative programme, with double windows, small columns, and rich liturgical furniture imported, in part, directly from the East.17 Little more can be said about sixth-century phase, except that the building was badly affected by a significant destruction at some uncertain time before the beginning of the seventh century, the cause of which we do not know for certain. What we do know, thanks to the archaeological record, is that some thick walls were rebuilt, resorting to a construction technique based on lines of low quality masonry joined with thick layers of soil mortar, which were levelled in sections with rows of bricks and tegulae reused on its outer face, but not on the inner one. The floors of the new building were made of soil and seem to have annulled the previous ones, since in some cases they rested directly on part of the late-imperial mosaic. This new phase almost certainly related to a construction programme of the Visigothic period aimed at restoring some of the churches destroyed during the frequent uprisings in Córdoba.18 The pieces associated with this period are of great monumentality, though rough in their implementation when compared to the previous phase. One aspect on which we can only make an assumption is the presence in this building (also in the aforementioned one?) of a (baptismal?) pool, where a capital was found.19 The presence of a good water supply nearby allows for this interpretation, and it would be hardly surprising that part of the church was renovated for baptism. However, this point cannot be proven due to the absence of data on the pool. Two fallen columns were found in the eastern corner of the excavation, next to the place where Santos Jener also found the group of fallen columns and the inscription mentioned above. Therefore, we believe that all these columns belong to the same period, related to the new building which must have been inaugurated in 657. Many questions remain unanswered, such as the dimensions of this basilica, whether it was the only building, or whether there were others nearby devoted to 16 17 18 19

Sánchez Velasco 2006a, piece 95. As evidenced by Sánchez Velasco 2006, plate 64. CIL II2/ 7: 640. Sánchez Velasco 2006a, piece 95.



functional or liturgical roles. For now, however, we cannot go any further since only additional excavations can clarify these matters. In summary, interesting finds have appeared along Duque de Hornachuelos Street – Plaza de la Compañía, like the mosaic of the Four of Seasons,20 as well as an inscription.21 The building’s plan is still to be determined, but we can deduce two major phases. The first of these, dated to the fifth century, involved the wrecking of the bathhouses, with the destruction of the building, the deliberate and systematic destruction of all its sculptures (which were broken up and their pieces placed in one of the pools), and the levelling of the ground with enormous contributions of clays. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most explicit examples of the transformation of a ‘heathen’ place, such as a spa, into a Christian complex.22 A building was erected on top of these baths, after they fell into disuse, by reusing previous blocks (which resulted in quite irregular surfaces). This first building exceeded the limits of the insula; it occupied the porticos and cut the decumanus at the point where an entrance to the thermal baths was located. A second phase involved the consecration of a church in 661, dated by the aforementioned inscription. It meant the relocation of part of the façade, with a wall of masonry mortar combined with poor soil, and the levelling of the interior with a surface also made of clay. All this data, together with the existence of elements of architectural, sculptural, and possibly liturgical decoration that can be dated between the sixth and fourth centuries, invites us to believe that the building constructed over the baths was actually a basilica, built around the fifth century, which was possibly subjected to a decorative programme during the sixth century and completely remodelled (hence the use of the verb fundauit in the inscription) in the mid-seventh century. Our Building Complex 12 has structures, but it barely has architectural decoration.23 It has been dated to the sixth century and, in the opinion of its excavators, it is one of the finest examples of Byzantine influence in Córdoba, given its plan: a cross within a square, which has parallels in Constantinople, Gaza, and Sergiopolis. Its mosaics also have similarities with the Byzantine world, like the few disiecta membra found nearby. The truth is that this plan has been rebuilt in excess ‘by symmetry’, so new excavations and studies to finally define the planimetry of the building, as well as the evolution of the walls, which were greatly affected by subsequent 20 21 22 23

Blázquez 1981: 36–38; Guardia Pons 1992: 186–188; Nicolini 1983: 79–89. CIL II2 / 7: 640, ‘------](?) / [templum?] / Dom[i]ni / hoc fun/davit / ipse er(a) / DCLX/XXX/VIIII.’ Sánchez Velasco 2013: 46–47. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 204–206, figs. 90–91.


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Figure 6 Building Complex C10. Mosque of Córdoba

Sketch produced by Santos Jener of the archaeological finds found in the Patio de los Naranjos (Marfil 2000)

renovations, are necessary. And we should not rule out that we might be dealing with a late antique domus. The so-called basilica of St. Vicent (Building Complex C10) is one of the few whose name and location is known to us mainly by the existence, again, of Arabic texts that tell us about the construction of a mosque on its ruins.24 There are three areas that must be distinguished in this basilica complex: the findings in the present courtyard of the mosque; the remains found inside the mosque; and a series of excavations on the south of today’s cathedral, which must relate to the entire complex. We have already published works on three bases and an entire column unearthed during the excavations conducted by Felix Hernandez in the 1930s (Fig. 6), which highlighted the existence of a large Christian architectural complex prior to the current mosque.25 As we have mentioned, these studies remain unpublished and have been reinterpreted in later publications.26 Specifically, these pieces were found inside a structure, apparently with two (or three?) apses, which has been interpreted as a basilica.27 However, its structure, its dimensions, and its articulation invite us to think that we are 24 25 26 27

Ocaña 1942. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: pieces 9.1–9.4 and 12.1. Santos Jener 1958: 151–154. Marfil 2000b: 163.



not dealing with a church. In our opinion, and considering that nothing is known of the characteristics of its construction or its stratigraphic sequence, we believe it was a functional rather than a religious building, such as a cistern,28 or perhaps a silo,29 the former being, in our opinion, more probable. Such functionality could explain, in part, the extremely rough architectural elements that are associated with this building. However, it is also possible that the pieces exhibited in the Museum of Córdoba that feature a coating, i.e. those used on the outside, indicate the presence of a ciborium for a well or a similar, unsophisticated structure void of any aesthetic aspirations.30 We insist on this matter because we do not believe that these pieces belong to the decorative programme of a basilica, given their coarseness. The elements of architectural decoration found in the area are not very helpful either, since they are very rare and difficult to interpret. Traditionally, scholarly literature has stated that the pieces exhibited in the so-called museum of St. Vincent (located inside the mosque) came from the excavations conducted by Felix Hernandez. This is a mistake, because we have a comprehensive report by Vicent where each piece, including its origin and ownership, is studied.31 Thanks to this report we know that very few pieces of those exhibited in this place came, in fact, from the ancient basilica of St. Vincent. The only thing we know for certain, then, is the existence of a structure with an apse oriented northeast and wedged between a motley set of walls made of opus vittatum mixtum and with rooms decorated with mosaics. It is very difficult to risk an explanatory global hypothesis considering the present state of knowledge, but what seems clear is that these structures must have belonged to the main church of St. Vincent. This can only be guessed if we depend on archaeological findings, but they can be confirmed when we analyse the sources. After the conquest of Córdoba by capitulation, the Christians retained certain rights to the cathedral consecrated to St. Vincent. At least, this seems to have been so until the year 748/9, when the execution of seventy Yemenis by al-Sumayl, the leader of the Mudar tribes, occurred in this area. Had the building been a mosque, this execution would logically have been impossible.32 Also, in the text the place is mentioned as Kanisa, i.e. a church. The conversion into a mosque does not seem to 28 29 30 31 32

Mango 2002: 68. Mango 2002: 24. Krautheimer 1996: 62–62. Vicent 1987. Ocaña 1942: 348.


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have occurred until at least 786, although an earlier (very confusing) text dating back to 756 can be interpreted in two ways that would alter this question considerably: the existence of a mosque ‘next’ to the emiral palace or ‘inside’ it.33 In any case, it seems likely that the capitulation allowed the Christians to retain certain churches outside the city walls; many of them were in ruins due to their abandonment and the conquest. Within the city walls they could only retain the cathedral. The subsequent phase has masterfully been reflected by the historian al-Maqqari in a long text, based on earlier sources,34 which reports on the expropriation of part of the church of St. Vincent (784) and on the erection of the mosque (786). According to the author, after the Muslim conquest the Christians suffered the expropriation of ‘half of the older church that was inside the city […] which they called Sant Binyant [St. Vincent], and they built in that half a great mosque, with the other half remaining in the power of the Christians, and the other churches of the court of Córdoba were demolished.’35 This part of St. Vincent’s church constituted the mosque until, due to space requirements, Abd al-Rahman I ordered its enlargement. The situation had become untenable, since the largest attendance of the faithful had forced the authorities to install grandstands – made of wood, we suppose – in the naves of the building. As a result, the faithful attending the prayers were hardly able to rise, due to the poor separation between the grandstands and the vaulted ceiling. In addition, entrances were few and uncomfortable. Thus, in the year 784, the newly independent Emir of Córdoba bought the other part of St. Vincent from the Christians, and allowed them to rebuild the churches that were outside the medina. The whole basilica was destroyed and, within a year, the new mosque (786) was built. From this narrative we should draw several conclusions. The first one is that a large excavation would be needed (even beyond the limits of the current mosque) to detect the different buildings that must have composed the basilica of St Vincent, so as to determine which of these was the main church and which the one assigned to the Muslims (since it is unthinkable that two faiths shared the same building). It stands to reason that the main church stood where the original mosque was later built. That is why the remains found in the naves match part of that main church. The one 33 Ocaña 1942: 350–351. 34 Ocaña 1942: 354–355. 35 ‘la mitad de la iglesia mayor que estaba dentro de la medina […] a la que llamaban Sant Binyant, y edificaron en aquella mitad una mezquita aljama, quedando la otra mitad en poder de los cristianos, a los que les fueron demolidas las restantes iglesias de la corte de Cordoba.’



assigned to the Muslims must have stood very close to it, although its exact location is unknown. A few years ago we published the view that the archaeological remains found under the naves of the primitive mosque are so scarce that we cannot suggest any firm resolution, and that only two working hypotheses seemed possible: a) its location near the western end of the mosque makes us think it was only a small peripheral part of a large basilica still to be discovered; or b) the apse found, of northeast orientation, was indeed part of the chancel of the main church of the complex of St. Vincent.36 This latter possibility implies that this was a church with an apse enclosed between different rooms, similar to the complexes of basilicas such as those of St. Sergius in Rusafa (before 520),37 St. Catherine in Sinai (548–565),38 St. Felix in Cimitile-Nola (401–402),39 St. Thecla of Meriamlik (480),40 or the impressive church complex of Tebessa (between 400 and the sixth century). 41 What was clear to us was that the basilica of St. Vincent extended beyond the current limits of the mosque-cathedral towards the southwest, i.e. that part of these continued towards the current Torrijos Street. Indeed, a Greek altar is embedded in the wall of a house on this street, possibly reused as a Christian altar, 42 as indicated by the chrismon carved on its back. This indicates that, perhaps, the episcopal complex expanded towards the southwest. Since 2009, several publications have attempted to reinterpret the limited existing data, arriving at very different conclusions, but starting from a minimum common denominator: the absence of a direct analysis of the archaeological remains. The first one to become available was the work of Sánchez Ramos, 43 which analysed a previous interpretation by Marfil on the remains found in the prayer hall built by Abd-al-Rahman I during the ‘excavations’ conducted by Felix Hernandez during the 1930s. 44 We will not devote any time to assess these arguments, in which archaeological remains are of secondary importance compared to the attempt to adapt the remains to models of better-known buildings. Thus, we can conclude that we are dealing with a church with the plan of a basilica endowed with 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 207–211. Krautheimer 1996: 180. Mango 2002: 84–85. Krautheimer 1996: 230–231; Bertelli 2010: 197–200. Krautheimer 1996: 129; Serin 2004; Godoy 1995: 155–161 and 166–176. Krautheimer 1996: 226–227. Similar to another inscription found in Gines, Seville, IHC 75. Sánchez Ramos 2009. Márfil 2000b.


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rectangular rooms that surrounded a circular wall, understood to be an apse, of which we know neither its size nor its structure. To all this, we must add a graphical representation of superimposing walls that simply have no possible explanation. Then there is a whole series of parallels and analogies offered for the proposed recreation, mainly those belonging to well-known episcopal complexes (presumably with the idea of strengthening the arguments), where a surprising level of detail is provided. Finally, a chronology is given for the entire complex, dating it prior to the sixth century, perhaps the fifth century, and assigning to it an episcopal function based primarily on the assumed analogies, on its intramural position and, ultimately, on the Arabic sources. The second reinterpretation belongs to Bermúdez Cano, 45 and although he devoted some space to question the assumptions of the previous author, in this case he focused on the structures found in the Patio de los Naranjos. In this article he revised the information from the excavations conducted by Felix Hernandez in the courtyard of the mosque of Córdoba, taken – especially the plan of the remains – from a recent publication by Fernandez Puertas.46 Based on this information, the author interpreted the spatial organization of the structures as ‘tardoantiguas’ (sic); he provided their possible typological models and proposed a hypothesis about their functionality and chronology. He concluded that these structures respond to ‘modelos aúlicos imperiales’, with a spatial organization typical of a large urban domus, which we cannot date beyond the fifth century. The article concluded by outlining a hypothesis about its functionality, interpreting these spaces as a building for the episcoplalis audientia, i.e. an atrium. As in the previous case, the archaeological remains occupy a secondary place when establishing working hypotheses based on the mere interpretation of a plan, with three additional problems: a) we have conflicting information between the interpretation of the remains by this researcher (who has not actually seen the remains) and that by Santos Jener, who did see them and who drew a completely different plan to the one provided by this researcher; b) we know that the plans by F. Hernández were interpretive and were often modified; 47 c) the findings of elements of architectural decoration which, in this case, we do know where and how they appeared are omitted. 48 The result of using this methodology is, like in the previous 45 46 47 48

Bermúdez Cano 2010. Fernández Puertas 2009. Sanchez Velasco 2006a: 192. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 207–211.



Figure 7 Building Complex C10. Phase 1 of the remains found under the mosque. Possible cross-shaped mausoleum

Photo: Guadalupe Gómez

case, the subordination of the remains to a previously established hypothesis. Furthermore, he disregarded the only data (pieces of architectural decoration) that can be compared, which would take the dating of the building to the second half of the sixth century. By contrast, he proposed dating the building almost two centuries earlier because he compared the hypothetical plan to those of other structure models. Thanks to our on-site verification and the archaeological work carried out by Guadalupe Gomez, which consisted of cleaning and documenting the archaeological remains (Fig. 7) located under the current floor of the first phase of the mosque of Córdoba, we think that the archaeological remains provide interesting data. In the publications to date, especially those that reinterpret what was excavated by F. Hernández, there is a significant gap between what is represented and the material reality. Marfil misread the walls: foundation walls that have a height difference of more than 1.5 m and follow very different construction techniques are represented in the same layer as if pertaining to a single phase of construction. 49 In addition, even retaining walls built to support the current pavement of the mosque may 49 Marfil Ruiz 2000b.


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Figure 8 Building Complex C10. Phase 2 of the remains found under the mosque

Photo: Guadalupe Gómez

have been represented as belonging to Late Antiquity. The assumptions of other authors based on the reinterpretation of those by Marfil would therefore have to be invalidated.50 Actually, one can see that we are dealing with a cruciform structure with a central plan. It was built out of small limestone blocks, levelled by rows of bricks which, in some cases, have an inscription.51 The entire surface was paved with mosaic tiles of different colours and both figurative and geometric motifs, dated to the fourth century,52 or the sixth century,53 based on iconographic parallels. At a later date, when the mosaic was already finished, a moulding of rather poor signinum, was placed along the entire joint between the floor and the wall. This moulding also hides sections of this decoration, leading us to think that there was a second phase (Fig. 8) 50 51 52 53

Sánchez Ramos 2009. CIL II2 / 7: 698. Blázquez Martínez 1981: 35. Marfil Ruiz 2000b: 171; Penco Valenzuela 2000.



of use or construction. Subsequently, this building was buried, and we find that at least one other was built on top of it, possibly rectangular at its base given that the preserved walls rise more than 1.5 m above the layer of the mosaic and that they used masonry as a building system (strikingly poorer than the former both in bonding and mortar). Therefore, pending further research on the different walls and dimensions, we would have to conclude that, at least in the first documented phase, we are dealing with a building of a plan similar to that of the mausolea et cryptae adjacent to the basilica meridionalis of the complex of Francolí in Tarragona,54 which generally can be dated to around the end of the fourth and the first half of the fifth century. The existence of a flange of signinum attached to the wall is common in funerary contexts (actually the use of this material in general is very common, usually linked to necropolises as well as hydraulic structures), adding evidence in favour of this hypothesis. We thus have a possible cross-shaped funerary monument next to what looks like an apse, though its orientation is difficult to determine, and which does not necessarily have to be the chancel of a church, as we published at the time.55 As shown in Tarragona or Terrassa, in their pre-episcopal second phase (half of the fourth century-385), great basilicas have apses which were nothing but mausoleums.56 This type of cruciform building appears in València associated with the main basilica of the episcopal group that can be dated to the sixth century.57 In short, and without closing any line of work, it is evident we need not only to review what has been published, but also to study seriously the unpublished archives of F. Hernández, and to undertake further archaeological excavations. We consider it proven that this type of plan of a building does not per se provide a precise chronology. A series of interventions carried out immediately to the south of the current mosque, between the mosque itself and the river, deserve a special mention. A giant wall, almost two metres wide and over twenty metres long, has been interpreted as the enclosure wall of the episcopal complex of St. Vincent. A mixed technique was used when erected (rough ashlar and masonry together with large stones, the result of reusage). The wall has been dated stratigraphically to the sixth century and shares a number of similarities with the one found in Building Complex 1. In addition, several pools have been identified. They are made of signinum and show an ochre-painted 54 55 56 57

López Vilar 2006: 274–277, fig. 314. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 210. García, Moro, and Tuset 2009: 45–73. Ribera Lacomba 2008: 399–405.


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base, identical to that found in the courtyard of the mosque in 1996. This newly identified building has been interpreted as the residence of the first governor of al-Andalus, al-Hurr, who moved from Seville to Córdoba. That is the reason why from that moment onwards it was called Balat al-Hurr, the site for the first governors of the emirate. Later, the building became known as ‘Casa de los Rehenes’ (Dar al-rahain), as stated by Ibn al-Qūttiyya.58 Therefore, to summarize the state of affairs, we must say we do not know the exact boundaries of the entire complex, except on its southern side, which must have matched the aforementioned wall, very close to the river. It is also likely that the wall sketched by Santos could correspond to the northern boundary, although this is little more than an educated guess. With the data we have so far, the eastern and western boundaries remain unknown, although recent theories propose placing the eastern limit beyond Building Complex 3, which would form part of the Visigothic group of the cathedral.59 To this day, however, there is no way of proving such a working hypothesis. As far as we can tell, this complex would consist of more than one church (basilicae), the bishop’s palace (episcopium), probably a large cistern (with a covered access or built as a hypostyle room?) or some other type of building for funerary services (note that it would be oriented north-south) and other minor hydraulic structures. In terms of chronology, it appears to date to some unspecified time around the sixth century, when there was a real construction boom in the area, which completely changed the urban structure of the Roman period and consolidated the site as a new centre of concentration of religious and civil power, a clear example of what might be called the architecture of power.60 However, it is likely that a previous building of some kind existed, a structure we feel unable to define clearly with the scarce data available. There have been several excavations both inside and outside the church, mainly carried out by either F. Hernández – an old and still unpublished work – or Marfil (2000) – and yet, judging from the results, we can refer to three different groups of finds: the remains found under the Patio de los Naranjos; the remains found during the excavations carried out in the mosque’s prayer hall; the findings in the vicinity of the current mosque, but outside its perimeter. Concerning the remains found in the Patio de los Naranjos, there is no actual publication except for some sketches of the large structure that was excavated, a structure oriented north-south which, in 58 Marfil and Arjona 2000: 132–133. 59 Marfil 2000b: 157. 60 Godoy and Tuset 1994.



separate publications, is depicted as having two or three apses respectively. Today, the remains are buried and there is no way to make a revision. This structure had several bases and columns, dated to the late sixth or early seventh century.61 Its size and rough embodiment differ substantially from the decorative programme and the type of pieces found inside the mosque.62 That is why we are driven to believe that, more than a basilica, the building must have served an altogether different purpose to those of a liturgical nature – warehouses, cisterns? It is difficult to tell. An analysis of the remains found in the mosque’s prayer hall is even more complicated, owing to the excavations carried out by the architect F. Hernandez in the 1930s, which have not been published either.63 Recent attempts to interpret a disjointed series of walls of varying building typologies, with a no less problematic location of mosaic pavements, from the notes and sketches by Hernandez have had little effect,64 since it is impossible to define spaces in these reconstructions or even recognize them, let alone ascribe them to a particular functionality. Although perhaps even more astonishing are the new attempts to interpret the remains found under the mosque. Without even resorting to primary sources or files, some researchers have reconstructed full floor plans from ‘deduction’, whereupon they have even dared to define functions and provide Iberian and European parallels in an attempt to give greater weight to their argument.65 Indeed, the only thing we know for sure is that there is a broad architectural complex where only a possible quadrangular apse is barely visible along with other rooms.66 Its constructive and temporal evolution is unknown, beyond the clear overlap between constructive units that seem to offer us a glimpse into the reform of an initial building with a cruciform plan. The excavations have recovered – supposedly – a high amount of disiecta membra of an architectural, decorative, and liturgical nature: chancel screens, an altar, a baptismal font, a niche, etc., and all this has to be linked to the insurmountable doubt that surrounds the origin and provenance of virtually the entire collection exhibited in the so-called ‘Museo de San Vicente’. Most of these pieces have been dated to well into the sixth century, although we find the insurmountable problem that, in most cases, we do not know their exact place of origin. Therefore, not until further excavations take place will we be 61 62 63 64 65 66

Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 32–36. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 207–208. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 208–211. Marfil Ruiz 2000b. Sánchez Ramos 2009: 121–147. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 209–210.


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able to state anything but the obvious: the existence of a large-scale building complex consisting of several seemingly unconnected buildings dated to the sixth century. In the absence of any stratigraphic data, this dating would be based on some pieces of architectural decoration and liturgical elements. Both the dating and the hypothesis of a large building complex are backed by excavations and finds in the vicinity of the mosque. Regarding the first set, there are two particular ones that have provided results of interest for the purposes of this study, although only one of them has been published.67 The excavations revealed a great wall, almost two metres wide and over twenty metres long, interpreted as the wall that served to enclose the ‘episcopal palace’. Built out of squared rough ashlar and masonry together with large blocks of stone (some of them vertically disposed, similar to opus africanum), they have been stratigraphically dated to the sixth century. In addition, several pools of opus signinum, with a skirting board painted with ochre, identical to those found in the yard of the mosque in 1996, have been found.68 Among the findings outside the scope of the current mosque, the appearance of a possible altar at Torrijos Street should be noted, which, together with the location of the walls found under the prayer hall, means that the primitive episcopal complex could well have extend beyond the limits of the current mosque.69 This is also the place where what we believe was the first mihrab of the mosque appeared. It might date back to when the mosque physically occupied part of the basilica of St. Vincent, or perhaps to the phase of Abd al-Rahman I. Therefore, summarizing the state of affairs, we must say we do not know the exact boundaries of the entire complex, except for its southern edge which, in all probability, must be related to the aforementioned wall. It is also likely that the wall depicted in Santos’s sketch could correspond to its northern boundary, although this is only a guess. With the data available so far, the eastern and western boundaries are unknown, although recent theories propose placing the eastern limit beyond building complex C12, which would form part of the cathedral group dating to the Visigothic period.70 Although this working hypothesis cannot be proven at this time, when we consider the extension of the great cathedral complex, the theory seems perfectly reasonable. To our knowledge, we can say that this complex comprised more than one church (basilica), the bishop’s palace (episcopium), 67 68 69 70

Marfil and Arjona 2000. Marfil Ruiz 1996. Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 183–195; possible altar as Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba, D-34. Marfil Ruiz 2000: 157.



probably a large cistern or some other sort of functional building (endowed with a covered access or built as a hypostyle?), and other minor hydraulic structures. Chronologically, it was apparently built during the sixth century, a time when a spurt of construction seems to have taken place in the area, which completely upset the urban structure of Roman times, occupying the whole of the cardo maximus, and rendering the area a new focal point of religious and civil power (embodied in differentiated architectures of power).71 The parallels with Valencia, at a topographic and even constructive level, are evident.72

The Outskirts of the City of Córdoba Early imperial routes and necropolises quickly became heavily Christianized areas, so at this stage we will focus on the study of those suburban areas that held a religious building or complex. These were generally located along the major exit roads of the old Roman city. We must begin by recalling that, at the end of the seventeenth century, Barquera Torquemada produced an illustration clearly depicting how the city of Córdoba was surrounded by several belts of monasteries which, according to this author, followed the rule of St. Basilius.73 So, it is beyond doubt that the memory of the holy places was preserved through the popular culture of Arabized Christians – wrongly called ‘Mozarabs’ – both in the minds of those who stayed in Córdoba and in those who went into exile (a fact easy to ascertain from the sources).74 Although not very accurate, the document can help us reach a number of conclusions that provide a perfect starting point for the study of the periphery of the city. The drawing makes it clear that there were a number of sites rather close to the city, namely Tercios, Cuteclara, Santa Eulalia, and St. Christopher (Sci. Christophori). While the latter is on the other side of the Guadalquivir, the former three are situated by a major road that runs from the southwest to the northeast, parallel to the city. The remaining places appear far apart, as they are located on distant mountains. They are referred to in some sources of the Islamic era as places where Arabized Christians from Córdoba (above) settled. Archaeology can help us locate them more precisely. 71 72 73 74

Godoy and Tuset 1994. Ribera Lacomba 2008. Sánchez Velasco 2006a, fig. 98. Ocaña 1942: 359.


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Starting from the southwest, we find an area along the river where there is a notable late necropolis around what is today the cemetery of Nuestra Señora de la Salud.75 Here, at the beginning of the century, there appeared several plain stone sarcophagi; and it is here we can locate the discovery of two altars with individual loculi for relics, one of them being the largest to have been found in Hispania.76 However, it has not been possible to relate them to architectural remains of any kind. Further north, opposite the west façade of the city, what is undoubtedly the largest collection of architectural and decorative elements of the city in Late Antiquity have been recovered. They are related to a large building partially excavated by Santos Jener in the 1940s, the so-called Cortijo de Chinales, the constructive characteristics of which are very similar to those found in Cercadilla. We think it might be the basilica of St. Acisclus (Building Complex C7) mentioned in the sources, although this is a mere working hypothesis (Fig. 9). Its rectangular layout, its solid walls, good water supply from an aqueduct, its location on a previous Roman necropolis located west of the city (next to the suburb of the Pergamineros), the existence of late tombs inside the building, its important decorative programme, etc., all indicate that we are dealing with St. Acisclus, a martyrial basilica which must inevitably have been built on the site of the martyrdom and burial of the saint. In Roman times, this place was an area of natural expansion for the Colonia Patricia, so its uses and functions varied throughout the imperial period. Thus, at around the end of the republican era, it became an important cemetery where circular funerary monuments were built. This funerary area reached today’s Avenida del Aeropuerto and Camino de los Sastres, where an impressive array of tombstones of gladiators dating to the Flavian period have been found, as well as the second largest collection of such inscriptions in the Empire, second only to that found in Rome itself. From the Flavian period onwards, the area experienced an intense process of urbanization. The necropolises disappeared. The large circular tombs were transformed into large domus.77 Similarly, the funeral pathways became porticoed streets. Close to Antonio Maura Street there was intense urbanization with cardines and decumanes that turned this into a major area of expansion for the colony. The structures found are huge; they reflect a gigantic consumption capacity and, of course, water disposal, comparable to other cities such as Italica. In fact, Santos Jener confused records of these 75 Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 226. 76 Sánchez Velasco 2006a, pieces 79–79.1. 77 Murillo et al. 2002.



Figure 9 Building Complex C7

Sketch produced by Santos Jener (1958) of the archaeological finds found in this area. Sketch of restitution of the building

huge sewers with ‘funerary monuments in the shape of a tower’ stuffed with ‘black earth’.78 Looking at his plans, we can conclude that these records and, therefore, the urbanization of the area covered much of the western area as far as today’s square of Costa Sol. That is, 600 m of immense streets and arcades which, judging by their system of dewatering, must have belonged to buildings needing this infrastructure, such as large baths, markets, etc.79 So, between present-day Antonio Maura (formerly called Camino Viejo de Almodóvar) and Avenida del Aeropuerto (Carretera Nueva de Almodóvar) streets, there must have existed a necropolis area, perhaps 78 Santos Jener 1955: 13. 79 Sánchez Velasco 2011b.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

displaced southward by rapid urban growth, which would have maintained (partially) its role as a necropolis throughout the early imperial era. Only by understanding the preceding Roman urban layout can we establish the relationship that explains the rise in the area of a major martyr complex like the one we are to discuss below (hence the importance of distinguishing the inhabited areas from those intended for burial). And it is precisely the area of the necropolis (south) where the martyrial basilica was erected. It is in this area where Santos Jener found the remains of a huge building, which he dated to the Visigothic period due to the large number of architectural remains discovered and due to the structure of its walls which, as shown, boast a good many similarities with the construction technique used in Cercadilla (foundations and parts of a cryptoporticus). The plans left by Santos reflect the enormity of the building.80 Santos thought this structure was similar to the plan of San Peretó church.81 On top of that, there appeared a good number of ‘huge’ columns and tombs, both inside as well as outside of the alleged basilica. This made their discoverer confirm the chronology he had proposed. A comprehensive study of the sources, both Mozarabic and Islamic, led Santos to assume that these remains belonged to the basilica of St. Acisclus. At present, this is the most solid hypothesis about the location of this basilica, but the reconstruction proposed by Santos himself seems unlikely, because he located the apse to the south, an improbable orientation. The remains that have appeared there, as well as the architectural decoration material, undoubtedly suggest that it would have been a basilica, but quite a different one to that described by Santos. Given the original information we have been able to consult, and after proceeding to review it with all the caution a matter of this kind requires, we propose a square plan of great width, endowed with a west-oriented apse. Some walls were reinforced with robust internal buttresses, a structural necessity arising from the strong lateral pressures that the construction must have been subject to in an area with a steep slope to the south. Therefore, this must have been a succession of foundations that acted as terracings of the land and, at the same time, as continuous foundation walls for the columns of the central naves. This is why we suggest the possible existence of five naves (although we cannot assert it categorically). We should also note that in the basilica of El Germo (see below) similar internal buttresses are part of a second phase in the reconstruction of the building. We are not 80 Santos Jener 1955, fig. 12, pl. 3. 81 Santos Jener 1958.



sure how to interpret some structures (such as the one called Q, attached to the building), which could very well be a mausoleum. We find ourselves, therefore, facing a large basilica, oriented to the west (like the basilicas of Constantine), endowed with important columned naves, and housing a considerable number of tombs inside the complex. This is therefore a possible martyrial basilica of a very early period, located, as we would expect, in the midst of one of the major necropolises of Roman Córdoba. The model followed could be that of Rome’s great martyrial basilicas of the early fourth century.82 But there is another possibility that should be considered. We could also be facing a quadrangular building with a western apse and mausoleums adjoined to the main façades, like the basilica of San Fructuoso in Tarragona or the northern basilica of the complex of Francoli itself,83 in which case there must have been east-oriented apses (of which Santos Jener found no remains). Another, albeit remote, possibility would be the existence of a memoria like that found in Salona (Manastirine cemetery, early fourth century), where the tombs of saints surrounded an open quadriporticus.84 In this phase, which we consider foundational, no remains of architectural decoration have appeared. Everything found can be ascribed to two moments: the sixth century and the seventh century. This is reflected in the pieces from the collection of the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba that came from this Building Complex and its immediate surroundings.85 This fact is not surprising, especially if we consider the constant wars and assaults and the city was subjected to, in particular St. Acisclus, during the Arab conquest (see Chapter 2). And like in Cercadilla, we can only glimpse the importance attached to this building complex thanks to the grandeur and quality of the spolia that have survived. So far, all indicators seem to converge on the definition of these remains as those of a martyrical basilica – the true religious focal point of the city. To support this theory, we can count on the rigorous topographical analysis of the surrounding area: the discovery of an important necropolis linking the building complex to the city to the southeast (Building Complex C8). Walls of this type are found in both funerary monuments (Coracho) and major burial sites (Écija). In fact, some mausoleums found in the Carretera 82 Krautheimer 1996: 60–66. 83 López Vilar 2006; López Vilar 2010. 84 Krautheimer 1996: 58. 85 Sánchez Velasco 2006a, pieces 10, 12, 20, 22, 40, 50, 51, 53, 56, 60, 62, 65, 66, 69, 74, 75, 91, 92, 102, 109, 112, and 124.


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de Carmona in Seville have walls that show finer construction techniques than those of well-known churches such as the ones found in Gerena or El Germo. If we add proof of funeral rites such as the refrigeria (similar to what is documented in the mausoleum of Punta del Moral, with its so-called ‘ash piles’), we can reach the conclusion that its interpretation as a necropolis area is appropriate. In addition, we could be dealing with archaeological evidence of what we think might be a possible sharing of the necropolis between pagans and Christians. It is also possible to think of the Christianization of the funeral rituals, with the use of a clear Christian iconography, as shown in the fragment of glass found depicting a more than likely a Traditio Legis scene. As for the chronology, we think that the data allows us to push back the dates to the mid-fourth century. The important collection of architectural and liturgical elements (Fig. 10) found in the former ‘Huerta de la Camila’ (Building Complex C6) topographically link this western area with the northern one, that is, with Cercadilla. Excavations began in this site in 2003, motivated by the restoration project of the former Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, which became the headquarters of the Rector’s office of the University of Córdoba. In 2010, two monographs with extensive work regarding the suburban areas of the city of Córdoba and the amphitheatre itself appeared. 86 In these books the researchers defended the existence, within the amphitheatre, of the remains of two or three cellae memoriae related to a martyrial cult. Shortly afterwards, the conclusions were severely criticized: Hidalgo argued that the remains interpreted as martyrdom chapels were actually part of the structure of the amphitheatre itself.87 At present, investigations are apparently underway. Another more realistic alternative to that of accumulating places of worship within a reused amphitheatre would be the presence of various buildings under the same name in the vicinity of this structure itself. In this western area of the city we have relatively accurate sources that inform us of the existence of the complex of San Acisclo, which consisted of a basilica, aula, and titulus. These may well have been different buildings close to each other and referred to under a single name, as was the case with San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. In fact, we know that the episcopal complex, known by a single name, was made up of many buildings that were not necessarily functioning at the same time. In this regard, some of the assumptions that we have been dealing with for so long concerning the articulation of the 86 Vaquerizo and Murillo 2010; Vaquerizo 2010. 87 Hidalgo 2012.



Figure 10 Building Complex C6

Sketch produced by Santos Jener (1958) of the archaeological finds found in this area

Christian topography of the suburbs of Córdoba, in this case the western side,88 are based on the assumption, as discussed below, of the location of a large basilica immediately south of this site, where not only do we have architectural remains, but also sculptural and liturgical ones, together with inscriptions and a necropolis.89 We have suggested, as did Santos Jener (1955), that this could be St. Acisclus (see below). At this point we should mention two archaeological sites directly related to the amphitheatre and its reuse: a) the remains found immediately west from this building, which are difficult to interpret; and b) the remains of architectural decoration found during unrecorded excavations in Huerta de la Camila, an old convent of La Victoria located immediately to the north of the amphitheatre. In June 1948, the ‘Instituto de la Vivienda’ began the construction of a block of flats in an area of about 1600 m2 at ‘Huerta Cebollera’ (i.e. ‘Huerta Camila’) on Avenida de Medina Azahara, and west from Ciudad Jardín. The Archaeological finds that surfaced were interpreted as:90 88 Sánchez Velasco 2006a. 89 Santos Jener 1955; Sánchez Velasco 2006a. 90 Santos Jener 1955: 109–111.


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large constructions of houses, one of them with a semicircular apseidal wall, columns and stone pavements, that could well be a particular building, with its exedra, and even with graves, like the one of Mussia Agella and Mussia Cerosia, that have precedents in Roman buildings in Rome and Salona, in the ‘cellae memoriae’ and in the house-basilica of Pope Paschal on the house of Cecilius or on the house of Urbanus, on the Via Appia.91

We cannot know for certain if what Santos Jener identified as large houses should be dated to Roman times; nor do we know whether the room with the apse was built during Late Antiquity. The lack of a stratigraphic sequence makes it impossible for us to offer any precise clarification. However, as we shall see in the next section, we believe that what Santos described might have been a necropolis area which fell into disuse after the mid-first century, and was replaced by an imperial vicus. This vicus then became a necropolis area in Late Antiquity, as a few graves from this period were built with reused imperial materials. Hence, this might explain the heterogeneity of what was found. Recent excavations in the area have documented this type of burials in pits coated with large reused stones, although without reporting the discovery of building structures.92 Traditionally, all literature on the topic has assigned a late antique chronology to the apse facing north that appears on the plan, something which a priori is unjustified. We may be dealing with part of a domestic area. In any case, were future excavations to confirm the dating of what is left of these structures, a church should still be discarded, if only to judge by its orientation. It might as well be a funerary monument with an apse, related to the road and the nearby necropolis. The second of the archaeological contexts, directly associated with the late antique reuse of the amphitheatre and its immediate surrounding area, is a series of architectural decoration pieces, which have been omitted in the literature that relates to this building, and which provide interesting data: the archaeological collection of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba, based on the collection of the Romero de Torres family. The pieces, many of which of display an exceptional quality and craftsmanship, belong to a more-or-less homogeneous group, which, according to the only data 91 ‘Grandes construcciones de casas, una de ellas con un muro semicircular absidal, columanas y pavimentos de piedra, que bien pudo ser un edificio particular, con su exedra, e incluso con sepulturas, como la de MUSSIA AGELLA y MUSSIA CEROSIA, que tienen precedentes en edificios romanos de Roma y Salona, en las ‘cellae memoriae’ y en las casas-basílicas del Papa Pascual sobre la casa de Cecilio o la casa de Urbano, en la Vía Appia.’ 92 León and Jurado 2010: 551, n. 380.



available, ‘appeared on the lands adjacent to the “Huerta de la Camila” in Córdoba’.93 The ‘Huerta Camila’ is the name given during much of the twentieth century to the land previously occupied by the Convent of La Victoria, which shortly afterwards became the artillery barracks of San Rafael. The whole area is now home to the Municipal Planning Department, the Provincial Command of the Civil Guard, and to a number of housing blocks belonging to the Ministry of Defence. It is located right on the north side of Avenida de Medina Azahara, a mere 25 m from the amphitheatre found under the former Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. From the plan of the city of Córdoba during the French occupation (1808–1812) by Karvinsky, and from a drawing by the French Guesdon dating to the nineteenth century, we know the location and appearance of this former convent. The pieces from this impressive collection, as discussed in our catalogue, leave no doubt about the importance and grandeur of the building they belonged to, and provide a chronological arc that would cover the fifth century (columned front of sarcophagus) to approximately the first half of the seventh century. Also, the type of items found, such as chancel screens, chancel posts, octagonal columns, and the fronts of sarcophagi, indicate that we are dealing with a truly monumental church. To go beyond the mere verification of the relation between the remains of buildings found and their architectural and liturgical elements would mean forcing conclusions to fit an explanation that, we must admit, with the data available to date, eludes us. But clearly if we want to provide a historical explanation of the findings, we must resort to all accessible information, and place it in a certain context. In this sense, we believe that the set of remains which we have just mentioned cannot be reasonably explained if we do not link them to those that appeared immediately to the south, in the so-called Cortijo de Chinales. Undoubtedly, the most prominent peripheral zone, architecturally speaking, is the building complex of Cercadilla (Building Complex C4). Concerning this huge site (Figs. 11–12), we do not think we are dealing with an imperial palace, or with a huge villa, let alone the residence of an egotistical bishop erected as an imitation of imperial residences.94 We would also rule out that it had become the martyrial basilica of St. Acisclus (see above). Many researchers and specialists in Late Antiquity have followed, uncritically, this line of argument, and have not taken into consideration the existing data against 93 Romero de Torres 1943: 206. 94 On Cercadilla and different hypotheses of interpretation it is necessary to consult Kulikowski 2004: 116–120, and also Bowes and Kulikowski 2005.


The Christianization of Western Baetica

Figure 11 Building Complex C4. Aerial photography of excavations (Hidalgo 1998). The places where problems with stratigraphy have been detected are indicated by numbers


Figure 12 Building Complex C4. Reconstruction of the complex of Cercadilla (Hidalgo 1998). The letters indicate each of the buildings



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such a proposition: the sources clearly specify that the basilica was situated to the west of the city – not to the north.95 As is the case with these finds, let us also remember that the basilica is described as very apt for defence.96 A logical approach would lead us to think that a martyrial church in honour of St. Acisclus could only have been built on the place of martyrdom and/or burial of the martyr, and not in some reused premises of an alleged imperial palace converted into a governor’s headquarters – be they those of the provincial governor or of the bishopric – where it would be unthinkable for an execution to have occurred, let alone a burial.97 A translation of relics (a priori and at this very moment) should also be ruled out. All of the researchers mentioned above have stressed the uniformity of the construction throughout the whole of the extramural enclave, but a detailed analysis of the available information indicates quite the opposite: Cercadilla was the result of the constructive agglomeration of several diachronic architectural phases, the precise dimensions and chronology of which are still to be determined. We shall now concentrate on the main phases. As can be observed on the published plans and photographs, the baths clearly covered earlier buildings, thus indicating an obvious stratigraphic posteriority. Indeed, part of the walls of the thermal complex overlap with the basilica, and a stonework pool was even introduced within the former. The photographic documentation shows how a large lead pipe was fitted along a stretch of the northern wall of the basilica, driven through an inset that even displays a hole for the distribution box, a typically Roman system that is well documented in Córdoba.98 All evidence plainly points at the stratigraphic impossibility of the contemporaneity of the two structures. Moreover, the bed of the lead pipe, carved into the wall, indicates that the wall of the basilica on which it rests had been dismantled (and no longer existed) and that what remained was used as the foundation for the hydraulic structure. It has been suggested that the pipe ‘sería medieval’ (sic, no further details are provided) and that the way in which water was supplied to the baths is unknown,99 although the evidence seems to indicate that the pipe mentioned above must have belonged to the water supply system of the thermal complex. It must be stressed that the building technique used for the construction the basilica is rather different to that of the baths. While 95 Vallvé 1986: 231–252, ‘in ecclesia facientium pergamena’, in the neighbourhood of the socalled al-Raqqaqin, located in the west of the city. 96 Lafuente Alcántara 1867: 24–27. 97 Ceballos Hornero 2002. 98 Ventura 1996: 86–94. 99 Hidalgo 1996: 134–139.



the walls of the basilica were built out of opus vittatum mixtum, the baths attempted to reproduce a similar effect, with a fairly poor outcome. This would suggest, provided we pay heed to the clear stratigraphic sequence of both structures, the possibility that the baths were built using the constructive material of the large basilica. All of the above implies that the main chronological argument used to date the complex of almost 8 hectares (that is, a mere inscription) should not be taken into account. A second instance of accumulation of a series of extemporal constructive phases can be seen in the group of rooms named building L, excavated in 1994.100 This building is the result of superimposed rooms and architectural elements that require a careful analysis. The structures documented to the south of this building (427, 697, 423) have been interpreted as an accumulation of walls for the retention of the remaining rooms, which correspond to the private area of the site (rooms for the emperor). Thus the subterranean galleries discovered beneath almost all the rooms have been interpreted as a ‘cámara de aire para evitar posibles filtraciones de agua que pudiera sufrir el piso superior’. In reality, they are sewers, albeit larger than usual. The existence of opus signinum pavements, up to 25 cm thick, in many of the rooms, confirms that the whole of the structure had a function linked to water, indeed a great volume of water, which was disposed of through structure 424. In all honesty, it is difficult to imagine private rooms, created specifically for a tetrarchic emperor, with signinum flooring. Thus, perhaps the last plausible interpretation that we have of this building refers to it as ‘un edificio termal’ whose ‘identificación concreta de los espacios y su funcionalidad queden pendientes de resolución’ at some time in the future.101 However, if we consider the type of building, pavement, layout, sewerage, and absence of the different parts that usually form a thermal complex (praefurnium, caldarium, rooms with suspensurae), it is very likely that we have a possible baptismal building, adapted to the baptismal rites of Late Antiquity,102 and with a direct connection (through a xystus or an open gallery?) to the centre of the complex, that is the basilica and semi-circular atrium. Its layout, shape, and use would be similar to that of the baptismal building of the Basilica Salvatoris in Rome,103 and particularly to that of Marcellianum, in its first phase.104 100 Hidalgo 1994. 101 Hidalgo 1996: 44–45. García-Entero 2005: 695, ‘las evidencias arqueológicas sobre estas termas públicas o monumentales del palacio son ciertamente escasas.’ 102 Bisconti 2001. 103 Falla 2001: 268–270. 104 Martorelli 2001: 1046–1054.


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Another case, the third, of overlapping walls occurs in buildings E and D, which are closely related. These are a group of buildings accessed through a quadrangular atrium. Building E has a central, square floor and has three huge apses. Its entrance is a narthex terminated in two apses. At a later time, a basilical floor building was attached to the south side of the narthex. To the latter, two others were attached, identical but small, on its eastern front. At an undetermined moment, building E was destroyed, and another built on it, with four quadrangular apses, and with a slightly different orientation from the first. On part of building D, a small circular building was built, also with apses, identical (even in size) to the mausoleum of Tolentino. These buildings, which have been interpreted as part of the private area of a palace, were probably funerary buildings. The list of superimpositions does not stop here, since there are a good many of them.105 Further excavations have demonstrated that the original idea of the conduplicatio applied to the planning of the whole of the site must also be discarded,106 thus dismantling yet another argument from the conception of the uniformity of the site, which requires a careful reinterpretation based on the balanced analysis of the archaeological evidence and its historical interpretation. The evidence presented above implies the existence of a possible original centre that articulated the whole of the complex: the semi-circular atrium and its cryptoporticus, the large basilica facing west, and the two galleries on either side that appear to have enjoyed direct accesses from the atrium. One of these may have been a baptismal building; the other remains unexcavated. All of the remaining buildings appear to have been built within it, on top of it, or simply added in order to alter the original structure. The latest archaeological excavation in the complex has recently been published. The remains of a wall façade, on which there has been a considerable controversy, have been found: while for Hidalgo the wall was made out of caementicium covered with opus incertum,107 for others it was made out of caementicium but covered with opus vittatum mixtum.108 At some distance from the wall, there are some cubic foundations of ‘concrete’,109 which supposedly supported a monumental doorway, a sort of ‘propylon’ (sic), showing the architectural outline of an ‘arched lintel’ typical of Late 105 Sánchez Velasco 2011a. 106 Hidalgo 1996; Hidalgo 2004. 107 Hidalgo 2007: 144. 108 Fuertes, Rodero, and Ariza 2007: 177. 109 Hidalgo 2007: 151–157.



Antiquity and a ‘marked ceremonial and theatrical nature’. No stratigraphic sequence for these new findings is provided, and they are directly attributed to the time of the tetrarchy. Several parallels are adduced, from the entrance of the Palace of Diocletian in Split to the Missorium of Theodosius. Again, all the problems concerning Cercadilla arise: the authors of these papers did not publish any related stratigraphy in their publications, and on top of that, they described the walls using the names of techniques that do not correspond at all with what has been published, and which are considerably different to the kind of walls found in the most emblematic buildings of the site. Therefore, they insist on interpreting the entire site as a unit, explaining the constructive differences as ‘replanteamientos de obra’.110 However, if we stick to the archaeological evidence published, pending the publication of a stratigraphic sequence of the site, we must say that: 1) for a door like this to exist, the existence of an enclosure should be proven. Nothing of the sort has been attempted. 2) These structures, rather than monumental gates, correspond to a colonnade in the style of St. Laurent in Milan, and possibly Mármoles Street in Seville, discussed in detail below. This would better fit the remains found, and their likely late antique dating. The foundation would have been reused so as to support the large columns; the rear wall, smaller, could well have served as a retaining wall, which seems to coincide with the platforms found. Finally, to all of this we add the structures of the so-called Building K, which has been interpreted as barracks. Indeed, these structures bear some resemblance to other barracks. Yet they are identical to the old monasteries dating back to the seventh to the ninth century that surrounded the whole area of the Vatican, linked to the churches of St. Stephen Major and Minor, as can be observed in the reconstruction by Tiberio Alfarano reproduced by Ferrari.111 The density of monasteries around the basilica was so great at the beginning of the Middle Ages that the area was called Civitas Leoniana.112 Therefore, it remains possible that it was a monastery associated with the episcopal complex, or its subsequent reuse. We believe that, given the evidence, the work already published, and the revised administrative reports of the excavations, we are dealing with an episcopium built outside the city (given its early chronology) on top of 110 Hidalgo 2007: 157. 111 Ferrari 1957 recreated the Vatican city in the seventh century from a few plans of Tiberio Alfarano of the sixteenth century. 112 De Rossi 1879 published a drawing of Alessandro Strozzi of 1474, which displays the Civitas Leoniana, and its walled-off. See also Scaglia 1964.


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Figure 13 Building Complex C5. Baptistery (reconstruction of Rafael de la Hoz)

a villa that was previously destroyed,113 the final plan of which resulted from successive transformations carried out by Córdoba’s bishops during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Its evolution would not be all that different to that of other episcopal centres,114 such as Milan, Ravenna, and Rome,115 where an addition of various (not necessarily contemporary) buildings to the original basilica can be established. Finally, over the centuries some bishops of Córdoba would have chosen it as the place for their own burial, as evidenced by the finding at the site of the grave of Bishop Lampadius and the ring of Samson. So perhaps in the context of the multiple documented wars in Baetica during the second half of the sixth century,116 the episcopal seat would have been placed within the city walls, at St. Vincent (see Building Complex C10), where a new centre of power was set up, next to the palace of the Visigothic governors (see Building Complex C11). Also in the northern outskirts of the city, a structure (Building Complex C5), severely damaged by successive construction activities during modern and contemporary times, can be found (Fig. 13). It boasts the only baptismal pool to have been detected in Córdoba, which has often been interpreted 113 114 115 116

Krautheimer 2002. Miller 2000: 16–53. Krautheimer 2002: 9–59; Liverani 2004: 17–50. Collins 2005: 33–60.



as a domestic bathroom, although in reality it fits perfectly with the type of functional pool that the primitive ritual of baptism required, where the biblical scenes of Christ’s baptism were reproduced and for which a considerable stream of water was required. Such amounts of water would have been accessible due to the proximity of a second aqueduct in Córdoba, made in the Domitian period. Traditional literature has identified this site with the basilica of St. Eulalia mentioned in textual sources; however, there is no real evidence in this regard. What we do know is that many possibly liturgical pieces have appeared in this area, which include chancel screens dating from the fifth century,117 as well as highly finished early Christian sarcophagi of the Constantinian period.118 What would be the precise purpose of such an ancient and complex a baptistery outside the walls? Why is it the only baptistery found in Córdoba? These are difficult questions to answer, more so given the scant documentation. The chronology of the cruciform crypt found at the same site must be confirmed, and further excavations carried out, to elucidate such an interesting prospect. The north-eastern area, subjected to an intense Islamic influence after the conquest – the district of La Axerquía – is poorly known. Furthermore, there are no architectural remains of any kind that may relate to the disiecta membra of the types that surfaced during the contemporary period, including a decorated lintel found in the Santa Marina city neighbourhood, which most probably belonged to an access to the same monumental building.119 The same occurs in the south-eastern area, where we know of several noteworthy finds that appeared relatively far from each other: a) the capital of the Evangelists, found during the renovations carried out in a house at Duque de la Victoria Street; b) an inscription which mentions the deposition of some relics under today’s church of San Pedro;120 c) several late antique lead sarcophagi found in the street Diario de Córdoba; d) a monumental inscription in the vicinity of today’s Plaza del Potro,121 where a church was consecrated, the decoration of which is identical to the pieces found in the Santa Marina city neighbourhood. All this falls within a wide time frame that spans between the fifth and tenth centuries, which leads us to consider the possibility of the existence of a centre of Christian worship as documented in the sources, that of the trium sanctorum, which would 117 Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 218–219. 118 Sotomayor 1975. 119 Sánchez Velasco 2006a, pieces 29–30. 120 CIL II2 / 7: 638. 121 CIL II2 / 7: 637.


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have as its epicentre the medieval Barrionuevo de Tundidores, a site where we have already proposed the existence of an amphitheatre, linked to the location of the Provincial Council of Baetica.122 The main difficulty is, yet again, the lack of research and excavations carried out in the area, as is the case with the Roman theatre of Colonia Patricia Corduba. It would take years of excavations and an intensive programme of building sites’ recovery to uncover these great disused buildings from Roman times. However, under the current economic recession, we consider it almost impossible to reproduce the circumstances that led to the discovery of the Roman theatre of Córdoba. In this sense, we have already seen how amphitheatres became important topographic landmarks of late antique religiosity,123 something which has become apparent in recent excavations for Building Complex C6. However, we still need to define both issues further, together with the Christianization of buildings originally devoted to entertainment. Related to this martyrial centre, documented by the sources, we encounter the late antique necropolis found in the vicinity of Lucano Street – Building Complex C9. It shows an intense occupation, and promises to close the circle we have drawn around a Christianized urban periphery. From the third century onwards, new funerary areas arose, which caused many of the domestic structures of the eastern vicus to fall into disuse – and the most significant example can be found in today’s 7-9 Lucano Street, where a necropolis was formed over the silted layers of another suburban domus dating to the fourth century.124 Even if some authors have been reluctant to identify this site with certainty as a Christian environment, we should not rule out the possibility that it was one of those shared or mixed funeral areas in which a martyrdom had served as decisive role in shaping the future use of the site. Additionally, at Lucano Street a funeral mensa that ‘we would interpret as Christian in function from other parallels’ has been uncovered.125 The structure has a red side-line that frames a number of undefined green and red motifs ‘similar to an asterisk’.126 For Sánchez Ramos, their poor state of preservation ‘does not make it possible to decipher exactly what these motifs represent’, although he opted for possible ‘crosses’.127 The typology of the tombs is well known: simple pits, cists of bricks, and covers made of tegulae, which rules out their relationship with 122 Sánchez Velasco 2006b. 123 Sánchez Velasco 2006b: 330. 124 Sánchez Ramos 2007b: 198. 125 Sánchez Ramos 2007b: 198, ‘interpretaríamos como cristiana en función de otros paralelos’. 126 Sánchez Ramos 2007b: 199, ‘en forma de asterisco’. 127 Sánchez Ramos 2007b: 199, ‘no permite descifrar con seguridad qué representan estos motivos’.



the ‘sectores pudientes’ of society. The necropolis has not been excavated in its entirety. Some graves are still to be exhumed, one of them being a lead sarcophagus identified under the funerary mensa cited above. This forms, together with the previous case, one of the few recognizable burial sites from Late Antiquity in the city. In this case it seems that, rather than a new building, we are dealing with the reuse of part of an ancient domus, which offers an interesting example of a mensa for the refrigeria. In fact, it is among one of the few instances in which this type of mensa has been identified in western Andalusia: that is, constructions associated with funeral rites that have undergone a process of Christianization. In this case, one cannot speak of a tomb cover used as a mensa, but rather of a mensa made of signinum that overlapped some of the tombs (including one where a lead sarcophagus was found). While the mensa was in use, the tombs were placed around it, and once it was no longer in use, it was cut by another tomb. These clearly differ substantially in shape, size, and construction technique from the covers of the tombs made of signinum and found, for example, in the necropolis of Carretera de Carmona in Seville,128 or in Mértola.129 Some researchers have occasionally confused the covers of the graves with the mensae for refrigeria.130 With regard to the motifs that Sánchez Ramos defined as ‘similar to an asterisk’, interpreted as ‘crosses’, these must be understood as schematized representations of stars, like the ones in the dome of the skylight found at the funerary building of Sant Miquel.131 These symbols are known to be widely used in necropolises. Finally, we turn our attention to the area on the other side of the river, in the vicinity of the current street Cordel de Écija. Here the second highest concentration of pieces from late antique Córdoba has been found, at the very same site where historiography has traditionally located St. Cristopher.132 Certain pieces originate from this site, dated to around the middle of the sixth century, which – given their iconography and the way that certain images were represented – easily reveal a strong Byzantine aesthetic influence (Fig. 14). The most prominent one among them is the famous cornice which shows a clear architectural resemblance to those seen in the mosaics of San Apolinare Nuovo in Ravenna.133 To this we must 128 Barragán Valencia 2010. 129 Lopes 2003. 130 Sánchez Ramos 2010. 131 García, Moro, and Tuset 2009: 127–145. 132 Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 227–231. 133 Sánchez Velasco 2006a: 126–127.


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Figure 14 Impost capital found in the area of the monastery of St. Christophorus, on the other side of the Guadalquivir river

add a couple of censers, one inscription,134 and a bronze lucerne, all found in the same place, which may have belonged to liturgical grave goods. One of them (globular in type) is identical to that borne by one of the characters represented in the well-known procession of Justinian reproduced in a mosaic of San Vitale in Ravenna. In sum, we are dealing with the city in Baetica that boasts the greatest number of late antique remains. The northern part of the suburb has two large building complexes. The first one is Cercadilla (Building Complex C4). In order to build Cercadilla, a villa dating back to the first century was destroyed. Many buildings were constructed on top at different stages over several centuries. Its oldest part is a semicircular portico with a basilica in the background. Both of them – although this fact is rather controversial – can be dated to around the year 325. There are many interpretations of what Cercadilla might have been: an imperial palace, a large villa, or even the palace of bishop Ossius of Córdoba. However, as I have recently published, it was probably the first episcopium of the city, with a very similar evolution to other episcopia of the time, like those in Rome or Milan. Built in a private space, it became for 134 CIL II2 / 7: 642.



centuries the core of the Christian community in Córdoba and the burial place of bishops. Also in the north, at the beginning of the road to Toledo and Mérida, the past sixty years have witnessed a number of finds, thanks to which we know that there was a necropolis for noble families, who imported pagan as well as Christian sarcophagi from Rome itself. In this place, a church, probably dedicated to St. Eulalia (Building Complex C5), was built (but there are only a limited amount of remains left), as well as a major baptistery similar to one found in Ficalho (Portugal).135 In this baptistery, the water supply and drainage system allows us to reconstruct one of the oldest Christian rites of baptism documented to date: the theatrical reproduction of the Baptism of Christ, where large amounts of flowing water were used to recreate a river’s current. In the western suburb, excavations have documented an extensive extramural neighbourhood comprised of streets of more than twelve metres in width, which enjoyed large sewers and spacious porches. These streets led to an amphitheatre located in the west, and to a vast necropolis to the south. In Late Antiquity, the whole area was transformed into one of the most important religious centres in the city, for it was there (presumably around the fourth century) that one of the largest basilicas of the city was built and consecrated to one of the most important Cordoban martyrs: St. Acisclus (Building Complex C7). In the 1940s, a church that seems to have been consecrated to the martyr was found, and since then a number of remains have appeared in the area linked to a great religious centre, such as altars with loculus for the relics, decorated columns, and all sorts of architectural decoration belonging to a later period. Across the city, in the eastern suburb and during imperial times, a church identical to that of the Maison Carree in Nimes was built, which, together with a circus (and perhaps an amphitheatre), formed the headquarters of the Provincial Council of Baetica. As opposed to the western case, the archaeological remains in this spot are scarce, as this area of the city experienced a great expansion during the Islamic period and also during the sixteenth century. But we have enough sources and epigraphy to locate the other great martyrial basilica in Córdoba, the one dedicated to the Three Saints – Faustus, Ianuarius, and Martialis – also executed during the persecution of Diocletian. 135 We thank Dr. M. Wolfram, who allowed us to consult his unpublished doctoral dissertation titled La christianisation du monde rural dans le Sud de la Lusitanie: Archéologie – Architecture – Epigraphie (Sorbonne, 2012). Some data have been published in Wolfram and Soares 2014.


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It seems that, although the city’s suburbium was Christianized throughout the fourth century, evidence for the Christianization of the remaining urban spaces only appears from the early fifth century. The most easily recognizable example of this was excavated a few years ago, when a small public bath with a relatively large pool was found in a colonnaded street leading from the eastern to the western suburb. This public bath was completely destroyed in the early fifth century, and the sculptures that decorated its rooms were also systematically destroyed, thrown into the pool, and later covered with large amounts of soil. At this site a church was built (Building Complex C13). This church occupied the entire porch and a considerable portion of the street. A mosaic depicting the Four Seasons and four male figures (deacons?) seems to belong to this period. Later, in the sixth century, it was apparently decorated with high quality materials imported from Byzantium. Finally, in the seventh century, the church underwent a complete remodelling, which was commemorated in an inscription placed on a column. For some unknown reason, the episcopium was later relocated within the walls of the city and acquired a church dedicated to St. Vincent that lies below today’s mosque (Building Complex C10). This huge new religious complex, situated by the river and its bridge, occupied several streets and a square dating from Roman times. According to some sources, on the other side of this bridge there was a great religious complex, St. Christopher, of which no architectural remains have been discovered so far, but we do have large quantities of materials proving the strong influence exerted by Byzantine Ravenna. Given this overview, can we talk of a ‘monumental ranking’ associated with the importance of the city? What is the reason behind this proportionately large list of architectural elements? What role did Córdoba have during Late Antiquity in order to hold this monumental concentration, both diverse and problematic, over centuries? Is the wide Christian topography of the suburban areas appearing in the Arab sources a result of this time or, conversely, is it due to subsequent events, such as the ban on building churches within the medina (city centre)? These questions are difficult to answer, although in our opinion the Christian topography of Córdoba should be linked to the reality of the city as one of the major urban centres in Hispania, administratively, politically, and economically, regardless of the historical vicissitudes that impacted it. First a provincial capital, then a royal seat, we would have to disregard the idea of a marginal and depressed city after its capture by Leovigild. Rather, what we can see is exactly the opposite, that is, an active city at all levels that ended up becoming the capital of



al-Andalus – its importance sustained at every level, rather than having fallen into a state of semi-destruction, of which the invaders took advantage. The Territory of the Bishopric of Córdoba The territorium of the bishopric is clearly divided into two areas: the agriculturally meagre north and the agriculturally rich area of the Guadalquivir valley, traversed by the Via Augusta, which held huge villas that supplied products to the capital. These villas also boasted large facilities and even their own churches and cemeteries.136 Some geophysical surveys have revealed what these villas were like, but these sites have not been excavated. In the meagre north, stockbreeding and mining were further developed. This area was arranged around a road that led to both Mérida and Toledo, the two great capital cities of late antique Hispania. This route followed a common path of about forty five miles, as far as a point near the present town of Espiel, where it diverted northeast to Toledo and northwest to Mérida. Close to this crossroads lies one of the most studied late antique sites in Baetica: El Germo (Building Complex C3). El Germo rises on a promontory, about 6 km away from the centre of today’s village, dominating a road and several nearby streams. It is also located 7 km away from the Item a Corduba Emeritam, which passes by the Ermita de la Estrella, where the remains of a Roman road are preserved.137 A few tens of metres east of the site, we can find the Camino Real, which separates the current municipalities of Espiel and Alcaracejos and crosses part of the valley of the Musgaño stream – which in turn separates El Germo from the hill of La Chimorra, where important remains have also been found. The first excavations – which took place in 1913 – were carried out by Ruiz Blanco, who discovered the ruins on the hill and interpreted them as a Visigothic basilica (Fig. 15).138 As to its location, it belonged to Alcaracejos, and became known to specific literature dedicated the subject by this inaccurate name, causing some confusion as to the number of basilicas and their location. At the time, what mostly caught the attention of the researchers was the large number of inscriptions that appeared in the excavated tombs, prompting a fairly extensive publication by Fita.139 136 So it is reflected in the inscription of Belisarius in Ategua (CIL II2 / 5: 482), near Córdoba, but within the territorium of the bishopric of Cabra. 137 Melchor 1995: 116. 138 Ruiz Blanco 1914. 139 Fita 1914.


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Figure 15 Building Complex C3. Archaeological remains found during the first excavations at El Germo (Blanco 1914)

It was not until 1929 that Castejón and Hernández conducted an excavation. Unfortunately it was not published and only a few photographs remain. Later, in 1947, and thanks to Schlunk,140 this church was related to San Pedro de Alcántara and Casa Herrera. Both Santos Jener and Palol reported the existence of two basilicas, one in Espiel and the other in Alcaracejos,141 but this mistake was corrected shortly afterwards in other publications by both Schlunk and Nierhaus.142 Castejón, in an article about the monasteries in the mountains of Córdoba, published an interesting list of objects from El Germo which had their entries in the records of the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba (which we shall see later). Another small contribution to the study of the site was made by Gómez Moreno.143 He published a sketch of the plan made by Hernández, which later, and according to Ulbert, was described as being ‘very inaccurate and simplistic’. Indeed, this German researcher undertook the task of reviewing this excavation in the late 1960s, offering a new, more scientific plan to solve the inconsistencies that the building presented when compared to the information he had. It remains the only existing comprehensive scientific study and as such it is the source for all further interpretations, thanks to the thoroughness with which virtually 140 Schlunk 1947. 141 Santos Jener 1958; Palol 1967. 142 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978; Nierhaus 1964. 143 Gómez Moreno 1966.



all the remains were documented. Thilo Ulbert (German Archaeological Institute) stated that it was a private villa with a large church, which even had its own baptistery. In fact, he revived the concept of ‘private churches’, an issue that has always been latent in the historiography.144 At a certain distance from the church, there is an isolated building, which Ulbert interpreted as a ‘Profanbau’, a possible house.145 Other German researchers dealt with the site again, albeit only briefly, in a manual published in 1978.146 Based on the published data, Duval and Godoy expressed their views on certain aspects of the enclosure, especially those related to liturgy and the reconstruction of the basilica.147 In Ulbert’s own words: ‘As the condition of the monument is extremely bad and often valid conclusions can only be drawn through isolated observations of detail, it is essential to make […] an accurate and detailed description of the findings.’148 We are not going to reproduce here the exhaustive description of the remains made by Ulbert,149 however we will briefly highlight those aspects that we consider most relevant. The site (Fig. 16) includes a church and, 100 m apart, a building of considerable size in the shape of a square 40 x 40 m, as will be seen below. The church has a double apse with three naves (the central one being the widest) and two independent structures to the north and south. The southern structure, doubly apsed, also preserves a baptismal pool in one of its two rooms (the eastern room). The whole complex, according to Ulbert, was mostly constructed in one historical period and had two subsequent phases of small repairs and changes, the most important being, without a doubt, the addition of pilasters to the north and south walls of the nave. From a structural point of view, we can say that this is a relatively solid building, boasting large blocks at the corners, masonry walls with a profusion of lime mortar, and several rows of foundations, depending on the bedrock on which the entire complex sits. The walls adapt to the irregularities of the ground, creating a surface of lime and rubble that serves as the foundation and levels the base. The basic measures are: length max. 18.9 m, width max. 16 m (w)–16.5 (e), naves 13.13 x 7.9 m, and the central nave 4 m (w)– 3.5 (e). The eastern apse of the central nave, as well as the western structure, have transverse walls interpreted by Ulbert as functional elements that 144 Rodríguez Gil 1999. 145 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978: 176–177. 146 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978. 147 Duval 1973: 384–386; Godoy 1995: 269–272. 148 Ulbert 1971: 151. 149 Ulbert 1971.


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Figure 16 Building Complex C3. Plans of the church and of the annex building (Ulbert 1969)

levelled a raised platform intended to hold the altars.150 Comparing photos of the first excavations with the remains excavated by him, Ulbert said it was possible to restore much of the lateral walls, which in the 1930s were perfectly visible, as were other interesting characteristics such as the accesses between the baptistery and the southern room. The internal supports could also be seen: the columns showed no pedestal and were directly laid down on the parent rock, with the pillars attached to them.151 All supports appear in pairs, and we can see quite a few remains of shafts in some of the photos taken in 1913. As to the accesses, these are a complicated issue due to the poor state of preservation of the walls and their elevations. However, Ulbert assumed that the main entrance was through the northern annex, and from there the routes were distributed throughout the central nave to the various apses and the baptistery, i.e. the southern annex. Several accesses were reconstructed in the northern structure because ‘nowhere else is a better place,’ and perhaps because two graves were located there, in a passageway. 150 Ulbert 1971: 163–164. 151 Ulbert 1971: 164.



However, Ulbert recognized the difficulty in interpreting this space, which hardly had any tombs and did not seem to have prepared soil, as was the case with the other rooms of the basilica.152 To complicate the issue further, in the north-western area a room for burial (grave 30) was built. It is thought that it had an enclosure (two holes at the front of the tomb). This suggests ‘a kind of narthex’ (longitudinal?). Regarding the cover, there is no clear statement regarding the existence of roofing or vaulting. What is clear is that, at one point, the covers needed to be reinforced, a matter that was resolved by attaching pillars. The construction of these involved the fracturing of levels of paved floor.153 According to Utrero, due to the thinness of the walls and the small size of the columns, it is impossible to think of a vault, so he suggested it must have had a wooden roof.154 One issue that Ulbert and Utrero failed to explain is whether both pillars and columns functioned at the same time, or rather, if the construction of the latter led to the elimination, at least functionally, of the former. None of the authors state what need there was to undertake such reform. What Ulbert did make clear is that, when the pillars were erected, the church already had a floor, plaster, and paint, so the reform apparently did not take place at an early stage.155 The baptistery, in a double apsed annex, also had a baptismal pool which was reconstructed in a rectangular, cruciform shape, with semi-circular exedrae facing each other in the central part, as is the case in Son Fadrinet, Son Peretó,156 and Torre de Palma, just to mention some nearby Iberian examples. In the two rooms that made up the baptistery, we can find graves, particularly in the western room. This latter space shows a band that closes its apse, which was interpreted by Ulbert as a reinforcement due to the characteristics of the ground.157 Immediately afterwards, Ulbert proposed an evolution of the existing graves: first those of the central nave, from east to west, then the lateral aisles, then perpendicular graves, then tomb number 30, and finally the group of tombs in the northern room. The complex work produced by Ulbert is commendable.158 He created a ‘catalogue’ of all the elements that appeared, or might have appeared, during the excavations of the site in 1913 and 1929: façade fragments, reused 152 Ulbert 1971: 166. 153 Ulbert 1971: 167. 154 Utrero 2006: 445. 155 Ulbert 1971: 168. 156 Alcaide González 2011. 157 Ulbert 1971: 165. 158 Ulbert 1971: 168–171.


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Roman capitals, shafts (possibly common in origin to the capitals), the pilaster of an altar, and another possible pilaster, a possible baptismal font or mortar (which he identified with the support of an altar), a possible chancel post, several paterae made of clear sigillata D and glass, loom weights, earrings, little funerary jars, metal sheets, emiral coins, and a substantial list of inscriptions.159 Despite the absence of slabs or other traces of liturgical chancels, this offers quite a thorough outlook, a very rare occurrence in Andalusia. Nevertheless, it is difficult to ascertain the elements that covered the building or any other details that may inform us about the durability of the building over time, let alone its architectural nature. Ulbert finished the section devoted to the basilica by discussing its pictorial decoration. The colours employed were indeed very dark (black or dark blue on a red background), and paint reached the pavement itself. These are the two most striking elements as regards to its decorative characteristics. He then turned his attention to the ‘building located west of the church’, about 100 m distant on a hill. This structure was excavated by Blanco and drawn by Ulbert’s team between September and October 1967. Its first excavator defined it as a monastery, just as Castejón did. The picture that Ulbert outlined is bleak: trees, piles of earth from the excavation covered with weeds, and walls dug more than fifty years before, which had all but disappeared.160 However, he managed to define important architectural parameters of the building that he thought related directly to the church of the building. Perhaps the first thing that has to be mentioned in this analysis is the complete and utter abandonment that this site suffered for decades. We are not aware of any preservation of structures, restoration, or consolidation work carried out there. The state of the building situated next to the church is even worse. Its basic building aspects are virtually unrecognizable. Ulbert’s meritorious work is still of use today, taking into account the remains and their conservation. It was undoubtedly the greatest collection of data ever attempted at this interesting site. But it is also true that the poor state of conservation of the remains does not allow us to corroborate certain points of Ulbert’s research. This means that some aspects related to the interpretation of the finds may be reviewable, but only if we limit them to the status of mere hypothesis. Regarding the church, we should start by stating that we are undoubtedly facing a significant rural building complex with large blocks of stone used 159 CIL II2 / 7: 702–708. 160 Ulbert 1971: 171–172.



at strategic points. It possibly had a major ceiling held together by over 5-metre-long beams. The planning effort must have been substantial, using ample amounts of lime, and reusing some Roman architectural elements of great size (capitals, shafts). In this sense, it does not differ at all from other major basilicas in Andalusia, such as Gerena, Coracho (Phase 1), Vega del Mar, or La Losilla. However, marked differences soon become apparent when compared with the small rural church of La Roda. The manner in which the columns were directly laid on the rock without bases catches our attention. This must have been considered sufficient to support the roof. This construction system is also found in the basilica of El Tolmo de Minateda,161 and in Gerena,162 although in both these sites we can find bases and the remains and fragments of shafts still standing in their original place. This type of foundation is linked to buildings that sit on parent rock. Therefore, the construction of pillars attached to the walls must have corresponded to a reform of the ceiling for reasons not necessarily related to structural problems. As for the reconstruction of the structure depicted, 163 we think it is undoubtedly the most coherent one, although we differ from Ulbert in some aspects which remain unclear. It seems that piece number 316 belongs to El Germo and would have been reused in the chapel of La Estrella as a means to beautify some of these constructive pilasters. This indicates an architectural programme of the utmost relevance for this basilica, which has little in common with other ‘private’ churches linked to private owners we have detected in Andalusia. The changes we propose concerning Ulbert’s hypotheses are only minor (Fig. 17): access, reconstruction of the adjoining rooms, the interpretation of the last phase, and certain questions about the pavement. The doors of the building have not been found. We believe that access could be indicated by a few burials which, from north to south, traversed the entire building, also coinciding with the location of certain pillars of Ulbert’s Phase 2. Following this hypothesis, we could see an access to the building in its southern area, through the baptistery. The north-south oriented tomb located in the baptistery would have been positioned this way, i.e. perpendicular to all others, given the existence of a wall delimiting the aisles, right at the entrance to the baptismal pool. Thus, access would have been solved in a logical manner, respecting the nave as the heart of religious ceremonies. 161 Gutiérrez and Cánovas 2009. 162 Fernández et al. 1987: 107–109. 163 Ulbert 1968.


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Figure 17 Building Complex C3. Plans of the church and a new interpretation

We believe that, given the existing walls, the north and south adjacent rooms should be depicted in a somewhat more rectilinear shape. Specifically, the baptismal building may have had two spaces, one full of tombs and another destined for the rite of baptism. In contrast, the functionality of the northern adjacent room is not very clear to us, but its reduced number of graves may indicate that it was a portico, which would have been used as a burial space at certain times (like in Terrassa). In this sense, we believe the north-western area of the building was an extension that not only involved the walls directly related to tomb 30 but also the wall that emerge from it and link with the western apse of the basilica. We believe this to be a mausoleum containing a privileged grave. The result is similar to what we find at the head of the northern basilica complex of Francolí and La Losilla.164 From the stratigraphic descriptions, from the type of pavement and the tombs, as well as from the type of funerary inscriptions found, we can deduce that we are facing a very similar entity to the church with a double apse in Mértola, with a floor practically covered

164 López Vilar 2006.



with graves and mounds made of opus signinum indicating each grave with an inscription.165 As for the spaces and liturgical elements, apart from the baptistery, which is clearly defined as such, the rest are all more or less plausible working hypotheses. Ulbert spoke of a hole in the ground where the altar would have been, in the eastern apse, although it was not mentioned in the publication of 1968, and neither was it reflected in the plans of the excavation. However, due to liturgical matters and the manner in which it arises from the central nave, it is assumed that the western apse contained the eucharistic altar. Ulbert, and after him Duval, believed that the baptistery could have been endowed with an altar, as in fact happened in Casa Herrera.166 Godoy ruled this out because there is no archaeological evidence (indeed also missing for the rest of the building).167 It follows that the western apse of the southern body housed such liturgical installations, since a small wall that served to raise the floor of the apse can be found there. Raised floors above the rest of the level usually indicate the greater liturgical importance of certain spots. But we cannot be completely certain about this. Nor can we know if the western apse of the basilica had an altar, or if the nave and the presbytery had some kind of liturgical enclosure, or how the chorus was delimited. We can only assume, again due to the absence of graves, that the apses of the church worked as reserved spaces for an altar. Neither do we know the altars themselves. Only one hypothesis by Ulbert, regarding a piece found in the wall of a nearby farmhouse (now missing), offers a clue to how any of the possible altars might have looked. In our opinion, the hypothesis by the German researcher is a very plausible one, as well as the parallel he adduced for this possible altar, which would be virtually identical to that of Puebla de la Reina (on the border between Baetica and Lusitania), and which could be ascribed to type 2b variant 1 of Sastre.168 It must be borne in mind, however, that this is also an unconfirmed hypothesis. In our opinion, it is also conceivable that some of the existing debris may constitute part of an altar. We are referring to a votive inscription that could probably have been taken along with other spolia from Roman times to El Germo.169 We believe it is possible that a piece like this could have been used for something more than mere constructive action, given that 165 Lopes 2003. 166 Ulbert 1971; Duval 1981. 167 Godoy 1995: 271. 168 Sastre 2013. 169 CIL II2 / 7: 702.


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many Roman altars of all types were reused as bases of altars in Andalusia, that the site of the church is ex novo, and that those altars were brought expressly for their reuse in this place. A proper analysis of this piece cannot be undertaken because it is attached to a pedestal with cement, directly in the area where the possible loculus (for relics) should be located. In any case, the hypothesis is still to be confirmed once the piece is restored, removed from the bracket that supports it, and analysed in detail. This sort of inscription also tends to appear in villae, so it would not be strange for it to have simply been reused material displaced from a now non-existent dig. We should also rule out that the piece considered to be an altar platform by Ulbert, and as a baptismal font by Cruz Villalon, had any liturgical use at all.170 Rather, we should probably think of something more functional, like a mortar or a measurer (modius). However, we are more inclined towards the hypothesis that we are dealing with some metres of capacity (mensurae), due to its similarity with pieces of this type from the Roman period located in both public places and business premises, and of which there are examples in many cities of the western Mediterranean such as Timgad,171 Tusculum,172 and Pompeii.173 Certainly we cannot imagine such an element in a family home. Therefore, we should rather think of its use at public level with a regulatory or tax collection purpose, in which certain products needed to be measured, unequivocally, in these containers. As regards to the building located 100 m from the church, the matter is even more complicated due to the lack of data and despite the extensive work carried out by Ulbert. We agree with the proposal of restoration put forward by Ulbert except in two respects: we believe that east from Room V there could have been a monumental entrance to the building. We do not have a specific hypothesis concerning the wall that extends southward from the room. The buttresses of the western part of the building, in our view, indicate the building of a second floor in this sector. 170 Cruz Villalón 1985: 236; piece 197. Although this piece was inserted within its stoups typology, specifically its type 3, Cruz recognized that ‘la morfología de este tipo es del todo asociable a la de los morteros de época romana que, con menores proporciones desde luego, existieron en Mérida, algunos incluso con estos cuatro orificio’. Cruz concluded, therefore, that it was a baptismal font, probably ‘a Visigoth creation’. 171 AE 1906: 26. 172 CIL 14: 2625. 173 This Pompeian inscription (CIL 10: 793), like others, faithfully reflects that the object functioned as standard metre capacity authenticated by the administration: ‘A(ulus) Clodius A(uli) f(ilius) Flaccus N(umerius) Arcaeus N(umeri) f(ilius) Arellian(us) Caledus / d(uum)v(iri) i(ure) d(icundo) mensuras exaequandas ex dec(urionum) decr(eto).’



Defined as ‘Profanbau’ by Ulbert as well as Schlunk and Hauschild,174 it was, in our view, ruled out by them as a possible monastery perhaps due to the limited knowledge we have of these religious complexes in Andalusia. Of course, what we know does not correspond to the better known Mediterranean and later models that could serve as parallels. In fact, Ulbert admitted that there are correspondences in Syria and North Africa that show basically the same architectural idea: a patio closed on its sides with different bays divided into multiple rooms.175 If we add to this that it is a building twice as big as a church of considerable size, that has a robust architecture, and that it seems to correspond to a single building plan, we believe it is possible to hypothesize that it might be a monastery. When the monastic rule of Isidore was published, in the seventh century, monasticism already had a long tradition in Hispania.176 The proof is that Isidore aimed to supersede a Codex Regularum, which was still active and being consulted.177 In this codex, all activities and functions, as well as the role of the different buildings and rooms, were regulated. For example, the vestry met many functions, from the care of religious objects to the keeping of books. The guest quarters were a special case, a separate building, outside the facility, to welcome guests and pilgrims.178 However, the core of the monastery was the claustrum, which was also normally used to bury the monks. The problem is archaeologically defining all of this.179 The monasteries were founded by bishops, who were granted large estates, such as the fundi of large landowners. This would therefore constitute a residential centre, more or less transformed along the years, together with a number of scattered properties. Bishop Ildefonso de Toledo founded a monastery on a villula, adapting it to the coenobitic life.180 The Cabense monastery, or monastery of San Felix, near Toledo, was listed as ‘in villula dedicatum’. At this point, the problem is the continuity of villae and villulae in the Visigothic world. Although part of the research asserted that these did not endure beyond the fifth century, the fact is that the term was still used later and actually adapted to new circumstances: religious, material, etc. Another problem is the concentration of ownership, the emergence of real praetoria (centres of representation), and the elimination of villae, 174 Ulbert 1971; Schlunk and Hauschild 1978: 176. 175 Ulbert 1971: 179–180. 176 Díaz Martínez 2007; Sanz Serrano 2009: 511–513. 177 Díaz Martínez 2007: 78. 178 Díaz Martínez 2007: 79. 179 Díaz Martínez 2007: 81. 180 Díaz Martínez 2007: 82–83.


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Figure 18 Building Complex C3. Sarcophagus of La Chimorra

at least in the sense and role that they had in classical times. Monastic centres, associated or not with large estates, may have settled on previously productive villae, either for convenience or as an attempt to ‘repopulate’ areas of special economic or strategic value. One and a half kilometres away from this site there is a settlement, never actually studied but catalogued as ‘Roman’, on the hill of the Chimorra. Its most emblematic piece has been, historically, the famous relief of the ‘dignitaries’.181 However, an examination of the support (recently restored) rules out the possibility that it was a relief mounted on a triumphal arch.182 Instead, it was in fact a sarcophagus,183 with a scene both confusing and difficult to interpret (Fig. 18) due to the deteriorated state of the piece. Regarding the chronology of the piece, which seems obviously uniform concerning its building and planning, we must say that the data is very scarce, namely (in chronological order): a) Bowl Hayes 97, dated it between the second half of the fifth century and the first quarter of the sixth century; b) the funerary inscription of Ugnericus, who died on 8 April 615;184 c) the funerary inscription of Asper, who died on 3 May 632; 185 d) the funerary 181 Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba, 27751. 182 Nierhaus 1964: 185. 183 Beltrán, García, and Rodríguez 2006. 184 CIL II2 / 7: 707. 185 CIL II2 / 7: 704.



inscription of Eustadia, who died on 21 November 649;186 and e) the funerary inscription of Columba, who died in 665.187 Thanks to its good condition, and as a working hypothesis, we can affirm that piece H 97 must relate to a burial, much like what we see regarding Écija (discussed below), which means that after 450 and around 525 the piece was not used any longer and was placed in a tomb related to the complex. Between 615 and 665, the church was surely the subject of intense funeral activity with burials, as we have seen, similar to those of the double apse church in Mértola. These two moments could be identified, perhaps, with Phases 1 and 2 mentioned by Ulbert. For these reasons, we think we have a possible monastic complex (it should not be ruled out that it was for both men and women), consisting of a basilica with double apse and a large building situated about 100 m from it. There is no evidence of a surrounding fence. The provisional initial dating, given the sparse data, could be around the first half of the sixth century. Later, at an imprecise time and for reasons that escape us (structural, military, or catastrophic), the basilica was restored by adding solid pillars on the walls of the central nave to support a new ceiling. We must remember that Leovigild’s campaigns in the second half of the sixth century took place around Córdoba, where the sources explicitly mention the widespread destruction in the area, prior to the final assault on the city. In the basilica an important functional phase can be observed during most of the seventh century, as seen in the inscriptions. Both in the basilica, as well as in the hypothetical monastic building, there is proof of occupation until emiral times (coins mainly). No population associated with these buildings is documented, although some people might have lived in huts or housing units made of materials such as wood or adobe, which are very difficult to detect in such devastated sites. As before, the main parallels we find for these structures are in Hispania. We think that San Miguel de los Fresnos presents a similar facility.188 La Losilla, pending further investigation, seems to have an isolated church within a fenced area with several terraces. On a grander scale, but also showing the same dispersed structure, would be the northern nucleus of the Paleochristian building complex of Francolí.189 However, in our view, the private churches belonging to villas do not usually have either the wealth 186 CIL II2 / 7: 706. 187 CIL II2 / 7: 705. 188 Arbeiter 2003. 189 López Vilar 2006: 270–275; López Vilar 2010: 365–366.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 19 Building Complex C1. Remains of the church of La Losilla

or the grandeur of this building. They do not boast many inscriptions, sarcophagi, liturgical objects, or show any architectural decoration of great quality. For this and other reasons, we think it might be a monastery, but all working hypotheses remain open. For three years, I have been co-director of a new project by the German Archaeological Institute in this area. Our purpose is to excavate the archaeological site of La Losilla (Building Complex C1), located on the same road to Toledo, and about 40 km away, northeast of El Germo. Located 2.5 km east of Añora (Fig. 19), we found that the site occupies far more than the small hill where the church and the necropolis are located. On the contrary, it covers between 3 and 4 hectares, defined by the presence of constructive remains (one fence and one gate) together with tegulae and ceramic scattered along the surface. With the help of aerial photography, even at a low resolution, one can see the site, structures, and also the traces of craters and illegal excavations. The site itself is divided by terracing, not very steep but well-defined, which creates two levels between the most obvious sections, i.e. the church with its associated necropolis, the buildings around the church, and the gate at the fence outside. Despite its deterioration, the apse is clearly visible, made with squared and lime-filled block of stones. The thickness of its walls varies between 0.8 and 0.9 m. There seems to have



been a wall that went from the apse northward to form a chamber or individualized room, where several graves were found (two of them certain and another probable). Facing the apse, and close to this apparent room, there was a tomb with brick walls, beautifully finished. Part of what we think might have been the cover of the tomb was destroyed and tucked inside the tomb itself, but weed and water prevented us from seeing exactly what it was. It was also impossible to discern the perimeter of the church, since the piles of earth resulting from both illegal and authorized excavations buried all possible visible remains. Sometimes we could appreciate certain walls, or rather alignments of walls, with ashlar not always physically connected, but which allowed us to assume that we were dealing with a fairly large building, densely taken up by graves of different types, some of them still showing their plaster. There was even a plain sarcophagus (with a stone pillow) perfectly preserved within these hypothetical limits of the church. Again, within these hypothetical grounds, we managed to find abundant ceramic and construction materials as well as large slabs that we think were the lids of tombs. The vast majority of finds was squared ashlar made of granite, but there also abounded large, well-carved stones, tegulae, imbrices, and remains of pottery for storage. Among this material, several pieces stood out for their uniqueness and their relation to what we think must have been a church of relative importance. We found ashlar with an obvious slot typical of religious buildings in the Iberian Peninsula in the seventh century. This led us to think of the site as an important monumental building, and to confirm that at least part of it was built with very large stone blocks, and not merely with small and roughly squared ashlar. We could also note the presence of what looked like the fragment of a shaft made of arenite (red sandstone), which was severely damaged. About 50–60 m away from this possible church there is an alignment of large blocks and stones which, in our view, could be a system of terraces. These are now barely noticeable except for the large volume of building elements and the obvious slope between the areas delimited. About 100 m southwest of this possible terracing, we verified the existence of a fence with an access gate, the remains of which were quite obvious despite its general state of deterioration. Arévalo had already noticed its existence, and he even drew part of it, although he did not document it in full, since only the jambs appear in his publication. However, the gate still retains the threshold, a ramp leading to what would have been stairs for access, and a large lintel. There was even a large stone block in a corner. We think that the whole complex might be dated to Late Antiquity. However,


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Figure 20 Building Complex C1. Geophysical prospecting in the area of the monastery of La Losilla

we have more doubts concerning the fence, although at least its perimeter (obviously used for access) might be dated to the Visigothic period. We would need to excavate this specific site for confirmation. As we trust we have demonstrated, taking into account its size, its architectural characteristics, and the limited historical data available (these few data taken from mere observation),190 the site of La Losilla is one of the largest late antique settlements in the north of today’s province of Córdoba. It is impossible to perceive its real importance with the sole publication of an archaeological excavation that, in our opinion, was carried out neither with the appropriate means nor a proper methodological approach. Despite 190 The limited historical data (pottery and inscriptions) can be seen in Santos Arévalo 1999 and HEp 9: 1999, nn. 277–279.



Figure 21 Building Complex C1. Provisional reconstruction of the church of the monastery of La Losilla (2013)

the limited information available, we believe it is possible to advance a working hypothesis, albeit a very general one. It seems logical to assume that there was a church, perhaps a basilica, with an eastward oriented apse, which probably had side rooms (with graves?). This building rose on the highest point of a fairly wide area, perhaps more than 4 hectares, enclosed by a fence, at least in its south-western side and with a ramp for access, maybe some steps, two doorposts made of blocks of stone, a threshold, and a lintel for two doors. Between this fence and the church, a wall of considerable importance signalled an area of terraces, which indicates arable land. After two seasons (geophysical prospection and excavation, Figs. 20 and 21), we can say that the site had a large church (bigger than that found in El Germo) surrounded by several buildings, the object of which is still


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Figure 22 Building Complex C2. Set of pools related to mining activities

Photo: Francisco Madrigal

to be determined. The entire complex was protected by a wall that had a monumental entrance to a gallery and an access through a ramp. Again, we do not know whether this was a village with a large church, or rather a monastery. But we hope we can find the answer to this interesting question in two years’ time, once we conclude the two remaining excavation campaigns we have ahead of us. What we did find out by studying the locations of both these sites is that they share common characteristics: they have similar churches, they can be dated to the sixth century, they must have disappeared by the eighth, they were located at spots that controlled several important pathways, they also controlled the most fertile land in the area and, finally, they were situated a day’s journey from each other. In fact, it would appear that the road between Córdoba and Solia (Building Complex C2), the great northern mining town (Fig. 22) that survived into Late Antiquity,191 was ‘controlled’ by at least these two sites created ex novo.

191 The city of Solia was represented at the Council of Elvira by a priest (García Moreno 2007: 441–442, n. 39).



Figure 23 Building Complex C2. Baptistery

Photo: Francisco Madrigal

Virtually forgotten by research, this baptismal pool hardly has any scholarly references (Fig. 23).192 Godoy merely wrote one sentence on it, and in his analysis of Iberian baptisteries he did not mention it at all. All other references can only be found in local studies. Rather than describing a site, in this case we can only refer to a small baptismal pool, of barely 1.1 x 1.1 x 0.7 m, in the shape of a cross and with rounded ends. There are steps (two) only in its southern arm. The joints between wall panels or between steps have no ledges, friezes, or covings, as the surface is well-polished and smoothed. The baptismal pool is located at ground level from the current chapel, so we do not know if it had greater development (both vertical and horizontal), but what remains suggests that the pool is complete. Some

192 Only those found in Schlunk and Hauschild 1978, and only within a general section devoted to Iberian baptisteries. See also Godoy 1995.


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authors have dated it to the third–fourth century,193 far too early a date and, what is more, with no archaeological evidence to substantiate this view. In the opinion of others, this type of cross-shaped baptistery should be dated to the fifth century or even later.194 Undoubtedly a very prominent aspect that deserves individual attention in the internal organization of the territory is the presence of monasteries. Regarding these, very few enjoy any sort of geographic reference, however minimal, meaning we can barely propose a hypothesis as to their location. One of them is St. Cristopher, in the south of Córdoba and close to the bridge, as it could be seen from the city (see above). Then we find a number of monasteries located in the nearer periphery; however, these are difficult to pinpoint clearly, as is the case with Tabanense, located in the Sierra Morena, seven miles from the city in a solitary and rugged landscape. Its construction appears to have taken place during the Islamic period since it was affected by the emiral decree that ordered the destruction of ‘recent’ churches in retaliation to the episode of the voluntary martyrs. Like the one just mentioned, and located just three miles from the city, in a place called Tercios (probably due to the distance) we have San Ginés, situated by Cordoban historiography on the farm of Torres. Also, Santa Maria Cuteclara and El Salvador are two monasteries near Córdoba. In the middle of the mountains, and at a further distance, we have the monastery of St. Zoilus Armilatense (identified with the current Adamuz), located at about 30 miles from the city; the monastery of Sts. Justus and Pastor, about 25 miles away; St. Felix, twelve miles away; and St. Martin. Finally, we know of several monasteries and churches only by name: Album, Gerisset in Keburiense, Catinas, Lanitus, Nubiras, Auliatus, Anubraris, Quartus, the Alseclati ecclesia, Candus (in Villa Cassas Albas). While at a textual level we have all these data, at an archaeological level we barely have, for the whole of the supposed area of monasteries in Córdoba, a slab of clay with an inscription,195 and a fragment,196 similar to another baptismal font from Mérida supposedly found in Cardeña. In short, taking into account the sources of the ninth century, there must have existed a widespread ‘Christian’ occupation of the territory, which does not exactly match what we know through archaeology or epigraphy, the presence of which is far more limited. In fact, we only know of two 193 Rosas 2008. 194 Ristow 1998. 195 CIL II2 / 7: 700, allegedly obtained from a building in ruins. 196 Sánchez Velasco 2006, piece 182.



possible monasteries at an archaeological level. These have already been analysed from an architectural perspective, although much of their interest lies precisely in their territorial implantation. We have focused on this last aspect, i.e. their location, given the absence of deep archaeological studies on two of these three sites, of which we have already offered, in their analysis above, different parallels and architectural references to determine their potential relationship to the list of peninsular monasteries.


The Bishopric of Cabra (Egabrum)

The bishopric of Cabra occupied the central area of the former Conventus Astigitanus, one of the four judicial and fiscal demarcations (conventus) in which the Roman province of Baetica was divided. This bishopric occupied a territory smaller than the bishopric of Córdoba, and unlike the latter, the mining activity in Cabra seems to have been scarce, with agriculture and livestock being the main economic activities. For more than ten years we have been studying the ancient archaeological landscape of this bishopric. In fact, we published the first scholarly studies that approached the topography and the primitive Christian architecture of this area.1 These studies are the basis of this chapter, to which have been added some recent archaeological developments. We still have much to learn, but the data we do know allow us to reconstruct with some certainty the ecclesiastical landscape of Late Antiquity in the territory of practically the whole bishopric.2

The Outskirts of the City of Cabra We know virtually nothing about the episcopal seat of Cabra, mainly because the excavations in the area are almost non-existent. We believe that as a bishopric and an administrative centre, Cabra must have had its buildings dedicated to religious and civil administration, i.e. an episcopium and a palatium. However, we know nothing of them. In fact, little is known of the city and its organization (although a thorough analysis of the urban plot provides us with an interesting working hypothesis). Leaving Cabra, and moving towards the great Roman road linking Córdoba and Málaga, we can find a well-known Roman villa: Mithra. During the harvesting of the land, a major sculpture was discovered by chance. It was the representation of Mithra Tauroktonos. Three interesting things should be mentioned in relation to this sculpture:3 a) it is true that its discovery has been widely 1 Botella and Sánchez 2008; Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009. 2 The data we have usually come from very old excavations or without any archaeological context at all. Unfortunately, in those places where systematic modern excavations have been carried out, such as Torreparedones, there is an incomprehensible lack of data on Late Antiquity (Morena 2014), which contrasts the results obtained for pre-Roman or imperial Roman times. We hope that new research in this type of reservoir will provide enough data to know what happened in some of these important cities between the fourth and eighth centuries. 3 Sánchez Velasco 2013.


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published and studied, but always from the perspective of art history, not archaeology; b) the sculpture did not appear in isolation, but together with a Dionysus, an Eros Sleeping, and a fountain statue of a Boy with a Hare, yet the group as a whole has received very little attention, with all studies focusing on the Mithra; c) even less attention has been paid to how these pieces were found. All of them were found in the pool of the villa: the sculpture of Mithra was face down, buried in clay and rubble; the body of Dionysus was standing, leaning against a corner, and its head and arms were severed and next to its feet; the statue of Eros Sleeping and that of a Boy with a Hare had been knocked down and intentionally broken. This destruction has been dated to the late fourth century or early fifth century. The study of the excavations, carried out in or around 1915, shows that a church was built in Visigothic times at the top of this town, something similar to what happened in Córdoba. This Roman villa has only been partially excavated, and the mithraeum where the statue of Mithra presumably stood has not been found. Perhaps the most published and well-known piece, a symbol of Cabra and its bishopric, is the inscription where the bishop Bacauda consecrated the basilica of Santa Maria – probably on Sunday, 31 May 660.4 It is, in fact, a Roman funerary altar reused as a Christian altar foot, because (like in the previous piece from De la Fuente Street) we can find a canonical loculus for relics on top. The text, divided into four parts, is exceptionally rich in data. On it three protagonists are mentioned, those who founded the aforementioned basilica: Bishop Bacauda, who signed the proceedings of the Eighth Council of Toledo and who consecrated the basilica, the monk Paulo, and the latter’s pious mother, Eulalia, who, together with her son, acted as patrons and ‘financed’ the building. A consecration of a church required a bishop and relics, otherwise it could not take place. The presence of a classic loculus in the inscription confirms this. The action of ‘patronage’ of the two individuals presents some interpretive problems. To start with, it is the first specific mention of monks in the area (Paulum monachum), which has led us to think that what was actually founded was a monastery. This proposal cannot be confirmed, but we do consider it to be a viable possibility. It is also likely to be the pious donation of a prominent local family, although we should not rule out, as in the case of Belisarius in Ategua, the construction of a private basilica. Another problem is the choice of the verb ( fundauit), 4 CIL II2 / 5: 299, ‘Consecrata e(st) / baselica haec / s(an)c(t)ae Mariae / II K(a)l(endas) Iunias / (a)e(ra) DCLXLVIII // Dedicavit / hanc aede(m) / d(o)m(inu)s / Bacauda / ep(i)sc(o)p(u)s // Fundavit eam / Altissimus / per Eulaliam / et filium eius / Paulum monac(h)u(m) // Ara / s(an)c(t)a / d(omi) ni.’



the meaning of which is not necessarily ‘found’ in the sense of building ex novo, but it can also be used in the event of major reforms (a fundamentis) or rehabilitations. We have already quoted above the problems concerning the exact location of the artefact, although everything seems to suggest that it appeared a few kilometres south of the city, in a place called El Campillo (Building Complex C15). At this site monumental remains can still be seen, such as blocks of stone, columns, etc. Two authors who wrote during the Renaissance, Ambrosio de Morales and Vega y Murillo, mentioned that, when visiting the place where the inscription supposedly appeared, it was still possible see emerging structures. We have emphasized above that the most reliable hypothesis is that issued by Ambrosio de Morales, but regardless of which hypothesis is accepted (a question archaeology will surely resolve once and for all) it must be observed that Vega y Murillo included a sketch of the building in his work (above, Building Complex C15), which, in his opinion, housed the inscription of Bacauda, and therefore it must have been the basilica of Santa Maria. A little further to the south of this place, in the so-called farmhouse Tejeirio, in the area of Gaena, an epitaph appeared about a woman, Eulalia, who has been equated by some to the woman who ‘financed’, together with her son, the basilica of Santa Maria.5 Although this theory is attractive, it is almost impossible to confirm, since the name was very popular. It could, however, be indicating a new necropolis close to a natural path connecting Cambra with Zambra. In the southern boundary of the hypothetical territorium of the city of Cabra, and 4 km away from today’s Lucena, in the ‘Camino Viejo de Benamejí’, we can find the basilica of Coracho (Building Complex C17). A history of the unfortunate destruction and spoliation of this building has already been published, together with its stratigraphic relationships and the method of study, so we will go no further regarding these issues.6 We offer the study of the building, once the second excavation has been carried out and after removing from it the areas that have suffered landslides – which were misinterpreted as soil and/or walls (Fig. 24). We consider this to be a possible martyrium. Around the building, one of the largest necropolises of Spain was excavated. Hundreds of tombs were unearthed.

5 CIL II2 / 5: 300, ‘[Vixit] Eulalia [ann(os) X?]CIV / quiescet in pace De de / C(a)(enda) s Se(p)t(embres) i(ndictione) VI er(a) DCC.’ 6 Botella and Sánchez 2008.


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Figure 24 Building Complex C17. Reconstruction of the church of Coracho with its different phases

Figure 25 3D reconstruction of the phases of the basilica of Coracho, a) Phase 1, fourth century; b) phase 2, Byzantine era; c) phase 3, Visigothic period; c) phase 3, mausoleum



Phase 1 (Fig. 25a), or the founding stage, consists of a building with the plan of a basilica sized 35.5 m by 18.5 m. The four closing walls were identically constructed, on a foundation of small stones settled diagonally and showing a herringbone pattern (opus spicatum) elevation. These walls were pieced together at their corners, meaning they were erected at the same time. Furthermore, they were only separated by a space of about two metres in width located to the southwest, probably the entrance. The mortar, composed of yellowish soil, was relatively poor in lime. Of identical composition to the exterior walls, but somewhat thicker, was the only wall which – in the form of letter omega – defined the apse within a rectangle on the plan and served as the chancel of the building in its western part, near the entrance. This omega-shaped apse created a corridor on its western side and divided the entire eastern area of the church into three naves. These naves are recognized by a small continuous foundation, made of pseudo-spicatum, which served as a support for the bases of the columns, spaced 5.05 m. The bases of this first phase are all different, probably because they are spolia from Roman buildings. The enormous gap between the columns prevented the construction of arches, which indicates that the roof was supported by thick wooden beams supported by the columns. We consider two possibilities: a) that there was a pitched roof covering the entire building, which had a flat ceiling inside, or b) that the central nave was found above ground made of relatively lightweight walls of brick elevated on the thick beams. In Phase 2 (Fig. 25b), we find a profound reformation of the omega-shaped apse and a new decorative programme, in which the original bases were replaced by others, made expressly for that purpose and of a more homogeneous appearance. This indicates the roof had collapsed and that the colonnades were replaced; however, some of the bases of the first phase were kept in place. In any event, not only was the reform directed at the columns and the roof, but also at the western oriented apse, as a long bench was added to it. Ending in two blocks of stone on which columns were placed, this long bench created a monumental decoration in the shape of a triumphal arch. In order to insert the aforementioned blocks, the original wall of the apse had to be broken, and then substituted with a low wall made of bricks covering the space remaining between the blocks of stone and the omega-shaped structure. All the wall coverings of this phase are characterized by an extraordinary abundance of lime, the use of large-sized blocks, the carving of the bases ex profeso, and the use of high quality clay mortars and pinkish shades. If the second phase was a renovation of the original structure, the last of the reforms (Phase 3, Figs. 25c and 25d) represents a radical change in


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the internal distribution of spaces. In order to carry out this phase, some walls made of rough ashlar were used together with bricks, reused materials (including decorated ceramic plaques), soil, and with an almost total absence of lime (we cannot really talk of mortar), which only appears linked to the use of whole sections of walls with plundered elements. Therefore, we assume that the basilica was partially destroyed. The spaces between the columns were closed, which turned the nave into a confined space, only accessible through its south-eastern side via an access less than two metres in width. This enclosure wall, not at all compact, allowed for the bases (and therefore columns) to be visible from the side aisles. At the eastern end of the building, a room, slightly elevated (0.4 m) above the ground of the nave, was erected. This room opened to the north and south naves through two separate entrances. Finally, an isolated building with a chancel and a north oriented apse was built using a very similar technique to that of the buildings of this third phase. The entire set appears surrounded by a necropolis of great extent, with about 275 graves and over 300 individuals. Those exhumed accounted only for one sixth of the estimated total extent of the necropolis, as can be discerned from the information provided by graves that appeared during uncontrolled construction works and by taking into account the density of the space excavated that was reserved for burials. The fact that the necropolis became a Christian cemetery is a hypothesis that seems supported by the presence of certain types of funerary items and the appearance of certain structures that would confirm the existence of a funerary ritual linked to the early days of Christianity. The presence of an ustrinum would be indicative of the existence of a necropolis of pagan rite, although no clear evidence of cremation burials has been found. The tombs in the necropolis are characterized by the virtual absence of grave goods, except tomb 3, as well as a distinctly late typology concerning the type of graves and the manner in which they were covered. In tomb 3, the skeleton of a woman was found, buried with several glass paste necklaces and an odd carved bone amulet depicting a fish, one of the oldest symbols linked to Christianity. A series of structures that have been defined as mensae for the performance of refrigeria are associated with individual graves or groups of graves. These display a wide variety of types and sizes. They endured, at least in Rome, until the middle of the fourth century,7 a time when the ritual of the funeral feast found increasing opposition due to certain excesses


Fusco 2004: 20.



that turned tributes to the deceased into unedifying spectacles.8 However, although barely studied, these customs and the infrastructure needed for their performance might have lasted longer in Hispania, despite their continued prohibition in conciliar canons well into the sixth century.9 Although the impression we get from the poor level of preservation of the remains in the necropolis is certainly bleak, in some cases we have verified that, in the bags containing the materials associated with certain graves, there are certain fossil-directors that can tell us about the chronology of the necropolis, as well as about its evolution. These examples are: – Tomb 24: Pit excavated in clay of 1.8 x 0.45 m, oriented west-east. Several individuals were found. As for funerary goods, there was a jug next to the skull of an individual, which could be dated to between the sixth and seventh centuries. – Tomb 74: The cover of stone slabs (1.6 x 0.7 m) in a pit dug in the clay (1.45 x 0.5 m). The remains of an individual with arms and legs outstretched were found together with related ceramics. More specifically, and next to the remains of some common ceramic materials of difficult typological ascription, there was the fragment of a pot and/or handmade cover, which might correspond to the type 20 Fulford type, although it displays unique characteristics: a volcanic base with coarse fragments of golden mica, a dark (almost black) outer surface, and a reddish interior. Its production seems to originate in just one area of the central Mediterranean, particularly around the southern axis of Sardinia, Sicily, and Carthage. They are dated to between the second half of the fifth and the sixth century. They are imported products that so far have only appeared in coastal areas. – Tomb 104: Pit dug into the clay, 2 x 0.45 m, oriented west-east, with remains of what (perhaps) could have been a lid of stone slabs. Three individuals found there were lacking any funerary items, but with associated ceramics, more specifically fragments of TSA A/D (fourth century) and fragments of common pottery. – Tomb 130: Lid of stone slabs (1.7 x 0.7 m) from a pit dug into the clay (1.7 x 0.5 m), oriented west-east. An individual was found. He had no funerary items, but did have some associated pottery, specifically a series of galbos that could be ascribed to production D of TSA, ascribed to a broad chronological spectrum between the fourth and the eighth century. 8 9

Krautheimer 1996: 38. The Second Council of Braga (572), canon 69.


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– Tomb 131: Pit dug in the loams 1 x 0.3 m, oriented west-east. Three individuals were found. No grave goods were present, although some associated common kitchen pottery was found together with a small Galbo of what looks like a plate of TSA D1 Hayes 59, datable to between the mid-fourth century and the fifth century. This brief overview is significant, at least when we consider that over eighty per cent of the graves have no funerary goods or associated pottery remains of any kind. With so succinct a sample we can only say that the vast majority of the graves date from between the fourth century to the seventh century. Now, thanks to epigraphy, we do know that the necropolis was in use at least during the first half of the eighth century. In an inscription recovered in the eighteenth century, in the so-called ‘huerta Perea’, very close to the basilica, we can read that a bishop unidentifiable by name (sanctus et inlustris Herus Leo) was buried there because this site was considered a privileged one.10 He sought to be buried among ‘the worthy’ (quem dignis tumulabit). Considering the type of support, it must have been the flat lid of a sarcophagus dated to around 762. Although it is true that no date appears on the inscription, if we take into account its palaeographic features, it fits the date usually ascribed to it, i.e. the immediate post-Visigothic period. It is of exceptional interest to verify that a bishop, probably in charge of the bishopric of Cabra, decided to be buried nearly 14 km from his see, seeking proximity to the tombs of ‘worthy’ people; a well-known process in the case of places related to the cult of martyrs. This objective fact, as well as the large size of the necropolis, the density of the burials, and the existence of possible mausoleums, confirm the basilica of Coracho as a powerful centre of attraction for the surrounding population, probably because of its possible martyrial cult, as discussed below. It is also possible, despite the lack of stratigraphic data, to provide a logical interpretation of the building and its different construction phases based on certain indications – objective architectural items – which may help to fully explain the historical development of the site. The basilica and necropolis belong together and are linked inextricably as parts of a whole. In this regard, it is worth remembering that religious buildings are the context in which a particular liturgy takes place and, since they are functional 10 ILMMálaga, 63 = IHC 128, ‘ [ex]celsum dominum me[3] / poscit et veniam Chr(ist)i flebi[lis 3] / inclite quem dignis tumulabit [3] / s(an)c(tu)s et inlustris herus Leo[3] / cunctis quod profuit ad spem [3] / ob quod continue lector dom[inum 3] / [pos]cens ut venia maneat [e 3] / [vivat perpetua vi[tam a].’



buildings, they have to adapt to the needs arising due to the evolution of religious ceremonies.11 Therefore, the relationship between architecture, epigraphy, and liturgy is fundamental in the archaeology of those places that have virtually lost all their historical sources and, therefore, the memory of their late antique past, as in this case. Clearly, we have a quadrangular basilica, with an omega-shaped apse within an ultra-semi-circular floor and three naves, together with an ample space (a fourth nave, we might call it) at the foot of the building. Another large space opens up behind the apse. It is greater than the lateral naves, and counts with a foundation of 1.35 m attached to the inner part of the western end closing wall, aligned with the apse. We propose as a hypothesis that the basilica was built in the fourth century, for the following reasons: the way the walls were built, with masonry foundations aligned diagonally (pseudo-spicatum), thick deposits of mortar, and elevations made in opus spicatum, also in masonry; the reuse of bases from the Roman period that could be dated specifically to the Severan period by parallels;12 the type of architecture in general, i.e. cheap materials such as wood, mud, and masonry that resulted, nevertheless, in a monumental structure; 13 the location of the apse to the west, as happened in the vast majority of the churches of Constantine’s era;14 the construction of the basilica over a previous necropolis, as evidenced by the existence (see above) of an ustrinum; and the materials found in the most ancient tombs of the necropolis. Similarly, and as already noted above, another clue would be the shape of the building, the layout of which can be linked to a particular type of ceremony, with its form reflecting a strong Christian symbolism. A basilica of similar dimensions, literally surrounded by a large necropolis and situated more than 4 km from the nearest village and 14 from the nearest city, can presumably be linked to a special type of cult. We should also discard for now that it was a monastery or part of it, since there are no adjacent buildings of any kind (not even close). To all these data we should add, we insist, the possible functionality of the spaces in which the basilica is compartmentalized. The ultra-semi-circular apse is, in truth, the great organizer of virtually whole of the internal space: it demarcates the three naves, and its relative position (in line with the entrance) forces certain routes within the building to be followed. Furthermore, it also demarcates, behind it, a huge 11 12 13 14

Godoy 1994; Arbeiter 2003. Rodríguez Gutiérrez 2006: 434–435, B1 and B2. Krautheimer 1996: 37–42; De Blaauw 2010b: 25–28. Krautheimer 1996: 43–77; De Blaauw 2010b: 28–45.


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gallery supported by a 1.37 m foundation, aligned perpendicularly to the centre of the apse. This wall, with a mere three lines of vertical development, does not have a specific structural function, that is to say, it can hardly be a buttress as it only shows two lines of vertical development. We think that the importance of the gallery behind the western apse is by no means a coincidence. In fact, we believe it is a very important part of the functional design of the building as a place for seasonal worship which, in our opinion, could have been of martyrial character, given its strong functionality as an area of transit. The foundation mentioned above seems to have been designed to support an altar or a sarcophagus, which may have contained the relics of one or more martyrs. That would have been the reason why the space behind the apse was erected, to allow the development of the ambulationes to venerate the saints. The one thing we could not verify, due to the low height of the preserved remains, was the possible existence in the apse of fenestella confessionis, but we believe its existence to be probable.15 The western orientation further suggests the possibility of a martyrial cult of seasonal character, as the Eucharist was carried out facing east.16 Therefore, it is likely that the basilica monumentalized the tomb of a martyr or martyrs buried in an (already existing) necropolis. From that moment, this place became a centre of attraction and veneration to the point that at least one bishop (see above) sought to be buried among ‘the worthy’ in what is the largest necropolis from the late antique period excavated to date in Andalusia.17 To sum up, all the data so far (chronological, liturgical, architectural) leads us to think of Coracho as a possible martyrium belonging to the fourth century, perhaps to its first half. The basilica certainly has a place in the ‘experimental’ architecture of early Christianity, where there are no consolidated ‘types’ and where the economic possibilities of the Christian community define the type of building technique and the sort of architectural project, which was also determined by the sheer existence of a few ‘rules’: rectangular plan, longitudinal axis, wooden roof, pre-eminence of the officiant on a podium with or without the shape of an apse.18 All other aspects varied substantially and were subject to local customs, habits, and needs. Form and function varied too, since the construction of an episcopal centre answered different needs from those, for example, of a martyrium, 15 16 17 18

Dyggve Egger 1939; Brenk 2000. Godoy 1995: 71–80. Carmona Berenguer 1998. Krautheimer 1996; Krautheimer 2002.



which was used merely to commemorate and which presented the Church, to its faithful and to non-believers, as Ecclesia Martyrum. There are examples of churches dating back to that period, such as St. Chrysogonus of Rome or the basilica of Aquileia, that present architectural similarities to Coracho.19 There are also churches with galleries enabled as ambulationes belonging to the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, such as the basilicas in the shape of a circus (very different from Coracho, but employing the architectural solution of literally ‘wrapping’ the central nave); the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome (later); or the basilica minor of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, which at the stage of Pope Pelagius shows identical architectural solutions to Coracho, solving a similar problem in the very same way: a basilica, dedicated to a martyr, divided into two functionally different spaces (one for the cult of martyrdom and the other for eucharistic purposes), using as a delimiter a west oriented apse.20 We cannot assert with certainty that Coracho represents a precedent of the Roman basilica (since we lack a clear date), although in reality such buildings must have been relatively common and, of course, in this case the result could not be more alike. Another detail that cannot be overlooked is the very location of the building on what we believe might have been the limit of the territorium of the bishopric of Cabra. This, perhaps, would have to be put in relation to the existing parallels between Christian martyria and pagan heroa, a well-studied process of assimilation of martyrial cult (at least in its early stages) to the pagan hero cult.21 The historical implications of finding a possible martyrium in Coracho are certainly important. Until now it had been assumed that Christianity was essentially a phenomenon circumscribed (at least in its beginnings) to the peri-urban areas of large cities (suburbia). With the data provided by Coracho, we can conclude that some rural areas witnessed early, widespread Christianization. This, at least, is true for the territory that encompasses the ancient bishopric of Cabra, especially in the southeast area of today’s province of Córdoba, which is bounded by the Roman roads Córdoba –Illiberris and Córdoba– Antequera.22 As for phase 2 of the basilica of Coracho, in our view, a greater chronological precision can be put forward. As mentioned above, it appears that 19 20 21 22

Krautheimer 1996: 40–41; Bertacchi 1994. Krautheimer 1996: 59–60; Kinney 2010: 85–86. La Rocca 2002. Melchor 1995.


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the basilica suffered major structural damage and that its central nave had to be reformed, some columns being replaced by others. That is why the bases found in the northern part of the central nave display uniform stylistic features and have, as their closest parallels, the bases taken from the excavations carried out in the Patio de los Naranjos at the mosque of Córdoba.23 These bases remind us of a ‘compositional language’ very close to that of the geometrization in the architectural decoration materials of some churches of the eastern Mediterranean. But perhaps the most interesting architectural development is the reform of the western apse, which had a continuous bench attached to its interior. It was also embellished by placing two columns at its front. It seems that, in fact, we are viewing a synthronon framed by a triumphal arch, typical of the churches of the Aegean-italic area of the fifth century (like St. Leonidas in Lechaion, Greece)24 and of the churches in North Africa dating to the sixth century, especially those of Le Kef and fortified Haïdra.25 As is known, the synthronon is a basic element in eastern liturgy, and is completely foreign to the Iberian liturgy. Nothing can make us assume that this basilica was part of a monastery, so it is difficult to imagine that a group of eastern monks settled here and decided to rehabilitate a church following this tradition, primarily intended for seasonal worship, adapting it to their particular liturgical rites. On the contrary, it is likely that a civil or ecclesiastical power, which held jurisdiction over the church, decided to reform the building, maintaining its original structure (western apse and three naves), but adding to the chancel new architectural elements (a synthronon and triumphal arch in the presbyterium) linked to a specific liturgy, the Byzantine one. We believe, therefore, that this decision proves the existence of Byzantine control of the area which, taking advantage of a specific event (the destruction of a possible martyrium), demonstrated its piety and commitment to the community of their new subjects by rebuilding the church.26 Of course, it would have been adapted to the liturgy of the new rulers through a very precise architectural programme, conducted at some unspecified time in the second half of the sixth century or, at the latest, during the early years of the seventh century. The third and final stage involved a radical change in the internal spatial design of the building, creating a sharp division of areas which corresponds 23 24 25 26

Sánchez Velasco 2006: 207–211. Krautheimer 1996: 139–157. Duval 1971; Krautheimer 1996: 212–213, fig. 231; Baratte 1996: 137–144. Grabar 1946.



to a significant change in liturgical practices. Thus the space between the columns of the central nave was walled up with very flimsy materials, mainly spolia (including a series of three decorated plates of ceramics). Because this wall revealed the columns in the aisles, it probably did not have an excessive vertical development, but merely closed the area of the central nave, which then became a chorus. In the eastern part of the basilica, a rectangular room was built. This room diverted slightly from the perpendicular outer wall, which was elevated above the ground levels of the central nave. Two openings, one to the north and one to the south, indicate the existence of two separate entrances. We think this room should be interpreted as a new sanctuarium. It is true that no remains or traces of elements of the altar are preserved, but its characteristics, together with the liturgical requirements expressed by Isidore of Seville in De Ethymologiarum 15.4.7 (where he insisted that the sanctuarium face east), leads us to make this statement. We also believe that access to the aisles must be related to some liturgical aspect, since there are no rooms adjoining the sanctuarium. It might be related to the celebration of the Eucharist and the sharing of bread and wine with the parishioners. The latter would have been accommodated in the smaller naves, since the central nave, transformed into a choir, would have been reserved for the clergy. The Visigothic basilica found in Recópolis (Zorita de los Canes, Guadalajara) is a clear reference for Coracho, since it follows a similar plan.27 With the data available, we can say that the western apse was not destroyed, nor even remodelled. In fact we believe that it was still in use, perhaps reserved for the martyrial cult, while the Eucharistic was held in the eastern sanctuarium. Concerning the isolated building, the data we have been able to collect are also limited, so putting forward a possible functionality is somewhat risky. Its characteristics are somewhat related to its use as a funerary monument, adapted to hold one or more sarcophagi. In fact, we found no remains that could be interpreted as enclosing the building, perhaps because, as is the case in the mausoleum found in Punta del Moral, all access is obstructed by a wall.28 All this data, together with the similarities in construction between Phase 3 of Coracho and the reformed walls of a church found in Córdoba (dated by inscriptions to 632),29 lead us to believe that the dating of the third reform would have to be framed within the Visigothic period. We 27 Godoy 1995: 238–243. 28 Del Amo 2003. 29 Sánchez Velasco 2006: 197–204.


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have no historical sources that might allow us to know the exact date of the conquest of these territories, but it is conceivable that it occurred between the second occupation of Córdoba by Leovigild (572) and the conquest of Málaga (613), so it would not be farfetched to date the reform to around the first half of the seventh century. Finally, we believe the basilica of Coracho, despite its unfortunate evolution, can provide sufficient data to establish a chronological sequence that depends on architectural items reflecting liturgical changes. We cannot forget that basilicas were buildings adapted to fulfil a very precise function: the carrying out of liturgy. In the case of the basilica at hand, the three architectural phases that were detected not only indicate three very different moments in time, but in our view, three different liturgical needs materialized in the building’s evolution. We believe this to be of vital importance when attempting to understand Late Antiquity in the earliest and most intensely Christianized area of Hispania, particularly if we take into account how scarce the written sources that relate to this period are. We can only hope that the excavation of the remains of the necropolis, still intact, will help provide greater precision on the historical data exposed here: its importance is self-evident, though it would be even more so were we to confirm the relationship between this site and the Cerro del Sordillo, where architectural decoration of indisputable Byzantine influence appeared. Unfortunately, given the conflicting versions (mostly oral) of the precise origin of these finds, it is impossible to delimit the area where they were discovered. In this case, we are likely dealing with a church related to the tomb of the martyr, perhaps with the character of a sarcophagus. In Coracho we have also analysed the basilica in relation to its surroundings, in what seems to be a rural and well-connected area, albeit quite detached from the main roads of Roman times. Unfortunately research, as it now stands, can hardly provide any clues as to rural settlements in the area, save for some small villae (catalogued as being from ‘Roman times’) about 3 km from the site. Therefore, we continue to uphold the hypothesis we sketched in an earlier work: in this case we might be dealing with a centre of seasonal worship built for a martyr, unknown to us in the sources, who was buried there.30 We would add that, some years ago, we published a new interpretation of a inscription, which we believe clearly points to the existence of pilgrims and pilgrimages in the province, perhaps to regional shrines of martyrs with great power of attraction for the faithful.31 30 Sánchez and Gómez 2014. 31 CIL II2 / 5: 555, in Sánchez, Moreno, and Gomez 2008: 141.



The Territory of the Bishopric of Cabra In short, the ancient bishopric of Cabra would have covered much of the southern area of today’s province of Córdoba, that is the central area of what was known as the conventus Astigitanus, which forms a more or less compact geographical unit around the Sierras Subbéticas, its foothills, and the countryside (leaving out the valley of the Guadalquivir). The whole territory is articulated by natural paths which were used as roads in the region’s early history and consolidated during the Roman era into structured routes in a wide network of communications. Their basic axes were the Córdoba–Malacca road (north-south), the Córdoba–Granada road (northwest-southeast), the Camino de Metedores, and the Roman road Igabrum–Ipolcobulcula–Iliturgicola (east-west), which intercommunicated transversely the aforementioned routes along the Sierra de Cabra in the north and south, respectively. Ategua (Santa Cruz) Inscription (CIL II2 / 5, 482) seems to have been found in a farmhouse called Haza, now identified with the farmhouse Haza de Trinidades, located in the so-called Camino de Córdoba (an ancient Roman road), next to the Trinidades stream. The text itself leaves no doubt: a potentate called Belisarius built a basilica where he intended to be buried once he died. When the inscription was ordered he was not yet dead, as is apparent from the blanks that have been left in the plaque and which appear perfectly defined by the presence of the decoration framing the text. Perhaps this is one of those churches made by potentates within their domains, as churches / chapels of a truly private character linked to issues of representation and family prestige, as opposed to the needs of the parish.32 These generated many problems between powerful secular personalities and bishops, primarily on account of the associated maintenance and rents. Ipsca (Cortijo de Ízcar, Baena) In 1901, during the cultivation of the fields of Cortijo Bajo de Ízcar,33 at the foot of the ancient Iberian oppidum of Ipsca, a tomb came to light. Its walls 32 On the ‘Eigenkirchen’, see Rodríguez Gil 1999; Orlandis 2003: 287–288; and Cerrillo 2003b: 246–247. 33 Morena 2008a: 8.


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were made of bricks and the lid consisted of large slabs of stone, a typically late antique typology in the area (see Montilla). The tomb contained skeletal remains and grave goods, which included a magnificent bronze monogram of Christ 33.5 cm high, 26.5 cm wide, and 0.9 cm thick. It has been dated to the late sixth century or seventh century. It might have been a liturgical object, although its functionality is unclear, and Palol catalogued it under the typology of cross pendant.34 The monogram of Christ was housed in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, and was stolen in 1990 during the dismantling of an exhibition of Roman bronzes. A copy can be seen today in one of the rooms. For the purposes of our work, we are mainly interested in the location of the find and not so much the piece itself. It appeared in a Christian necropolis at the foot of an Ibero-Roman settlement located strategically, overlooking both the Guadajoz and the Roman Córdoba–Granada road in its section between Ucubi and Iponuba. One of the pedestals in Ipsca, recently deposited in the Historical Museum of Baena, has in its base what appears to be a typical loculus (CIL II2 / 5, 389). These finds could well be interpreted as further evidence of survival in Late Antiquity of both the city and this stretch of road, since it is obvious that in Ipsca, or in its immediate periphery (we do not know the extent of the population, or whether it had vici), there was a church and a Christian community that used to practise its burials next to this important road. Iponuba (Cerro del Minguillar, Baena) The foot of an altar deposited in the Diocesan Museum of Córdoba appears to be originally from Baena.35 It is extremely common in the bordering areas between southern Lusitania and the northern end of Baetica. Given its type of carving and its evolution in Córdoba, it could date to the beginning of the seventh century.36 In our opinion, it must have been, as in previous cases, the centrepiece of an altar of five supports, because it is difficult to think that this type of foot could sustain a table large enough to accommodate all items necessary for the celebration of Mass. The closer parallel to this altar foot comes from Montoro, currently located in the Archaeological Museum of Córdoba, although the piece is far more fragmented than the Iponuba piece. (A second altar placed in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional

34 Palol 1990. 35 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gomez 2008: 146–149. 36 Sánchez Velasco 2006: 98–109.



that may also have its origin in Baena shows equal influence from the north of the province.) Yet another possible foot of an altar, of unknown origin and donated to the Historical Museum of Baena, is of great interest.37 All the parallels we have found for its decoration are from the Byzantine world. Its crosses and monograms of Christ appear in their extremes decorated with these triangular endings, of which we offer a couple of particularly illustrative examples.38 Also, the only known elements in the Iberian Peninsula that boast this type of decoration are a series of Byzantine capitals in Barcelona which date from the mid-sixth century and the beginning of the following century. They were brought to this city as spolia in the thirteenth century after the sack of Constantinople by the Latin Crusaders.39 We know nothing about the architecture of the time in Iponuba. In fact, the absence of any data on late antique elements in an area is striking. Just like the Cerro del Minguillar, it was thoroughly excavated by Valverde and Perales in the late nineteenth century. Only a private donation, 40 that of a Visigothic capital datable by parallels to the seventh century, 41 exists today in the architectural stock of the Museum. Nueva Carteya In the vicinity of Baena, albeit somewhat detached from the main connecting roads that cover the territory analysed, lies the town of Nueva Carteya.42 This town is the geographical centre of the hypothetical territory of the bishopric of Cabra. Here we can find three sites that have provided extensive Visigothic data: the basilica of the farmhouse of Los Llanos (Fig. 26), the necropolis of El Cañuelo, and the possible necropolis of Santo Toribio. We have already dealt at length with the Basilica de los Llanos (Building Complex C14), and we can simply confirm its unfortunate situation given the general lack of awareness in regard to this extremely ruined site. The basilica of the farmhouse of Los Llanos was excavated in 1933. 43 We only know its plan through a brief sketch reproduced by Santos Jener. 44 In 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

Morena 2008b: 6. Serin 2004: 51–67. Domingo 2007, BAR035. Morena 2008b: 6. Domingo 2007, SIN142. Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009: 149–151. Vicent and Marcos 2006. Santos Jener 1958: 154.


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Figure 26 Building Complex C14. Sketch of the church structure (Santos Jener 1958)

addition, from this site or nearby come a number of pieces of architectural decoration (possibly of a liturgical nature) that allow us to approach, if only very superficially, one of the few buildings in Baetica for which we have associated architecture and decorative remains. These have been studied and dated to the late Visigothic period, more precisely to the late seventh century or even later. 45 In particular, we are dealing with several pieces of monolithic columns, an isolated capital, and a cornice. 46 Undoubtedly, a plain sarcophagus can also be related to the necropolis associated with this building (with a convex lid in the form of a pitched roof) preserved in the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba. It shows a number of similarities with those sarcophagus lids that appeared in Los Bojeos, Huelva. 47 The sketch of the plan by Santos Jener does not allow for much accuracy, and the absence of more data prevents us from obtaining important information: the founding date of the building, whether it was built ex 45 Sánchez Velasco 2006: 231–233. 46 Sánchez Velasco 2006, pieces 26, 89, 100, 105, 106, 111, and 114. 47 Oepen 2004: 76; Sánchez Velasco 2010: 121.



novo, whether its late architectural decoration was original, or whether the building was constructed earlier and suffered some reforms instead. Given the information we have, we propose an interpretative hypothesis as to the functionality of the spaces that we have numbered on the plan as follows: 1) the sanctuarium, which had a small apse and faced east, independent from the rest of the building thanks to a low wall that might have been a chancel seat; 2) the naves, with an indef inite number of columns, were used as a burial site, since there appeared tombs ‘próximas a la iconostasis’; 48 3) the platform of access to the church (?); 4) a possible baptistery at the foot of the church (like in the Basilica de Gerena), which may not necessarily have been a baptismal pool, especially if the church dates to Late Antiquity, as suggested, for the rite of baptism by immersion and spray would already have changed; and finally, 5) a large room facing north, with a separate exit, which may have been either a chapel or a private mausoleum. Finally, a decorated plate housed in the Historical Museum of Doña Mencia, which originates from the farmhouse of El Santo 5 km north of this town and close to the road to Nueva Carteya, can be related to this site. 49 Due to oral tradition, we know that the owners of this farmhouse owned land near the site of Los Llanos, so it is likely that they moved some of the pieces they found on their property into the farmhouse. But this is merely a working hypothesis, since there is no site near the farmhouse, except the aforementioned one. This magnificent piece is a slab of beautifully carved white marble, decorated on the front and both its sides. The type of carving might date to the late sixth or early seventh century. The architectural motifs, perfectly representing small monolithic columns, have their closest parallel in a relief preserved in the church of Santa María de la Granada (Niebla, Huelva), although this may have to be dated to a later period. Its functionality is uncertain. Although it has been published as a ‘magnificent funerary piece’,50 this interpretation lacks any foundation. In our opinion, and if we take into account that the support is uncut on the back, that it is decorated on three sides, and that the top edge has a square notch to insert a metal staple, we can offer two hypotheses: a) that we might be dealing with a liturgical chancel slab,51 lacking the fastening base and the top railing, originally positioned in the basilica to establish a dual flow path – notice 48 49 50 51

Santos Jener 1958: 163. Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009: 150. Sánchez Romero 1996: 82–83. Sánchez Velasco 2006: 143.


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that its two sides are decorated; b) that it might be an element related to liturgical furnishings such as an ambo. Another Visigothic site in Nueva Carteya is El Cañuelo, the latter being closer than the former to today’s settlement. We know that, initially, the area only contained a necropolis. From there appeared a silver ring, a plain sarcophagus (without cover and typologically identical to the one mentioned above), a discoidal stela with inscription CIL II2 / 5, 356, and an ultra-semi-circular limestone arch dated to the late seventh century,52 from which we need not infer the existence of a civil or religious building, since it might as well have been related to a funerary monument. All these f indings by a local resident back in 1924 preceded off icial excavations and were brought to the Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba in 1928. Following these events, an integrated committee by Felix Hernandez, Rafael Castejón, and Samuel de los Santos was formed to excavate the area, and they brought to light ashlar walls, a vault, capitals, shafts, and small bases.53 Doña Mencía The history of the basilica of El Alon is quite a depressing one for any lover of Baetica’s heritage.54 As has happened with many other archaeological sites in Córdoba, it was known from ancient times, however the (local and regional) administrations that should protect the site have remained idle and have failed to shield it against the voracity of diggers, despite repeated complaints from citizens and private associations. The architectural decoration elements housed in the Historical Museum are some of the most exceptional objects we have studied. We are referring to two capitals of really difficult – if not impossible – typological ascription and a series of up to five octagonal shafts. The capitals, carved in very poor quality limestone, are approximately 0.45 m high by 0.4 m wide on the upper part and 0.3 m at the lower part. They are abnormally elongated, very disproportionate, with their carving so rough that they appear to have been made by a carpenter rather than by a skilled artisan. In fact, we believe that the person or team that made them barely knew how to build capitals; or perhaps they had never even seen capitals like those which they were required to create. We have not found exact parallels for them in any 52 Sánchez Velasco 2006, piece 33. 53 Vicent and Marcos 2006. 54 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gomez 2008: 151–156; Melchor 1995: 144–148.



of the corpora consulted. They are thus a unique example of late antique architecture. The octagonal shafts have been made in the same limestone as the capitals. They are pyramid base form and their carving is also defective. Nevertheless, they give a definite feeling of strength and robustness. They are not monolithic; they rather seem to have been made in two parts, assembled with the help of metal staples, as is indicated by the notches shown by some fragments of the shafts. And despite the fact that in Córdoba, Mérida, Toledo, and the Mediterranean coast there are examples of octagonal supports, we have found no parallels for these shafts in the Iberian Peninsula. The fact that so many other pieces were collected together with these architectural remains suggests that there may have been a necropolis. The importance and uniqueness of this archaeological site, however, is not limited to the existence of unusual capitals and shafts in the peninsular panorama. To these we could add an important group of materials – dating to the early imperial period – from the same location and removed at the same time as the others, but with very different characteristics. Considering the proportions of the blocks of stone, the uniformity of the whole, the type of assembly systems, and the decorative relief, we do not believe it is farfetched to talk about a whole set of architectural and decorative materials which would belong to a very large building (a church? a mausoleum?). The really monumental dimensions of most of the blocks of stone made them difficult to move – therefore, the basilica must have been built on this major Roman building with a decorative and architectural programme that can be dated, although not very precisely, between the late sixth century and the seventh century. Ipolcobulcula (Carcabuey) The current population of Carcabuey is located on a high promontory overlooking the roads south of the mountains of Cabra (whether in an east–west direction in the axis of Cabra-Priego-Almedinilla, or a northeast–southwest direction in the axis of Alcaudete-Zagrilla-Rute), along the depressions of the Morisco River and the Siruela stream running between the hills of Encinillas and Los Pollos.55 Such strategic a position means that it actually controlled all the natural paths which, south of the mountains

55 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gomez 2008: 171–172.


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of Cabra, connected to the great Roman roads of Córdoba-Granada and Córdoba-Malacca.56 Coming from this site (the old Ipolcobulcula), and housed at ‘el Pósito’, there is a small sized Roman funerary altar (CIL II2 / 5, 282). We think a similar example, with regard to the reuse of the piece, can be identified in the Roman altar reused as the foot of the altar found near Loja. In this case, the focus has not been removed, only transformed, performing a relatively deep quadrangular opening (0.2 m), with the characteristic scaling to receive the lid. The fact that the original Roman decoration has not been removed might be due to the fact that its form was adequate to sustain the altar table, since the focus and dosserets are at the same level and did not have to be retouched in order to adapt them as a support for the board. This piece is, to date, the only known unmistakably late antique Christian element currently in Carcabuey, and it necessarily implies the presence of a basilica in the area. Priego de Córdoba Late Antiquity has different fundamental core materials in Priego de Córdoba.57 One of the most interesting finds took place in the late antique necropolis located in the travertine platform of El Arrimadizo (Building Complex C16), where three tombs were found. One of them had its walls built with stone slabs, like its cover. The individual was buried with a typical funerary jug, which has allowed the tomb to be dated to around the seventh century. However, what really is significant is a graffiti on the top left side of one of the slabs of the cover, written in italics, freehand, and with prior (if somewhat rough) preparation of the epigraphic space. The text reproduces the beginning of Psalm 11, In domino confido, of which at least two hypotheses can be inferred: a) that the person buried there expressly asked for that simple epitaph; or b) that someone from among those in charge of the burial had it inscribed. In short, it is a very suitable text (a promise of salvation) for a funerary epitaph. We must add that the travertine cliff of El Arrimadizo has a number of little caves on its front, just below the place where the tombs appeared. We believe the aforementioned hypothesis concerning the presence of a small community of hermit monks settled in these rock shelters is more than likely.

56 Melchor 1995: 105–114. 57 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009: 172–175.



We must also emphasize the importance of a recent find: a late Roman necropolis brought to light in 2007, when some excavations were conducted at 39 Ramón y Cajal Street in the locality. This necropolis has been dated to the third and fifth centuries.58 This necropolis, located near the Roman villa found between the streets of Carrera de las Monjas and Rio (opposite the town hall), and constructed upon a lime kiln no longer in use, is exceptionally interesting due to the data offered from a careful excavation. It was possible to dig six graves, all west-east oriented, which were intentionally placed in a travertine outcrop unfit for agriculture, the geological nature of which allowed for the creation of burial pits without artificial walls preventing an internal collapse.59 As a result, construction materials (in this case tegulae) were only used for the cover. Of all the graves, no. 5 stands out, because it features the most tegulae on its cover and, in particular, because of the finding of a possible crosier of a bishop’s staff held by the deceased in the inside part of his right elbow.60 Aligned with it and with the right leg, there was a series of five brads that are supposed to have belonged to the staff in which the crosier would have been set, the size of which could have been longer than a metre. Thanks to an X-ray performed on the object during the restoration process, we can see clearly that the upper arm of the cross is actually a hollow, almost perfect circle, so we would have to conclude that, rather than a Latin cross or a cross of Tau, we are dealing here with an ankh of the Coptic type, one of the oldest Christianized crosses known.61 Therefore, this might have been the grave of an ecclesiastical officer (perhaps a bishop or a priest) who decided to be buried with his staff as a grave item. If we add that the thermoluminescence dating of the tegulae cover of the grave has provided a date around the middle of the fourth century, this becomes an exceptional find that raises interesting questions, the answers to which are beyond the intent of this work: the use and meaning of this possible ankh, the origin and authority of the individual buried therein, the (early) Christianization of rural areas in Baetica, the African influence on Christianity in Hispania, the causes of the burial next to a villa, the importance of the villa itself, and so on.

58 59 60 61

Carmona and Luna 2007: 62–63. Carmona and Luna 2007: 63. Carmona and Luna 2007: 58. Carmona and Luna 2007: 58.


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The Roman Villa of El Ruedo (Almedinilla) We come to the end of our ‘tour’ at the famous villa of El Ruedo, in the town of Almedinilla, on which we will offer a new interpretation of certain specific aspects.62 We believe that, despite the prolonged research carried out at the villa, the transition between Phase III (late third century, mid-fourth century) and Phase IV (second half of the fifth century) has overlooked some fundamental aspects. It has been thought that the transition between the phase of aristocratic splendour of the villa (Phase III) and its abandonment, as well as the reuse of some of its rooms (Phase IV), was peaceful and progressive, given the absence of ‘evidence of violent destruction’. However, the people recently in charge of the excavations, based on the report of the restoration of the famous sculpture of Somnus, affirm that all the bronzes were subjected to violent and intentionally systematic breakage and that they were not reused (and this is why they have reached us), ‘signs of violence possibly linked with the new Christian beliefs’. We must also bear in mind the ‘clogging’ of the whole noble area. This is why mosaic floors, walls, and pictorial coatings have been preserved. Questions naturally arise, especially when we realise that there was a reoccupation of the space and continuity in the use of the necropolis until the seventh century, now showing some clear Christian symbols. In our opinion, this site is a witness to the process of intentional destruction of a private space of pagan worship in the villa during the mid-fifth century. It relates to the introduction of Christianity and the elimination of all pagan centres. The violent destruction of the sculptures is only one part of this well-known process echoed throughout the entire Mediterranean (but especially in the east), where the destruction of the signa is followed by purifying exorcisms and the abandonment of the statues and the ‘impious’ spaces where these existed or were worshiped. It has also been seen in Cabra, in regard to the sculpture of Mithra, while in the city of Córdoba this fact has also been confirmed in the Building Complex 13. With the available data we cannot state this categorically, but we believe these acts of destruction could be related to the existence of communities of monks.63

62 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009: 175–176; Sánchez Velasco 2013: 49–50. 63 We must insist on recalling the epigraphic and archaeological evidence we have presented above, such as inscription CIL II2 / 5: 299, or the artificial caves in El Arrimadizo.


The Bishopric of Écija (Astigi)

The bishopric of Écija stretched between the river Guadalquivir and the mountains north of Málaga and Cadiz, in a territory with fertile plains, abundant mountains, lakes, and forests. Its position in the centre of the old Roman province of Baetica made it a strategic junction of roads between the Guadalquivir valley and the Mediterranean coast. Unlike the bishopric of Cabra, in the bishopric of Écija we have a better understanding of the episcopal seat than the territory that it controlled. This detailed knowledge of large areas of the city is due to an intense research programme carried out for more than twenty years by our colleagues at the University of Seville.1 Thanks to these investigations, it has been possible to study the transformation of the forum of the old Roman colony into the largest urban cemetery of late antique Hispania,2 possibly linked to a martyrdom cult and also to the episcopium of the city. In contrast, we have a very poor knowledge of vast areas of this bishopric, which we hope to complete with future research.3 In spite of this, it has been possible to study archaeologically (as we will see in detail below) one of the few cases of private churches linked to large villae. Thanks to this find in La Roda de Andalucia, we can augment the information we have for these churches, which usually derives only from inscriptions or references in historical sources.

The City of Écija In Late Antiquity, the city of Écija (Fig. 27a) remained the core of the province of Baetica. 4 The available evidence shows that urban life in Écija did not decline. Recent archaeological excavations carried out in the city centre have revealed an intense urban transformation dating back to early imperial times and the construction of public spaces linked to it. The most prominent features of this stage of development are probably higher

1 García-Dils 2015; Ordóñez et al. 2013. 2 García-Dils 2011. 3 Together with Profs. Sergio García-Dils and Salvador Ordóñez, we are studying the territory of the bishopric of Écija within a larger research project of the University of Seville called ‘HUM441: Countryside and City. Social, Economic and Ideological Structures in Andalusia and The Mediterranean World During Antiquity’. 4 García-Dils et al. 2011; Ordóñez et al. 2013: 336–353.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 27 Building Complex S2. Reconstruction of the city of Écija and evolution of the funeral area in the city forum

housing density and the consequent population pressures associated with it.5 Literary sources have left us some sparse information regarding the history of this bishopric.6 It is missing from the proceedings of the Council 5 García-Dils 2010. 6 Lambert 1930: 1179–1189; García Moreno 2007: 451–452; Martínez Melón 2008: 115–128.



of Elvira, so we cannot confirm that the city already had an episcopal status by this time. The first account of the existence of a Christian community here dates to the mid-fifth century. Indeed, this is the date for some epigraphic testimonies, and for the splendid local limestone sarcophagus with biblical scenes and Greek texts recovered in the church of Santa Cruz, which shows the vitality of Christianity in Écija and its acceptance by the urban elites of the time.7 Subsequently, fragmentary evidences allows for only a few insights into some of the city’s bishops and thus its ecclesiastical development.8 The few accounts that relate to the prelates of Écija concern the irregular emancipation of serfs of the church: for example, the case of Gaudentius discussed alongside territorial and jurisdictional disputes at the First Council of Seville in 590, as well as the case of Fulgentius discussed at the Second Council of Seville in 619, which affected the bishoprics of Écija and Malacca, on the one hand, and Écija and Córdoba, on the other. Local pious tradition links Écija to St. Florentina, the sister of Fulgentius, Leander, and Isidore, who had professed her vows in a monastery located in the bishopric, a claim that cannot be confirmed, although the most likely location for this monastery would be either Cartagena or even Seville itself. In the Third and Fourth Councils of Seville and the Fourth and Sixth Councils of Toledo, a grave issue regarding the direction of the bishopric of Écija was addressed, ‘inter Iudicium Martianum et Auentium episcopos’ – a dark internal affair which led to the indictment and deposition by trial of Martianus, who was later to be rehabilitated in 638.9 Besides other matters, this episode allows us to develop a certain degree of understanding about the organization of the Church of Écija at the time, as the episode included bishops, deacons, sub-deacons, priests, and clerics, together with a large following of lay people, including soothsayers and slaves.10 We only know of other prelates in the seventh century – Stephanus, Theudulfus, Nandarbus, and Aruidius – by the references to their mere attendance to successive councils between 646 and 693. The bishopric of Écija continued to exist at least until the tenth 7 An analysis of the inscription is in CIL II2/5: 1272; IHC 370 = ICERV 427. Some studies of the sarcophagus are in Schlunk 1962: 119–151; Vidal Álvarez 2005: 65–68, no. 33; Beltrán, García, and Rodríguez 2006: 194–197, no. 62. 8 On the bishops of Écija, see Gil 2002: 23–24. Some researchers (Stylow 1996: 19–31; González 2003: 80–87) argue that the names on the decorated bricks are the names of bishops for Écija: Flauius Chionius (fifth century, CIL II 2 / 5: 461–463,559, 206, 980, 1000, 1349, 1350), Amazonius (sixth–seventh centuries, CIL II2 / 5: 922, 1131, 1275; CIL II2 / 7: 194), (H)imerius (sixth-seventh centuries, CIL II2 / 5: 905), and Ausentius (CIL II 2/5: 469, 472). 9 Vives 1963. 10 Castillo 2007: 263–276; Castillo 2008: 390–392.


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century. Servandus was its last documented occupant, in line with and under the progressive disappearance of Mozarabic communities in the region.11 Fortunately, today we can count on enough material evidence to expand the sketchy picture presented by literary sources: the archaeological excavation at Plaza de España. One of the major developments offered by the excavation is the discovery of a Christian burial site located in one of the core areas of the imperial era forum.12 This enclosure is, to date, the most important late antique building complex documented in the city, in a comprehensive study of the late antique architecture of Andalusia, and has been named Complex Building S2.13 As a new Roman foundation of the Augustan age, Colonia Augusta Firma, it was structured on the basis of a hypodamic plot formed by an orthogonal road network of cardines and decumani. The Plaza de España (Fig. 27b–c) was where the cardo maximus and decumanus met.14 To the southeast, a vast open space could be found, in which stood a temple of the Augustan era. In time this crossroads was subjected to extensive urban renewal: delimitation of Temenos by a powerful peribolos built in opus quadratum with cyclopean stone blocks, and a gateway built on the north wall. This door was a porticus access, about ten meters wide, that created a true via tecta connecting the forum to the Decumanus Maximus, located further north. From the Flavian period onwards the porticus became one of the most emblematic areas of the city, a via tecta, which accessed the Temenos as a step to enter the southern sector of the city from the Decumanus Maximus.15 Shortly thereafter, in the late second or early third century, the porticus experienced some sort of repair due to the damages suffered since its construction, as expressed in the text of an inscription found by the door of the Temenos. The restoration allowed the construction to remain in good condition until Late Antiquity. In the late third or early fourth century, a major renovation of the entire area took place, and the passage was closed. The façade of the houses located west of the cardo maximus was used as the western boundary of the structure, while the eastern wall (9874) concealed the entire decumanus.16 The wall was constructed in such a way that original elements survived and were included in the western front and pilasters. 11 Sotomayor 2002: 484. 12 García-Dils et al. 2011. 13 Sánchez Velasco 2012. 14 García-Dils 2010. 15 García-Dils 2010. 16 Indicated in brackets are the numbers assigned to the stratigraphic units to help locate them in the enclosed planimetry.



Figure 28 Building Complex S2. Sculptures and inscriptions thrown into a sacred pond in the city forum

Its nucleus was the forum of the colony, ending to the north with a temple devoted to imperial cult. Next to the temple there was a large pond. The access to this site of imperial cult, from the north, was through the covered street (via tecta), the porticus Munatiana.17 According to the team of archaeologists who excavated it, the temple devoted to the imperial cult ceased working in the late fourth century or early fifth century. Remarkably, in the large pond they found several inscriptions with references to the ‘genius’ of the colony (that is to say, the divine personification that protected the community), some fragments of heads portraying emperors’ faces, and an intact sculpture of a Wounded Amazon (Fig. 28). Again, and for the fourth time, we have a pool filled of remains of sculptures and pagan symbols of the Theodosian era.18 The huge temple complex was not reused and became an empty space, without anything built on it.

17 Ordóñez and García-Dils 2013. 18 We have already seen this process of eliminating pagan sculptures in building complex C13 at Córdoba, the Roman villa of Mithra in Cabra, and the Roman villa of Almedinilla.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

From the fifth century onwards, the porticus was transformed into a Christian burial site. Overall, the reforms were very limited: the eastern boundary was marked by the wall (9874), which does not display any original features. The northwest door access to Temenos was obstructed by the wall (13064), which was built with reused blocks. To the west, independent walls were attached; these may have functioned to reinforce the roof of the enclosure. The northern boundary was not recorded archaeologically as it lay outside the excavated area. It stood to the south of the enclosure structure (32048) and is referred to below. The excavated area extended over 162.88 m2. The ancient walls of the porticus (32155 and 12320) were built west to east, with the purpose of establishing three interior partitions. The new structures were erected without a foundation and settled directly on the original limestone paving slabs (8962 = 32041) of the porticus. These walls were built with recycled materials, that is, using stones from the nearby public buildings. A third structure (12321) enclosed tombs lacking space. Their functionality could not be established. In the southwest the foundation of a funeral enclosure (32048) has been located. It is a rectangular structure measuring 2.25 m x 4.24 m with a preserved height of 1.46 m. cardo maximus slabs were removed for the laying of the foundations and a pit was dug 1.55 m deep. This structure was built with recycled materials. It was destroyed in the fifteenth century, when the area was levelled for the construction of the Plaza Mayor of the city (today’s Plaza de España). We believe this to be the foundation of a tower which can be dated, based on ceramic materials recovered in the foundation pit, to sometime after the mid-fifth century. As the only structure that has deep foundations, it must have had a considerable height. The corridor created by the tower and the western wall to the south is, in fact, an access to the first burial site. On the north wall of this room, a bay creates an entrance to the second room, also packed with funeral burials. Both underground and elevated cemeteries provided sarcophagi. The data available regarding the northernmost part of the excavation is scarce, but it suggests the existence of other burial grounds, similar to the above but in worse condition. The slabs that formed the original floor of the porticus (8962 = 32041) continued to fulfil this function when the building was turned into a burial ground. At the points where the graves were dug these slabs were replaced by bricks. Under the new brick floor there are up to twenty-six intact vaults, including the famulus Dei Sapatio, the only one with a funeral inscription.19 Mostly they were aligned west to east, following 19 García-Dils et al. 2005.



the layout of the internal partitioning of burial grounds. Due to limitations of space only six of them are laid out transversely north to south, taking advantage of the gaps left by other funerary structures. A wide array of materials were used for the construction of the cemeteries; mostly reused bricks and stones, and even a Roman funerary altar. Given the condition of the enclosure as a whole, there are very few remains of architectural decoration and/or liturgical function. The remains recovered, however slight, allow us to deduce (to a certain extent) the functionality of this place. One of these elements is a corner post of chancel screen that appears to have been part of the structure of a single grave. It is a type of tomb well represented in some basilicas of the western Mediterranean, like those of Sbeitla,20 San Felix in Cimitile Nola,21 or Rue Malaval or Marseille.22 Two cross decorations with laurea were also found. One of them must have crowned the roof of the tower or some other funerary enclosure. As regards to the effects present in the tombs, in general the presence of ceramic pots and jars of various types is widespread, with a predominance of morphology and piriforme glass. They are documented as lacking any metal grave goods except for a ring. Chronologically, ceramic grave goods have been tentatively dated to between the late sixth century and early eighth century. According to recent excavations, the city of Écija, unlike others, did not diminish in size during the later period. On the contrary, it has been archaeologically proven that certain areas of the city underwent a clear process of densification, with old domus being renovated and their old colonnades turned into residential areas. These continued to be in operation during the seventh century. It is in this overall context that we must place the transformation of this unique and emblematic space, attached to the forum’s porticus that opened to the south, in a dense cemetery. Not only was it located inside the walls of the late antique city, but it also occupied a central and privileged are in the same site.23 Thus, we find the first example of Christian Baetica’s reuse of a sector of a classical forum. This cemetery is also the most important intramural necropolis of Hispania. For the first time in Baetica, archaeological methodology has proved the existence of a liturgically associated funerary tower. Although these 20 Duval 1971. 21 Bertelli 2010: 197–204. 22 Moliner 2006. 23 There are very few explicit references to the reuse and adaptation of the cult porches and/ or burial site references. Some examples are the small church of St. Iustina, ‘in capite porticus’ of Ravenna, and the cathedral of Ephesus, built inside a monumental stoa, in Vaes 1989: 303.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

structures were being used in Italy from the fourth century,24 they were only adopted in Hispania from the sixth century, when they became widespread. The first literary mention of these in Iberian sources are the two towers that the bishop Fidel from Mérida constructed for the basilica of St. Eulalia.25 But in the present case, the funeral tower enclosure dates to one hundred years earlier, and can be linked to the one built in Emerita. Intramural cemeteries are scarce in late antique Hispania.26 We do find, however, isolated burials, as in Barcelona and Valencia. Judging by its entity, monumentality, and location, the necropolis of Écija surpassed those found in the vicinity of the Clunian forum.27 The similarities between Écija and Valencia should be noted.28 In both cities, the forum area and the most important streets of the city were reused to create a large burial area where there once were civil buildings and public squares. For Valencia also this transformation was related to the creation of an episcopium. The necropolis parallel forum Carteia could also be counted as an example.29 It is of considerable size and surrounded the ancient temple. This is why it is assumed that the temple was reused as a church, although the evidence in support of this view is non-existent. In any case, it is essential to make progress in the investigation of the necropolis of Écija to accurately determine it represents only a specific and limited use of a particular space or, conversely, if it was part of a more ambitious programme of Christianization of this most emblematic area in the ancient city, perhaps associated with the erection of a basilica or, as in the case of Valencia, with the construction of an episcopium. So far there is no clear evidence as to its location. In regard to this question, we observe that a number of buildings with mosaics in the finest of classical traditions have been unearthed that were attached to the outer walls of this porticus. These mosaics show scenes of the Processions of Bacchus. Emblems of Okeanos also appear.30 All the mosaics have been dated to around the fifth and sixth centuries and the buildings where they were found remained in place until the eighth century. It appears this is related to an episcopium’s 24 Piva 2010: 109–114. 25 Vitas sanctorum patrum emeritensium, 5.3.3–9; Mateos Cruz 1999: 157–158; Mateos Cruz 2003: 81; Arbeiter 2010: 21–53. 26 Bonnet and Beltrán de Heredia 2001: 84; Albiach et al. 2000: 63–86; Alapont Martín 2005: 236. 27 Barral 1982: 105–130. 28 Ribera 2008: 377–434. 29 Roldán et al. 2006: 436–437 and 462–463. 30 García-Dils et al. 2012: 771–786.


Figure 29 Sarcophagus with Greek inscriptions of Écija

Photo: Sergio García-Dils



The Christianization of Western Bae tica

urban spaces, but further excavation is needed to confirm this hypothesis. Such an interesting insight will only be confirmed by new archaeological excavations and an intensive programme studying the documented remains from a late antique perspective. At present, and objectively, this is the largest urban necropolises of Baetica, and one of the largest in Hispania. It follows a model of urban development very similar to that in Valencia, with an intense Christianization of its forum and of the major urban axes (cardo maximus and decumanus). In the north of the city, next to the cardo maximus, a funerary site subject to new investigations has been found.31 Here a magnificent sarcophagus (Fig. 29), made of local stone with an iconography typical of the early Byzantine world, has been uncovered. Scenes from the New and Old Testament, with Greek symbols, appear. Both iconography and palaeography date this sarcophagus to the mid-fifth century, and they offer evidence of a more than possible presence of Greek people in the city.

The Territory of the Bishopric of Écija A project to study and review Écija in Late Antiquity is in development, which will investigate not only the bishopric itself, but also the territory that we suppose it encompassed. We are collaborating on that project, which will involve various specialists, and so we expect to be able to offer (hopefully soon) a new vision adapted to the existing data on the historical and archaeological reality of what was one of the major bishoprics in Baetica. The picture we can outline at the moment is limited, therefore, to the findings already discussed throughout this work. We have hardly any data regarding the northern area of the bishopric. Apart from an inscription and certain late antique necropolises, we know of no significant architectural or liturgical remains.32 By far, the southern area stands out when it comes to finds, such as important sites like Estepa or La Roda, the former with a church (possibly outside the walls) and baptistery, the latter boasting a typical rural church associated with a villa and demonstrating all the characteristics of a humble chapel and a small necropolis retro sanctos, perhaps with a portion defined by an enclosure.

31 García Dils 2015: 472–474. 32 El Ochavillo and Murillo 1995.



La Palmosilla Along the banks of the Genil, 9 km from Écija, lies the important settlement of Castillo Island, identified with ancient Segouia.33 In 1997 and 1998, several campaigns of excavations were conducted on the west bank of the river Genil, in La Palmosilla.34 Three separate buildings were detected. It is difficult to reach conclusions on the dating and functionality of these buildings. At least initially, the construction technique could be ascribed to Late Antiquity. The walls were raised reusing construction elements – even complete fragments of opus caementicium – levelled with rows of brick and fragments of pottery. Taking this as our starting point, the analysis of these buildings, located in a row at the foot of a hill, invites us to think of a set of medium-sized funerary monuments built in that specific area for a reason. As discussed below, all this must be linked to the proximity of a church. However, with the current data, we cannot confirm we are dealing with a burial ad sanctos. Examples of this type of assembly of buildings have been clearly defined as mausoleums. We find them in Hispania and the Mediterranean, especially associated in Late Antiquity in the immediate vicinity of an important religious centre. Thus, for Hispania, the best documented assembly is in the sacral area of Francoli in Tarragona,35 where a series of mausoleums were intimately linked to a basilica complex and a possible monastery in a great set apparently dedicated to an important local martyr, San Fructuoso. The episcopium of Terrassa also had a large funerary building in the centre of the complex – today’s church of Sant Miquel – as well as other small mausoleums associated with different basilicas built in the surrounding area and used as a burial site by the ecclesiastical and secular elites of the area.36 Regarding Baetica, we have already seen in the section on Seville the necropolis of Carretera de Carmona, its mausoleums, and its hypothetical link to the memorial basilica of Santa Justa and Santa Rufina, but both this and the chronology must be confirmed archaeologically.37 An inscription appeared at this site that provides relevant information as to the purpose and specific functionality of the whole complex.38 So far the greatest interest concerning the text of this inscription lay in confirming 33 34 35 36 37 38

Tovar 1974; Sillières 1990. Ordóñez et al. 2013: 347–353. López 2006. García, Moro, and Tuset 2009. Barragán 2010. CIL II2 / 5: 1292; AE 1997: 829 = HEp 7: 8361.


The Christianization of Western Baetica

the municipal status of this community during the second century, to which this object has been dated based on the palaeography. However, further study has highlighted an aspect that, so far, has not been taken into account by any researcher: it is a Roman inscription reused as an altar in Late Antiquity, with its text inverted. The phenomenon of the conservation of an inscription inverted and ‘condemned’ to little importance is rare. One of the few examples of altars with inverted inscriptions are those of San Pedro de Balsemao, where the Roman inscription was also relegated to the back of a Christianized piece. Throughout western Baetica there is just one more case of an inverted Roman inscription.39 The presence of this clear liturgical element leads us to believe that the building complex to which it relates must have had a religious function that would have required the presence of such an altar. Therefore, we should interpret the complex of La Palmosilla as a church. As we have argued, we suggest that the monumental remains of the great buildings of La Palmosilla, located north of Écija, are identified with the monastery of St. Crispinus on the calendar of Córdoba. As such, it would merely be an extension built during the tenth century to serve a monastery already present in Late Antiquity, judging by the large building blocks and the second-century altar reused to house the relics of a martyr. It is conceivable that the foundation of this hypothetical monastery, as elsewhere, was the result of the active intervention of the local bishop in relation to land management and exploitation of the territory, thus extending episcopal control beyond the civitas. The location of La Palmosilla at the foot of the road that runs through Peñaflor and that connected Écija with Emerita, where it intersected the old road that connected Córdoba with Seville, indicates that the location of the monastery was not a mere coincidence. Peñaflor (Celti) This population formed be the northern boundary of the bishopric of Écija. We know virtually nothing about Peñaflor in Late Antiquity, except for a single funerary inscription speaks, in which the deceased proclaimed himself to be a servus dei – a very rare find in Hispania that might suggest an ecclesiastical presence. 40

39 CIL II2 / 5: 389 (a cylindrical pedestal found in Ipsca). 40 Carbonell et al. 2009; Handley 2003: 58–64.



Estepa (Ostippo) At the foot of the slope, where old Estepa was located, the road that heads towards the east links to Antequera. The entire purpose of the site was undoubtedly its defensive potential in a highly strategic location controlling the pathways from the interior and the Guadalquivir valley to the Mediterranean coast. The information about Building Complex S3 which we subsequently reflect upon was recently published by José María Juárez.41 We cannot ascribe the site to a particular period, since studies on Late Antiquity are restricted to the knowledge of some excavations in this area by Collantes de Terán (who later covered the trial trenchings) and to the studies of architectural and liturgical decoration that Alejandro Recio Veganzones carried out on the pieces (always decontextualized) on display at the museum of Estepa. However, and as discussed below, it is possible to draw some interesting lines of interpretation. The site is totally destroyed, and the only recognizable structures are those located under the floor, like the tombs and the baptistery. After the cleaning of the excavation, which was conducted by Collantes de Terán in the 1960s, a new work of cleaning and re-excavation of specific areas took place. The building appears to have been inserted into an orthogonal grid, but we cannot specify whether it was intramural or extramural in relation to the Roman or late antique city. There is no significant architectural evidence, and if the baptismal pool does not surface, the sacred space will remain unrecognizable. The only noticeable elements are the foundations, made in pseudo-spicatum, without lime. According to Juárez, this type of foundation is identical to that of the emiral period, above which the subsequent Islamic wall stands. The baptismal font (Fig. 30), to be analysed later, appeared contained in several tombs and some columns, of which at least six were stolen. One of them served in the foundations of the ‘church’ and another was reused in a wall. The thirteen tombs found are all quite similar, with the presence of sarcophagi (one a large hollowed ashlar). All but two of the individuals buried were women or children. In all the cases where more than one individual was buried, these were women, even foetuses. The funerary goods are limited to decanters, many without a handle, and located on the right side. Such was the concentration of graves in this space that, in many cases, the walls were carved deeper so that new graves could be opened.

41 Juárez Martín 2013.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 30 Building Complex S3. Baptistery of Estepa

Photo. José María Juárez

Regarding the architectural or liturgical decoration, several small columns and a fragment of what is believed to be a screen chancel were also found. The whole area is devastated below the level of use, a condition which also affects the baptismal pool, made with bricks and masonry and coated with opus signinum. At least in three of its corners there are the remains of what looks like a system devised to uphold a platform, so we believe the baptismal pool was larger – that is to say, a further step on the top is probably missing. It is oriented northeast–southwest, just like other structures which, according to Juárez, could correspond to the church ascribed to the baptistery. The church can be related with certainty to one of the largest groups of Iberian baptisteries, those with rechteckige form. 42 Perhaps the closest parallel (better known due to its good condition) is that found in Bobala-Serós, with the particularity that some steps are smaller than the rest (and in some of them the inclination is significant). 43 As is common in Baetica, there appears to be an unusual massing of burials relatively close to the baptismal pool, which was the favourite areas for

42 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978, fig. 27. 43 Palol 1989: 1995–2000.



the clergy to be buried because of the strong symbolism of regeneration and resurrection. 44 From this site, although with no archaeological context or clear reference concerning its original location, come several pieces of architectural and liturgical decoration. 45 These include a pilaster or a decorated jamb (this second option is more likely), 46 a decorated fascia, 47 and several small monolithic columns (only one of which is displayed in the Museum of Estepa), possibly from an altar. La Roda de Andalucía La Roda de Andalucía is situated in a strategic crossroads that links the hinterlands of Córdoba and Seville with Antequera and the Mediterranean coast. This enclave was close to the border between the bishoprics of Écija and Málaga. Between December 1984 and November 1985, Juan José Ventura Martinez and Luis Guerrero Misa conducted two seasons of archaeological excavations of urgency on a site of what was then the outskirts of the town of Roda de Andalucía in Seville (Building Complex S6), in the area called ‘Las Huertas’ (Fig. 31a–b). 48 In these excavations an early Christian necropolis with thirty-two graves and about thirty-eight buried individuals was documented (some of the tombs had been reused several times), together with some constructive remains associated with the burials that were virtually destroyed. The approach of the first campaign involved an intensive and extensive excavation in order to def ine its extent within the surrounding area. Thus, the main objective was to define the area occupied by the burials, to estimate their density, and to establish the relative importance of the site. The second campaign divided the area into two further sectors with the same dimensions (20 m x 4 m), with the main objective of detecting the construction to which the graves were associated and determining the precise relationship between them. Once the almost total destruction of the building was documented, the work focused on the depletion of the stratigraphy of the site, although given the damage caused by the machines this was dramatically reduced. In geological terms, the sequence of the land 44 45 46 47 48

Duval 1993: 16. Sánchez Velasco 2012, nn. 263–266. Recio 1994: 76–77. Recio 1978: 34–43; Recio 1994: 61–64; Vidal 2005: 68–70, no. 35. Guerrero and Ventura 1987.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 31 Building Complex S6. Small church of a late antique villa with an adjoining necropolis (Guerrero 2013)

was quite simple: first, in the north section, there was a 50 cm thick level of dark topsoil followed by a level of calcareous clay of 35 cm, reaching to the level of the lids of the tombs. In the south section the topsoil level stood at 55 cm and, below that, a level of brown dirt, somewhat clearer, and 70 cm thick. Under it appeared the clay into which the covers of the graves T-14 and T-2 were driven. This proved to be a clear dip in the level of clay base longitudinally matching the building structure, which may have cut the natural alignment of this level to achieve a firmer base. The locals provided the information that stones, in some cases very large stones, consistently appeared when tractors ploughed deep terraces in the old orchard in their efforts to turn it into an arable field. About 200



m away, in the so-called ‘Finca El Palet’ alongside the railway line, there was an unexcavated site belonging to a possible ‘villa’ where – so the team of archaeologists were told – fragments of sculptures and mosaics had appeared. Years previously, the nearby railway line had cut through a cistern of ‘opus signinum’, still noticeable on both sides of the railway embankment, according to Guerrero. In a brief survey of the place we found an abundance of Roman construction material (bricks, tegulae, and imbrices mostly) and fragments of common sigillata ceramics. According to the information provided to the excavators, furtive treasure hunters frequently combed the area and routinely discovered early and late imperial coins. As for the necropolis, thirty-two graves were excavated, fifteen in the first year and seventeen in the second. Some of these tombs had been reused. Therefore, the remains of a total of about thirty-eight individuals were recovered. A detailed description of all of them appears in Guerrero’s publications. 49 By way of summary, they found three ossuaries, sixteen individual burials, five reuses with double and triple burials, two burials of children, and two tombs without burials inside (one of them, T-22, only had the remains of charcoals and a pair of bovid ribs). Typologically, these were divided into three different types, but this falls outside the scope of our study. In the ‘early Christian rural church’, during the excavation process, a wall structure was discovered. It had been built with small squared and regular stones, bricks, and fragments of tegulae, all of them reused. This building had been badly damaged by both agricultural labour and the pipe trenches opened up for the new development. On its western side a well-defined corner appeared, but the wall was cut. On the eastern side a second corner was detected, in this case a double one, forming an ‘L’, which seemed to outline a chancel or a square apse. Similarly, on its northern side the existence of a second stretch of walls was documented, parallel to the first one, although in a much worse state of preservation. Both walls were oriented in the same direction as were the graves. Both the area in which the entrance must have been (west) as well as almost everything concerning the area of the apse (north) were so affected by agricultural activity that none of the corner ends could be found. In some sections, the footprint of the foundation could be made out, although there was virtually nothing left of it. The height of the remains of the wall preserved was variable, given the continued wrecking it had suffered. Nevertheless, there were sections, such as the beginning of the ‘L-shaped’ corner of the chancel, that even 49 Guerrero and Ventura 1987; Guerrero 2008.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

reached up to 65 cm, with up to three rows of masonry, whereas in other areas there was only the base row of the foundation. Among the conclusions of the 1985 study, it was stated that the function of this construction was not clear-cut, although some hypotheses could certainly be discarded, such as the notion that it formed part of the remains of a nearby ‘villa’ (mainly due to its poor construction technique, all the elements were reused). Also the T-2 and T-8 stood directly on one of the walls and the bonding was virtually the same as that of this wall. So the connection between the tombs and the construction appears to be more or less clear, since the proper disposition of the tombs indicated as much. Similarly, all of them, despite being subsequent to the construction, were located below the theoretical ground level, as the pits of the tombs had been dug into the level of the light brown soil, on which the construction was grounded, to the level of the base clays of the ground. It was ruled out that it was a basilica, since it appeared that the building only had one nave. The last remaining interpretation was recently put forward by Guerrero Misa, who claimed that it formed a rectangular plan rural church, with a single nave and a narrower, also rectangular, apse. Its approximate dimensions are 11 m long (9 m for the naves and 2 m for the chancel or the apse) and about 6.5 m wide (4 m in the apse). Much of what was not preserved of the structure could be deduced from the disposition of the tombs themselves, from the space left by them, and from some traces of the foundation pit of the walls above the base clay. (The area that had suffered a most severe devastation on the north side.) From its front or entrance, which was supposed to be on the western side, absolutely nothing remained, possibly because in this area the dip of the base clay and the covering vegetation was not too dense, and so the agricultural activities must have destroyed it completely. Finally, during the excavation some other construction debris appeared, apart from that belonging to this church, behind the apse, where the largest number of preserved burials was concentrated. Here the existence of a small square building was detected. It was about 4 m x 4.4 m, with low walls only 35–40 cm thick, showing an even poorer building quality than the one observed in walls of the church. It seems that the rubble was joined with mud and it simply crumbled when it was excavated. This almost square enclosure was filled with reddish soil, full of materials from the first century and a layer containing abundant coal ash below which the T-32 appeared. The other structures were unconnected walls, one of them oblique with respect to all those found hitherto, which might even have belonged to units



of the villa ‘El Palet’ (hence the abundance of archaeological materials of the first century, especially red slip ware from France). According to the author of the study, this was a small rural church associated with a villa. Chronologically, the necropolis and the church may have been operating between the fifth and late sixth centuries. For this conclusion, the author relied on the absence of any significant funerary goods (of earlier or later date) and on the type of burials, which resembled those of other similar necropolises but which lacked any graves with pitched roofs (made of tegulae), like the most ancient of the necropolis of Gerena and Pedrera. Another outstanding feature is the extreme poverty of this community, since the individuals buried there have absolutely no ornamental elements, contrary to what happened in Gerena (see above), for example. For the excavators, the fact that there were burials within the structure itself offered chronological evidence that the site belonged to a period before the last quarter of the sixth century. Their argument was the same as in the publication concerning the basilica of Gerena: in the First Council of Braga, held in the year 561, burials inside the basilicas were forbidden. Osuna (Urso) The city has a large collection of archaeological remains of Christian iconography.50 However, we do not know the place where these remains were found. We only have a reused Roman inscription with which to work, although it is one of the best known and most outstanding testimonies of altoimperial antiquity in Osuna: a pedestal dedicated by Colonia Genetiua Iulia to its patronus, the senator Lucius Sergius Plautus.51 This inscription was found in the early nineteenth century in a place called ‘La Piedra del Cristiano’. This place is several kilometres south of the city, controlling the route to the coast of Málaga. From the analysis of the formal aspects of the inscription, we can conclude that the current state of the piece is the result of its reuse as a Christian altar through the addition of a loculus for the deposition of relics, thus forming (together with a board not preserved) an altar table of considerable size, which would probably have been located in a religious building complex associated with a necropolis dating back to Late Antiquity.

50 Ordóñez and Ruiz 2015. 51 CIL II2 / 5: 1113; similar to CIL II2 / 5: 389 (a cylindrical pedestal found in Ipsca).


The Bishopric of Seville (Hispalis)

Undoubtedly, Seville was one of the most important cities of Baetica and Hispania since Phoenician times. Of course, its importance remained throughout Late Antiquity. In fact, at least during Visigothic era it was the most important religious seat of Baetica, and ecclesiastical capital of the province. In spite of multiple archaeological excavations, our knowledge of the organization of the city is scarce. However, the next chapter organizes existing information and gives a coherent picture of the city between the fourth and eighth centuries. We will use the ancient Via Augusta of Roman times as guide to explain the city, viewing the cemetery zone to the north of the city, entering the episcopium, in a central neighbourhood of the city, and finally leaving the city by the Via Augusta towards Cadiz, where a monastery controlled this exit and all the zone of the port that was around him. Neither will we forget the territory of the bishopric, where archaeological data allow us to speak of four well-defined geographical areas, although most of the archaeological sites treated have little detailed information. The importance of the area of El Aljarafe (near the city of Seville) during Late Antiquity should be emphasized, where a large part of the Christian inscriptions of the present province of Seville have been found.

The City of Seville We have had the opportunity to see how much progress has been made in the study of late antique Seville (Fig. 32) regarding its extension, its limits, the morphological evolution of the rivers that surrounded it, and its domestic buildings,1 but we must say that the Christian topography still poses problems as do the major civil and religious buildings that must have existed. Despite the high number of archaeological excavations carried out in recent years in the city of Seville, our knowledge of the Roman city is minimal.2 In fact, we are not certain of either of its boundaries nor of its urban organization, let alone where its main buildings stood.

1 Ordoñez et al. 2013. 2 In some publications the degree of difficulty for talking about Seville is well appreciated. One example is Kulikowski 2004, where, despite the fact that it is frequently cited, the city of Seville has a specific section.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 32 Early Christian topography of Seville. Building complexes, inscriptions, and architectural decoration

Current geomorphological studies show that the Guadalquivir experienced, since the late third century, a major revival of river dynamics the causes and effects of which are complex.3 The main consequence of these dynamics, for the integrity of the Roman city, was a considerable increase in the frequency of flooding of the two rivers surrounding the city: the Guadalquivir and the Tagarete. For all we know, the city settled on a slightly elevated plateau between these two rivers. Recent studies have tried to unify all the archaeological documentation, but have failed to achieve any solid results.4 We know that the city came from the north, along the Via Augusta, and that there were significant necropolises around it (Carretera Carmona, La Trinidad). In the northern area the remains of small stretches of wall have appeared next to a residential area (Plaza de la Encarnación). The outline of 3 4

Borja and Barral 2005; Barral Muñoz 2009. Ordóñez and González 2009; Ordóñez and González 2011; González Acuña 2011.



the port is even clearer.5 It occupied the whole western part of the city and served as the city’s main source of wealth.6 Public spaces apparently faced eastward, as opposed to the port, and along the track of the Via Augusta through the inner city. The southern exit of this road seems to coincide with the location of today’s Alcazar. This area outside the walls would have been filled with important necropolises lining the road that led to Cadiz. In general, all the areas outside the walls 4 m above mean sea level were occupied in the first and second centuries and abandoned by the third century. The causes of this contraction of the inhabited area of the city have already been pointed out and dealt with when considering the fluvial dynamics, but the area certainly lost economic importance, and so did the port of Seville, after the state oil procurement system crumbled. Also, the Betis contributed decisively to the depopulation of the city. The river greatly influenced the living space available, for it shrank to the point where it almost coincided with the boundaries of the pre-Roman enclave. However, the northern part emerged during the Julio-Claudian era and reached up to the northern boundary of the Plaza de la Encarnacion. This area remained in use as a residential area well into the sixth century. Chronicles from the Islamic conquest tell of the existence of two buildings that constitute the main references to the city. It is assumed that one of them was the episcopal palace; the other could be a strongpoint or civil power centre. In any case, the see (as is usual at this time) presumably consisted of more than one building, but we have little information about Seville’s episcopal group on the ancient texts. For example, from its proceedings it seems that the Second Council of Seville (619) took place ‘in the secretarium of the Holy Church of Jerusalem,’ i.e. in the episcopal see. (The name of Holy Church of Jerusalem was quite common in episcopal sees.) Meanwhile, the Anthologia Hispanica mentions the existence in the city of a main church pulpit, choir, baptistery, sacristy, and library.7 A second church, dedicated to St. Vincent, is mentioned by Hydatius and Isidore in connection with the same event. The event in question is the death in the church of the Suevi king Gunderic during the sack of the city in 426.8 The king’s death, interpreted as an act of divine punishment for his sacrilege, is discussed in the context of the long struggle between the Visigoths and the Suevi for the control of the city. Sometimes it has been thought that the 5 6 7 8

Ordóñez and González 2011; Cabrera Tejedor 2013. Kulikowski 2004: 55. Sánchez Ramos 2009: 258. Isidore of Seville, Hist. Wand., 18.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

two churches mentioned in the sources were, in fact, the episcopal complex that, over time, changed its name and/or invocation: the episcopal centre of fifth century, assaulted by the Suevi, is called the Holy Jerusalem; the episcopal centre of the seventh century, where the council of Seville took place in was called San Vicente. But this is merely a hypothesis, since we know nothing for certain regarding this relevant place that appears in the texts. We will return to this matter below. As regards to the rest of the city, only a small sample of the topography of Late Antiquity has reached us. It is limited to three areas: the north, La Trinidad, on today’s Carretera de Carmona; the city centre, on Mármoles Street; the south, in the area between the Alcazar, Patio de Banderas and Avenida de Roma. Let us concentrate on the recently excavated necropolis of La Trinidad (Building Complex S7). After the excavation of a large area (Fig. 33), an extensive book discussing the results was published.9 The area that mostly interests us, for the purposes of this study, is area number 6 on Carretera de Carmona, where many funerary monuments, showing an uneven level of conservation, have been found. After studying each of the mausoleums, a ‘typology’,10 or rather a systematization, has been proposed, since the absolute chronology of many of the buildings is not known and can only be inferred (as we shall see) from architectural parallels, mainly from the north of the Iberian Peninsula, and certain areas of the Mediterranean. Concerning the building systems, the author did not establish a typology. The remains found certainly do not allow for much accuracy, and in most cases it is not even clear what should be regarded as a wall and what as a foundation. Regardless of these considerations, the detailed descriptive records (Chapter 5) ascertained from the information obtained by the excavators support the conclusion that the walls found are of high quality and a solid construction: caementicium walls covered with brick, thick brick walls and mortars rich in lime, and foundations (and possibly elevations) of what the author calls opus mixtum (what kind of mixtum it would be and its characteristics is not clearly defined). The material wealth of the necropolis is also evident in the broad range of signinum pyramid base covers, many of which contain marble fragments inserted to place tituli picti.11 The inscriptions provide a more accurate picture of the remains, with a significant presence of late antique and Visigothic epigraphs, although 9 Barragán Valencia 2010. 10 Barragán Valencia 2010, fig. 45.1. 11 Ordóñez Agulla 2005: 246.



Figure 33 Building Complex S7. Set of mausoleums of different types and historical phases

there are also early imperial pagan epitaphs,12 which confirm the existence of the important pre-pagan necropolis previously described.13 We already mentioned above (see Building Complex S7) the huge problems this site poses concerning its precise dating. The use of this space as a necropolis can only be dated to Late Antiquity through circumstantial evidence.14 Bearing this in mind, the large number of important finds in this excavation suggest the presence of a basilica or an important religious complex in the immediate vicinity, analogous to what we know happened in other cities in Hispania.15 Only future excavations in the area can confirm this hypothesis. Given the current data, we can say that we are dealing with a necropolis at the northern entrance of the city, near the Via Augusta, and in the place where some sources and tradition located the existence of the martyrium of the saints Justa and Rufina.16 Even an engraving from modern times is preserved.17 In our opinion, the necropolis must have been enormous, and we have already outlined and proved that the large necropolises of Baetica were located near churches. The large mausoleums were located close to these churches, whereas grave burials and other more modest entombments were located further away. In this sense, we think 12 13 14 15 16 17

Ordoñez Agulla 2005. Rodríguez Gutiérrez 2007. Rodríguez Gutiérrez 2007. Ordóñez 2005a: 255–259, inscription 7, ‘Cyprianus lec / tor Ec(c)lesi(a)e His / palensi(s).’ García Vargas 2012; Ordóñez 2005a: 245–246, especially n. 3. Barragán Valencia 2010.


The Christianization of Western Baetica

the necropolis found in the vicinity of the Tamarguillo river is but the continuation of that great northern necropolis, probably associated with the Via Augusta (or some funeral route of it). The materials found there (CILA II, 142 and 152) indicate an obvious reuse of tombstones utilized to make chancel screens and other elements of architectural decoration, so we should not rule out the presence of some other church in this place, although it is possible that they were reusing the tombstones in situ to be transported later to their final destination, thus turning this area of the necropolis into a genuine workshop of stonemasonry. Both hypotheses must remain open until new excavations are conducted. The next topic of interest concerns Mármoles Street (Building Complex S8), the remains of which have been dated to Late Antiquity (Fig. 34). Its importance for this period has recently been emphasized.18 Known from medieval times through various documents, the appearance of such remains in the archaeological historiography is undoubtedly due to Collantes de Terán, who described them as ‘the remains of the porticus of a monumental building’.19 However, for A. Blanco the monolithic shafts correspond to the front of a Roman temple dating to the period of Hadrian or Antoninus Pius.20 A stratigraphic sequence was obtained following some excavations carried out at 9 Mármoles Street, which proved there was a stratigraphic arrangement on the slabs interpreted as ‘an abandonment in late antique period’ indicating a temple with porticoes.21 C. Márquez analysed the remains of Mármoles Street together with those from the Alameda de Hércules in Seville, which have traditionally been regarded as having the same origin, and from a purely stylistic analysis of the pieces he corroborated their Trajan-Hadrian chronology.22 He proposed that these serve as evidence for a functional building (probably a porticus) reconstructed during the second half of the second century with material obtained from plundering. González Acuña, who has made the latest study we know, suggested we are instead dealing with part of a basilica, and more specifically with its western façade, of great monumentality, with three columns on each side of its main entrance.23 The basilica was supposedly east oriented, with a huge extension and that included within its enclosure several finds from the necropolis, which is quite far from the site. He did not make clear whether 18 19 20 21 22 23

Ordóñez et al. 2013. Collantes de Terán 1977: 82, ‘los restos de los pórticos de un monumental edificio’. Blanco 1984: 135. Escudero and Vera 1990. Márquez 2003. González Acuña 2011: 226.



Figure 34 Building Complex S8. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from González 2011)

this would have been a great and unique building (the cathedral) with two names. In his opinion, both Hydatius and Isidore referred to the same church when they spoke of St. Vincent or the church of Holy Jerusalem, however in this immediate context he also spoke of an ‘episcopal complex’ without further specifications. He explained the large size of the church by referencing the fact that the city is considered to be ‘cabeza del territorio bético’, thus allowing, he speculated (given the Arab sources), the possibility of the erection in the city centre of two large building complexes.24 Undoubtedly, the latest theory, put forward by González, is the more likely (despite the weakness of some of his arguments), since he made sense out of the existing documentation and clarified a number of basic lines of thought on the remains: a) they are reused elements, and b) their 24 González Acuña 2011.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

chronology dates to Late Antiquity, given both the stratigraphy and the building technique (a continuous foundation wall on which they stand). However, his interpretation about the role these columns fulfilled raises insurmountable problems – not only, although particularly, at an architectural level, but also at an urban one. This author reconstructed a sequence with six columns in two groups of three. The columns would have thus stood on a continuous wall foundation, related to possible stairs as an access, which would have been the entrance (in the style of a porticus) to a large late antique basilica. He also proposed an extension of the building in a northeast direction, something that lacks any evidence. The context of the building complex would be a large (perhaps too large) surrounding area, where no clear articulation or linkage in relation to other remains that have appeared can be appreciated. Similarly, he did not make it clear what the relationship between the supposed building and the previous urban planning (for example the hypothetical cardo maximus) was, or how the other buildings were organized. As happens in all episcopal complexes, these buildings form a unitary (though not compact) cluster of basilicas, centres of representation, mausoleums, and service areas. We believe that, given the current data and known models of reuse of architectural elements during this period, it is more appropriate to speak of a colonnade that delimited a specific space, such as a propileus. The reused shafts thus would have highlighted the limits of the space. In the different confirmed cases, these spaces (as well as the colonnades that demarcated them) were situated above their surrounding areas, and the difference in level is usually compensated with stairways, the length of which depended on the needs of construction. The problem lies in knowing, as we shall see later, the direction by the development of this construction. Perhaps the best preserved example is the propileus of fluted Corinthian columns of great size, which monumentalize the main entrance to the Milanese church of San Lorenzo outside the walls, dating from the fourth century. These reused columns, located at the western end of the complex, which overlooked one of the main roads out of the city, are all that remains of a great high colonnaded access that anticipated the entrance to the church itself (Fig. 35).25 As shown, the columns were connected at their top by a simple architrave also built out of reused elements. A similar structure must have preceded the main entrance (now east because it is a Constantinian basilica) to the basilica of the Anastasis of Jerusalem,26 25 Piva 2010: 109. 26 De Blaauw 2010b: 30.


Figure 35 Building Complex S8. The columns of the possible atrium of the episcopium of the city



The Christianization of Western Bae tica

where a staircase, just behind a colonnade, gave access to a broad irregular atrium, prior to entering the building complex. In Hispania, this type of colonnaded streets (or accesses), are well documented in the episcopal group of Valencia, in the upper area of Tarragona, and probably in Córdoba (as we have analysed above). In Valencia, the episcopal group discovered in the Plaza de la Almoina has two of those structures, which delimit it to the north and west. We would, in theory, be dealing with some porticoes related to the old forum, which would have been rebuilt in Late Antiquity (sixth century?), since they represent part of the limits of the episcopal building complex.27 In the case of the western colonnade, it defined an open space next to the area where the largest number of burials appear. This area seems to have been the least densely constructed. The hypothetical reconstructions offer a good idea of both the structures and the different levels of this complex. In Tarragona, in the Plaza del Rovellat, we can find a structure of this type with a only one arch, which was fitted into a building and partly visible.28 In fact, we are dealing with two parallel columns, one to the north (the one we are currently studying) and one to the south, spaced about 40 m from each other. The column was described in detail – since it was found almost intact – by the scholar Hernández Sanahuja in the nineteenth century, before it was brought down to build new homes. What remains today is only part of the northern colonnade: two columns on the Granada Street, a column with an arch on Plaza del Rovellat, another probable one on which the visible arch on this square must have stood, another one in the interior of the houses separating Granada Street and the Plaza del Rovellat, and finally another found in the interior of a house on Talavera Street preserved – and reconstructed – in Vilamitjana Street. The strata associated with the construction of this complex date to the fifth century.29 We do not know the exact functionality of this structure (which for obvious reasons could not belong to a building), but it does seem to divide the upper area of the city, directly behind the eastern wall of the upper terrace of the provincial forum, connecting it – somehow – to the nearest wall. Having seen some examples from around the Mediterranean, we think the remains preserved in Mármoles Street have more to do with the kind of structures that we have been discussing than with proper buildings, which would have involved an architectural development difficult to find outside 27 Ribera 2008. 28 Domingo Magaña 2010. 29 Aquilué 1999: 81.



the imperial architecture developed in Rome during Constantine’s era. We also believe that the proximity of the cardo maximus makes the hypothesis that this structure opened to it quite feasible. The structure thus appeared near a main communication route, as in the cases of Milan and Valencia.30 In this case, the building complex to which it was associated must have developed – we imagine – westward, seeking a certain degree of centrality (again as in Valencia) and avoiding being constrained to the route of the wall. It is very difficult with the available data to venture a hypothesis about what kind of building complex we are facing. Although its urban position leads us to think of a direct relationship with the episcopium of Seville, as we have seen, the presence of these structures does not imply automatically their relation to an episcopium. What does seem clear is that we are, with a high degree of probability, dealing with a building typology that is beginning to be recognized and, when it occurs, it is associated – in almost all instances – to large building complexes formed by an atrium, one (elevated) square, and several monumental buildings, basilicas, or martyrial complexes. Topographically speaking, only time and new findings will confirm the importance of this complex and its possible relationship with the late antique remains found around the streets Abades, Argote de Molina, and Segovias,31 defining a central building complex that would have occupied part of the old forum. The same would be true of its probable link to other centres of late antique Seville, this time in the suburbium, in a sort of ‘monumental journey’ or axis around which the life of the new city converged: the necropolis on Carretera de Carmona (S7) in the north, the Patio de Banderas (S9), and the necropolis of San Telmo (S10) in the south. In order to resolve this issue, a new excavation on this site is required. Graphic documentation of the remains is also necessary in order to elucidate whether we have an isolated structure or a complex of structures, if and to what extent the shafts were reused (for example, where the traces of inserts can be found, where beams and metal bars are evident, etc.), whether they were designed to support some type of element that was not a capital, and precisely what space they delimited. And although we have provided sufficient data for the identification of the remains within the architecture of the period, it is another quite different matter to discern their precise function. Surely we should rule out the possibility that these columns corresponded to a façade or to the interior of a church.32 But it is equally premature to 30 Ribera 2008: 394–405. 31 García Vargas 2012; González Acuña 2011: 153–197. 32 As advocated in González Acuña 2011.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

imagine that they were part of some structures associated to the episcopium of Seville. We must investigate and excavate in the area, although we still maintain our assumption that a large colonnade gave way to a square or atrium linked to the episcopium of Seville. This site witnesses attempts to maintain the aesthetics of the classical city, as happens elsewhere in the East.33 The relation of these unique (and recognizable) structures to some episcopia in Hispania has already been highlighted in the case of Valencia,34 and defended by us for the less evident cases of Córdoba (in Cercadilla, see above), and even Tarragona. Recent studies are enabling us to better understand the functional and symbolic relevance that urban and suburban areas with columns acquired at the end of Late Antiquity.35 Some recent data that has appeared during the excavations of the Patio de Banderas (Building Complex S9) is very promising (Fig. 36). It has traditionally been taken for the location of the Seville episcopium. The current main proponents of this hypothesis support this interpretation by appealing to the presence of several pieces of evidence: a hydraulic structure considered to be a baptistery, a very controversial inscription ascribed to Honoratus, the rather large number of tombs found in the Archive of the Indies, and the lack of archaeological data to locate the forum episcopium city.36 This topographical reconstruction of the city, however, is insurmountably flawed. In our current state of knowledge of the baptismal rite and baptisteries, particularly Iberian baptisteries, it is totally inappropriate to define the hydraulic structure found in the Patio de Banderas as a baptistery: it was contained in a small room; a wall was attached to it at a much later time (we know nothing of the aforementioned wall); and it formed a rectangular room with no continuity to the east or west. In fact it could have been used as a tank or pool to store oil, rather than for ritual liturgical purposes, which would have been practically impossible.37 Furthermore, there are no parallels. Considering its location and its archaeological context (almost on the late antique banks of the Guadalquivir), it is more logical to think that it must have been a basin for craft activities. This structure does not compare with authentic octagonal baptismal pools (e.g. in Terrassa). The mere existence of tombs does not automatically mean the presence of a 33 Jacobs 2011. 34 Ribera 2008. 35 Jacobs 2014; Jacobs 2015. We want to thank Prof. Jacobs for his kindness in sending these works (especially pre-publication). 36 Gurt and Sánchez 2008; Sánchez Ramos 2009; Barragán Valencia 2010; Gurt and Sánchez 2011; Sánchez Ramos 2011. 37 Muñiz 2007.



Figure 36 Building Complex S9. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Ordóñez et al. 2013)

church, less still when there is a lack of context. Córdoba is a close case, where there are Visigothic tombs within the abandoned Roman theatre, which became a landfill. As demonstrated archaeologically, the inscription attributed to bishop Honoratus is a fake.38 Most probably the text comes from the Modern Age, even though the support itself is Visigothic in origin. Lastly, the whole area was part of the city’s port during ancient times and was subjected to flooding. A clear role for these constructions cannot be discerned, at least for now, but a number of finds in their surroundings and during the same excavation point to possible monastery (Fig. 37) of suburban location (like many other monasteries).39 This is supported by the fact that a) it is linked to the south stretch of the Via Augusta, b) the building is related to artisanal production,40 38 Sánchez Velasco 2012. 39 García Moreno 1993; Moreno Martín 2011. 40 Every monastery had to be self-sufficient. Isidore of Seville, De Ecclesiasticis Officis, 16, required manual labour to be practised in the community as a means of sustaining it.


The Christianization of Western Baetica

Figure 37 Building Complex S9. Column base in the central courtyard, fifth century

c) its walls were built with simple, reused materials, but the construction was powerful and monumental, d) there is a ramp with floor slabs of clay, related to some type of craft or commercial activity, e) the historic river channel is very close (only a few metres away), f) there is a possible loculus for relics in what seems to be an altar, which indicates there must have been a church there, and g) there appears a pinkish marble base with four regular openings that correspond in their type to a possible secondary mensa, typically also found in churches.41 To all of this, we would have to add the existence of a number of tombs found in the Archive of the Indies. To get an idea about the kind of monasteries we are dealing with, we must approach sites like the excavated extramural area around the Francolí River in Tarragona, in which a martyr complex and a monastery were located in the suburbs of the city. There were three basilicas, twenty mausoleums, several domus, a giant tank, and numerous production facilities related to the nearby port of Tarragona. 42 Likewise, the recent discovery in the Palacio de San Telmo (Building Complex S10) of a late antique mausoleum, certifies the use of the south stretch of Via Augusta as a necropolis. This mausoleum is rectangular, with two arcosolia, each prepared to receive one sarcophagus. 43 Only one of the two possible sarcophagi, however, has been preserved. Researchers believe it can be dated back to the sixth or seventh centuries. Furthermore, excavations of the Avinguda de Roma produced 41 Chalkia 1991. 42 López Vilar 2010: 351–379. 43 Rodríguez Gutiérrez 2007: 151, n. 213.



what we believe to be the fragment of an unpublished sarcophagus,44 similar to those documented in Tarragona dating to the fourth and fifth centuries. Although the texts only talk of the honoraniense monastery near Seville, it is very probable that this city must have boasted numerous urban and suburban monastic centres, given its condition as the metropolitan see of Baetica. This leads us to reconsider the area of today’s Seville cathedral as an extramural area linked to the port and to the river, without any clear data to link it to the Christian topography of the late antique city. With the current data available, its definition as the episcopium of the city certainly cannot be upheld. 45 In this respect, research on the Patio de Banderas is significant. 46 We have carried out our investigations in this area, together with the excavation, and we hypothesize that we are facing a possible suburban monastery (see Building Complex S9) that would lie close to Seville’s harbour.47 Suburban monasteries are still unknown archaeologically, 48 so its definition depends (for now) on the combination of a number of elements that occur simultaneously, such as construction type, location, function of the buildings, materials, etc. Therefore, and to sum up, what can we say of late antique Seville? Broadly speaking, and at an urban level we are interested in all aspects that involve the Christianized topography of the city: an axis north-south, linked to the Via Augusta and the possible cardo maximus of the city. It is a similar scheme to that of Valencia, 49 Córdoba, and Écija,50 where this road was consolidated as what we might call an ‘itinerary of representation’, i.e. a great northern necropolis associated with a possible martyrium, an intra-urban central area not clearly defined in regard to its function (but with strong, monumental architecture similar to the rest of the Mediterranean), and a southern necropolis still to be precisely defined. Parallel to this ‘Christianized’ axis in the western area of the river terrace, we find the area related to the river and linked (to our knowledge) to important commercial activity, with a well-documented north residential and artisanal area and another, not too well defined, to the south.51 All other data (such as locations of 44 Sánchez Velasco 2012. 45 Those who support this location for the episcopium include Sánchez Ramos 2009; Gurt and Sánchez 2010: 328–330; Gurt and Sánchez 2011: 280. 46 Sánchez Velasco 2012; Ordóñez et al. 2013. 47 Ordóñez and González 2011. 48 Moreno Martín 2011: 149–291. 49 Ribera 2008. 50 Ordoñez et al. 2013. 51 Plaza de la Encarnación, Ordóñez et al. 2013: 327–330.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

pieces or inscriptions) are so highly dispersed and scarce, so that we dare not propose any conclusions. However, a brief review of these archaeological items leads us to believe that, as happens elsewhere, the Christianized elites occupied the main areas in the city associated with the expression of power.

The Territory of the Bishopric of Seville Addressing the situation of the bishopric of Seville is a complex issue. In Chapter 4, we dealt with all the problems related to the limited historical data, and we extracted some limited information. As we have already stated, we find the bishopric clearly divided into three areas of influence: the western area, which covered a triangular sector with the vertices of Aljarafe, Tejada, and Almonaster; the central area, a well-defined axis between Seville, Orippo, and Salpensa; and the eastern area, more poorly delimited but containing important cities such as Carmona, Alcalá de Guadaira, Basilipo, and Lucurgentum. However, regardless of the limits proposed here, the truth is that the lack of research in the area and the absence of local museums make both the conservation and the study of the sites difficult. We have no doubt that the lack of data results from the lack of research, and not the absence of archaeology itself. The West and the Via XXIII in the Itinerary of Antoninus We know the western area only partially. We have sufficient data about the south, but very little regarding the north. The best known area is located around the current Aljarafe, which – as opposed to the few facts we know of its Roman period – accumulates a significant amount of evidence which may imply a progression in its regional importance with respect to earlier stages. Thus, we find the Via XXIII of the Antonini Itinerarium marked with numerous findings on both sides.52 We outline those that hold particular relevance to the present book. On leaving Gines towards Villanueva del Ariscal near Espartinas, there must have been a basilica, given the altar found in this location,53 but there is hardly any information known about the archaeological context. Fita argued that it should be interpreted as hauling material, either because it was found ‘placed in the portal of the “quinta”, or farm, belonging to D. 52 Ruiz Acevedo 1998: 56–60. 53 IHC 75 = Hep 18: 306 = AE 2009: 558, ‘Sum / posita / salv[o] / Domi/tio ep(i)s(copo) / amen.’



Francisco del Corro’, or because he read Petro episcopo and concluded that, since no Petrus held the bishopric of Seville, it must have belonged to Italica, which would make the Guadalquivir the border between the bishoprics.54 Modern criticism reads and reinterprets it as Salustio episcopo, a reference to the vicar of Pope Hormisdas for Baetica and Lusitania, who exercised his mandate between 517 and 519.55 Not only would this give us one more datable example of the reuse of ancient Roman altars as Christian altars, but it would also mean that a church was consecrated in a very strategic location between the two large cities of Aljarafe: Laelia (Cerro de la Cabeza, Olivares) and Osset (San Juan de Aznalfarache?) and near the Via XXIII. This illustrates the importance assigned to the area (in general) and, of course, to this particular place. And again, and as we will see later, a church appears associated to important connecting roads. As regards to Osset, we know the important role it played in the war between Leovigild and Hermenegild, during a siege against Seville that reflected the one conducted against Córdoba: the subjection of all peripheral minor populations, the control of connecting roads and supply lines, and the slow preparation for the final assault. In our opinion, the relationship between the big cities of Baetica and their dependent populations (cities, villae) would deserve a very detailed study. Facts like these reveal the existence of centres of regional power that brought together and articulated large, well organized territories. This organization allowed the cities to keep pulse with the Visigothic armies, and even with each other. The disputes between regional power centres (Seville v. Italica?, Epagrum v. Cabra?) are apparent in the sources, in epigraphy and even in archaeological remains. Their resolution implies changes in the power structures established in earlier times. However, the archaeological data necessary to compare the information found in the sources are scarce, and sometimes excessively partial and biased. In Salteras,56 Almensilla,57 and Aznalcázar,58 high quality late antique inscriptions have been found. They can be dated to the beginning of the 54 Fita 1909: 42–45, ‘colocada en el portal de la quinta, ó granja, perteneciente á D. Francisco del Corro.’ 55 Orlandis 1987. 56 IHC 72, ‘Susanna famula / dei vixit annis pl(us) / m(inus) XLI recessit in pace / d(ie) XIIII Kal(endas) Maias / aera DLVIIII.’ 57 AE 2003: 915, ‘Ianuaris fa/mulus d(e)i vixit ann(os) / pl(us) min(us) XLI reces(sit) in / pac(e) sub d(ie) XI Kal(endas) Sep/te(m)b(res) (a)era DXL.’ 58 CILA II: 1029 = Hep 2: 622, ‘Eusebia cl(arissima) f(e)m(ina) vixit / annos XXXII menses / novem recessit in pace / d(ie) XIII K(a)l(en)d(as) Iunias / (a)era DLVIIII.’


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sixth century. A large collection of decorated ceramic plates has also been found.59 A special, indeed outstanding case is presented by Olivares. Although it has no data that can be incorporated into our work, it does have certain finds that are important for the understanding the area in general during Late Antiquity, and which, we believe, allow for a certain amount of optimism, assuring a bright future for studies of this period in ancient Laelia and its surroundings. In the collection of the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla there is an important series of decorated ceramic plates from Olivares, to which we should add some recent studies by Rafael Rodríguez Moreno (which, to our knowledge, have not been published in print, although they have been uploaded on the official website of the City Council of Olivares, Delegation of Tourism).60 In his studies, more fragments of decorated ceramic plates, which should be added to the large collection of the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla,61 have been documented. However, the most interesting items are undoubtedly a series of decontextualized pieces, located in the country house La Bartola and its surroundings. These have been interpreted as smooth stone sarcophagi, when in fact they represent a well-known typology of North African functional elements called ‘monuments à auges’ and have traditionally been interpreted as horse troughs, containers to collect the annona, or food distributions of the faithful in churches.62 These are well documented, particularly in the region of Cyrenaica, and they are also known in the late antique and Byzantine phases of Zana, Dougga, and Tebessa, and are confirmed in various places, such as private houses (the so-called ‘casa de Paulos’ in Ptolemais, or Hesychius’s in Cyrene), public buildings, or religious complexes (such as the pilgrimage centre of St. Crispin) in the latter city. Recently, these findings have been characterized as relatively large, parallelepiped blocks of stone, hollow in the middle and arranged along their longest side, abutting one another, in a straight line.63 59 Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla, pieces REP 13131–13154 and REP 12665–67. 60 The online document is called ‘Olivares, Albaida del Aljarafe y Sanlúcar la Mayor: Acercándonos a la historia y la formación del paisaje en las tierras del Aljarafe noroccidental y valle del Guadiamar. Primeros resultados.’ 61 Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla, pieces REP 7369–7386 and 7392. 62 Jastrzebowska 2009: 383–384. 63 Jastrzebowska 2009: 383. The importance of these structures goes beyond what might be expected. In fact, a conference held in Paris on 29–30 May 2015 focused exclusively on them: ‘Les salles à auges dans l’architecture de l’Antiquité tardive, entre Afrique et Proche-Orient: Monuments pour les distributions publiques ou écuries? It was organized by Colegio de España (Paris), Université Paris 4 Sorbonne, École doctorale 124, Mission archéologique à Haïdra.



According to recent studies by Jastrzebowska, these elements basically served to collect donations and tributes for the Church and the State.64 We therefore believe that the findings in La Bartola would have to be reinterpreted in this sense. We would thus have to try to discern, through new research, if we are dealing with a private villa or a religious complex that required this kind of feature for the collection of taxes. In the other cases also determined as parallels by Rodriguez Moreno, found in Lebrija, Morón, and Lora del Rio, the situation is the same. In any event, and in order to be certain, a study of their capacity and measure should be made. We can rule out that they were used as sarcophagi, either for adults or children. During some excavations, which remain unpublished due to their recent completion, an interesting late antique phase in Lagunillas (Sanlúcar la Mayor) has been confirmed.65 Among the most outstanding finds there is a decorative cross with laurea. Traditional research has assumed that these pieces were placed on the roofs of churches,66 although we have already seen how they may originate in various locations. Finally, on the border with the bishopric of Niebla lies the village of Tejada la Nueva, where a Roman pedestal was found in 1753.67 This pedestal, given the loculus carved into it, must have been reused later as a Christian altar in a basilica. This find is completed with that of a necropolis, and both could be related to the outskirts of the city of Martos, which would be located on the boarder with the bishopric of Niebla. However, so far we cannot be certain whether this important city came to belong to this bishopric or, conversely, to the see of Seville. Nevertheless, one thing is for certain: again, we have a basilica documented within the possible boundaries of a bishopric. On the other side of the supposed border, and on Via XXIII of the Antonini Itinerarium itself, we find its equivalent in the bishopric of Niebla, holding a similar object: the altar of Manzanilla. The Far Northwest: Mountains and Mining Within the western area, the northern part is lesser-known. In Aznalcóllar there are more than enough hints that at this particular site, or in the immediate surroundings of today’s monastery of San Miguel Tardón, a basilica 64 Jastrzebowska 2009: 388. 65 We thank professors Amores and Garcia, who have shared with us these unprecedented reports. The results of the investigation remain unpublished. 66 Caballero Zoreda 1980. 67 CIL II: 1258.


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may have existed, since part of a possible Christian altar has been confirmed.68 This site is located just opposite Gerena (Building Complex S1), on the other side of the river Guadiamar. Its location may answer questions we have raised elsewhere, i.e. the identification of those rural areas influenced by different bishoprics, although it is not very clear where this boundary fell. Concerning the mining area between Aznalcóllar and today’s Serrania de Huelva we know absolutely nothing – and, may we add, this is not an understatement. There are no late antique data to be found until we reach Corteconcepcion,69 Hinojales,70 or Almonaster, with their epigraphic finds (where the main concentration of architectural and liturgical materials for the whole area is located). Here the limits with the bishopric of Beja (Pax Iulia) become diffuse, and both Aroche and Encinasola might have ended up belonging to this bishopric by the end of Late Antiquity (see above). The whole of this territory was concentrated around the Italica-Urion-Arucci road, at least on its most north-western section.71 As mentioned above, the bishopric of Seville might have relied on alternative entrance routes to these territories without the need to go through the traditional route, which was controlled by Gerena. Undoubtedly Almonaster must have been a monastic centre (given its toponymy) which occupied a central spot in this territory.72 Again, it is also located in front of what looks like another possible monastic complex that has not been excavated: San Miguel de los Fresnos,73 a place belonging to the bishopric of Italica. The main problem undoubtedly arises when attempting to detect the building (or rather building complexes) that would have housed the materials reused in the area of the current parish of the town: several inscriptions (one possibly reflecting a consecration), an altar table, several examples of cyma moulding, and capitals. We insist in the need to study the building, using modern methodologies as well as new excavations in the area, in order to define a type of building complex that is a priori apparent from the many scattered buildings in the area.

68 Hunt and Sastre 2008. 69 HEp 3: 209 = HEp 18: 164, ‘OM[3]N / NI P ANNO[3 fa]/mula [d]ei h(ic) / requi[evit] / i pa[ce vi]/xit plus [minus] / an(n)os LII [sub di]/e IIII Kal(endas) Iu[lias(?)] / (a)era D.’ 70 IHC 45, ‘Basilia famula / C(h)risti vixit an/nos plus minus / triginta et quin/que recessit in / pace di{a}e pridi{a}e / Nonas Octob(res) / aera DLXVIII.’ 71 Jiménez Martín 2006. 72 Jiménez 1975. 73 Berrocal and Caso 1991; Arbeiter 2003.



The South and the Via Augusta The southern part of the territory belonging to the bishopric of Seville is more clearly defined, given the relatively large amount of data we have on it. Small in size, it was clearly established around the Via Augusta in its final stretch towards Cádiz. In this area, the only city of certain relevance that can be clearly ascribed to the bishopric of Seville is Orippo. A magnificent inscription was found in its suburban area which proclaimed that the bishop Honoratus had consecrated a church with many relics.74 A few kilometres to the south of this site, in Utrera, and only a few years later, the bishop Pimenius consecrated a church with an unmatched collection of relics, as can be read on the altar.75 Again we encounter a familiar situation: on the same road, in the same geographic area, two ecclesiastical foundations corresponding to different bishoprics mark a clear dividing line. It should be added that, in just a 10 km radius, we find up to three more consecrations: a Roman inscription with loculus, preserved in a parish in Utrera,76 also another altar in Utrera,77 and yet another found in La Cañada, close to the same location.78 This abnormal accumulation of consecrations and churches with epigraphic evidence does not correspond at all with the existence of either architectural remains or elements of architectural or liturgical decoration. This absence of archaeological data is due to the lack of research and the destruction of archaeological sites in recent times. The epigraphs have been preserved only because they were, in many cases, a ‘recognizable’ item. Therefore, and returning to the archaeological documents at our disposal, we believe they may reflect a policy (we cannot be certain) of territorial demarcation, rather than evangelization. This is an area that, judging from the nearby epigraphic repertoires (like that of Nabrissa, in the Asidonense bishopric), is deeply Christianized from the early period of Late Antiquity.79 Therefore, the desire to locate the churches so close to each other might be related to economic aspects and trade, to the road, to the 74 IHC 363, ‘Fundavit s(an)c(tu)m hoc Chr(sti)i et venerabile t[e]mp[lum] / antistes Honoratus honor de nomine cuius / pollet in aeternum et factis celebratur in istis / hic aram in medio sacrans altare recondit / tres fratres sanctos retinet quos Cordoba passos / aedem deinde trium sanctorum iure dicavit / versibus aera subest annos per saec(u)la resignans (a)era DCLX[3].’ 75 IHC 80, ‘[In nomine d(omi)ni hic sunt] / reliqui(a)e s(an)c(t)orum id Ioanni Babtiste Eula/lie Iuste Rufine et Felici martirum / dedicata est h(a)ec basilica a.’ 76 CIL II 1281. 77 Sastre 2013, AND48. 78 CILA II 958, ‘Templu(m) / d(omi)ni (h)oc / funda/vit / ip/se.’ 79 Some Christian inscriptions from Nabrissa: AE 1979: 347; AE 1979: 346; and AE 1979: 345.


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direct exploitation of the land, or to what could ultimately be called fiscal control. The hypothesis of an explicit delineation of territories under one jurisdiction or another – on which rents and tributes could be collected – is the most viable explanation in our view. If we are to take into account all information available, we cannot talk (however logical it might seem) about the creation of a parish network. Eastwards The boundaries of the eastern area are less than obvious, but they ran roughly from north to south through the valley of Corbones and from east to west by the Seville–Antequera road.80 The dependence of the northern part of this area on the bishopric of Seville is quite unknown. Even Carmona, a city that is regarded as important, has a very limited late antique archaeological record, which is being thoroughly revised,81 and where a single decontextualized object (the famous epigraphic column that depicts a calendar) absorbs most of the attention, together with the historical sources, which do not actually provide any precise information regarding the city or its territories at this time.82 In fact, as already mentioned, the city seems to have dissipated rapidly, turning into a sort of small advanced fort of Seville itself. In the Islamic era, in fact, it was hardly capable of contributing 200 riders to the Emirate’s armies, which demonstrates unequivocally that we are dealing with a population of little relevance. The central part of this area of the bishopric was formed by a road of great importance in the itineraries of Antoninus and the anonymous author from Ravenna. This road which connected Seville to Antequera. And certainly, if we consider the (always scarce) archaeological data, we can identify this road as a major axe of communications, marked out by notable architectural complexes, such as a possible basilica in El Arahal (near Basilippo).83 The powerful construction technique used, the relatively large amount of important tombs, the historical references to late antique inscriptions, the confirmation of burials in sarcophagi, and the fact that it lies quite a way away from the historical Basilippo all lead us to consider the possibility that we are dealing with the remains of part of a monastic institution, possibly mixed, analogous to that found in El Germo or La 80 81 82 83

Cortijo Cerezo 2008. Vázquez Paz 2012. García Moreno 2001. Rodríguez González 2013.



Losilla. As happens in these two latter cases, this monastery may also have been the origin of the current settlements. We insist that the data available not only supports this possibility but renders it the most likely. Another issue to consider is what motivated the foundation of a monastic settlement in this location, although, as in the other cases, it is very likely that some of the reasons included the control of the territory and the exploitation of the land for agriculture and manufacturing activities.84 There is still a great deal to be discovered about this site, but the alleged dimensions and the excavated necropolis point to a site of unquestionable importance. This route continued into the bishopric of Écija, where its importance did not lessen, particularly if we take into account the large number of important buildings and religious centres it linked together, such as Estepa or La Roda. The latter site certainly holds the church of a large villa. Although we would like to consider the recently discovered necropolis at the site called Finca Los Barros, on the old road that connected the cities of El Aharal and Morón, sadly it has almost been completely destroyed by looters.85 Instead, we turn our attention to the archaeological remains of Morón (Lucurgentum?), a well-defended hill occupying a very strategic location that boasts one of the most impressive architectural examples of Andalusia.86 Unfortunately, the site has long been seriously damaged: at least two thirds of the site were razed in the 1960s, when the church of St. Michael was remodelled and the surrounding orchards were urbanized. Therefore, any possibility to recover archaeological information in this large area has vanished, but its monumental remains were significant enough to indicate the great building activity that took place on the site, even if it is very difficult to date or identify the precise functionality of such outstanding architecture (Fig. 38). Nowadays the preserved remains of the primitive church occupy the platform of the square of St. Michael. The entire building shows fairly uniform stonework just over a metre high. There are very few elements or dispositions associated with the materials that remain. However, there are a surprising number of pieces that were recovered in the construction works, which can provide valuable information, despite lacking a clear context.

84 An interesting regional study can be read in Dark 2004; and, especially for Andalusia, Salvador 1993; Castillo 2013: 90–94. 85 We want to thank to the City Council of Morón for giving us access to the report on this spoliation. 86 Vera 1999.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 38 Building Complex S4. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Vera 1999)

The remains of the basilica are, according to the excavator, the southern half of a tripartite chancel. On the west face of the wall, we can see ashlar featuring wide and deep slots, which are certainly imprints for chancel slabs. The excavator ensures us that ‘this would have been the only possible access to the interior of the room, so that there was no direct communication between this chamber and the apse’.87 Inside this room, there is no data regarding the pavement which much have coated the floor except for 87 ‘este sería el único acceso posible al interior de la sala, de modo que no existiría comunicación directa entre esta cámara y el ábside.’



horizontal flooring located in the north-western corner of the room, more or less a quarter of a circle. However, the most remarkable finding was the discovery, in the exact centre of the room, of half of a plain pinkishmarble shaft ‘deposited on the ground […] directly on two rows of pieces of bricks’.88 To the east of the column, and perfectly aligned with it, was a small circular shallow hole, also delimited by fragments of bricks. It contained some samples of coal and a small piece of glass. Finally, a wall of stones that projects two metres from the end of the chancel to the west has been interpreted by Vera as the only preserved remains of the naves of the church. He compared its characteristics to those seen in the southern room. Most of this structure corresponds to the foundation of the southern aisle, except the part bordering the chancel of the church, where one finds a pilaster of ashlar (0.4 x 0.37 m in elevation). However, this would not have served as the support system of the naves, since in the excavation process shafts were discovered in a very fragmentary state together with a base which, according to Vera, indicate rows of columns which would turn into pilasters only at the end of the room ‘para mayor estabilidad de la edificación’. At the foot of the southern room an integrated structure was found containing the plain sarcophagus discovered during the excavation. A number of materials were obtained from the excavation, including a nearly intact chancel screen (discussed in detail in the corresponding section), several bricks with the inscription ‘SALVO Episc(o)PO MARCIANO’, several parietal coatings, and a plain stone sarcophagus (see above) with a hole on one of its walls. Also, according to Vera, the magnificent iron bell exposed in the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla ‘as recorded in the logbook, comes from the city of Morón de la Frontera, so there is no doubt that it probably belonged to the religious complex that we are studying.’ This statement is rather risky, particularly if we take into account that the bell forms part of the Rabadán collection, of which we do not have any further details beyond the fact that it was donated to the museum. Another chance finding, deposited in the Foundation Fernando Villalon in Morón, is a ceramic plaque 22 x 20 x 4.7 cm with the inscription ‘TORVM’, which the excavator also believed came from this complex. J. González (1996, CILA II, 1218) read ‘NTORVM’ on the same plaque (in contrast to Vera) and reproduced ‘[s] N (c) TORVM’, relating it to relics. Both assumptions are attractive, but equally unlikely, since we do not know for certain whether this plaque appeared on this site or whether the inscription offers a popularization of sanctorum

88 ‘depositado sobre el suelo […] directamente sobre dos hiladas de trozos de ladrillos.’


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for santorum (something which seems rather strange to us). Besides, there is nothing to suggest that this word preceded the word reliquiae. We hardly know anything about the territorial context in which the church might have stood, although, according to Vera, the scarce evidence available indicates the existence of a very small town, around the raised platform of the present castle. Vera depicted the church itself as conforming to a basilica plan with a tripartite chancel. He identified the southern room as a thesaurum because it would have been closed with a door, something he inferred from the existing blocks of stones with grooves at the entrance of the room, and because he supposed that the most precious objects of the church, such as relics, were stored there. However, he immediately stated that the relics would probably have been buried in the hole which he uncovered. Therefore, ‘the hole of a small diameter and depth that opens on the pavement just at the head of the column may have different interpretations and one of them […] may be a small pit for a relic, so we would find that this building could correspond to a possible memory or a martyrium.’89 Concerning the central apse and the main altar, it is stated that in the preserved remains of the pavement, which is practically the southern half of this space, no traces of stipites were found, so it cannot possibly be known where the altar stood or whether it might have been slightly ahead of that position. Therefore, we may find ourselves facing a room with an altar that contained the remains of a martyr; at its gates, a privileged burial (given its characteristics) capable of receiving libations. If we are indeed dealing with a church that featured a triple chancel, then the room may have had a similar function to some diakonikon in northern Syria, the role of which is that of a martyrion or chapel for the cult of relics.90 Despite the fact that it is separate and semi-independent, Godoy ascribed the room to the altar and associated several burials in El Gatillo to this function,91 although he used the Isidorian Latin term sacrarium (thus following the interpretation of Caballero, Galera, and Garralda).92 The researchers preferred this interpretation because this space would be ‘connected to the area of the choir and the sanctuary’. In Morón we cannot know for sure, but if it was open to the central nave, it could well be interpreted in this way. Another possibility 89 ‘el agujero de escaso diámetro y profundidad que se abre en el pavimento justo en la cabecera de la columna puede tener distintas interpretaciones y una de ella […], puede tratarse de una pequeña fosa de reliquia por lo que nos encontraríamos que este edificio podría corresponder a una posible memoria o un martyrium’. 90 Godoy 1995: 91. 91 Godoy 1995: 321. 92 Caballero, Galera, and Garralda 1991: 477.



(given the doubts about the chancel) would be to relate it to examples such as the Valencian mausoleum known as the ‘Prison of St. Vincent’, an almost separate building (although linked by a corridor with the area of the presbytery) which, according Ribera was associated with the privileged burial of Bishop Justinian next to the remains of the martyr San Vicente, moved expressly for the occasion, in a sort of Christian euergetism.93 We were unable to perform a direct autopsy on the pieces from this excavation, so we cannot pronounce a view on their chronology with any certainty. What does seem to be quite clear is the monumentality of the decorative programme, with reminiscences closely linked to decorative patterns present in western Baetica and southern Lusitania. Again, with the archaeological data we have today, the so-called Christianization of this sector of the territory that, as far as we are concerned, belonged to Seville, is more centred on eminently defensive functions (Carmona, Morón, Alcalá de Guadaira?) and linked to trade and the exploitation of the territory’s resources (Alcalá de Guadaira, El Arahal) than to the alleged ‘pastoral work’ and ‘evangelization’ of a paganized rural world conservative in nature and slow to assimilate the new religion. As we have observed, ‘Christianization’ is often confused with a socio-economic, political, and fiscal control of wide areas, now conditioned by local and regional interests rather than those of the state.

93 Ribera 2008: 400–401.


The Bishopric of Italica

We have already discussed in the fourth chapter the problems of precisely defining the limits of this bishopric, of which we have only information from the middle of the sixth century. Unfortunately, the data we have are very scarce for the city of Italica. Although it is a Roman city that was abandoned and which has been excavated for decades, we do not have archaeological data from the time we are dealing with. Only the historical sources and some data from the periphery of the city allow us to speak of this city as experiencing a relatively important phase in Late Antiquity. The information about this bishopric is also very irregular. While the basilica of Gerena is one of the most known archaeological sites from Hispania with respect to the beginning of Christianity, the rest of the deposits are hardly known by researchers. As in the case with the other bishoprics with which we have dealt, this study represents the first time that a scholarly analysis has focused on the material and historical reality of the ecclesiastical topography in the bishopric of Italica.

The Outskirts of the City of Italica As we have mentioned, the situation in which we find all matters related to Late Antiquity in this city is somewhat disheartening. We believe that one objective datum illustrates this: the first scholarly publication focused on the city in Late Antiquity to use a rigorous methodology was by a German researcher in 2002.1 Previously, were on general monographs, always focused on the importance of expanding city under Hadrian.2 To our knowledge, the city of Italica has an important late antique phase, which is still to be discovered. It is certain that the city did not disappear, but it even became stronger than its great rival, Seville, after the wars of Leovigild. As already mentioned, it is quite possible that the emergence the bishopric was a prize awarded for the city’s fidelity to Leovigild (and, also, a stern punishment for Seville). Archaeologically speaking, we think that materials such as those deposited in the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla or finds such as those carried out by Fernández López in 1903 deserve a major effort of reinterpretation in 1 2

Ahrens 2002. Verdugo 2003 (though the manuscript dates to 1998).


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light of new developments and insights such as those presented here. And we insist that it is only by subjecting the matter to a global analysis that we can make any sense of the different finds that have been discovered over the years of lax methodological excavations. Since we only know this building through the sources, it is impossible to provide any accurate data about it. Regarding Italica, it is at the very least remarkable that, after decades of excavations in the city, only a handful of brief sketches summarizes what little is known about its architecture during Late Antiquity:3 a) Fernández López, in 1903, found in the area called La Vegeta or El Pradillo a ‘nave’ of 14.5 x 5.6 m north-south oriented and finished in an apse, which he interpreted as a basilica with three naves, with an apse ‘con puerta arqueada en el fondo’. No record exists concerning where exactly he found it and no graphical representation is preserved. González reproduced the description of Fernández López: The enclosure limited by the mortar factory, unpacked to the depth of 1.2 m, turned out to be a long, wide, undulating nave of 14.5 and 5.6 m, oriented from south to north, and finished in a semi-circular apse, with an arched door at the bottom and something to the right that accessed a small subterranean cave, open in the thickness of the wall. The nave was divided into three sectioned of nearly equal proportions by the walls […]. In the upper third, to the west, are vestiges of a large door; and at the bottom, attached to the wall on the left, there are two small mortar cubes. 4

With these data, Palol believed it to be a mausoleum and Garcia Bellido a martyrium with a previous mithraic crypt (sic). b) A second structure, also described by Fernandez López: They cleaned two of the surfaces and saw that it was a beautiful Greek cross, with arms of 7.8 m in total, built […] in open stone, 1.8 m high and 3 Verdugo 2003; González 2002: 410–412. 4 González Parrilla 2002: 412; Fernández López 1904: 63, ‘El recinto limitado por la fábrica de mortero, desescombrado hasta la profundidad de m. 1’20, resultó ser una nave despavimentada, larga y ancha de metros 14’50 y 5’60, orientada de sur a norte, y terminada en ábside semicircular, con puerta arqueada en el fondo y algo a la derecha que daba ingreso a una pequeña cueva subterránea, abierta en el espesor del muro. La nave estaba dividida en tres compartimentos casi iguales por paredes acitaradas […]. En el tercio superior, a poniente, se advierten vestigios de una puerta grande; y en el inferior, arrimados a la pared de la izquierda, hay dos pequeños cubos de mortero.’



formed by four segments of opposing circles, topped by five elegant fillets. The opening of the arches is 4 m. As a result of the way the circle segments are placed, the arms of the cross widen towards the ends, artistically concealed by triangular stone supplements 0.95 m long, grooved on both sides and resembling lanceolate shims of the highest taste. Finally, on the centre or mass of the cross there is a kind of rectangular plinth, made of ashlars 1.8 m in length x 0.2 m in height.5

c) In this area, in what seems to be a necropolis associated with the ItalicaEmerita road, sixteen (!) lead sarcophagi were found during the same excavations carried out in 1903. They had brick structures or façades, as well as paintings and two magnificent laudas of mosaic, dating from the second half of the fourth century,6 which of course must have been inside a building. The city had to reduce its perimeter, but the location of the alleged late wall, which has not been excavated, is far from clear. On the way out of town, towards Mérida, and in an area next to the amphitheatre, we find La Vegueta. We have previously analysed the so-called Building Complex S11, a huge building which, considering its ancient descriptions would be a building of central tetraconque plan with similarities to that found in Cincari (in northern Tunisia). Other finds in the area include tombs with their cover made of mosaic, sixteen lead sarcophagi, and the remains of architectural decoration preserved in the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla – a scenario that, taken as a whole, is similar to the large Christianized necropolises found in the suburbs of Córdoba, Seville, or Tarragona. Nothing about late antique Italica, however, is known with absolute certainty, due to the absence of reliable data and the lack of research focusing on this time period. Therefore, we hope that, as in the case of Écija, a multidisciplinary research project decisively addresses and reviews the materials, excavation 5 Fernandez López 1904: 23, ‘limpiaron dos de los frentes y vióse que se trataba de una hermosísima cruz griega, con brazos de m. 7’80 en total […] construida en piedra franca, alta de metros 1’80 y formada por cuatro segmentos de círculos contrapuestos, rematados por elegante imposta de cinco filetes. La cuerda de los arcos es de cuatro metros. A consecuencia de la manera como están colocados los segmentos de círculo los brazos de la cruz van ensanchando hacia los extremos, ensanchamiento disimulado artísticamente con suplementos triangulares de piedra, largos de m. 095, acanalados por ambas caras y semejando remates lanceolados del mejor gusto. Por último, sobre el centro o macizo de la cruz hay una especie de plinto rectangular, hecho de sillaretes y con metros 1’80 de largo por 0’20 de altura.’ 6 Palol 1967: 336–337.


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diaries, information, and modern archaeological data to produce a better understanding of this city.

The Territory of the Bishopric of Italica The conclusions on the territory assigned to this bishopric are provisional. Our working hypothesis is based on data and estimations which will have to be confirmed, involving more than an archaeological investigation or a focus on Late Antiquity, since the main sources of information which we have are Islamic and none of them were written before the tenth century. Despite the efforts recently made to understand the administrative and ecclesiastical division of Baetica at the end of Late Antiquity, there are still many questions and few answers.7 Gerena: The Gateway to the Vast North If we stick to the aforementioned hypothetical territory, most of the data we handled (especially those that have been contrasted) are concentrated in three well-defined nuclei. The first of these is Gerena (Building Complex S1), which, as we discussed, is a strategic point between a mountainous area (the northern slopes of the Sierra Morena) and the Guadalquivir valley, with a walled city and an extramural basilica with double apse and baptistery. When considering the type of building and its location, as well as its intense funerary occupation or even of the type of tombs, Mértola springs to mind as the closest parallel (save for the fact that no baptistery has been found in the Portuguese church). The site can be divided The authors of the relevant publication divided the site into two categories: the architectural remains (basilica and baptistery) and the necropolis. The architectural complex consists of a basilica, a baptistery attached to its west side and of the same width, as well as perhaps a mausoleum attached to its northern façade. As for the basilica, it is defined as a broad rectangular building, oriented east–west. The complex measured in its entirety 24.3 x 9.3 m. If we disregard the baptistery, the basilica measures 18.4 m. It is complicated to talk about the architecture of the building because only the foundations of the walls, raised over limestone, are preserved. The north–south slope of the substrate forced its levelling, so trenches were dug in the rock to fit the walls in the north area and ‘rellenando con sillares’ 7

García Moreno 2007.



(sic) the south area. The exterior walls are made of brick, stone, and tegulae, joined together with a large amount of lime. The stronger interiors were made with masonry joined with plenty of mortar. All the walls measure between 0.76-0.8 m except the 1 m thick east façade. The building, of regular layout, has these other measures: the rectangular east apse is 2.5 x 3.4 m, the adjacent rooms are 1.5 x 2.7 m, the space limited by a wall in the west area in 1.54 x 3.3 m, and the side aisles are 1.5 x 16.70 m. In the north nave there is a granite slab sized 0.7 x 0.23, which, according to the authors, must have been the access to the basilica through the baptistery. The accesses are difficult to define, and only the one in the northern nave from the baptistery seems to be clear. The authors proposed that there were three more: two in the east façade, and one more in the south. There are barely some remains of pavement left, and only on tomb 5 can we find a lid of opus signinum of poor quality, with a high percentage of lime. Therefore, the authors decided not to discuss the minimal remains, but they assumed the same level for all the naves and rooms in the building. The baptistery was built at a later time than the basilica, as shown by the wall attached to the north, as well as by the cutting of several previous pavements of opus signinum and the filing in with waste of some tombs. It measures 5.9 x 9.3 m and its walls, between 0.8 and 0.92 m thick, were mainly made of reused bricks and lack masonry. The baptismal pool, on the same axis as the altar, underwent several reforms. Initially a rectangular pool with cruciform arms, it was later transformed by the insertion of a baptismal font: But the initial Greek cross, with access found on the south side and probable exit by the north, by means of three steps, becomes, in a later stage, a basin of circular structure in which the arms of a cross are slightly indicated by means of semicircular recesses, in order not to lose the presence of the symbol that is fundamental to the Christian religion.8

Of all the burials, tomb 1 might have been surrounded by a wall similar to those used to construct the building. It is perhaps the best constructed of all, with the floor and walls plastered, and without a cover. (Could the 8 Fernández, Alonso, and Lasso 1987: 189, ‘Pero la planta de cruz griega inicial, con acceso constatado por el lado S. y salida probable por el N., por medio de tres escalones, se convierte, en una etapa posterior, en una pila de planta circular en al que quedan levemente indicados por medio de lóbulos los brazos de una cruz, para no perder la presencia del símbolo que está en la base de la religión cristiana.’


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cover be one of the objects containing an inscription among those found prior to the basilica and published before the excavation took place?) As stated by its excavators, there is a high probability that we are dealing with a funerary enclosure and/or mausoleum. Concerning the basilica of Gerena, we should note foremost the meticulous excavation and documentation that represents a welcomed exception in the archaeological environment in which we operate. Thanks to this, today we have some significant data that allow us to approach this interesting building. Contrary to what has been considered, the basilica cannot be ascribed to a rural area. Under the current town of Gerena there is a village of Roman times,9 undefined due to the shortage of excavations, which we know had an important walled enclosure and monumental tombs and which, according to the inscriptions preserved, must have been a municipium flauium. This leads us to define the basilica as one of suburban character, associated with the periphery of a walled population centre that enjoyed an outstanding strategic position at an elevation that controlled passage between the mining area of the Sierra de Sevilla and the Guadalquivir valley, navigable at that time. Concerning the building (Fig. 39), the careful excavation carried out provides us, generally speaking, with reliable stratigraphic documentation. However, when it comes to the interpretation of some longitudinal and transversal walls, some problems arise. It is evident that the building underwent reforms in different phases, as can be seen in the baptistery. With regard to architecture, for example, the massive reuse of bricks, masonry, and tegulae mixed with mortar more-or-less rich in lime, is characteristic of later periods, well into the sixth century in other places in Andalusia, as in the cases of Coracho or the possible church on Duque de Hornachuelos Street in Córdoba. However, it is true that the foundation system – based on continuous walls forming squares – is well known since at least the fourth century. The decorative programme and liturgical elements, in contrast, are virtually non existent. They reveal a reuse of elements as intense as what the walls suffered, such as a column shaft that must have been literally driven into the wall of the north nave. The base found in the baptistery is very similar to one of those found in Coracho, deposited through the reuse of abandoned Roman buildings. Dating is one of the main problems presented by the monument. Researchers have wanted to determine precisely the date of construction through liturgical features, or references to certain conciliar regulations, but 9

Hernández, Sancho, and Collantes 1955; Ponsich 1991; CILA-Sevilla 1991; Sillières 1990.



Figure 39 Building Complex S1. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Fernández, Alonso de la Sierra, and Lasso 1987) with a new interpretation

this is a thorny issue and offers more problems than solutions. Therefore, a multidisciplinary review of the materials obtained from the necropolis and (the few recovered) from in the foundation trenches is required to answer the question, especially now that the late antique chronology has very precise references in the area due to the excavations and monograph studies of recent years. The recent review of the inscriptions that have appeared in the area, in particular a funerary inscription that undoubtedly comes from the necropolis of this basilica, again offers a late date, namely the year 662.10 But if the question of timing is problematic, not least is the interpretation of the building at its architectural, functional, and liturgical levels, given the deplorable state in which the remains were found. Architecturally, the reconstruction proposed by the excavators first phase of the building (for there appears no baptistery) is logical, but nevertheless unlikely in some specific aspects. The reconstruction, for example, proposed that the building had internal continuous foundations of high strength, suitable for a central nave with columns that was much higher than the extraordinarily narrow 10 This is the inscription HEp 16: 530 = HEp 16: 531. This is an epitaph that emulates that of Chindaswinth, possibly corresponding to the grave of a character from the local ruling class (‘to the grave of a bishop’, see the HEp editor) to be buried in a privileged position around or inside the basilica.


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(1.5 m) side aisles. The hole allegedly made in the northern colonnade to settle a shaft would partly sustain this hypothesis, although it really is rare for a shaft to stand this way. The normal way was to rest the shaft on a base and we know of no other cases in Baetica where the shafts stood directly on the foundation. The reconstruction of the walls also has several problems: a) the walls were restored in the eastern part of the church, generating a tripartite chancel with a central sanctuarium, something logical, yet not so in the supposed western choir for which a colonnade is reconstructed; b) the side room in the south of the sanctuarium appears open, but it nevertheless has a continuous foundation wall; c) a part of the central nave in front of the sanctuarium was interpreted as a choir or advanced altar because there are no graves near the chancel, so it follows that the altar would be taking the place of the choir, when there is no indication that there was an elevation of the ground of transit. The model of the basilica Bobala-Serós (Lérida province) is referenced to support this reconstruction. The accesses are another problem, since only one of them is clear: the one allowing passage from the baptistery to the north nave. The others are either simply not found, such as the central access, or are entirely questionable, such as the one that would connect the supposed choir to the baptistery, something hardly acceptable. However, it appears that the wall of the north façade could have had an entrance as far as the sanctuarium. This entrance is not reflected on the plan and the burial site called tomb 1 would be situated next to it. The southern access has been recreated because, as we shall see later, it appears that a transit path within the necropolis ended at that part of the wall. It is very interesting to focus on the baptistery (Fig. 40), which was clearly added to the basilica in a second phase. Located at the foot of the temple, it apparently did not have any closing wall. Its construction destroyed at least one tomb. Given its great thickness, much of the original floor of signinum has been preserved. We should also mention the finding of an attic base, apparently linked to the first phase, which the excavators say they found ‘apparently in situ’.11 We think it might have been reused and displaced since it does not fit on the signinum. The baptismal pool built for this building is cruciform, and aligned along the axis where the main altar must have been, being the arms of the cross quadrangular. The only visible steps preserved are on its south arm.12 Since no other steps were located, 11 Fernández, Alonso, and Lasso 1987. 12 Probably some steps also existed in the west arm, as reconstructed on the plan published by Fernández, Alonso, and Gracia 1989.



Figure 40 Building Complex S1. Phases of the baptistery

the other two branches were reconstructed by symmetry. The original baptismal pool may have had more depth than is currently preserved, but the high level of devastation and the construction of a brick platform makes it hard to tell. In a second stage, a baptismal font made of local stone was placed inside the baptistery, the arms of the cross were covered with soil and over them pavement made of brick was placed as a kind of platform. There seem to have been no other reforms involving a significant alteration of the baptismal building. Therefore, we think it might be appropriate to reconsider the architectural interpretation of the monument in some places, always assuming the huge implicit difficulty when working with such scarce archaeological remains. We offer two very similar working hypotheses. Hypothesis A defends the existence of a primitive basilica of two apses within a square with three naves, the central being one taller and delimited by columns. It had two entrances of equal size: one north, near the eastern apse, and another in the western façade, which gave access to the north nave and allowed circulation to the baptistery. (We do not restore the south access as the existing data cannot confirm its existence.) Both chancels were reinforced by a thick transverse wall, which can only be explained as a support for a structure similar to the scheme of a triumphal arch. Incidentally, it would also have served to contain soil filled to allow the super-elevation of these rooms, like,


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

for example, in Coracho. The same explanation also applies to the room of the south nave, which had a small arc of 1.5 m of light for a very small space. At some indeterminate time two adjoining buildings were: a mausoleum on the northn façade next to a possible door, and the spacious baptismal building with an access to the south. The small hole in the north wall of the baptismal building was not an entrance, as it was both too small (just over half a metre) and absolutely unnecessary. Hypothesis B only differs from the former one in arguing that the building immediately south of the eastern apse was actually a small tower, of less than 4 m2. We pose this interpretation given a) the size of the space generated, b) the existence of some evidence of large construction fills (fragmented blocks and stone), and c) the thickness of the enclosure wall that separated it from the south nave. A close parallel for the construction of this tower, located next to what we believe is the sanctuarium, is the pair of towers, built by Bishop Fidel of Mérida, which frame the sanctuarium with an apse of the basilica of Santa Eulalia, in a second phase, supposedly well into the sixth century.13 These are minor appreciations in a difficult and complicated interpretation of a building which, like almost all of those belonging to the period and the territory we have set, is destroyed. A different question concerns the liturgical aspects. We have no knowledge of a thorough study of the liturgical aspects of the building. To give a chronology of the building, its excavators answered the question by linking conciliar rules to specific archaeological aspects of the building. In the reconstructions they made they simply shaded an area in front of the eastern apse where the altar is supposed to have been located given the absence of tombs. Another area was shaded at the foot of the central nave (choir?). The ‘habitaciones laterales’ were interpreted as ‘sacristías’ to ‘guardar vestiduras y vasos sagrados, preparar la liturgia, etc.’14 In another study,15 Godoy barely devoted eleven lines to the basilica, transmitting three basic ideas: a) since hardly anything is preserved he prefers not to offer an opinion, but b) he agrees with Palol concerning the similarity of the building to the churches of Hispania Tarraconensis and the Balearic Islands,16 and c) he argues that, because the baptistery is retro sanctos, Gerena must have had a choir at the foot of the church, 13 14 15 16

Mateos 1999: 157–158; Mateos 2003: 81; Vitas sanctorum patrum emeritensium, 5.3.3–9. Fernández, Alonso, and Lasso 1987: 187. Godoy 1995: 269. Palol 1991a: 298.



following a well-known axial schemed of sanctuarium–commemoration of martyrdom–baptistery. Our view is that the monument, if analysed in some detail, offers some possibilities of interpretation beyond what is obvious. The accesses were concentrated in the north area, with a general door to the temple and another connecting to the baptismal building (which will analyse later). Note that there is no archaeological or documentary evidence whatsoever for the reconstruction of a choir next to the apse, which we regard as a sanctuarium, since no remains of an altar have been found. Indeed, no traces of an altar have been found either in the western apse or the central nave. Therefore, it is possible that the central nave itself, in whole (or in part, like in El Germo) acted as a choir and functioned as a place to hold certain ceremonies, with the veneration of martyrs occurring, most likely, in the western apse. The central scheme would therefore be: a) an eastern sanctuarium with eucharistic altar, b) a possible choir in part of the central nave (creating a large presbytery), and c) a west apse for the commemoration of martyrs. We believe that the entrance to the basilica was located to the north, just as far as the apse of the sanctuarium, and therefore a system of tripartite chancel is unlikely. We have already established the two hypotheses to interpret the southern room. In the case it was an accessible room, its liturgical functionality would be related to the service of the clergy. Therefore, we should speak of a sacrarium or a thesaurum.17 The existence of a single, full-side room capable of being closed is also normal for the entire Mediterranean area, with multiple examples: Bobala-Serós, Lleida, sixth century;18 the church ‘headquarters’ of Umm al-Jimal;19 the church of St. George of Khirbat al-Samra, seventh century;20 Madaure Church II, which had an access next to the eastern apse;21 etc. The study of the necropolis is beyond the limits established for this work. However, it is necessary to address certain specific aspects. The interior graves of the basilica indicate a certain organization, and we believe they might help define several issues. It is curious to see how they follow two patterns: they favour the western area, being located around the apse; in almost all the cases, they are placed at the entrances and areas near to 17 18 19 20 21

Godoy 1995: 92–93, 99. Schlunk-Hauschild 1978: 163–165. Michel 2001: 179–181. Michel 2001: 204–205. Duval 1973: 33–34.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

transit. We can relate the first feature to the presence of a strong focus of pious devotion in the west apse, which we think may be related to the existence of a cult of relics, or to a martyrial cult. The two graves nearest to what we think is the sanctuarium are outside the basilica, namely practically attached to the east façade; something very similar happens in Coracho.22 The question of the location of the graves at the entrances or next to them clearly responds to a well-studied scheme about humility and ostentation, so that the burials were located in an area of mandatory transit. If we follow this scheme, we would have more arguments to reaffirm the existence of an entrance in the north façade, flanked by a finely made tomb, and most likely located within a mausoleum and/or burial site, which would be located next to the main entrance of the church. This type of monumental tomb, attached to the main structure, is extremely common throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea, although perhaps the closest geographical parallel is the basilica of El Cañuelo, Nueva Carteya.23 However, the greatest similarities concerning accesses and layout are documented in Sant Cugat del Vallès.24 Other examples appear in Tarragona, especially in the basilica of the amphitheatre, with a mausoleum attached next to the chancel. The main entrance to the church is in its north nave, next to that privileged burial.25 Also, the basilica of the necropolis of Francolí in Tarragona has this system of mausoleums attached to the north nave.26 Regarding the necropolis outside the basilica, we must say that what has been excavated is clearly articulated around two large fields, east and west, separated by a large transit space of about 3 m. Between the western field and the basilica itself there is a space of about 2 m which we believe is related to the access from the necropolis to the basilica through its southern side, through the baptistery. If we analyse the children’s graves, they do not appear to be related to the baptistery, something which does occur in Casa Herrera.27 Similarly, the lids of tombs made of tegulae are mixed with lids made of stone in the east section, so we do not believe it is possible to establish clear chronological criteria on the evolution of the types of tomb lids. The location of the baptistery at the foot of the church is common in Mallorca,28 but (like in Gerena) it occurred after the churches to which 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Botella and Sánchez 2008. Sanchez Velasco 2006: 231–237. Barral 1974. TED’A 1990. López 2006: 205–220. Caballero and Ulbert 1976: 41–42; Sastre 2010: 97–107. Alcaide 2011.



they were affixed were built – like the case of Son Peretó and Son Fadrinet, both with baptistery outbuildings located at the foot of the church. This differs from Baetica, where in those (very few) cases where a church complex with a baptistery has been documented, the baptistery is close to the chancel of the church, as can be seen in El Germo and Vega del Mar. With the data available, the only parallel in Baetica is the church found in Burguillos del Cerro (Badajoz),29 which had a small baptistery located in a western room, incidentally also without closing. (In this case its western wall did not exist and it is reconstructed on old maps.) It was necessary to pass through this baptistery to enter the church. However, we believe that this reference should be taken with extreme caution given the type of data we have. We do not know if the location of the baptisteries in Baetica (in general or in this particular case) responded to proper liturgical customs or a fixed process of development over time, though we can say that baptisteries were f irst placed next to a church’s chancel and later at its foot. In the case of the Balearic Islands,30 the churches of Majorca have their baptisteries at their, while on Menorca they were placed in the north of the sanctuarium. There is also evidence for chronological development: during the excavation of the episcopal group in Terrassa, archaeology demonstrated that, during the pre-episcopal phase of complex V (dated to the middle of the fifth century) the baptistery behind the altar of the cathedral fell into disuse.31 Instead, another baptistery was constructed at the foot of the church. Archaeological data clearly indicate that the baptismal building was made at a later time than the basilica. Moreover, it was not closed with a wall on its southern side, which is very strange. We have already suggested that it could have been closed by columns that had a system of metal bars. The only reason we can suggest for this off feature is related to the disposal of the holy water of baptism (which was to be returned to the land and not mixed with impure water), which would run freely. One cannot appreciate subdivisions within the building to suggest that there was a consignatorium to receive the chrisma (i.e. a new name and the white robe that allowed one to attend Mass for the first time). Perhaps the low wall in the north-eastern area of room formed part of a separation of this kind, creating a subdivision designed for that purpose, but nothing can be claimed for certain. However, we believe 29 Alba 2003: 25–27. 30 Alcaide 2011: 358. 31 García, Moro, and Tuset 2009: 92–106.


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a division of this type is more likely than that proposed by the excavators (see above), since the resulting ‘corridor’ would be extremely small. The baptismal pool in Gerena, shallow with square arms, has no exact parallel in Hispania, not even within the group of pools known as ‘Kreuzform’.32 The closest parallel is in Majadaiglesia, El Guijo (Córdoba). This shape is more typical of areas linked directly to the Byzantine world, where steps may appear in all the arms, such as in Tsaritchin Grad,33 or only in two of them, such as the baptistery of church no. 3 of Cibile, Abkhazia.34 Examples dated with some certainty exist in modern Jordan, in the first baptistery of Mount Nebo, and in the second of the so-called ‘cathedral’ of Madaba, dated (respectively) to 531 and the late sixth century.35 The different historical phases of the baptistery are similar to the case of El Tolmo de Minateda.36 Some have questioned whether shallow pools were even capable of serving the baptismal rite of immersion, but the fact is that this rite never involved immersing the whole body, but only a part of it.37 What seems well noted is that, as we approach the sixth century, the depth of the pools becomes smaller.38 At some uncertain time, the pool was covered and a basin placed above it at ground level. It has been traditionally believed that this related to the transition from the rite of baptism by immersion to another one by sprinkling, which used less water, in which the baptismal fonts were placed on pedestals or stands. But, as is evident in Gerena, this transition to a different ritual for baptism does not automatically imply the need for a ‘normal’ font. As we will discuss in due course, much remains to be done concerning the study of ancient baptism in Hispania, where the diversity of infrastructures is so large as to baffle experts.39 A funerary inscription in Aquileia, presumably a child’s, with an iconographic representation of baptism illustrates the font of Gerena might have been used. The catechumen (perhaps a child or adolescent, as indicated in the inscription) was placed into a small basin on which abundant water poured. Again, we must look to the Balearic Islands to find something similar in

32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

Schlunk and Hauschild 1978: 50, fig. 27. Duval 1984: 414–416. Khroushkova 2006: 82–83, pl. 56d. Michel 2001: 48. Abad, Gutiérrez, and Gamo 2000. Cosentino 2001. Ristow 1998: 50–52. Godoy 1989a.



Hispania, particularly in Son Bou. 40 The parallels in the East are also common, especially from the sixth century, like in Taqla (Syria), 41 or Mount Nebo, 42 to cite two well-known examples. The Northwest: Fregenal, Jerez de los Caballeros, and Burguillos del Cerro The second and most important nucleus, given the number of pieces and buildings, is the north-western area of the bishopric, with an unusual density of data found in the main population centres when compared with the rest of the bishopric. The first area meriting attention is Fregenal de la Sierra, with a possible monastery (San Miguel de los Fresnos, Building Complex B2) and liturgical remains in the area. 43 Local historians provided the first modern data published on the ruins. 44 They referred to local traditions (as evidenced by the place name ‘Cabezo de los Santos’ from a nearby hill). Sánchez Cid referenced a quote from the General Chronicle Of Spain by Ambrosio de Morales (1574/1586, IX, 16, fol. 365) on the presence in this place of a Gothic inscription referring to the burial of Abbot Honorius. 45 This is also mentioned by Father Vivar as deriving from the Antigüedades de Sevilla by Rodrigo Caro, who indicated that in Arias Montano’s house another inscription referring to the tomb of St. Exuperantius was kept, adding an interesting description by Sanchez Cid of medicinal waters. 46 The inscription of Exuperantius from a published drawing of the sixteenth century. 47 Although its origin is uncertain, it must come from the vicinity of the old Nertóbriga. The structure of the site, as a whole, seems to indicate that we would indeed be dealing with one of the few archaeologically verified monastic settlements in western Baetica, next to La Losilla and, quite possibly, El Germo. Its structure – with separate buildings and an enclosure still to be defined – is very similar to that of El Germo. Therefore, and due to the 40 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978, fig. 62. 41 Dufay 1989: 642, fig. 4. 42 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978, fig. 63. 43 Berrocal and Caso 1991; Arbeiter 2003. 44 Quintero Carrasco 1981: 112; Sánchez Cid 1843: 39–42. 45 ERBeturi 53 = IHC 49 = CLE 789 = ICERV 280, ‘In nomine Domini hic tumulus Honorii abbat(is) / respicis angustum precisa rupe sepulcrum / hospitium beatissimi Honorii abbatis celestia regna / tenentis in secula [sic] saeculorum amen.’ 46 Berrocal-Case 1991: 305. 47 ERBeturi 52 = IHC 48 = ILCV +1429 = ICERV 62, ‘Exuperantius / famulus dei / vixit annos plus / minus LXXVIII / requievit in pace / sub d (ie) VI Kal (homes may) / Iunias (a) was DCXVI.’


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shortage of information, save for some brief publications, we refer to what has been already written on what we consider to be a Cordoban monastery (as previously analysed). Jerez de los Caballeros contains numerous disiecta membra of no clear origin,48 as well as the epigraphic documentation of a church consecrated to St. Mary, and also several possible major funerary monuments including one that may have contained the column with the funerary inscription IHC 56. Burguillos del Cerro (Fig. 41) features a rural church and an associated baptistery (Building Complex B1), with major decorative and liturgical remains, that perhaps belonged to a private property. We only know the floor of the building thanks to a drawing made in the twentieth century, covering an almost quadrangular room of 11 x 8.5 m in length and intended, supposedly, for religious ceremonies. 49 It had an attached room that could have served as a mausoleum ad sanctos. By the entrance, in an open space (which is systematically depicted as closed), we find a baptismal pool which, according to Alba, was coated with signinum,50 and which some authors have interpreted as a plan with rectangular arms.51 However, in the original drawing by Martínez it appears with rounded arms and the following dimensions: 1.32 x 1.28 x 0.45 m. For this reason other authors have equated it with the baptismal pool found in El Guijo (Córdoba).52 The room located to the southeast of the baptistery, measuring 11 x 9.56 m, contained thirteen graves dug into the ground, aligned, and covered with large slabs of slate.53 According to Martinez, the bonding of the building was quite homogeneous; its masonry was attached with lime and reinforced with reused ashlar, as were the corners delineating the openings. The floor, paved with rhomboidal ceramic tiles, was dismantled and sent to the Museo Arqueológico Nacional. The site has produced very little material related to the liturgical decoration: the possible board of an altar measuring 18 x 3 cm (now lost) and a votive bronze cross with an inscription, which mentioned the dedication of the church and the name of the place. Now there is nothing left on the site where this building must have been erected or, for that matter, of the adjacent settlement referred to by Martínez.54 In our opinion, it could very 48 49 50 51 52 53 54

Museo de Bellas Artes de Badajoz, pieces nn. 10757, 7384, and 7392. Alba 2003: 26. Alba 2003: 26, ‘estanque en forma de cruz griega de 1’32 m de longitud’. Alba 2003: 25. Godoy 1995: 277. Sastre 2010: 34. Alba 2003: 27.



Figure 41 Building Complex B1. Depiction of the archaeological remains (from Sastre 2010)

well have been a small rural church functioning as a parish, or a private church within a large property endowed with an area specifically designed for the baptism of the surrounding population and a cemetery ad sanctos almost as large as the church itself, and where only the patrons of the building were buried. There is little more we can say, as nothing has been preserved, save the plans deposited in the Real Academia de la Historia and what was published by Martínez. In our view, these three foci form the vertices of the (hypothetical) triangle that encompassed the territory of Italica, centred on the axis of the Italica–Emerita road. They indicate, through great religious buildings, the actual presence of the bishopric in the territory and its dominion over it. We do not believe it a coincidence that a major basilica was constructed in Gerena at a strategic spot controlling the roads that connected Seville, Italica, Emerita, and the west of the Sierra de Huelva. This basilica, as we have seen, probably belonged to the bishopric of Seville. Nor do we think the existence of separate churches in Usagre and Cazalla is coincidental, as this would mark the boundary between the bishoprics of Italica and Córdoba, and Italica and Écija, respectively. We must also point out that


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the dense occupation in the southern area of Badajoz (Fregenal, Jerez de los Caballeros, Burguillos, Oliva) likely responded to two causes: a) the cultivation of land in one of the few areas of the diocesan territory suitable for this purpose, and b) the boundaries of the territory abutting more important bishoprics with very aggressive expansion policies (such as Pax Iulia, Emerita, or Seville). Only by approaching the matter from this angle can we understand, for example, the overwhelming architecture used in San Miguel de los Fresnos, a possible monastery with extensive production facilities (terracing, irrigation systems, orchards) which was, as we said, established directly in front of Almonaster, located on the southern slope of Cumbres de Enmedio, in the territory of the bishopric of Seville. Undoubtedly, all these assumptions should be accepted or rejected through micro-territorial studies that would help us to better understand the dynamics involved, and whether we are dealing with episcopal patronage aimed at the control those areas and the acquisition of income or with local oligarchies reflecting their power through architecture, as in the case of CIL II2 / 5, 299. The truth is that the density of remains, apart from the commonplace ‘chance factor’ involved in archaeological finds, indicates a statistical and qualitative value in need of interpretation based on the parameters and the contexts of the time. We do not mean to suggest that all the basilicas found must be interpreted in this sense, but the archaeological evidence available does not seem to us to be a mere coincidence, as we have seen in other bishoprics, particularly Seville. The so-called rural ‘Christianization’ of the area is, therefore, a view that must be challenged, since the area was neither ‘rural’ in all cases (such as in Gerena) nor did it clearly respond to an intentional evangelization of non-urban populations (as in the case of San Miguel). Instead, dynamic change resulted from attempts to precisely control the territory at an economic and a social level and to confirmation boundaries according to this or that ecclesiastical division at a time when, we can safely assume, the old subdivisions were questioned and erased. The Northeast Another interesting area is the axis formed by Cazalla de la Sierra, Usagre, where (given the two altar stones preserved in the museums of Seville and Badajoz respectively) it is possible that two churches might have existed.55

55 Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla, ROD 2577. Museo de Bellas Artes de Badajoz, piece 4420.



North of the Baetis River Finally, let us mention an unresolved issue: that of the Guadalquivir River as the boundary between bishoprics. We cannot be certain, but Alcalá del Río (Ilipa) could have belonged to the bishopric of Italica, as this city is home to some interesting late antique inscriptions.56 To this we must add the Roman altar of Canama (Alcolea del Río, Seville), which was reused as a Christian altar, as indicated by the loculus practised on top.57 It certainly points to the existence of a church, but we are not certain of its relevance; the inscription responded to the tradition in Baetica of reusing Roman altars as Christian altars. The question, again, is to elucidate to what bishopric this church belonged. As can be seen on the map we have designed, the area fluctuates between the diocese of Italica and that of Seville. The Guadalquivir might have been the boundary between these two bishoprics: the predominantly agricultural area on the left bank must have belonged to Seville while the right bank, more related to the foothills of the Sierra and the mining area of Munigua, must have fallen within the area of influence of Italica. However, we have already seen how the bishopric of Écija, for example, must have exceeded this river boundary and must have included the mountains of Hornachuelos. In our opinion, it is logical to think that Canama belonged to Italica, thus defining the southeast boundary of the bishopric, but we cannot be certain, so we would rather have it presented as a hypothesis to be ratified by future specific research.

56 IHC 60; CILA II 334. 57 Beltrán Fortes 1994.

10 The Bishopric of Niebla (Ilipla) We know nothing of the city of Niebla during Late Antiquity. Only a few remains of architectural decoration used as spolia in different churches of the present city allow us to speak of the existence of a Visigothic phase. Contrary to Italica, the boundaries of the territory of Niebla are well known. Along the territory of the bishopric we have found interesting archaeological remains scattered throughout the area that have enabled the reconstruction of its ecclesiastical topography. In addition, this bishopric contains one of the best preserved mausoleums of all Hispania (Punta del Moral). Thanks to this find, we understand these buildings, the burial ritual, and the funeral ceremonies of Baetica during the late Roman times. As we will see, when interpreting the location of the ecclesiastical centres which have been discovered, it is important to consider the control of routes of communication and exchange. In the case of the bishopric of Niebla, these routes of communication centred on the river Guadiana, which connected the interior of Lusitania to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Periphery of Niebla We know very little this bishopric. The church of Santa María de la Granada in Niebla shows a large concentration of reused materials (Fig. 42), spolia, spread across the grounds, the naves of the church, and the bell tower. This leads us to believe, quite reasonably, that a Visigothic building was situated in the city itself or nearby. It is not overly clear, though, whether its destruction took place during the Islamic period or after the Christian conquest (or whether this might have occurred during the Late Middle Ages). We should clearly discard the Visigothic dating of some pieces deposited in this church that ‘mimic’, so to speak, the late antique aesthetic (with little success, we should add). This fact, imitation, may be related to some kind of message aimed to prove the seniority of the bishopric, or its importance, an obvious intention in making ‘archaic’ furniture. However, it is very difficult to establish the dating of these pieces (late medieval? modern?) and, therefore, we propose a context for their appearance: several fluted columns (one in the churchyard and another one reused in the belfry), the remains of several large chancel screens made of marble, and the remains of imposts and/or friezes which suggest a monumental building and which share the style of those found in Córdoba.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 42 Remains of the Visigothic period reused in the present church of Santa María de la Granada (Niebla)

The huge difference between materials, types of carving, and decorative motifs of the elements reused in the church of Santa María de la Granada in Niebla can be related to the use of well-preserved elements in different buildings during Visigothic times. However, it is not at all strange either to find within these buildings different decorative programmes that correspond to their different phases. Therefore, to clarify exactly which building or buildings of Late Antiquity existed here, a systematic archaeological excavation within the church and its immediate surroundings is necessary.



Also reused, in a fountain in this town’s Casa de la Cultura, are two capitals from the church of San Martín, both possibly dating to Late Antiquity. One of them has smooth leaves and the other figurative decoration (the latter, larger one was drained to be used as a fountain basin). Despite the deterioration it can apparently be interpreted as a fish with plant motifs. We could not make a direct archaeological inspection of the piece itself, but if this iconography were confirmed, it would be exceptional, since the occurrence of fish with plant motifs is unusual. They tend to appear with other animals, with monograms of Christ,or kraters.1 Other elements obtained from the church of St. Martin include those which Jurado and Amador de los Rios mentioned (see above), such as two separate capitals depicting pigeons eating a pomegranate or images of saints. These materials have been linked to bichrome mosaics on Campo Castillo Street, which have served as the basis for hypothesizing existence of the episcopal palace in this area. Little more can be said about the capital of the ancient bishopric of Niebla, and we will have to wait until excavations are carried out in key areas of the current town in order to determine, with more archaeological data, what happened in this ancient city and how its Christian topography was articulated.

The Territory of the Bishopric of Niebla The territory of the former bishopric of Niebla is clearly divided into two areas: a large concentration of pieces, buildings and relatively well documented enclaves along the coast, around road twenty-three of the Antonini Itinerarium; a north-south axis articulated the Candón river valley towards Almonaster.2 The traditional mining areas lack documents proving the presence of late antique remains, save for one case, that of Sotiel-Coronada, maybe due to its strategic position rather than to its mining activity. As we saw above, it is one of the bishoprics which may have had more clearly defined borders, which hardly changed during early Islamic times. Finally, we cannot forget another means of connection that must have been particularly important given certain details about the pieces that we are going to deal with below: the Guadiana River itself.3 It must have 1 2 3

Vidal Álvarez 2005. Sánchez Velasco 2010. Ruiz Acevedo 1998.


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worked as a fast road connecting the westernmost part of the bishopric to its see. To this we should add the navigability of the river Tinto (navigable to the vicinity of Niebla), the river Odiel (to Gibraleón), and the river Piedras (to La Barca), which made the internal area next to the coast a well-connected spot linked also by sea w ​​ ith all the area surrounding the Gulf of Cadiz. These means of communication would also explain the use of certain materials from Portugal and the aesthetic influences shared with the area of Seville. Since we have defined our area of study (if only temporarily), we will therefore analyse in detail some pieces that will provide interesting details about the architecture and liturgy of this bishopric, which is but one way of approaching the territorial, political, administrative, and economic organization of a society where the Church replaced the Empire in all these aspects. But let us study, very briefly, the main places containing late antique data. Manzanilla Manzanilla represents the beginning of the bishopric, around ancient Ostur. 4 As we saw before, we find a funerary Roman altar turned into a Christian altar, which remains sealed and even holds remains of pottery inside and is preserved there. Undoubtedly, this magnificent piece was used for the consecration of relics in a church, although we know nothing of its original location. It is likely, however, that the piece appeared on a plot of land owned by the council or the parish, and thus was brought to the church. It would have rested on the outer wall until some works led to its removal it. Again, this is a church built in an area closely related to a connecting road within the limits of this bishopric, and opposite another in Tejada la Nueva, as already discussed above. Villalba del Alcor In this town, in the church of San Bartolomé, we can find what looks like the bars of a chancel screen.5 They are of unknown origin and it has been assumed that they might have belonged to a nearby site. If we compare this piece to the one in Manzanilla, we think it reasonable to believe that both pieces came out of the same – and clearly important – site, located perhaps on a plot land that once belonged to the Catholic Church, and so 4 5

Sánchez Velasco 2010: 108–111. Sánchez Velasco 2010: 111–114.



the pieces found on this site might have ended up scattered throughout the parishes of the nearby villages. In this case, Manzanilla and Villalba are barely 4 km apart. Almonte A magnificent piece, from the periphery of today’s Almonte, found in the area of Camino de los Cabezudos, is a chancel-plate.6 Its top right corner is fragmented, but it is fully repairable, thus allowing us to know how the whole piece actually looked. The existence of such a prominent piece in an area like Almonte indicates the presence of signif icant structures, both liturgical and funerary, resulting perhaps from the existence of an important ruling class, associated with one of the richest agricultural areas in the region. Rociana An interesting piece which, in our opinion, is the Visigothic foot of altar, was accidentally discovered (and subsequently donated) by Mr. Ramírez Almansa on the edge of the road between Rociana and Almonte, in a place called Verilla del Rosal (Rociana).7 This piece, which has no known direct parallel, combined an interesting set of characteristics. On the one hand, what has come to us from the support reproduces the shapes and even the measures of the small Roman funerary altars, suggesting reuse during the Visigothic period. On the other hand, we may be dealing with an interesting process of imitation, i.e. a completely new piece created using the decorative elements of its time but modelled on Roman funerary altars (which were reused elsewhere in Andalusia). Both possibilities are feasible, although we think the second one is more likely, since we know many Roman altars which served as an altar without being carved again or completely redecorated. Again, this find indicates we may be dealing with a basilica located in an area rather close to the Via XXIII of the Antonini Itinerarium (where this altar foot would have been housed). Again this indicates a perfect organization of the territory (and importance of this route), which encompassed not only its inhabitants, but also a whole production network situated between the coast (apparently with a significant saturation of cetariae) and the inland region (agricultural). 6 Sánchez Velasco 2010: 115–117. 7 Sánchez Velasco 2010: 117–118.


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Los Bojeos (Bonares) This might be one of the most interesting sites when it comes to late antique archaeology, and not just in Huelva, but in the whole of western Baetica.8 It is located 4 km southwest of Niebla, on the left bank of the river Tinto. Today it belongs to the municipality of Bonar. It first became known in 2001, when some inscriptions appeared during agricultural cultivation. A monograph analyses it in three sections: the archaeological context, the inscriptions, and the epigraphic supports respectively. Despite the evident importance of the place, we must remark without surprise that no archaeological activities have been performed there, either preventive or of any other sort. Thus, the data here basically comes from indirect studies or surface surveys, which should be taken as tentative as long as there are no excavation campaigns. The first piece we found is a slab of white marble with pinkish veins, possibly a tombstone, undecorated, 1.89 x 0.67 x 0.06 m.9 Almost certainly, it was a slab to cover a grave, although in this case we think it must have been inside a building, a basilica, or a mausoleum (as we shall see later). The inscription has been read as follows: Vincomalos / ep(iscopus) Chr(isti) serv/us vixit an/nos LXXXV ex qui/b(us) in sacerdoti/o vixit an(nos) XLIII / recessit in pace / die IIII Nonas Fe/ bruarias (a)era / DXLVII. Vincomalos, bishop, servant of Christ, lived eighty-five years of which forty-three were spent in the priesthood, rested in peace the fourth day (before) of the Nonas of February Era [Hispanica] 547 [= 2 February 509].10

We agree with the interpretation of the text, except in the year of the Era Hispanica. We think that what has been read as ‘DXLVII’ should actually be read as ‘DXCVII’. Our proposal stems from the analysis of the palaeography of the piece itself. If we look at how the craftsman made any of the ‘L’ letters that appear in the text, we can conclude that he always sought to unite the two lines that made up this letter with its characteristic angle. Therefore, the main historical implications of the discovery at the bishopric of Niebla (which does not appear in any source) are essentially unaltered, except that 8 Sánchez Velasco 2010: 119–123. 9 AE 2001: 1183. 10 The Era Hispanica was a particular way of counting time in the Iberian Peninsula differing thirty-eight years from the Gregorian calendar.



his episcopate would have to be advanced fifty years, with his death dated to 2 February Era Hispanica 597, i.e. 559 – his episcopate having lasted for almost the entire first half of the sixth century. It is also interesting that the cognomen Vincomalos has recently been witnessed in Mértola,11 so it seems to be typical of the south-western area of the Iberian Peninsula, thus providing information about the intimate relationship between the two banks of the Guadiana, at all levels – a phenomenon noted repeatedly throughout this work. Archaeologically, and more interesting still at a typological level, is the sarcophagus lid of Murensis.12 A detailed study of the support and iconography has already been made. Given the iconography we can assimilate it to the previous piece of Domigratia, i.e. at the end of the fifth century, although the closest parallels of the support are dated to the seventh century. We are referring to the two lids of a tomb or sarcophagus located in Seville’s direct area of influence: the support reused to carve again the false funerary inscription of Honoratus, and another one, without an inscription, but with a rectangular recess to place it, which is preserved at the Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla, and which comes from Dos Hermanas.13 We can say that this type of lid for a sarcophagus and/or tomb typically originated in the westernmost area of Baetica, since the known examples are concentrated around Seville and Los Bojeos. Also unique in the Iberian Peninsula is another sarcophagus lid, from the same place, gabled and with the following dimensions: 0.62 x 0.58 x 0.11 m, with the side measuring 0.08 m. One text can be identified:14 ‘ANNOS’, although ‘Anno S [---]’ has been proposed as a logical possibility. However, we believe the first possibility to be more accurate, especially if one considers that there is an empty space on either side of this word ‘ANNOS’. This leads us to think that it is a blank epigraphic field. This is quite a significant detail, as it would indicate that we are dealing with a ‘prefabricated’ and possibly unfinished piece, in the style of others in Baetica, which were carved with a format and a predetermined text waiting for the death to occur, after which the piece would be finished (including the text). This would also explain its rough surface. Finally, we have a tombstone,15 similar in shape to that of Vincomalos, of grey-blue marble with grey veins, identical to the previous piece, whose origin could be in Trigaxes (Portugal), but mineralogical tests would have 11 HEp 15: 457. 12 AE 2001: 1182. 13 Escacena Carrasco 1984. The piece was interpreted as an impost capital, although evidently incorrectly. 14 Hep 11: 271. 15 Museo de Huelva, piece 7389.


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to be performed to be certain. The surviving fragment has, as its sole decoration, a monogram of Christ only just sketched out on the surface. We believe that the missing part would have included the inscription but we cannot be certain. The problem is understanding the reason for this extraordinary concentration of sarcophagi in a particular place, and to establish a working hypothesis, albeit provisional, given the absence of excavations. It has been suggested that this place, Los Bojeos, was a strategic point of commerce, something like the ‘port of Niebla’. It would have concentrated the marketing of agricultural products in this area, potentially the most fertile in Huelva. In addition, the materials collected at surface level in the area indicate a ‘bloom’ of archaeological sites between the fourth century and the fifth century. This, together with the presence of the tomb of a bishop, has provided reasons for three basic lines of explanation, which we can summarize as follows: a) it was a villa with a basilica and the bishop was buried there because the property belonged to his family; b) since it is difficult to explain the burial of a bishop out of town, this could be related to the arrival of Alaric II, who would have forced the local bishop (presumably a Catholic) to go into exile; c) it could be an episcopium like ‘Pla de Nadal’ (sic) or even like the suburban area of Cercadilla, where bishops and abbots such as Lampadius and Samson (respectively) were buried, and which only changed location to St. Vicent due to the ‘barbarian threat’. It is difficult for us to put forward a hypothesis without knowledge of the excavated contexts, and we have already argued that it is highly probable that the date appearing on the tombstone of Vincomalos is probably later than originally published. This would substantially change the historical context of the find. However, we must bear in mind that bishops had the privilege of being buried where they thought it most convenient. Any one of the above options is therefore feasible. Perhaps it was a villa owned by a family of landowners from Huelva, one of whose members managed to become a bishop and, at his death, was buried in the family property – although the presence of a basilica is not strictly necessary in this; a mausoleum would be enough. The existence of an extra-urban episcopium is also possible, but this would involve a site of great proportions, several buildings, possibly productive areas, living quarters for the monks, a baptistery; besides, the great distance that separates it from the city indicates that it was not in a suburban area, but a rural location. Another possibility which has not been considered, but which we believe more likely than the aforementioned ones, is that there existed a basilica in what was a site of particular devotion and sanctity due to the relics



deposited therein, which would have attracted wealthy individuals, including a bishop, able to afford a coveted ad sanctos tomb. But none of this has been found, not even decorative elements that would lead us to think of it as a religious building – ‘only’ the sarcophagi, albeit of an extraordinary quality. Therefore, the area should be subjected to an urgent excavation, not only to clarify this interesting historical overview, but as a way of protecting a unique site in the province of Huelva that, whenever ploughed, provides finds as unique as these, which make up an extraordinary set in the Iberian Peninsula. It is therefore the duty of the authorities to ensure the protection of this site and to safeguard it from further deterioration, particularly the stratigraphic sequence, which is the single source of data available to clarify what actually occurred in Los Bojeos. Ayamonte The only building that can be ascribed with all certainty to Late Antiquity in Huelva is the mausoleum excavated in the necropolis of Punta del Moral, Ayamonte, back in the 1980s.16 Luckily both its plan and its elevation are known to us. Without a doubt, this constitutes a paradigmatic example of the sorry state that all archaeological research concerning architecture and architectural and liturgical religious decoration in the province is in. Subject of a monograph published nearly twenty years after its discovery, the incredible level of conservation (Fig. 43) in which it was found still amazes those who approach its study, despite the destruction of part of its roof. Today, we can hardly recognize this building due to the ‘reconstruction’ this unfortunate monument has recently suffered. This is but another ‘restoration’ lacking any criteria or respect for our heritage, something sadly and unfortunately too common in Andalusia. The context of this find is also interesting. It is located at the end of the Via XXIII of Antonini Itinerarium and links up with the great Guadiana waterway to Mértola. Recent accidental findings and underwater emergency interventions are revealing how the transit of goods in the area transformed it into a significant nucleus of trade and transit in Late Antiquity. Thus, an unfinished column – possibly made of Trigaxes marble, from Portugal – preserved in the Museo de Huelva, and a shipwreck found next to this mausoleum, with late amphorae, give an idea of how archaeological data is proving the economic importance of this area within the region, also linked to two important bishoprics in Lusitania: Ossonoba and Pax Iulia. 16 Sánchez Velasco 2010: 130–131.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Figure 43 Mausoleum of Punta del Moral. Photograph taken at the end of the archaeological excavation. The door of the mausoleum is closed with a wall of adobes (from Del Amo 2003)

Raboconejo (Niebla) In the Cerro de Santa Marina the fragment of a shaft which possibly served as an altar or support of an altar (incomplete) was found. 17 It was made of bluish-white marble and measures 1.13 x 0.35 m. It is now preserved in the Casa de la Cultura, in Valverde del Camino. It has an inscription arranged to ascend diagonally ascending, which seems to read: ‘DELIGNINETARAS’. Interpreted as a possible Roman milestone,18 the idea was later rejected by other authors.19 Pérez Macías related the piece to the existence of an early Christian basilica and cited a f irst provisional reading by H. Gimeno and A. Stylow, who commented that the inscription may refer to lignum (crucis) and altars (aras).20 According 17 18 19 20

Sánchez Velasco 2010: 132–133. Luzon 1975. Silliéres 1990: 331. Pérez Macías 2004: 93.



to Silliéres, the inscription may be medieval, while Pérez considered the letters to be Visigothic.21 Given its dimensions, it could have worked perfectly as an altar or as the support of an altar, even though it is broken at the top and must have been higher since part of it could have been buried under ground. That rupture makes it impossible to know whether there was a loculus. The inscription is incomplete and difficult to interpret. The ‘ARAS’ could also be read as ara s(ancta), as it appears in other inscriptions of similar meaning (for example at the altar of Cabra: ‘ara sancta’). We must remember here that the missing wood lipsanoteca of San Pedro de Roda had an inscription reading: ‘DE LIGNO DNI SCI PELAGII’, translated as ‘de la madera del Señor, de San Pelayo’. Contrary to this hypothesis, we cannot discard the possibility that it might be the shaft of a column used as an architectural element in a basilica, placed in a prominent position in its interior, in the manner of that preserved in the church of Santa Maria in Jerez de los Caballeros, which also has an inscription on top, indicating, in this case, the consecration of the church to Santa Maria: ‘d(ie) VIII. K(a)lendas Ianuarias DLXXXXIIII [24 December 556] dedicata est hec eclesia s(an)c(t)e Marie’. Another possibility we should bear in mind is that this shaft might have been part of a reform or monumentalization of a small church or rural oratory, and that such an action was echoed in an inscription, which has only been partly preserved. In both these cases, either the altar or the memorial of a building, there exist well studied examples in Córdoba: firstly, the example of a piece from ancient Ipsca (Cortijo de Ízcar, Baena, Córdoba), and secondly, a shaft with an inscription found in Duque de Hornachuelos Street, Córdoba. It is also interesting to note that burial tombs with decanters, supposedly dating back to the Visigothic period, have appeared in the immediate surroundings (according to oral tradition). What is certain is that it is located on an important junction between Niebla and the north through the valley of Candón and the area of Andévalo. Sotiel-Coronada In the area of Sotiel there are two chapels practically facing each other, only separated by a road: that of Coronada and that of Virgen de España.22 In the first one, a Roman capital was reused as a baptismal font, although we do not have any more details about it. The more interesting piece is 21 Silliéres 1990. 22 Sánchez Velasco 2010: 133–134.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

located in the Ermita de la Virgen de España. There are oral traditions about the discovery by Cerdán of Visigothic tombs in its surroundings. We have also learned that some residents of Valverde del Camino and Sotiel have small collections of Visigothic gold coins. The chapel itself, which has always been dated to the Late Middle Ages, has in its most ancient walls numerous blocks of gossan rock, a material exclusively extracted in ancient times, which is easily recognizable by its reddish colour on some walls of ashlar masonry. To this context we should add that, when a redevelopment of the presbytery of that chapel was performed, an altar was discovered a metre and a half away. The altar was of a type so far non-existent not only in Andalusia, but in the entire peninsular south. In fact, recent research has ascribed this model of altar to the ‘Cantabrian-Vizcaíno Group’, with a fully early medieval chronology (late eighth to ninth centuries). Perhaps the most significant parallel of this piece is the altar of Santa María de Quinzanas, made in local white limestone with a chronology based on a carbon 14 analysis performed on a box containing relics, which offered a date +/750–825. There is documentary evidence of the existence of the church in the year 790. This type of octagonal shape is no stranger, however, to the decoration of the Visigothic period. It already appears in some pieces in Mérida that have been identified as ‘little columns’, although the terminus (either a capital or a base) of the piece is much wider than the shaft, whereas in the case of Huelva it maintains the same dimensions. The pieces from Mérida have not been accurately dated, although an influence of Byzantine Ravenna is admitted, albeit ‘marginal’. The problem, then, is raised in very interesting terms. All examples of this kind of altar are concentrated on the Cantabrian coast, except for the one in Huelva. (Some examples of decorative columns in Mérida have a similar form to this altar, but it would appear that they are a later development.) So how must we interpret the appearance in the middle of the province of Huelva of this unique and specific type of altar, particular to the north of the Iberian Peninsula in this specific period? The truth is that we do not have a clear and fully satisfactory answer, but the fact that it was found at a relatively deep level when reforming the chapel, together with the information about Visigothic tombs excavated by Cerdán and the hoards found in the area, lead us to assert the existence of a possible Visigothic basilica. This basilica could have undergone, at some later date in the Islamic era, a reform of the altar following the guidelines of what was then being done in the Christian territories in the north, which were traditionally well-connected to the western end of Baetica through the Via de la Plata.



As for the territory, we have provided some tentative conclusions on which we will have to continue working, we insist, in a multidisciplinary way. We have expressed more questions than answers: could we admit that in the case of the administrative district and bishopric of Niebla, the subsequent Islamic chora occupied the same territory? Was there a change? What about the mining area around the old Urion and to whom did it belong? Did the chora of Seville occupy an important part of the territory of the Sierra of today’s province of Huelva? Was this the heritage from the administrative district and bishopric of Seville? And if so, what territory did the bishopric of Italica occupy? Are all the bishoprics contemporary? And what about Beja? Does its territory occupy that much of the mountains of Huelva? We have chosen to partially answer some of these questions in this synthetic work, but we are aware of the fact that probably only new findings and new, highly detailed studies can answer these questions. Concerning the finds, the undisputed central focus of our work, we are able to compensate for their paucity through their wide range of typological variation. Their variety and quality reveal a great monumental wealth and, above all, they show that there is still a long way to go if we are to understand the material reality of the architecture and liturgy in this bishopric of the westernmost area of Baetica. Important and unique pieces of the late antique panorama in Hispania include the sarcophagi of Los Bojeos, the altar of Manzanilla, and the fragment of (what we believe might be) a liturgical division into a church ( fastigium).

Part 3 Christianization: An Archaeology of Ecclesiastical Power


The First Christian Buildings of Late Antique Western Baetica

We have done our best in this book to offer the reader (expert or not) as clear a picture as possible of the major changes that Baetica underwent during Late Antiquity. Undoubtedly, the lack of historical sources can only be compensated through the analysis of archaeological and epigraphic evidence, especially material ‘Christian’ remains: churches, mausoleums, monumental tombs, and their inscriptions. It has been no easy task. What is suitably called ‘the weight of historiography’ is very heavy indeed and reinforces a strong inertia, as seen in the first part of this book. This is not a traditional story about Christianity or the Church. Furthermore, it is not a book on ‘Christian Archaeology’. Much less can it be considered a book on Art. Far too often books tend to approach early Christianity or the early Church focusing on religion, on a religious process, or on early Christian art. This is all too well, but it is not the case with this study. We have tried to make a history book that allows us to analyse, through all available data, two of the most obvious aspects of the transformation of Baetica’s society along a period that spans more than three hundred years: the so-called process of Christianization and the emergence of the Church as an institution of power. We have distanced ourselves from the traditional practice of studying these issues from an exclusively dogmatic point of view. We have not studied churches to know only this or that change in liturgical practice. The idea was to find physical evidence of the expansion of the new religion, beyond the mere analysis of some necropolis or a liturgical detail at a particular temple. We wanted to ‘map’ the emergence of the earliest Christian architecture in cities and rural areas, applying to this ‘historical equation’ the time ‘variable’. We wanted to investigate what is seldom studied, always from a critical point of view distinct from ideological preconceptions or preconceived historiographical paradigms. We wanted to know how, when, and why an institution such as the late antique church in Baetica was formed, and to what extent its appearance affected wider society. The archaeological study of the late antique religious architecture of Baetica has been approached, as far as possible, from a holistic perspective: plans, elevations, liturgical decoration, epigraphy, location, etc. This study was only preliminary because religious architecture, in itself, is an expression of power, of space occupation, of ideology and, of course, a


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

demonstration of economic wealth – all the more so when we deal with an institution that behaves (as we shall see) as a State. Scientific work on the establishment of Christianity or the power of the institution were recently published from the point of view of historical sources, but without the slightest regard to archaeological data. We must insist (yet again) that in the case of Baetica, the lack of sources is an insurmountable wall, and the few that do actually exist are those written by religious zealots (be they local or foreign), or are mere internal church documents related to specific problems, and as such offer little help when trying to understand a complex process that lasted centuries. Architecture, then, was an appropriate indicator for understanding how the Church, as an institution, was able to maintain and increase its power despite political, military, economic, and ideological turbulence in such a stormy period. Actually, architecture is an excellent indicator (perhaps the best) of what we might call the ‘realization of power’. We think that, looking into the mirror that is architecture, we might get close to outline the original picture of what actually happened in this region. We should add to this that the Roman system of territorial organization did not suffer any major alterations during Late Antiquity. Civitas, suburbium, territorium remained the basic units, although the latter category had an extensive repertoire of scattered settlements in rure during Late Antiquity, of which we barely have any knowledge. As we have seen, one of the most interesting aspects of Late Antiquity is the emergence of very particular territorial units: bishoprics. Smaller than the province (which in turn is ecclesiastical), they encompass a number of very different civitates et territoria, in the manner of the ancient conventus. The importance of these territorial units, as we have seen and will see later, transcends religious functions. A final statement seems necessary. Occasionally, publications appear offering a synthesis or a global analysis studying the development of the Church or the source of its power during Late Antiquity, which is extremely useful. But it is often forgotten that these books, which aim to study general processes, are mostly based on local or regional studies. Unfortunately, such studies are rare, mainly because they are very difficult to carry out. If we are lucky, we can find the analysis of a city, although what we usually find are the studies of a particular archaeological excavation. This book aims to fill this void, providing comprehensive data and interpretations in regard to a wide geographical area with a common history. We hope that, over time, more regional studies of this type, which could provide new information, will be published. This is more necessary in the Iberian

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


Peninsula, which lacks systematic studies of geographic areas to analyse in depth the information that has been surfacing in recent years. Thus, it is possible that the Iberian Peninsula will, in time, equate to the rest of Europe in this renewed interest in studies on Christianity, paganism, or the Church as part of the process of transformation of society during Late Antiquity. The most tangible proof of the process of Christianization and of the social and political changes it brings is, without a doubt, the construction of buildings associated with the new religion. As we have previously seen, there are various types of archaeological evidence that give us information as to the evolution and development of Christianity: inscriptions, altars, grave goods, etc. However, it is architecture itself that most clearly informs us of what, where, and how it happened. This is why we will outline below an interpretative synthesis of the types of buildings and compounds, the existence of which has been verified in western Baetica, analysing their shape, purpose, and context (both archaeological and topographical).

Episcopal Complexes The cities that became episcopal sees in the area of study (Córdoba, Cabra, Écija, Seville, and Niebla) must have had these sorts of complexes. French historiography terms these as ‘groupe episcopal’ due to the fact that they contained a cluster of diverse buildings that served different purposes. These compounds constitute the highest expression of the power of the Church; it is the religious centre of the city and the core of ecclesiastical administration. Furthermore, it is usually also the final and privileged resting place of the Church’s elite. In western Baetica the problems we face regarding episcopal compounds are identical to those of other areas of the empire, such as Palaestina Prima.1 In this ancient Roman province the knowledge regarding bishops and Christian communities is relatively wide, but only the episcopium of Jerusalem is known, and then again, not with all certainty. We know nothing about the episcopia of Niebla, Italica, or Cabra. It has been assumed, on shaky grounds as we have already seen (Chapter 8), that the episcopium of Seville was in the area of Patio de Banderas,2 outside the city walls. However, recent and better documented hypotheses locate it in

1 2

Piccirillo 1989. See building complex S9.


The Christianization of Western Baetica

the area of Mármoles Street.3 Whatever the case, a thorough excavation would be needed in this latter area to verify such hypothesis. Only in Córdoba and Écija do we have sufficient evidence so as to talk about episcopal compounds. We are currently working on the publication of an integral study about the complex excavations in the central, late antique, monumental area of Écija. But the data we do have allow us to presume that the monumental area of Écija during the Roman period was occupied by a huge Christian complex linked to a memoria of a local saint, and where an episcopium of prodigious dimensions was developed during the fifth century.4 In Córdoba’s case, we purport as a working hypothesis that this city could have had two diachronic episcopal nuclei. One of them would was located outside the city walls, with an early chronology (fourth century), perhaps related to the prominent bishop Osius, imperial adviser and influential member of Constantine’s court, who could have influenced the building of the first phase of this monumental compound. We have already defended the archaeological evidence that supports the existence of a full episcopal compound in Cercadilla and why it cannot be taken to be an imperial palace or a great extra-urban villa.5 Recent excavations have unearthed the possible delimitation of an open area enclosed by a colonnade, similar to the type that permitted access to important religious compounds of the time. A second episcopal compound in Córdoba, known to us from Arab sources and from archaeological remains, could hint at an intramural relocation from the fifth or sixth centuries onward.6 Our hypothesis as to the existence of Córdoba’s episocipium differs from certain historiographical tendencies revealed by some of today’s specialists on the subject, who consider episcopal complexes, from an early time, to have been located within the city walls: in some instances in the peripheral areas of the city, in other cases on the ancient forums. The bibliography is abundant, but this tendency was consolidated after the Ninth International Congress on Christian Archaeology, held in Lyon, a section of which directly tackled the question of the episcopia.7 Basically, it is very difficult to clearly define this sort of compound, for a variety of reasons: a) they must have a baptistery, but not all baptisteries allow for the presence of episcopal compounds; b) they feature large clusters of buildings, associated with each 3 4 5 6 7

Ordoñez et al. 2012. See building complex S9. García-Dils, Ordóñez, and Sánchez, forthcoming. See building complex C4 (chap. 5). See building complex C10. Duval 1989.

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


other and of a monumental nature, which could be related to martyrial cults, or monastic compounds; c) episcopal residences are generally great monumental buildings adjoining basilicas, but this union does not necessarily have to mean that, when encountered, they are episcopia; d) bishops were usually buried in these compounds, in great mausoleums linked directly with the buildings of worship, although this is not definitive since we know many bishops were buried wherever they feel it to be convenient, in many instances in important focal points of a martyrial cult. In conclusion, the key to defining episcopal compounds was what seemed constant: its location within the city walls. Thus, in that congress it was determined that, in Italy, practically all episcopal compounds were located within city walls from the earliest times, save for a few exceptions, some of which are poorly attested, archaeologically speaking.8 This analysis is also applicable to other regions such as Syria or Africa, where the results are the same.9 It is thus established that one important characteristic of episcopal compounds is their location within the city walls. Recent studies ofboth in Gaul and Hispania have repeated this observation.10 Some researches have even gone further by considering it a ‘norm’,11 while others have regarded it as a mistake due to ‘a profound ignorance of the process of Christianization and Christian topography in the cities of the Empire’.12 A more rigorous analysis, however, forces us to be careful when it comes to certain assertions, if only because situations differ from one city to the next. This idea of heterogeneity has already been proven in Iberian baptisteries,13 and no attempt has been made at unification or standardization with this sort of remains (on which, by the way, investigation is scant, maybe due to the complexity of the subject). In short, doubts as to the existence of such a ‘norm’ regarding the location, within the city walls, of the episcopia surface after a precise study of local realities. The first matter is, without a doubt, to clearly determine the episcopal complexes and their chronology, because the vast majority of them are dated well into the fifth or even the sixth centuries; however, we know of bishops, both in Hispania and the rest of the western Empire, from at least the third century.14 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Testini, Pani, and Cantino 1989. Ulbert 1989; Duval 1989. Heijmans, Guyon 2006: 92–95; Sodini 1989. Arbeiter 2010. Chavarría 2010: 448. Godoy 1989: 611, n. 14. Fernández Ubiña 2006: 251–261; Fernández Ubiña 2015: 121–132.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Secondly, in order to know whether an episcopium (clearly defined as such) lies within, or without, the city walls, it is obviously essential to know the walled perimeter of the said cities. In a high percentage of Gaullic,15 Italian,16 or North African cities,17 where the episcopium was supposed to be within the walls, the actual perimeter of the wall is not known, and the total area that the city occupied during Late Antiquity can only be guessed. In the instance of the Italian cities, more widely examined and numerous, where the walls are well known, as is the case of Aquileia,18 Concordia Sagittaria,19 Parma,20 Ravenna,21 Florence,22 and Pisa,23 the episcopal compounds usually lie beyond the city walls, in the suburbium proper. Recent studies in southern Italy show,24 through archaeology and texts, that the episcopia of Syracuse, Agrigento, and probably Taormina were in the suburbia of the cities, at least up until the fourth century. As regards to Gaul,25 the problem of the walls persists. Dax (Aquitania) is a possible example of an episcopal complex outside the city walls, defined according to some texts dating to the eleventh century. Very little is known, however, about the rest of late antique cities, not even their boundaries or their plan. Hispania is no exception when it comes to the generalized lack of information regarding episcopal nuclei, which has led different authors to opposite conclusions, thus locating episcopia either beyond the city walls in some cases,26 or within them in others.27 The subject, now rather fashionable, has been addressed in recent publications, although more as a recapitulation of what others have said than as an attempt to provide further scientific advances.28 We know the full extent of very few Iberian episcopal complexes: Terrassa,29 Valencia,30 and El Tolmo de Minateda.31 Regarding 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Heijmans and Guyon 2006. Testini, Pani, and Cantino 1989: 89–229. Duval 1989. Bertacchi and Luigiano 2003; Cantino 1989: 182–187. Cantino 1989: 190–193. Cantino 1989: 155–157. Cantino 1989: 140–142. Pani 1989: 122–126. Pani 1989: 130–132. Sami 2010. Heijmans-Guyon 2006: 94–95. Kulikowski 2005. Chavarría 2010. Gurt and Sánchez 2011. García, Moro, and Tuset 2009. Ribera 2008. Gutiérrez and Sarabía 2013.

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


the first of these, the location of the Roman city is not known and, under the episcopium, built ex novo in the fifth century, no remains of previous epochs have been found. The second one was built during the second half of the fifth century and rests on the forum of the ancient Roman city. The third instance, dated to the seventh century, was built over an abandoned Roman city and is located on a peripheral area south east of the plateau it was raised upon. That is, three compounds, in three different locations, and built in very different times. We would have to add to those many more likely instances. Barcelona, for example, featured two presumed episcopal groups that took up more than a third of the city: one of them situated by the northern wall, the other in the centre of town.32 Both cases are working hypotheses, since the archaeological remains are not all that useful – more excavations are necessary if we are to clarify some of the interpretations, based on the mere existence of two baptisteries.33 Complutum, where a memoria to the saints Iustus and Pastor became the town cathedral, was beyond the city walls.34 In Idanha-a-Velha (Egitania), under today’s cathedral and within the walls of the ancient city, there is a late antique baptistery, which has made some believe it was be part of the episcopium.35 One example that closely resembles Egitania is Ampurias,36 where the finding of an extramural baptismal pool, in Santa Margarida, has been interpreted as the trace of a possible episcopium, seen by some researchers with scepticism.37 In Segobriga, in its impressive extra-mural compound, we find the burials of a number of bishops. It has been considered an episcopal compound by some researchers,38 a hypothesis challenged by others.39 For Emerita, as well as Gerona, we find but two written sources, from the sixth century and the Carolingian era respectively, 40 which locate the see of the former within the city walls and that of the latter in the suburban area.

32 Bonet and Beltrán de Heredia 2000; Arbeiter 2010. For the latest information on the new baptistery, see 33 One of the archaeological remains of the supposed altars of the cathedral of Barcelona during Late Antiquity is, in fact, a sewer (according Ripoll and Chavarría 2005: 32). 34 Rascón and Sánchez 2008: 255–257. 35 Arbeiter 2010a: 423. 36 Nolla 1993. 37 Arbeiter 2010a: 424. 38 Schlunk and Hauschil 1978: 43. 39 Arbeiter 2010a: 429. 40 Arbeiter 2010a: 423 and 429.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Tarragona, a city that shows extraordinarily interesting similarities with Córdoba, reflects this lively debate, with two opposed and well defended views, one of which proposing an intra-mural location, 41 the other adopting the opposite view. 42 Recent archaeological campaigns, carried out under the present-day cathedral in Tarragona, aimed to find the possible remains of the ancient episcopium. We will have to wait until the results of the second campaign in the interior of the cathedral are published to have a clearer picture. We believe that the presence of a magnificent late antique propylaea around the piazza of Rovellat indicates, as happens in Valencia, the demarcation of an episcopium located in a more peripheral area than was thought until now, close to the north-eastern side of the upper town. Returning to the original line of thought, we believe that knowledge of the subject as it stands does not allow for establishing a ‘norm’ regarding the location of episcopal complexes, be it within or beyond the city walls, lest one be driven to a dogmatism that has little to do with archaeological evidence. We believe that one assertion aimed at defining an episcopium cannot be valid or invalid depending on whether we face an urban or suburban situation, more so if we have perfectly documented instances regarding the existence of episcopia beyond city walls. We therefore conclude that, as with other arguments, a location within the city walls is not, per se, an unquestionable or determining factor. It becomes apparent that most of the known episcopia are found – as is otherwise reasonable – within the city walls of late antique cities, among other reasons because the confirmed cases basically date to a period long after the fifth century, which makes it highly complicated to understand the cities of the fourth and fifth centuries. And the ‘time variable’ in this equation is essential. We cannot automatically translate the urban models of fourth-century Italy or France to the Roman cities of fourth-century Hispania, Africa, or Asia. In the same sense, we cannot presume there were radical transformations in cities where, during that fourth century, Christianity was still looked upon with suspicion, or even open hostility. In this sense we believe that Krautheimer’s opinion regarding the cities and capitals of the Empire during the fourth century is valid. 43 Their dynamics were heterogeneous, rich and local, depending on a wide range of factors: imperial financing of great works (Constantinople, Jerusalem), striking a complicated balance of power with the pagan aristocracy by building 41 López Vilar 2006: 257–259. 42 Macías 2000. 43 Krautheimer 2002.

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


great Christian compounds (Rome), the importance and patronage of great bishops that became the leaders of a new Christian aristocracy (Milan), etc. In conclusion, undoubtedly it is the lack of knowledge regarding the urbanism of the cities of the fourth and fifth centuries that makes it hard to decide whether episcopal complexes are within or outside cities.

Churches: Types, Topographic Context, Purpose The lack of data when facing this type of building limits our chances of establishing a clear typology to determine types of floor plan, chronology, and purpose. Thus, we have decided to rely on a synthesis centred on the morphology of the churches we do know in order to establish some hypotheses regarding the purpose they each served. In this sense we have taken into account their context, dimension, related epigraphy, liturgical decoration, and other relevant archaeological information. Quadrangular Floor Plan Churches These represent the simplest architectural type of church, limited to a square room with some attachments, such as baptistery and funerary enclosure. We believe, as a hypothesis, it is possible that such simple type of building corresponds to the description applied to some rural churches, like the one mentioned in inscription from Porcuna, where a small rural church was consecrated and called a ‘cella’. 44 Its eminently rural nature makes us presume that we are dealing with a church that was associated with some great property, where a small church was used as a ‘parish’ and, above all, as a funerary church for the family of the possesores, buried ad sanctos within the enclosure on the southern end. In this sense, another inscription, found close to Ategua, illustrates how one of these wealthy landowners built himself a church to be buried in. 45 These sorts of parishes, or small funerary rural churches, are usually quite close to the villa of the rural population area, as can be seen at Mola di Monte Gelato.46 They must 44 CIL II2 / 7: 124, ‘Recondita / in fundum / Valles su/burbio Obol/conen se / cella S(an)c(ta)e / Mariae.’ 45 CIL II2 / 5: 482, ‘In hunc tu/mulum requi/escit corpus Belesari fa/muli PX(Christ)i condi/tori(!) huius base/lic(a)e qui vixit in / hoc s(ae)c(u)lo ann(o)s / plus minus / recessit in pace sub / d(ie) / era DCC.’ 46 Kinney 2010: 88.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

have been very common and, as we have seen, 47 these tiny rural churches, maybe private in nature, also adopted other modest forms. Rectangular Floor Plan Churches This type of floor plan is rather well attested, with a very compact exterior and an interior in which various liturgical and functional subdivisions were made. In this sense there are numerous parallels all over the western Mediterranean throughout Late Antiquity, from the cathedral of Aquileia, 48 through to some churches in the Balearic Islands, 49 Jordan,50 and North Africa.51 Indeed, this sort of compact church was probably most widespread along the African mainland. Architecturally speaking, these were simple buildings designed to make efficient use of materials, with a simple plan that did not prioritise the construction of an apse visible from the outside. As we see at Gerena,52 or in Phase 3 at Coracho,53 the apse was usually built by raising two perpendicular walls to the façade which, again, resulted in resource economy. This is why we must interpret a church built with an apse inside the central nave, isolated from the rest of the building (as is the case at Coracho), as a liturgical construction that served a precise purpose and that was built ex profeso for those liturgical purposes. We have interpreted Coracho as a martyrium. At the same time, we do not know what specific role the basilica at Gerena played. We will address it below. As to the church of Morón, as previously explained,54 there are doubts whether it is this type of church, given its triple front or apse with lateral annexes. In any of these three instances, the way in which the apse was built (within a square room with reinforcing buttresses) is similar to Santa Croce in Ravenna, dated to the fifth century,55 and especially to Syrian and Palestinian churches, such as the cathedral of Sergiopolis,56 Saint Paul in Umm al-Rassas, Saint George in Khirbat al-Mukhayyat, and the chapel at Khirbat al-Kursi.57 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57

Building complex S6. Piva 2010. Sa Carrotja, Son Fadrinet o Son Bou; see Alcaide 2010. Church 20 in Umm al-Quttayn, Church of Sabhah; see Michel 2001. Orléansville, Tebessa, Bulla Regia, Sétif, etc.; Duval 1973. Building complex S1 (chap. 8). Building complex C17 (chap. 5). Building complex S4 (chap. 8). Krautheimer 1996: 214–215; Jäggi 2010: 156–157. Ulber 1989: 445. Michel 2001.

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


Apsed/Basilical Floor Plan Churches This seems to be the most common sort of floor plan, even though the external part of the apse can either be semi-circular or quadrangular. The only complete example is the main building at Cercadilla.58 Also with similar characteristics (date, orientation), even with a quadrangular apse, are the building compound of Cortijo de Chinales,59 which we identify as the martyrial basilica of Saint Acisclus. However, the available archaeological information should be complemented with further excavations to confirm these hypotheses. From the seventh century we see examples of basilical floor plans according to three types. The first type feature a quadrangular apse, as found in a small rural church linked to the cemetery of a villa in Roda de Andalucía.60 The second type feature an apse which is quadrangular in the exterior but semi-circular in the interior, in the great monastery church of San Miguel de los Fresnos,61 which is very similar to that of Son Bou,62 to the one found in Ampurias,63 and to the church of Villa Fortunatus.64 The third type, represented by the church of Los Llanos,65 were endowed with a small semi-circular apse on a structure at its head, which recalls the basilica at Cabeza de Griego, in Segobriga.66 Double Apse Churches We have three examples of double apse basilicas and, again each classified in three different subtypes (in what threatens to become an irritating tradition for norm-loving archaeological researchers). El Germo and Phase 3 of Coracho are clear examples in this respect. Not as certain, but we believe highly plausible, Gerena also fits this category, with an external semicircular double apse. We have proposed that it may have been the church of a small monastery.67 Coracho, with two inscribed apses, one of them semi-circular, the other rectangular, bares witness to the transformations 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67

Building complex C4 (chap. 5). Building complex C7 (chap. 5). Building complex S6 (chap. 8). See building complex B2. Godoy 1995; Alcaide 2011. Schlunk and Hauschil 1978: 43, fig. 21; Abascal, Almagro, and Cebrián 2008. Schlunk and Hauschil 1978: 161–162. See building complex C14. Schlunk and Hauschil 1978: 43. Building complex C3 (chap. 5).


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suffered by the church over a three hundred year period. Thus, its double apse structure corresponds, not to the original plan, but to changes in the liturgy. We will not stir the intense scientific debate about the liturgical use or nomenclature of these buildings, and particularly of the apses, because (among other reasons) we do not have enough finds in western Baetica to judge such a matter. No liturgical installations have survived, thus rendering it impossible to define specific religious usage with any certainty. It is thus futile to try to search, among the remains available from these basilicas, for a glimpse (however small) of those liturgical prescriptions referred to in the texts. In only one instance do we have two archaeological elements that permit some liturgical interpretation: the western apse and the possible synthronon of Coracho. We have already published our hypothesis on this most interesting church, so we shall not reiterate our words.68 But we do want to stress two of the most controversial aspects raised when these findings were presented: the martyrial nature and the chronology of Phase 1; and the possible synthronon of Phase 2. In contrast to other churches (not only those with a double apse), in Coracho, a huge effort was made to determine, not so much liturgical and/or artistic features, but purely archaeological features from which to establish the evolution of the building. Unfortunately this is not very common, and most researchers who focus on ‘liturgical’ interpretations tend to disregard these other aspects. For Coracho it is evident, following an archaeological analysis of the remains, that the building had a first, homogeneous phase – an Occidentalized apse in the shape of the letter omega, separated from the western façade of the building, and wider than the lateral naves. Its precise chronology, impossible to certify due to the conditions in which the archaeological intervention took place, has been given (based on the few ceramic remains of some of the inhumation graves that made use of a pre-existing pagan cremation necropolis) an approximate fourth century dating. Based on these features, we have assumed that the area between the western façade and the omega-shaped apse must have been used as an ambulatory (closely related to the traditional cult of the dead),69 with a possible martyrial purpose, with comparative examples from the fourth through to the sixth century. In the particular case of Coracho, it seems apparent that the composition of the double apses corresponds to two different moments in time, and not to the original plan of the building. Although possibly devoted, 68 Botella and Sánchez 2008; Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009; Sánchez and Gómez 2013. 69 See Krautheimer 1996: 60.

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initially, to a martyrial cult focused on the western apse, which was later monumentalized in a second phase and eventually generated a double apse basilica after its last reform. The interpretation of the remains of the second phase, as the outline of a triumphal arch with a synthronon, has posed a number of problems for certain researchers,70 who believe those remains cannot be ascribed to the presence of the Byzantines in the Iberian Peninsula. However, no solution has been brought forward based on the actual archaeological remains that, as can be observed, are very explicit. Furthermore, there are many parallels for the construction of a synthronon in the western apse of a church: basilica II of Mactar,71 basilica VI of Sbeitla,72 basilica of Henchir Goraat ez-Zid,73 the cathedral of Cyrene,74 etc. Central Floor Plan, Triconch and Tetraconch Building E is an example of this, and we barely have any information available. However, it seems clear that the building was accessed through an atrium and from a cryptoporticus. As suggested by photographic documentation and a consultation of the excavation files, we can imagine that the building was built in two phases, both of central floor plan: firstly with three apses and an entrance, facing east, in the shape of a narthex, then (after suffering some sort of presumably important destruction) it was reconstructed on a smaller scale, with what seem to be four quadrangular apses. It is rather difficult to articulate a theory about the purpose of a building based on the floor plan alone, more so in this instance. All we can say is that these central floor plan buildings are usually related, in Late Antiquity, to funerary functions of martyrial commemoration or baptisteries. To the above examples regarding the type and presence of a narthex as an access point, we would have to add other central floor plan constructions, such as the funerary building of Sant Miquel de Egara,75 or some of the great mausoleums annexed to Roman circus-shaped basilicas, such as San Sebastiano or San Lorenzo. However, this sort of floor plan, as seen in building E 70 The supporters of a Byzantine presence limited exclusively to coastal enclaves are Vizcaíno Sánchez 2009: 451; and Vallejo Girvés 2012. Consequently, and despite the archaeological evidence, some researchers consider it unlikely that Coracho could be interpreted as a Byzantine church, since it is located far from the coast. 71 Duval 1973: 113, fig. 60. 72 Duval 1973: 180, fig. 107. 73 Duval 1973: 271, fig. 153. 74 Duval 1973: 288, fig. 162. 75 García, Moro, and Tuset 2009: 127.


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at Cercadilla (its direct derivatives), is common in late antique churches in eastern Illyricum, as can be seen also in church E at Iustiniana Prima,76 and its regional equivalents at Kursumlija or Nis. These great funerary buildings, irrespective of their floor plan, and used as funerary churches, are usually found in episcopal compounds like the ones at Terrassa or Valencia,77 and in martyrial centres such as San Felice in Cimitile-Nola.78 Whatever the case, one of the buildings that most resembles it is the baptismal building at Gravedona I.79 Again, Cercadilla provides the only certain examples of triconch buildings in western Baetica, used as a mausoleum (building D) and as a funerary church (building) into the Mozarabic period.80 Our hypothesis regarding La Vegueta would imply the existence of another similar building,81 but we must await archaeological confirmation. The articulation of the triconch header is common to both churches and funerary buildings. All along the Mediterranean, examples are numerous for the whole late antique period, particularly when it comes to funerary churches or martyria, and have been thoroughly researched since Grabar’s time.82 In Hispania we find the funerary building of Sant Miquel de Egara, marvellously preserved.83 In Italy we also find good examples dated to the fifth century at Cimitile-Nola or to the sixth in Copanello.84 In North Africa, these buildings, used as martyria, were researched after the publication of the building found in Cincari.85 Another area where churches and centres of martyrial commemoration show such specific constructions and, we insist, boast a wide chronological span is Illyricum,86 with numerous examples.

Baptismal Buildings The baptismal building at El Germo (C3) is the only one that can, with all certainty, be classified as such. It is a section attached to the basilica on its southern side, and reproduces the latter’s double apse, thus giving way 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86

Duval 1984: 446. Ribera 2009. Bertelli 2010: 197–201. Ristow 1998, n. 316. Similar to the mausoleum of Tolentino. See building complex S11 (chap. 8). Grabar 1946. García, Moro, and Tuset 2009: 135 and 145. Bertelli 2010. Cintas and Duval 1976: 897. Varalis 1999; Duval 1984.

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to a peculiar architecture, symmetrical in regard to the centre section of the same building, also joined to the basilica, but without apses on this occasion. We believe that this baptismal building would have been divided into two spaces by an access to the basilica that set apart the baptismal area (with its pool) to the southeast, from a space nearly filled with tombs to the southwest. We do not know whether the apses had a liturgical purpose, that is to say, whether there were altars at some point, as in the case of Casa Herrera.87 Architecturally speaking, the apse that lies further from the baptismal pool has a wall that might hint at the necessary elevation for the placing of an altar, considered a preeminent spot. This is not certain, however, and we might instead be dealing with an architectural means of overcoming some sort of gradient on the terrain. In the above mentioned example of Casa Herrera, the altar is placed by the pool, a reasonable spot if we bear in mind that, following baptism, the first communion of the competentes takes place. In favour of the hypothesis that the altar was actually raised in this area, however, would be the presence of tombs instead. The location of the baptismal building next to the altar, in an annexed and compartmentalized building, shares similarities with the Balearic churches of Cap des Port and Torelló,88 which show this sort of facility, only located on their northern façade.89 Conversely, Son Fradinet shows a complex building annexed to the southern side of the church, albeit at its base.90 Much more complex and an essentially independent building would be the baptismal edifice of Torre de Palma.91 In the villa of Dehesa de la Cocosa a small baptismal building is situated on the southern side of the tetraconch building, and is also divided up in two rooms, similar to the disposition of Casa Herrera.92 Up to now, in the Iberian Peninsula we have found no more examples to relate to this one in Córdoba, with baptismal pools in apsed or double-apsed buildings. If it were confirmed that building L of Cercadilla served as a baptismal building, then we would have an example located on the southern side of the main basilica and compound, together with various apsed sections. Its singularity, at a floor plan level and regarding location, must thus have related directly to very early Christian architecture, maybe even experimental in nature.93 Such a 87 88 89 90 91 92 93

Sastre de Diego 2010. Alcaide 2011. Alcaide 2011. Alcaide 2011. Schlunk and Hauschild 1978: 172–174. Godoy 1995: 274–276. Krautheimer 1996.


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basilica/transit area/baptistery disposition, in three well-defined construction units (whether built simultaneously or not), can be found all along the Mediterranean in the period of study: the Lateranense patriarchio,94 the southern basilica of Tarragona,95 the episcopal basilica of Valencia,96 Casa Herrera,97 etc. Equally unique, since we have not found parallels to their open, unenclosed nature are what we have called annexed rooms. Their location, however, at the base of a church, does have a number of parallels. A great many Iberian baptisteries would be thus located in relation to their churches.98 Bearing in mind the data available for Terrassa, this arrangement is later than that which placed baptisteries at the head of a church.99 In fact, in a fifty-year period, between the third preepiscopal phase (380) and the fourth (420–430), the baptistery radically changed position, from the head of the episcopal church to its base. We do not know whether this change was due to liturgical considerations or to structural problems. Baptismal areas, however, are also found within buildings and/or enclosed rooms. Only in Son Peretó does something similar happen when compared to Baetican baptisteries, displaying an extraordinarily generous access to this liturgical space.100 Based on the available data, we do not know whether these baptismal areas, such as the one at Gerena, were closed behind gates (metal?) or some other similar structure. We would have to confirm, by excavating the site, that these are, indeed, open rooms. Some Baetican mausoleums were also open, access unimpaired. Thanks to a find at Punta del Moral,101 we know that mausoleums were walled with sun-dried bricks, being thus closed between one burial and the next, leaving the outside available for ceremonies dedicated to the deceased. We do not know what happened in the baptisteries, whether they remained open, or whether they were closed with metal or wooden gates, or even in the same manner as mausoleums, by walling up the entrance. The latter possibility must not be discarded. In this sense, we should recall that baptismal symbolism was strongly related to all funerary things. Thus, Ambrose of Milan frequently talked about the 94 De Blaauw 2004: 11–12; Liverani 2004, fig. 13, sig. 4. 95 López Vilar 2006. 96 Ribera i Lacomba 2008: 6. 97 Sastre de Diego 2009: 6. 98 Schlunk Hauschild 1978: 51. 99 García, Moro, and Tuset 2009: 80–106. 100 Alcaide 2011. 101 Del Amo 2003.

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ritual of baptism in terms of death, burial (demergimur), and resurrection (surgimus), equating the ceremony to crucifixion and the death of sin.102 He even went a step further: ‘Yesterday we talked about the source, which is apparently a kind of sepulchre, in which, believing in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we are received and submerged, and we arise, that is, we are resurrected.’103 Hence, the baptistery itself was, in its theological interpretation, a grave. Could it be that these baptisteries were closed, literally walled up, only to be opened when used, thus imitating funerary enclosures? The working hypothesis must be put forward owing to the lack of a blocking wall in those rooms, confirmed beyond doubt in Gerena and probably in Burguillos del Cerro. We would have to add that, in the instance of El Germo (C3), the only clearly defined baptismal building, its typology is similar to that of the great mausoleums of basilical floor plan at Coracho (C17) and La Trinidad (S7). Its western section, in fact, was used as a gallery for burials. Likewise, the typology of baptismal buildings in other locations within Hispania or the Mediterranean, are equally similar to funerary buildings – cruciform and central floor plans predominate.104 The most outstanding example in the Iberian Peninsula is, without a doubt, Valencia’s cathedral,105 where two cruciform buildings, on either side of the main apse, are respectively used as a mausoleum and a baptistery. That said, without more data from further excavations to offer more information about the closure or otherwise of these buildings, and of the funerary ones, these proposals must remain purely hypothetical.

Baptisteries For this subject we follow, in part, the typologies regarding existing baptismal pools for Hispania,106 and for the Empire generally,107 albeit with slight variations, basically for those endowed with annexed pools. The chronology, 102 Ferguson 2009: 643–644. 103 Ambrose, De Sacr., 3.1.1; borrowing Paul’s metaphor, Ambrose (who was Augustine’s inspiration) described the font as ‘a kind of grave’ because baptism was conceived as spiritual death and rebirth, while the death of the body represented rebirth in Christ (Navoni 1999: 44–47; Jensen 2012: 162). John Chrysostom uses a metaphor: the pool is the tomb (Godoy 1997: 188–189). 104 Ristow 1998; Ferguson 2009. 105 Ribera Lacomba 2008. 106 Schlunk and Hauschild 1978: 51, fig. 27. 107 Ristow 1998: 27–52.


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however, is very complex, since (except for particular cases) it is practically impossible to ascribe a date to the type and shape of the baptismal pool.108 We believe that, at this moment, we would have to undertake a thorough revision of this sort of facility, particularly in Hispania,109 to try to pinpoint the chronological debate through rigorous excavation data, rather than through only a comparison of the shape and depth of the pools and their liturgical features.110 Only after ascertaining reliable data on the chronology of the pools will we be able to apply typological criteria to those that are impossible to date by using the archaeological register alone. However complex chronology might be, symbolism is another tricky matter, since it is possible that the shape chosen for pool types (which, as we mentioned, was very wide-ranging) depended on which of the multiple theological-symbolic aspects surrounding the ceremony of baptism was being expressed. As happens with the baptismal buildings we have already analysed, it is likely that a particular type or shape depended on whether the aim was to stress or imitate Christ’s baptism (with a fons) or the symbolism of the death of sin (with a cross). The first baptistery in which we find archaeological evidence is that of Doura Europos,111 dated to the mid-third century (the city was razed by the Sasanians in 256). Structurally, it resembles an arcosolium or some of the commemorative structures that Pope Damasus (366–384) raised in honour of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus in the catacombs of the Via Labicana, or St. Januarius in the Pretestato (Via Appia).112 However, the big monumental baptisteries of the fourth century are heavily symbolic in the theatrical reproduction of Christ’s baptism, as shown by the Lateranensian baptistery endowed with impressive hydraulic systems from which great quantities of water flowed, a central column on top of which was a flame symbolising the descent of the Holy Spirit, and a good number of sculptures of animals that recreated an idealized landscape depicting what was thought to be the banks of the Jordan river.113 We do not know to what extent Ambrosian theories on baptism and death were present in Hispania, and to what extent these might have had an influence on the construction of baptisteries or baptismal pools. It does seem certain that, while in Italy and Gaul the circular or octagonal fons was preferred, together with a peripatetic recreation of the baptism of Christ 108 Ristow 1998: 53–76. The dates of some baptisteries are doubtful. 109 There are no scientific monographs on baptisteries for Hispania. 110 Godoy 1989. 111 Ferguson 2009: 440–441. 112 Fiocchi Nicolai 2001: 80–81, figs. 52 and 53. 113 Cosentino 2001.

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with hydraulic systems that produced water in abundance,114 this system was barely seen in Baetica, only in the case of the baptistery of La Merced (C5) and, then again, in a different style to that of Italian and Gallic baptisteries, can we envisage the existence of such a complex hydraulic system. Tau Shaped: Recangular with an Annexed Auxiliary Pool Córdoba offers one such typological example. We have already expressed the causes that led us to consider these remains to be a baptistery and, also, one of the earlier ones in the Iberian Peninsula:115 its complex hydraulic system was typical of the first baptism ceremonies, where running water was a prerequisite, recreating the first baptism – that of Christ himself. In this sense, this annexed semi-circular pool was for the use of the officiating bishop and his assistant (the deacon), while the more customarily rectangular, east–west oriented area was used by the competentes to follow the entry-exit ritual path symbolising the death of sin and the resurrection into a new life. This explanation, published some time ago, appears to be the most convincing of all.116 Moreover, the recent discovery of the baptistery of Vila Verde de Ficalho seems to confirm the presence of this specific typology.117 Quadrangular According to Schlunk and Hauschild, this type of structure can be included within the ‘rechteckige Form’, since they do not differ.118 The only known example in western Baetica is that of Estepa, the dating of which is uncertain.119 According to Ristow, this type of facility accounts for nine per cent of baptisteries.120 If we focus on Hispania, we will find numerous examples: Milreu, Tarragona, Bobalá, Villa Fortunatus or la Cocosa. Little else can be said regarding this type in western Baetica, before the report on the excavation and revision of previous interventions are published.

114 Gandolfi 2001; Guyon 2000; Guyon 2006. 115 Building complex C5 (chap. 5); Sánchez Velasco 2006. 116 Godoy 1989: 622–623. 117 Serpa, Portugal; Wolfram and Soares 2014. 118 ‘Quadratish’ form by Ristow 1998. 119 Building complex S3 (chap. 7). 120 Ristow 1998: 28, grf. 5.


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Cruciform This is considered the common type of Baetican baptisteries,121 making up nearly sixteen per cent as calculated by Ristow.122 There is no doubt, focusing on the territory of study, that this is the hegemonic type, with examples such as El Guijo (C2), El Germo (C3), Burguillos del Cerro (B1), and Gerena (S1), even though only the first and third would show the same shape. The chronology presents difficulties, although given the data available for El Germo (C3) and Gerena (S1) we could cautiously venture an approximate dating between the beginning of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh centuries. Their shape may be related to the symbolism outlined in the theological texts regarding baptism, as seen in Ambrosius of Milan, according to whom the baptistery represents a tomb, the ceremony being a symbol of crucifixion and the death of sin.123 This relationship between architectural shape and symbolism can be observed in the cruciform mausoleum of Galla Placidia (Ravenna),124 dated to the fifth century. A century later, the cathedral of the episcopium of Valencia was built with two rooms in the apse,125 both cruciform: the northern one a baptistery, the southern one a funerary monument. Stoups Stoups constitute, by far (thirty per cent of all those studied by Ristow), the most common baptismal installations in the Mediterranean.126 These stoups are characteristically rounded, small in radius, and rather shallow. They are built in or carved from a monolithic block of stone, as is the case for the one under examination, with a parallel in Son Bou (although the latter shows decoration in the inside with four semicircular recesses). In the study we have undertaken on Gerena (see S1), we have already pointed out a number of interesting parallels regarding this construction, spanning a large period, even though in this particular instance we believe a rather late dating would be appropriate, possibly as late as the second half of the seventh century, if we bear in mind the reuse of pre-existing structures. 121 ‘Kreuzform’ by Schlunk and Hauschild 1978; and Ristow 1998. 122 Ristow 1998: 28, grf. 5. 123 Ferguson 2009: 642. 124 Krautheimer 1996: 214–217; Deliyannis 2010: 74–84. 125 Ribera Lacomba 2008. 126 ‘Kleine runde Taufbecken’ by Schlunk and Hauschild 1978; ‘Rund’ form by Ristow 1998.

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Monastic Complexes We know of the presence of monks in Hispania from at least the fourth century, and in a similar way to those in the broader Mediterranean,127 although in light of the documentary sources, the Priscinalist controversies, and the conciliar texts of that century (Elvira, Zaragoza), their ‘material reality’ is, nonetheless, problematic. As regards to western Baetica, the different architectonic solutions when erecting a monastery must have depended on local particularities, the result of an expansive process that is not yet well defined, which would have adapted to the needs of every moment and territory. This must have been before the Benedictine unification and normalization of the monastery.128 Furthermore, the existence of urban and periurban monasteries has barely been taken into account, even if the texts actually do say they were numerous and important.129 The material vagueness of these monasteries, as well as the lack of evident architectonic references, might have played a part in the notion that monasteries were huge rural establishments built in faraway and inhospitable places. We believe the truth was somewhat different. Urban Monasteries There are only two archaeologically documented structures that could qualify as being related to monastic environments: the so called building K at Cercadilla,130 and the remains found in the Patio de Banderas at the Alcázares de Sevilla. Concerning Cercadilla, its structure, size, and location is identical to the different monasteries that flourished around St. Peter’s in Rome131 and St. John Lateran,132 which endured constant additions up to the point of becoming, during the eighth and ninth centuries, genuine cities within Rome itself.133 However, this is a subject that, as with everything related to Cercadilla, requires further multidisciplinary investigation in order to obtain trustworthy archaeological data. The problem, as with any building compound, is still chronological: we do not know whether these 127 Marcos 2006. 128 Moreno Martín 2009: 300. 129 Puertas Tricas 1978. 130 Building complex C4 (chap. 5). 131 Ferrari 1957; De Blaauw 2010. 132 Liverani 2004. 133 Pope Leo IV fortified the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican with a wall (848–852), and in his honour the part of the city so protected was called Civitas Leoniana (Wickham 2015).


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structures, common to urban monasticism, were associated with the episcopium or postdate the relocation of the episcopal building to the area where the mosque stands today. The great amount of Mozarabic monasteries in Umayyad Córdoba can only be explained if they had previously existed in Visigothic times. We have enough examples for both working hypotheses, even though we insist in the need for a new study of building compound C4 to solve these problems. Our hypothesis regarding the definition as a periurban monastery for the remains found in the Patio de Banderas (C.E. S4) must await extensive excavation to be confirmed. But its topographic location, adjacent to the port and beyond the city walls, the massive architectural style used, the remains of furniture, marble gates, or auxiliary tables for the cult, etc., indicate that we find ourselves facing one of the early monastic buildings that must have surrounded the cities and are not well known. We must remember the economic importance of monasteries,134 and their link to economic activities associated in this case to the port, commerce, and fishing industry.135 Rural Monasteries We believe there are three sites which, in our opinion, correspond to rural monasteries: El Germo (C3), La Losilla (C1), and San Miguel de los Fresnos (B2). However, a lack of archaeological information in relation to these sites (notwithstanding the church itself) calls for caution. In truth, a monastery is defined according to its facilities, not its religious structures, as there is no such thing as a monastic church.136 Up until the regula of Isidore of Seville, we lack a clear definition of what a monastery actually was, even though what we find outlined in his first canon is more of a desideratum than a material reality that might serve as a possible archaeological reference:137 it is a model, like San Gall, where we face an altogether different reality from the alleged prototype.138 This is true of the seventh century; for earlier periods documental obscurity is nearly absolute. Thus, the definition of the monastery will have to be mainly archaeological. This is so particularly in 134 There is ample information for the economic activities of Egyptian monasteries during Late Antiquity (Gascou 1991). For Hispania, see Díaz Martínez 1987. 135 Riera and Riera 2014; Riera Rullan 2013. 136 Moreno Martín 2009: 282. 137 Díaz y Díaz 1961; García Moreno 1993. 138 Moreno Martín 2009: 280.

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Baetica, where there is a large collection of monasteries,139 but we are only just starting to get a glimpse on what they must have been like. The only completely excavated and published site is El Germo (Building compound C3). Even though it was initially considered to be a monastery,140 this notion was discarded and instead it was later labelled a civil building (‘Profanbau’, although it was not said to be a villa), though otherwise left to be defined by others.141 Martínez Tejera discarded this notion too, collaterally purporting that the key to the definition of a monastery as opposed to a rural ‘parish’ would be the physical link between the church and the functional buildings.142 Moreno Martín merely considered the inclusion of El Germo as a monastery to be ‘an accepted hypothesis’.143 We have already stated why we are inclined to define El Germo as a monastery,144 in view of its architectural, functional, topographic, and territorial characteristics, as well as the furniture and epigraphy that were found. In our opinion, it shares a number of characteristics with other sites which leave little doubt in this respect and which have been labelled as Iberian monasteries, such as Punta de l’Illa,145 in Cullera, showing a dispersion of structures encompassing the entire island: area I is taken to be the church; area II, cellaria; area III, multiple and disseminated cells. This very dispersion, only on a much larger scale, can be found in the northern area of the early Christian compound of Francolì, considered to be most probably an extra-urban monastery without an encircling wall.146 Other sites considered to be, also very probably and without objection, rural monasteries because of their temple and adjoining buildings barely allow us to envisage the purpose of such structures.147 Despite the fact that material proof is scarce, both owing to the location and its necropolis, we would have to consider the remains found at El Arahal (S5) to be a possible monastic compound, at least as a working hypothesis to explain a building and a necropolis of relevance in a rural milieu. Therefore, we will have to wait for further excavations or new findings that may help to outline these architectural realities which, up to this moment, are defying definition in western Baetica. 139 Puertas Tricas 1975. 140 Ulbert 1981. 141 Godoy 1995: 272; Caballero Zoreda 2006: 111. 142 Martínez Tejera 2007: 34. 143 Moreno Martin 2009: 283. 144 Building complex C3 (chap. 5). 145 Roselló 2005: 282–285; Ribera and Roselló 2007: 163–164. 146 López Vilar 2006: 270–275. 147 Moreno Martín 2009: 286; Caballero Zoreda 2007: 95–96.


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Rock Monasteries It is obvious that not all artificial cavities are hermitages, 148 but we do believe that, in the case of El Arrimadizo, evidence can very well support such a working hypothesis, based on the necropolis and the inscription that was found. Bearing in mind the three types of ‘monastic’ areas that, according to contemporary texts, can be found in late antique Hispania,149 we believe that the three storage rooms found at El Arrimadizo could be related to a hermitage. Of course, this is merely a hypothesis while we wait for the place to be excavated. But these caves are the only living quarters associated with the necropolis. Profuse vegetation and abundant water (with cascades and numerous streams), together with the surrounding landscape, make us think of the descriptions by Eucherius regarding the monastery of Honoratus in Lerins (founded at the beginning of the fifth century), and outlined in De laude eremi, which practically described the monastery as a paradise of nature for the senses on earth.150 Close to Cabra we find some epigraphic documents that expressly mention a monachus, albeit related to the seventh century.151 We have already published the suggestion that these communities possibly influenced the area in the context of understanding the destruction of rural pagan cult centres, as mentioned in the instance of Almedinilla.152 We know of such acts of intransigence thanks to the writings of Martin of Tours and the attacks on pagan temples, both rural an urban.153 A cross, in the shape of an ankh found in Priego de Córdoba and dated to the fourth century, might be associated to this sort of community, although we cannot know this with any certainty.154 Thus, we believe these cavities could be further proof of monks and hermits in this early Christianized area of western Baetica.

148 Martín Viso 1999: 163. 149 Martínez Tejera 2007: 20. 150 Eucherius, De laude eremi, 42, ‘Aquis scatens, herbis virens, floribus renitens, visibus odoribusque iocunda, [paradisum possidentibus se] exhibet quem possidebunt; digna quae caelestibus disciplinis Honorato auctore fundata sit, quae tantis institutis tantum nacta sit patrem, apostolici spiritus vigore et vultus radiantem; digna quae illum suscipiens, ita emitteret; digna quae et praestantissimos alat monachos et [ambiendos] proferat sacerdotes.’ 151 CIL II2 / 5: 299. 152 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009: 175–176. 153 Marcos 2001. 154 Sánchez, Moreno, and Gómez 2009: 173–175.

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Towers Tower ought not be associated with the existence of bells, and bells did not necessarily need towers: we know of the existence of bells without towers and towers without bells. Thus, the presence of a tower in a late antique building does not mean it was a bell tower. Indeed, no bells are mentioned in the oldest Iberian literary testimony related to church towers: the Vitas sanctorum patrum emeritensium (seventh century) claimed that Bishop Fidel (560–571) ‘re-established’ the memory of Saint Eulalia ‘on this sacred temple they raised the steep tops of the towers to a sublime height’.155 Excavations have confirmed, with enough certainty, the location of the said towers.156 Yet nothing was said about bells in the Vitas sanctorum patrum emeritensium, meaning that the towers might be related to the martyrial nature of the church, consecrated to the most famous of female Iberian martyrs. Furthermore, two rural monastic churches, dating to the seventh century, featured towers, although in both cases these were single towers independent from the church:157 São Gião, to the south of Nazaré (Leiria, Portugal), on the right side of which we find the traces of a quadrangular structure, and Santa Lucia del Trampal, close to Alcuésar (Caceres), where, on the north western corner one can find the remains of some walls from which a quadrangular tower has been reconstructed. As is the case with the church of Santa Eulalia in Mérida, nothing hints at the existence of bells. The existence of towers has also been presumed at San Vicente de Córdoba and Toledo’s cathedral, based on the testimony of Arab writers.158 The same is true of the church mentioned by Arab chroniclers in reference to a Viking attack on Seville, during which the invading fleet was spotted from a tower of a church, close to Orippo.159 As we can see, at least within the Iberian sphere, towers and churches seem to be closely related, even if this does not imply the existence of a bell tower. In our case, there is only one example that involves a tower, in the area of the episcopium of Écija. As in Emerita, the tower seems to be related to an area of martyrial cult, and if we bear in mind the noted parallels, the church must be very close to it. 155 Arbeiter 2010b: 27. 156 Mateos 1999: 157–160 and 201. 157 Arbeiter 2010b: 28. 158 Arbeiter 2010b: 29–30. 159 García and Sánchez 2010.


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Colonnaded Streets, Sigma-Places, and Atria We have already stressed the numerous examples in relation to this type of construction throughout the Mediterranean, and particularly in Hispania, when we came to analyse the architectonic compound of Mármoles Street,160 and of the latest excavated area in the compound of Cercadilla.161 Hence, we shall not dwell on this subject any further. We would, however, like to stress three points. Firstly, some years ago we upheld the existence of this kind of buildings in Córdoba owing to a unique find, with no parallels in Hispania. It was the fragment of a lintel, in the shape of a pediment decorated on both sides.162 This, together with the huge dimensions of the object, made us believe that it must have been part of a huge structure of transit or access. At the time, one of the hypotheses we considered was that of a structure similar to that found in St. Laurent in Milan. It is a shame not to know exactly where in Córdoba the piece came from. The archaeological study (not only the artistic study) of architectonic ornamentation in museums is paramount when attempting to define new and scarcely known types of architecture. This sort of structure in Hispania is associated with the existence of episcopal compounds, as is the probable case in Valencia, Seville, and Córdoba. In fact, owing to this association, we have put forward the possibility that a similar structure identified in Tarragona might indicate the proximity of the episcopium in that city.163 However, in other areas of the Mediterranean, such as Italy (St. Laurent of Milan) or Palestine (the Anastasis of Jerusalem), these structures are associated with martyrial and/or commemoratives settings, related to the seasonal cult. This does not automatically mean that the appearance of these propylaea prove the existence of an episcopium, only the possibility of there being one, at least in Hispania. In any of these two cases, we are faced with quite an ample, demarcated, open area that must have been used as a place of representation or mass gathering for ceremonies. The third consideration refers to the definition of such structures. In our opinion, these porticoed areas and colonnaded accesses hint at a typical architectural development of the period, reflected both in the Vitas sanctorum patrum emeritensium and the works of Isidore of Seville: the atrium. This architectonic element has been profusely researched in the past years.164 Its 160 Building complex S8 (chap. 8). 161 Building complex C4 (chap. 5). 162 Sánchez Velasco 2006: 129–131, fig. 25. 163 Building complex S8 (chap. 8). 164 Godoy and Tuset 1994; Godoy 1995: 133–147.

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archaeological definition has always been terribly problematic, since just very few of those episcopal compounds have been completely excavated in Hispania. We do have some new data that allow us to compare some structures along the Iberian Peninsula, where the common denominator is always the demarcation of an area of representation associated with the episcopia. In this sense, it is not farfetched to define these structures as atriums, since all their characteristics match. It is not our intention in this study to use the so called ‘Philological Archaeology’ methodology, so popular during the nineteenth century; we do, however, stress the possible link between these emblematic structures, which are slowly becoming better understood, always from a multidisciplinary perspective and based on the archaeological context. Maybe, as time advances, more thorough investigation of these structures will help to better define the compounds they were a part of, as would be the case with Tarragona and its evasive episcopal group, which is still largely unknown.165 As set forth by other researchers,166 together these represent one of the greatest expressions of power associated architecture – sites where, as asserted in the emeritan texts, the celebration of processions would have taken place, together with the reception of civil representatives, the celebration of trials, and the handing out of food. In this sense, they constitute one of the places where the transformation of bishops into leaders of the community clearly occurred, taking over the duties of the ancient curiales, patrons, and imperial magistrates, together with those activities related to their religious role.

Funerary Buildings This study is not specifically focused on the funerary world.167 Nevertheless, the presence of these elements related to great works of architecture has driven us to the study of those sites where this kind of monumental 165 Godoy 2013: 171–174. 166 Jacobs 2015: 72–73, ‘The purpose of this article is to trace the transposition of large-scale elements of public architecture within church compounds, but also outside the prayer hall, in the provinces of the East Mediterranean and North Africa. More in particular, I investigate the appearance of colonnaded streets, sigma-plazas, nymphaea, arches and tetrapyla. All these architectural forms were not only very familiar to every city inhabitant, but also highly charged with meaning and, certainly in the case of arches and tetrapyla, invested with power.’ 167 Two recent studies analyse the Roman funerary architecture in Hispania: Sevilla Conde 2014 and Kobusch 2014; here we study the funerary traditions that evolved during Late Antiquity.


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architecture can be found, regarding which we have put together a morphological structuring, again faced with the lack of firm chronological data concerning a good many of the analysed structures. Quadrangular The simplest type, architecturally speaking, was also very common during the Roman period and its use for single and mass burials across the Iberian Peninsula represents a continuity and evolution of practice.168 There are no precise hints as to the sort of roofing they might have had, but judging from the foundations (C8, C9, S7) these must have been considerably monumental. We find these in western Baetica throughout the whole period of study, articulated in different ways: isolated, like at La Trinidad (S7); linked, giving way to a continuous funerary compound, like at the Parque Infantil de Tráfico (C8); and also as annexes to other buildings such as churches, in the case of Los Llanos (C14) or Burguillos del Cerro (B1). Sometimes we do not find graves in the interior because, as stated on numerous occasions, the strong Baetican tradition of sarcophagi burials meant that graves were not dug in this sort of buildings. Rectangular Most of the rectangular mausoleums with multiple burials must have looked very much like the one found, nearly intact, at Punta del Moral (H1), even though in most cases we barely even have the foundation works and the graves, the latter having been looted in most cases. Many of these, as in the case of the Huelvan mausoleum, must have looked like actual dwellings, to meet and celebrate the ritual banquets in honour of the dead. (It is not certain whether these were celebrated within the building.) They differed from type 1 basically in their homelike appearance and distribution, at times divided up in a number of interior rooms. We can also find these at the necropolis of La Trinidad (S8), while some structures at Cercadilla (C4) can be classified within this typology. They show strong parallels with certain mausoleums found in the residential area of the episcopal compound of Terrassa,169 Tarragona,170 and even Ostia.171 168 Remolá 2004; Vaquerizo 2010; Ciurana 2011. 169 García, Moro, and Tuset 2009 (fifth century). 170 Remolá 2006: 91, fig. 61 (third-fourth centuries). 171 Brenk 2005: 38 (fourth century).

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Basilical Floor Plan This is a very common floor plan in western Baetica, though its dating is far from precise. We find this at La Trinidad (S7). It is likely that some of the buildings at Cercadilla showing such floor plan might, in fact, be mausoleums, as already noted in the appropriate section (Building Complex C4, buildings O and A). We find good examples in Valencia, in one of the last phases of the episcopal complex,172 taken to be a memoria (as in the above mentioned Cordoban case). In Italy, we find numerous examples of this sort of apsed mausoleum, built as annexes in the basilicas with a Roman circus-style floor plan, e.g. San Sebastiano or Santi Marcellino e Pietro.173 Recently revised and restudied, the compound of San Felice, in Cimitile (Naples) has several apsed mausoleums and elongated funerary churches with an apse that only differ from the former in their size and types of burial.174 Therefore we can say that, in the case of the Baetican sites analysed, there is a parallel with other examples elsewhere in Hispania and the Empire, where this sort of apsed, monumental, and probably vaulted mausoleum, bluntly constructed, is associated with and possibly martyrial basilicas (Coracho) or with possible episcopal compounds (Cercadilla). In this sense, concerning La Trinidad, we have already defended above the possible immediate proximity of a basilica of great dimensions, possibly consecrated to the martyr saints Justa and Rufina. The existence of this basilica, which we have hypothesized by taking into account all the data available, nevertheless must be confirmed archaeologically. It is also important to stress that these great Baetican mausoleums are devoid of interior burials because it was customary among the regional elites to be buried in sarcophagi until well into the seventh century. Central Floor Plan, Triconch, and Tetraconch This is quite an extended sort of mausoleum during the late antique period. In western Baetica we have a number of examples, but practically all of them prove problematic in one way or another. Old excavations have left us with barely a descriptive account of what was found, as happens with Italica (La Vegueta, S11), or in Córdoba where we have only a nineteenth century superficial freehand (La Merced, C5). In Seville we are faced with 172 Ribera 2008; Ribera and Roselló 2009. 173 De Blaauw 2010. 174 Bertelli 2010; especialy fig. 245 nn. 14, 18, 28; fig. 245, S and T.


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incomplete excavations (La Trinidad, S7),or excavations that have remained unpublished for years (San Telmo palace). In Córdoba, old excavations that have likewise remained unpublished with current interpretations failing to correspond to the remains found (La Mezquita de Córdoba, C10), and even recent excavations that do not take a stance as to what was found (Cercadilla, Building Complex C4). The only clear example in regard to this typology from which we do at least have an aerial photograph and a sketchy floor plan that reports both size and characteristics is the site in Cercadilla (building D, Building Complex C4) which, as stated above, is identical to the late antique mausoleum of Tolentino.175 We must wait for further archaeological research that may allow us to define, with more clarity, two of the most interesting buildings of this typology: the one found at La Trinidad and the one excavated at the beginning of the twentieth century in La Vegueta.

Funerary Enclosures We have already stressed the apparent singularity of these spaces, where no enclosing door is found, which we must interpret – in our opinion – in two ways: a) they would be open and endowed with some sort of non-structural closures or demarcations; b) they would be enclosed by a wall made of poor materials (sun-dried bricks) that could easily be disposed of in order to reuse the area. In truth, there are no archaeological remains that may allow us to favour one hypothesis or the other. Thus, we have decided to unify those buildings with these characteristics in an independent category, subdivided into the following groups. Quadrangular We find two examples: one in La Trinidad,176 the other, probably, at La Roda de Andalucía.177 In the latter case the site seems to be arranged retro sanctos. As stated, this is a very common type, already present in Roman times and, as in other cases, such as Tarragona, the southern basilica of Francolí and its surrounding necropolis,178 seems to be somehow related to the immediate proximity of the churches, as can be seen at La Roda. 175 Mazzoleni 2001: 58, fig. 11. 176 Building complex S7 (chap. 8). 177 Building complex S6 (chap. 7). 178 López 2006: 209–214 and 276, fig. 314.

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Rectangular We have two cases, both probable: the privileged burial of Gerena and the mausoleums E-48 and E-73 of La Trinidad. It is difficult to take a stance regarding the actual reality of these mausoleums, particularly because in most cases the vagueness of the remains brings with it unsolvable doubts as to the precise architectural reconstruction. Apsed We find these at Coracho,179 in building D at Cercadilla,180 and (with less probability) at La Trinidad. These might be the most evident examples regarding the absence of an enclosure in some mausoleums, since their opening is very much apparent on the opposite side of the apse. These are generally associated with churches and would have had burials in sarcophagi in the interior. Their size and structure (elongated and narrow) does not allow for their being considered buildings intended for religious purposes.

A Global Perspective In truth, when we approach this period’s architecture, we face a number of problems that cause some difficulty when attempting an analysis. There are not that many well researched buildings, and many of these are chronologically problematic, since we cannot date their inception nor their subsequent building phases. For those churches abandoned in Late Antiquity, the archaeological record is usually rather weak. Conversely, intense reuse up to the present also challenges our ability to determine the evolution of the building. We must also add the difficulty in determining the precise purpose of these buildings. It is evident that churches are buildings related to worship in general,181 but within this primary purpose they can be related to daily worship (parishes), the martyrial cult, the remembrance of the dead (funerary churches), or the emblematic representation of the Church as an institution (cathedral). The archaeological data required to answer this question is frequently scarce. As we have seen, in many instances we barely have the remains of some walls and certain fragments of architectural 179 Building complex C17 (chap. 6). 180 Cercadilla, Building complex C4. 181 Arbeiter 2003b.


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ornamentation or short inscriptions. Therefore, it is likewise difficult to take a stance in regard to the liturgical aspects of these churches. As has been stressed, the shape of a church is not instrumental to its purpose, and one type of floor plan can be used both for a cathedral and for a tiny church in the fundus of a wealthy landowner.182 It is not as difficult to take a stance on the costs of the construction itself. The construction of religious or funerary Christian buildings transformed the classical city and in many instances became the main landmark for late antique communities, both urban and rural.183 In order to do this, a great amount of resources were needed. Recent studies have focused on establishing hypotheses about the costs of different early imperial era buildings,184 even though the only trustworthy document we have regarding prices is Diocletian’s Edict (late third century, i.e. the period immediately prior to our period of study).185 Then there are some Byzantine documents that also provide interesting information.186 In both cases data refer to situations in the eastern Empire, not in the western sphere, although the situation in general must not have been all that different. In any event, the dimensions of the buildings, the usage of luxurious materials (for example, wood, marble, bronze, or glass), the use of specialized artisans, etc., not only tell us of the complexity of the building programmes, but also of the economic capacity of those who ordered their construction. It is common to study the ideological and liturgical aspects of the preserved buildings, or the iconography of their ornamentations, but we struggle to find reference to the social and economic importance of these structures. Even though there were important buildings financed by private individuals in Baetica,187 bishops were primarily responsible for the construction and maintenance of these churches, since they were the high representatives of the Church.188 Thus, they modified the landscape of the cities and rural areas alike, and simultaneously displayed economic power by employing hundreds of workers and artisans. At an archaeological level, we can easily 182 De Blaauw 1991; Godoy Fernández 1995; Carrero Santamaría 2012; Carrero and Rico 2015. 183 Diarte 2012; Yasin 2012. 184 Pensabene and Domingo 2016. 185 Barresi 2010: 338. 186 Zanini 2010. 187 CIL II2 / 5: 482; CIL II2 / 5: 299, ‘Consecrata e(st) / baselica haec / s(an)c(t)ae Mariae / II K(a) l(endas) Iunias / (a)e(ra) DCLXLVIII // Dedicavit / hanc aede(m) / d(o)m(inu)s / Bacauda / ep(i) sc(o)p(u)s // Fundavit eam / Altissimus / per Eulaliam / et filium eius / Paulum monac(h)u(m) // Ara / s(an)c(t)a / d(omi)ni.’ 188 An important role of the bishop is the construction of buildings (Sánchez Velasco 2013). The following inscriptions should be highlighted: CIL II2 / 7: 640; AE 1988: 717; IHC 363; and IHC 80.

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see construction works undertaken by the Church: great buildings – or building compounds – richly decorated, located in emblematic or strategic sites, boasting relatively complex construction methods. On a historical level, this constructive fever helped cement the social power of the bishop and help them emerge as leaders of a community that saw in them the old euergetists and patrons of classical times.189 In the process, these ‘builder bishops’, as members of the aristocratic elite, ensured a certain level of ‘social peace’ based on alms and redistribution of wealth. Having said all of this, it remains difficult to put forward an interpretative synthesis at an architectural level, given the scarcity of the known remains. We must compare some of the building activity in other areas of the Mediterranean such as Jordan,190 North Africa,191 Italy,192 France,193 and even Abkhazia,194 with the situation in Baetica. We believe that, faced with such a reality, we must not impose a negative interpretation. Quite the opposite, since a lot has been done, from manual-like compendia to partial analyses.195 Today we know that the materials used for these constructions ranged from ashlar to stone masonry, including opera mixta as well as other, more-or-less local solutions, together with the massive reuse of early imperial elements during Late Antiquity. We can pinpoint certain types of construction works which are similar all throughout the Empire, and we are also able to know what sort of building is common to all the territories analysed (and which is not). We can now speak with some authority about the types of buildings, such as rural churches or martyria, and we can put forward hypotheses regarding great building compounds such as the episcopia or the monasteries. We even know how the sewage system was maintained or how streets and porticoes were gradually occupied, some in such spectacular ways as Córdoba or Écija, which help us understand the transformation of the city centres and the funerary world, respectively. But, above all, we believe this ‘tour’ of the great late antique architecture of western Baetica exposes a number of key issues with the intention of developing future lines of research.

189 Brown 2002: 45–73, analyses the leadership of the Church (and of the bishops) of the impoverished masses of the cities. 190 Michel 2001. 191 Duval 1971; Duval 1973. 192 De Blaauw 2010. 193 Heijmans and Guyon 2006. 194 Kroushkova 2004. 195 Schlunk-Hauschild 1978; Godoy 1995.


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We cannot clearly establish an evolutionary or chronological line of building types. Thus, during the fourth century we find a unicum, the foundational area of Cercadilla, which was undoubtedly a construction endowed with an ashlar foundation and the erection of an opus vitattum mixtum of such a size, planning, and material means that it must be, without a doubt, associated with a building programme emanating from the central powers in Rome. The other urban churches of the time in the provincial capital were erected with stone masonry, the typical construction system of the city, which contained magnificent quarries, some of them in the form of a mine.196 With the same chronology, phase 1 of Coracho represents a monumental church, albeit economical in means: stone foundations arranged in spicatum, brick walls, mortar with little lime, reused materials (such as the pedestals), and wooden beams for the spaces between columns and the ceiling. The generalized usage of the opus caementicium was restricted to this century, in the same way as the usage of high quality opus signinum. The walls that can be dated to the fifth century reuse great ashlar from Roman times erected on debris, as is the case in Patio de Banderas, phase 1 of the Cordoban church at the calle Duque de Hornachuelos, and the funerary enclosure at Écija. These are blocks of stone plundered from big buildings, as happened with the columns, as can be seen with those to be found at calle Mármoles in Seville. The masonry and brick walls are frequently used for mausoleums, like those of Punta del Moral. Some churches could be dated to this time (with some doubts) such as the one at El Arahal, which shows stonework foundations and solid brick walls supported by buttresses.197 For the flooring, opus signinum was still being used in churches and funerary monuments, even though the quality starts to become deficient. The mosaics, some of which are of a great quality, are still common, and even represent mythological scenes, such is the case in Écija. During the sixth and seventh centuries there was a limited resurgence of ashlar constructions, as seen in Morón or La Losilla, where there is also proof, again, of external buttresses for the consolidation of the apse’s wall. However, the most common sort of construction is that of modest-yet-firm stonework walls, where the use of lime in the mortar is rather limited. This is true for most of the churches, and not only those of the rural areas.

196 Moreno and Penco 2004. 197 Some authors (such as Utrero 2006: 211–214) argue that the buildings of Late Antiquity never used buttresses. However, the archaeological reality indicates that they were used with some frequency.

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Many of the religious or funerary architectural projects show a basilical floor plan, semi-circular or quadrangular, and these appear throughout the period of study. Even though there is an astonishing quantity of central floor plan buildings (whether cruciform of poliapsed) similar to what can be found in Catalonia or the coast of the Levant, and that are used both as churches and mausoleums, we do not find baptisteries in central floor plan buildings, as is customary in Italy or France.198 The presence of great funerary buildings annexed to the churches is rather common, both in the rural world and the urban periphery. Curiously mausoleums and baptisteries share common characteristics in their structure and in the conception of their architectonic programmes. As to the location, in those circumstances where verification is possible, they were placed at the foot of the church. We have been able to define a monumental urban architecture, associated to the great western capitals of Baetica (Córdoba, Seville, Écija), which have little to envy from those great and better known urban and suburban compounds along the Mediterranean, particularly those in Africa and Italy. And even though the destruction levels are high, this better definition of the great Baetican architectural compounds allows us, as we shall see in the next chapter, to approach the study of the urban topography of our cities in a more comprehensive manner. There are apparent formal parallelisms between the group of western Baetican churches and that found in the Balearic Islands,199 particularly in regard to rectangular floor plan churches and inscribed apses. Likewise, there is a clear similarity with North African churches, particularly those with a double apse. However, far too frequently there have been attempts to interpret the liturgical organization of the churches based on the scarce data available. Likewise, there have been attempts to correlate liturgical interpretation with developments in other regions, especially Africa, as a source of influence or origins of Baetican Christianity.200 To confuse the matter further, modern research has come up with a number of terms such as ‘counterchoir’ or ‘counter-apse’,201 of which there is no proof in ancient texts, and which have fuelled bitter debates.202 The data available does not allow us to make such an analysis with any certainty. In order to analyse liturgical aspects it is paramount to properly know the liturgical furnishings of the 198 Gandolfi 2001; Guyon 2000. 199 Alcaide 2011. 200 García Moreno 2007: 444–449. 201 Duval 1971; Duval 1973; Godoy 1995: 66–87; original terminology in French: ‘countre-abside’ and ‘countre-choeur’. 202 Duval 2000a; Duval 2000b.


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churches, and these are seldom found, let alone any traces of their installation.203 Furthermore, as seen above, many of the hypotheses related to liturgy do not take into account the different construction phases of the buildings, or simply draw conclusions from their floor plan. This is why we do not intend to analyse such contentions that would, on their own, fill the pages of a pretty thick volume. As a token of the complexity of the matter, see our working hypotheses relating to Coracho or Gerena.204 In our opinion, the only elements with which we can clearly approach liturgy with some certainty are the baptisteries, the setting for the ancient liturgy of baptism.205 This ritual was based on the commemoration of Christ’s baptism, recreating in an almost theatrical form the relevant biblical passage: a constant flow of water, the bishop as John the Baptist, candles imitating the fire of the Holy Spirit, the catechumens submerged in water, at least up to their knees, etc. This was carried out once a year, in magna nocte, that is, on the night leading to Easter. It could also, exceptionally, take place during other great feasts, such as Christmas or the Epiphany, and in cases of imminent death. As time went by, the hydraulic systems needed to recreate the water currents ceased being used, or were simply too costly, which is why they were substituted by pools filled with water. Finally, it all seems to hint at the fact that the rite of immersion was progressively substituted by that of sprinkling. Given the available data, it is difficult to establish the evolution of baptisteries in Baetica. But the archaeological information we do have, however scarce, helps us to understand the evolution of the baptismal rite in the area. One of the oldest baptisteries to be detected is at today’s Diputación de Córdoba. Its structure, made from marvellous opus caementicium, tells us that it must have been constructed during the fourth century. Later, this construction technique quickly ceased to be used. Judging from the hydraulic system present in the structure, the use of water must have been similar to other well documented baptisteries of the Constantinian era (or immediately after it) in Rome. Even though the ritual was similar, however, the structures where it took place differed greatly, since Italian baptismal pools (and the ones in Gaul) were mainly circular or octagonal, whereas 203 Carrero and Rico 2015. 204 In the two cases mentioned, the main problem is how the archaeological data have been obtained. 205 The rituals of baptism are considered the oldest in most liturgical traditions. On the baptismal liturgy, some classic books can be consulted: Duchesne 1898; Danielou 1951; Riguetti 1955; Martimort 1967; and Saxer 1988. Data for Hispania can be found in Godoy 1989a.

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these shapes do not appear in southern Spain. In this sense, Baetican baptisteries look very much like North African ones, mainly cruciform. Other relative chronological data are provided by El Germo and Gerena. As for El Germo, the matter is not all that clear, but it seems that a rectangular baptistery with stairs was built, giving way to a descending/ascending circuit. Then, at an imprecise moment, two semi-circular arms were added, thus giving the baptistery its cruciform shape. In Gerena, however, a cruciform baptistery was built, associated with the first phase of the church, and was substituted at some point by a small circular baptismal font. Therefore, and at least in this instance, it would seem that the cruciform baptistery predates circular fonts, which were placed on the floor and not supported by any sort of base. Some have wanted to see in this the transition from the rite of immersion to that of sprinkling. But if we resort to baptism recreations as shown in an inscription in Aquileia dated to the fifth century, the small circular pools were used for baptisms of immersion. The placing of a small pool in Gerena, on the floor, seems to indicate that the rite of immersion persisted. Therefore, we can say that baptisteries evolved from our type 1 (in the shape of Tau) to cruciform baptisteries (type 3) and, finally, to the stoups (type 4). Unfortunately, type 2 baptistery examples are very scarce and are not accurately dated, not even roughly so, as is the case of the baptistery in Estepa. The location of baptismal buildings or pools for baptism is also important, even though, again, the conclusions to be drawn are very limited. Among all the studied baptisteries, there are only three instances where we can know for certain where they were placed in relation to the rest of the church. In El Germo, the baptistry lies in an annex building, but to the south east, beside what is presumed to be the main altar of the church. In Gerena and Sancta Crux in Ianisi, the baptistery is also found in a building annexed to the church, but this time it is located to the west, opposite the main altar. In Hispania, the only place where the evolution regarding the placing of baptisteries can be fully appreciated is in the episcopal compound of Terrassa. During its preepiscopal phase III (380–420/430), a baptismal building was constructed directly behind the main altar, featuring a quadrangular pool with stairs. Later, during its preepiscopal phase V (mid-fifth century), a new baptismal building was erected. This time, however, it was transferred to the base of the church and endowed with an octagonal pool. If we follow this Iberian example, it is possible to assume that the baptisteries placed close to the main altar precede those at the base of the church. Furthermore, the fact that they were facing west associated baptism with


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the death of sin.206 One of the most important rites, prior to the baptism of the competentes (catechumens fit for baptism), was the renunciation of Satan (αποταξεις), looking to the west. This ritual was followed by the acceptance of faith in Christ (συνταξις), which was done by turning east. The competentes then entered the pool westward, to emerge eastward, facing the altar. The association of baptism and death,207 in Baetica’s case, could also constitute the basis for interpreting open baptisteries, devoid of walls, as is the case of Gerena or Sancta Crux in Ianisi. As outlined above, these were practically conceived as pantheons that would have remained closed all year round (enclosed by sundried brick walls?) to be open on a particular date for baptism and perform the ritual of the death of sin. The very shape of the baptisteries mimicked that of the funerary monuments. Therefore, all things related to baptism seem to have revolved around a strong funerary symbolism. As diff icult as it is to approach the liturgy which took place in the churches, it is more so when it comes to the monasteries. Despite what has been noted, we must mention that the rural monasteries of Baetica which have been cautiously identified share some common characteristics. These include large churches, extremely large in fact when compared to those found at villae, which were architecturally complex, with a double apse, a vaulting system extending into the central nave, buttresses supporting the vaults and domes, etc. These also included functional buildings raised close to those churches, a remarkable accumulation of burials inside the churches, buildings at a distance from the churches that show the traits of domestic architecture, even if they are not classifiable within any known typology of domus or villae, possible terraced settings of the various buildings, general areas enclosed with fences or by actual orography itself, the possible existence of room units built with poor materials (such as shacks or wooden houses, the latter needing to be archaeologically attested), the existence of furnaces or workshops, the location of these compounds in apparently isolated areas (albeit enjoying acceptable road networks), set in thriving agricultural or cattle breeding areas with an adequate water supply. Circumstantial evidence has made us presume that the building found at Patio de Banderas and building K in Cercadilla can be identified as urban monasteries. At least in regard to the former, its association with economic activity is apparent: the building occupied the area where some important port-related warehouses used to be located in Seville during the imperial 206 Godoy 2004: 483–484. 207 Godoy 1997: 187–188.

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


era, directly beside the southern exit of the city, where the last section of the vital Via Augusta set off leading to Gadir. The reception and circulation of goods is proven by the access ramps that led to the building and the strong flooring made of bricks, which are indicative of an intense traffic of goods which must have been unloaded at that spot. Some of these goods were luxury items which might have had a liturgical purpose, such as the marble inner door that was found. There are two instances in which rural churches must have been associated with a villa: Sancta Crux in Ianisi and the one found at La Roda de Andalucía. Particularly in the second instance, a thorough and extensive excavation was possible, and the relationship between the villa, the necropolis, and the church became clear. These are small sized churches with a simple floor plan. They are relatively distant in relation to the villae, and associated to a cemetery that is usually enclosed (at least in part) by a fence. Its function could be considered funerary in nature, but in Ianisi’s case a cruciform baptistery was found at the base of the church. This fact would also imply its use as a parish, linked to the Christianization of the rural community. The characteristics that have been mentioned help us understand why these rural churches were called cella.208 But they also allow us to differentiate this sort of rural church from others traditionally considered to be villae churches (El Germo) which, in reality, must have been small monasteries. Maybe one of the most interesting and novel aspects regarding the latest findings is the definition of architectural elements never before detected: towers and atriums. Even though towers are traditionally thought as some sort of bell containers to announce religious rites, the truth is that Iberian texts mentioned them (in earlier times) as being related to great martyrial centres. We believe that the documented case of Écija shows a great centre for the martyrial cult associated to the episcopium of the city. As to the atriums, the main problem results from the lack of extensive excavations of those places where they have been detected. There is also an absence of precise stratigraphic studies that would clarify the construction stages and date of abandonment. But the preserved elements from Seville and Córdoba must necessarily be associated with this sort of construction or other similar ones (such as colonnaded streets). In any event, these are scenographic constructions associated with the image of power (civil, religious, or both at the same time) projected by the bishop in open areas close to the episcopia and intended for the congregation of hundreds of people. 208 CIL II2 / 7: 124.


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Funerary monuments remained an expression of personal and family power. It is a shame that only a few funerary buildings have endured the passing of time in an acceptable state of preservation. In fact, only one of them (Punta del Moral) is practically untouched, but in this case its relationship to Christianity is very much in doubt. The rest have been destroyed down to their foundations. Furthermore, the studies undertaken frequently focus on the formal aspects of the tombs, their types or cover systems, leaving aside social and economic aspects, which we consider paramount in order to interpret the late antique funerary world. We at least find an ample variety of funerary monuments with rather different floorplans, though they all share certain common characteristics. In Baetica, most of the great funerary monuments dated to this period are located close to the churches. The more sumptuous the funerary building, the closer it is to the apse of the church. This fact must be associated, without a doubt, with the desire to be buried as close to the saints as possible (ad sanctos or retro sanctos). This does not mean that all great funerary buildings are located next to a church, but the proportion of those which are is rather high: Gerena, Coracho, Los Llanos, and Cercadilla are some clear examples. Furthermore, many of these funerary monuments do not feature crypts, since another particular funerary characteristic in Baetica is burial in sarcophagi. This is why in some instances there are doubts when defining some buildings as funerary monuments, as is the case of the building found below Córdoba’s mosque, where neither tombs nor nearby church structures have been discovered. The province offers a rich and varied amount of imported and localmade sarcophagi, so much so that it is thought there must have been some related workshops of relevance. Thus, the construction of these funerary monuments entailed an enormous economic investment: the church had to receive payment for plots of land close to the relics, the building had to be raised, usually on a monumental scale, and the sarcophagus itself had to be commissioned – all of which constituted a real show of power, as well as a means of ‘ensuring’ salvation thanks to the proximity of the relics, which constituted, no doubt, a powerful centre of attraction. There can be no doubt either that the status enjoyed on earth was intended to be kept in the afterlife. Funerary monuments are thus reliable indicators as to cultural changes, both social and economic, during the late antique period. In regard to the funerary world, we would have to prove the existence of the mensae for the refrigerium, as these structures tell us about the syncretism between the pagan and Christian worlds, and about the Christianization of funerary customs. These are not funerary monuments stricto sensu, but they certainly are funerary structures that hint at the existence of a funerary plot with

The First Christian Buildings of L ate Antique Western Baetica


graves in the surrounding area, over which a ritual meal is celebrated. In Coracho and Córdoba these mensae have been detected, always associated to martyrial churches. There is still a long way to go in order to correctly define early Christian architecture, but we believe we have set down the foundations for an appropriate contextualization of what exists in its Iberian and Mediterranean contexts. The buildings we have analysed are each pieces of a complex puzzle that was created in a short span of time, and of which we know but a small part. The end of the classical city, both formally and conceptually, gave way to a very different reality. The pagan and civic cults were replaced by Christianity. Bishops overtook the urban curiae and the State in the administration of cities and territories. The aristocracies monopolized the ecclesiastical posts and imposed the new religion in their territories. Every single one of these actions entailed the erection of new buildings, many of which were located in emblematic or otherwise previously sacred places. The classical city, its suburbium and its territorium, changed and became unrecognisable. There was no turning back from this process.

12 The City of God: The Making of Church Power In his De Civitate Dei, Augustine defined the Church and the Empire as ‘Two Cities’: one heavenly, one earthly. In his work, comparisons between pagan Rome and the Church are constant. Opposing the old dying pagan world that holds on to the glory of its past lies the future of the new city, the City of God, that is, the Church. We do not intend to analyse here the work of Augustine. But it certainly proves very interesting to see how a duality is established, a symmetrical comparison between the two entities, as if the two were identical structures. Other patristic writings also refer constantly to this comparison between equals. Actually, early Christians, at the very beginning, were aware of the need of an organization.1 But it was not be until the time of Constantine that the ‘charismatic Church’, invested with auctoritas, turned into a well-organized institution, covering the entire State and where one of its main features was the potestas of their leaders, at both a local and a regional level. This unheard of authority at a small and medium scale had been received directly from a civil power, the Empire, and ceded in Constantine’s era. Soon, and on a number of occasions, the new Church challenged the emperors (the episode of Ambrose and Theodosius leaves little room for doubt),2 and rapidly increased its influence when the Roman State disintegrated. As we can see in the West, bishops, supported by the local aristocracy, became leaders (religious, economic, political, and even military!) in their urban communities,3 also providing cohesion to extensive territories that shared the same episcopal administration, created by Rome a century earlier. The vacuum left behind by the State not only meant an increase in their power, but they even ended up becoming the authorized spokespersons who interacted with the new civil and military powers, 4 which had now become changing groups of barbarians bent on forging local entities that would enable them to obtain the stability that Rome denied them.5 In the end, the Church managed to reach a fruitful understanding with the 1 2 3 4 5

Sotomayor 2006. Moorhead 1999: 192–197. Brown 2002; Fear, Fernández, and Marco 2013; Roques 1987. Sanz Serrano 2009: 156–179. For an alternative view, see Rapp 2013. Ubric 2004; Ubric 2015.


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invaders, so much so that what we could call ‘state churches’ linked to each new barbarian kingdoms began to spring up. Hispania is a clear-cut case.6 With this new relationship, the Church emerged strengthened and its organization was further perfected. Up to that point, the history of the Church is essentially the same along the entire West. Subsequently, however, in the case of Hispania and Baetica, a new and interesting historical process emerged: the Arab invasion, a rapid conquest though which Spain was included in the Caliphate, followed by the creation of an independent Islamic state under members of the Umayyad dynasty.7 Many researchers have wanted to see here the end of the Visigoths and, of course, of the Iberian Church.8 We shall see how mistaken they are. And although we cannot go deeper into this subject (for obvious reasons), we will see how the Iberian Church adapted itself once again,9 and with considerable success, to the new realities.10 What was this process like in Andalusia? In the absence of written documentation, what material traces were left by the Christianization of the western part of one of the richest and most influential regions of the Empire? Can we know what happened? What role did the Church in western Baetica play during this period of dramatic and systemic changes? At an archaeological level, the first evidence of Christianity we have appears at the beginning of the fourth century, in the bishoprics of Córdoba and Cabra, and it is conclusive. The entire area to the north and west of the suburbium of the capital of the province is riddled with architectural and funeral remains denoting an intense occupation of previous funerary spaces. We believe we have produced enough data regarding the architectural remains in Cercadilla to show that they are not those of an imperial palace or a huge villa, but the primitive episcopium city of Córdoba, built after the demolition of a large Roman villa. They demonstrate how it was subjected to a series of additions and reforms over a three hundred year period. The original core of this episcopium, like many others across the Empire, was a huge building on the outskirts of the city. The original core of Cercadilla could not have been raised without direct imperial support. That is the conclusion after evaluating its financing costs, construction 6 7 8 9 10

Díaz Martínez 2006: 692–728. Collins 1989. Arce 2011. Acién Almansa 2009: 25–26. Molénat 2002.

The Cit y of God: The Making of Church Power


system, its development, even its execution. If we are to judge by the dates obtained from the ceramic remains found in the excavations, both the basilica and the semicircular atrium were built from the year 320 onwards. That is, we are dealing with a building from Constantine’s era, as evidenced by the orientation of the basilica to the west. This is the case with all those built in the times of Emperor Constantine. This involvement would be impossible to understand without the figure of Ossius of Córdoba. To the south of this episcopium, the martyrial basilica of St. Acisclus was erected with a similar technique to that of Cercadilla, although the preserved remains do not allow us to go into any greater detail. This enormous basilica, endowed with a quadrangular apse and facing west, is located on one of the most important necropolises of the city. Through smaller buildings (memoria, titulus), it reoccupied one of the amphitheatres of the city, marking a devotional itinerary towards the episcopium. Furthermore, close to the see of the bishops of Córdoba, we find the basilica with baptistery in the north area of Córdoba. The ancient ritual itself denoted by the baptistery and the cemetery surrounding this huge building tells us that this place was an important centre of worship for the Cordoban aristocracy, the members of which were buried in their Christian sarcophagi around it. The presence of clearly pagan sarcophagi (also imported from workshops in Rome) and the enormous cruciform mausoleums in the same cemetery speak of a burial ground for Córdoba’s elite, which was occupied by an imposing basilica with solid walls. We have little doubt that all these buildings respond to a predetermined and precise exaltation programme of the ecclesia martyrum in Córdoba, with the direct patronage of, and funding by, the emperor. Otherwise, it is impossible to understand how the occupation of dozens of hectares of suburbium was carried out in such a short space of time boasting such monumental edifices, which were both architecturally and technically very complex. We do not have any reliable data, but we do have enough to suspect the presence of another basilica in the eastern suburbium, consecrated to three other Cordoban martyrs, the famous trium sanctorum, that presumably occupied the area neighbouring a possible amphitheatre that was part of the Roman provincial council of Baetica. Thus, the whole area outside the walls was turned into in a ‘Christian space’. In those places where Christians had been executed as common criminals, and where they had been buried in practical secrecy, impressive basilicas were built, an unmistakable sign of the triumph of the new


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

religion. Incidentally, the city was protected by a spiritual belt comprising buildings devoted to its new heavenly patrons, that is, its martyrs. The result of this initial process was that the Church, protected and financed by the State (or at least by its owner, the emperor),11 took control of large suburban areas and burial sites in the capital of the province.12 This process, well-known in Rome and in other cities of the Empire, shows the extent to which the Church became the owner of large urban spaces and how it appropriated the economic monopoly of death, that is to say, of burials. The fiscal benefits and tax exemptions of the Church have always been stressed.13 But it is rarely mentioned that its income arose from more than substantial donations. Everyone needed to be buried somewhere, and now there was a strong competition to be buried ad sanctos, near the venerated relics of the martyrs, to ensure a quick divine intercession and, of course, a position of prestige and privilege beyond death.14 To all this we must add that the Church appropriated the pagan sanctuaries (urban or rural), their rents, and their servants.15 The construction of Córdoba’s basilicas was financed and built directly by the emperor. This, in itself, constitutes sufficient evidence. This idea is reinforced when we compare the construction of basilicas in Córdoba with another identified basilica of Constantine’s era. The martyrium of Coracho, located in the suburban area of Cabra, is an edifice made of bricks, masonry, reused materials, and wood. The simple grandeur of its first phase (fourth century) forces us to think of a construction involving the city of Cabra and its Christian community, without any further aid. On the edge of the road connecting Cabra with the Córdoba–Malacca route, the martyr basilica stood on an ancient necropolis, where cremations and burials have been documented as taking place at the same time. It was certainly a place consecrated to an unknown martyr who must have been buried at the site. It follows very precise patterns at an architectural level and its structure was intended for seasonal liturgy. It is surrounded by a gigantic necropolis, where we find mensae for refrigeria together with various mausoleums. This is proof of the sacredness of the space and of the development of a liturgy 11 The emperor Constantine financed many Christian buildings in Rome (and throughout the Empire) with the money of the res privata. Thus, he did not offend the powerful pagan senators. See Krautheimer 2002, especially 9–59. 12 We have data for North Africa, and in Baetica something similar must have happened, Buenacasa 2004. 13 Buenacasa 1997b; Pérez Martínez 2012: 270–271. 14 Buenacasa 2003. 15 Buenacasa 1997a; Sanz Serrano 1998.

The Cit y of God: The Making of Church Power


associated with seasonal pilgrimages (local or regional).16 Again, the cult to the saints, the memory of death, and the ‘magic’ of the relics constituted a major attraction for the Christian community, which began to appear in the areas bordering the countryside.17 These buildings must have been common in many cities. Unfortunately they have not reached us or they simply have not been excavated yet. With them, the Christian communities honoured their martyrs and, in the process, they joined the general movement in favour of the new religion now protected by the emperor. Was it an act of faith or a way to show allegiance to the new ruler? It is hard to tell. Perhaps the line between the two was barely noticeable. But the buildings, such as those found in Coracho, were expensive to construct and thus must have found either private support, some sort of patronage, or been funded by the municipium of Cabra itself. Raising a sacred building to the new religion had to be not only an act of piety, but also a way of projecting power. Nothing of the sort has been documented in other large cities like Seville, Italica, or Niebla, although there are some indirect indications that this must have been the case. In this sense, Seville’s extramural area featured a famous basilica, that of Sts. Iusta and Rufina, which must have been situated close to the finds on Carmona Road, although it has not been precisely located. Likewise, the impressive series of sixteen lead sarcophagi found in the area of La Vegueta, along with the remains of walls and sepulchral mosaics, indicate that the city of Italica, like the other great cities of Baetica, featured an important exurban basilica. The case of Niebla is far more complex, although one should not rule out the hypothesis that in Los Bojeos such a basilica may have existed, a place where it was customary for the local bishops to be buried. It is often thought that such great early Christian architecture only exists in Italy. But this apparent Italian monopoly of the early stages of western Christianity is mainly due to a heavy historiographical positioning, albeit one quite detached from reality. This theory is based mainly on the lack of research in places such as Hispania or Africa, and on a (very) thinly disguised effort to reduce the existence of martyrs to those that appear in texts or inscriptions.18 Only in this way can one attempt to invoke an ‘older Christianity’ and ideologically relate it to the current pre-eminence of the 16 CIL II2 / 5: 555 is a possible evidence of local or regional pilgrimages. This phenomenon is well studied in Egypt. 17 Brown 1982. 18 Duval 1993.


The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Vatican.19 In the places where no tradition exists, inscriptions or texts remain which have therefore been relegated in this sort of religious competition that some research appears to have become. Today it is urgent to conduct regional studies to investigate the first Christian architecture beyond Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.20 But this was not always the case. The reviled and forgotten figure of Ossius has been highlighted on several occasions but, above all, on the theological level.21 However, his fanaticism and religious intolerance were supported by his proximity to Constantine, master of a reunified Rome. A Christian in his own particular way, the Emperor relied on certain outstanding figures from the provinces to impose his policy and unity. And, of course, Ossius stood out among many others. The Church, already seen as an emerging state within a state,22 became an ‘ordo’,23 the bishops functioned alongside imperial officials and became judges. In Baetica, the Church was perfectly organized as parallel with the organization of the Roman state – an ecclesiastical province, bishoprics, and cities. For that reason, we could say that the bishopric’s role lay somewhere between the province and the city, much in the manner of the late Roman conventus iuridicus.24 We will return to this later. In addition, its numerous communities had an internal organizational system that extraordinarily resembled the African model,25 something that has been highlighted on numerous occasions. The remains found at Coracho demonstrate, yet again, that the closeness between Baetica’s and Africa’s Christianity was more than a mere geographical matter. Based on the support by the State, a sufficient income, tax exemptions, large properties, and a solid organization that ran parallel to that of the Empire, together with personalities in the closest entourage of the emperor, the Church found in Baetica a superb location for its development. There was only the problem of pagan opposition. And with the advent of Julian the Apostate,26 it became evident that paganism remained a threat. 19 Outside Italy, there is no document similar to the Liber Pontificalis that provides information for the western part of the Empire. 20 Krautheimer 2002. 21 De Clercq 1954. 22 Martínez Maza 2007: 173–190; Pérez Mártínez 2012: 155–163. 23 Fernández Ubiña 2006: 353–356. 24 The definition of functions of the conventus iuridicus is clearly described in Caballos Rufino 2011: 189; and Ozcáriz 2013: 88–90. 25 García Moreno 2007: 444–451. 26 Bowersock 1978; Sanz Serrano 1991.

The Cit y of God: The Making of Church Power


The monumental city centres still were extensive imperial properties related to the civic cults, which remained in the hands of aristocracies more attached to tradition. Some suburban areas still boasted pagan temples or, at least, houses for the worship of the old gods. The recalcitrant rural world was still full of temples, shrines, and places of worship. These managed large properties and also had numerous servants for their maintenance. In other regions of the empire, intensive studies have been conducted on the end of pagan temples and ‘official’ paganism;27 these have even made it to the big screen. As regards to Hispania,28 and more specifically to Baetica, historical research has hardly addressed the thorny issue of the destruction of pagan centres. Except for some laudable (and persistent) exceptions, most investigators are inclined to believe either that there was no such destruction or that it took place at a very late date. Thanks to a careful analysis of several excavations in the provinces of Córdoba and Seville, we have been able to archaeologically prove that those assaults did in fact happen, as did both destruction and exorcism rituals associated with the worship of the pagan world or centres.29 There is little room for doubt. It appears that these events took place around the time of Theodosius. In some cases, these centres were abandoned; in others, churches were built over or beside them. We have already seen that in the rural area of Almedinilla, where monks probably lived, and where most likely some Egyptian influence existed (Priego de Córdoba), clear evidence of assault and destruction was found in a Roman villa dating to Theodosius’s time where, perhaps, Hypnos was worshiped. The remains of bronze sculptures were thrown into a pool, in a clear act of exorcism, which included mutilation of the sculptures and their subjection to the typical ordeals reserved for those condemned to death. The place was demolished and abandoned. Likewise, at around the same time but further north, on the outskirts of the city of Cabra, in a place famous for its water sources, a Roman villa with a mithraeum was destroyed. The sculpture of the deity, along with others, was thrown into the impluvium of the villa. Likewise, some of them were deliberately mutilated before being thrown into the water. A Visigothic church was erected on the site but was destroyed in 1909. We have also documented two more cases of intentional destruction of sculptures in rural and suburban areas, in Quinta das Longas (Elvas, Portugal),30 and in 27 28 29 30

Lavan and Mulryan 2011; Leone 2013. Arce 2006; López and Martínez 2006. Sánchez Velasco 2013. Sánchez Velasco (fc).


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the suburban baths of Baelo Claudia (Tarifa),31 respectively. Although these do not fall within the scope of our area of study, these excavations prove the same process of destruction/exorcism as in the aforementioned cases.32 The same kind of incident, and on identical dates, took place in big cities like Córdoba and Écija. In the former, the baths close to the decumanus maximus were attacked. The sculpture that adorned this thermal complex was destroyed through severe mutilations and then thrown into the natatio of the building. After being demolished, a church was built on top of it. This also proves the Christian ‘assault’ on urban centres, which until then had remained in the hands of the pagan aristocracy. In Écija something similar to what happened in Córdoba occurred. But being as it is better documented, the results provided are truly spectacular. As we have seen, also in Theodosius’s time a Christian assault of the city centre took place, against none other than the imperial forum. The temple was dismantled, while inscriptions dedicated to the ‘genius’ of the colony and part of the fence that protected it were thrown into the sacred pond that lay beside it. The sculptures that decorated this space were also thrown in, including some heads and the spectacular Wounded Amazon. The pool was filled in with huge blocks of stone from the temple. Therefore, at least five cases are documented in Baetica (and another likely one in Lusitania) where sculptures of mythological pagan symbolism were removed following the same procedure. In addition, they were all thrown into pools or ponds. We have no doubt about the religious character of these destructions, for they follow the pattern of other well-studied cases recorded in the east of the Empire, where the statues were treated as if they were criminals and sentenced to capital punishment. In fact, the act of throwing them into a container of water must have symbolized one of the most terrifying punishments in the ancient world: ‘Because of the unfortunate nature of the action and its effects – the victim was left to the mercy of that terrifying natural element that was water and was destined to leave no trace of itself – drowning was considered a very serious form of execution.’33 Many Christians had been executed in this manner in the times of Diocletian. Therefore, and making use of a peculiar sort of ‘historical 31 Bernal et al. 2013. 32 We have started a research project on the destruction of pagan sculptures, with the support of the University of Evora (CHAIA) and the collaboration of Prof. André Carneiro. We are in the first phase, that is to say, the compilation of cases produced in the Iberian Peninsula. 33 Bratoz 2005: ‘Per il carattere malauguroso dell’azione e dei suoi effetti – la vittima era lasciata in balia di quel terrificante elemento naturale che è l’ acqua ed era destinata a non lasciae traccia di sé – l’annegamento veniva considerato una gravissima forma di esecuzione capitale.’

The Cit y of God: The Making of Church Power


memory’ claimed by the Church, the pagan idols were ‘executed’ in the same way. The martyrs had been avenged; the pagan threat averted. Turning to urban issues, the forum at Écija remained totally empty, keeping its function as a town square. The northern access to the forum, a via tecta, which was called porticus Munatiana,34 was turned into the most important urban burial site of Hispania. It even had a tower, which was possibly crowned with a cross. All around this site, wide spaces decorated with mosaics (mythological in motif!) have been found. These would certainly have to be related to the construction of the episcopium of Écija in the very historical centre of the old colony. Perhaps this is the reason why the square remains intact, that is, due to its relationship with the episcopium. It all seems to point in one direction: a monumental atrium that defined the episcopal complex, as happens elsewhere. This type of urban structure would have been, in Baetica, a hallmark of the episcopal areas and major religious centres, as elsewhere in the Mediterranean. That is, large squares (called atriums in the sources) preceded the episcopum and sometimes related to colonnaded or arcaded streets.35 The church leaders used or adapted secular building elements, decoration, and symbolism in order to turn principal Christian centres into places that expressed Christian power. As we have seen in Córdoba, the episcopium’s area of Cercadilla was preceded by a large open space that was later decorated with a colonnade. Also in Seville, all indications are that the area of the episcopium boasted this type of monumental structure demarcating a square. Even though the area has not been excavated extensively, the presence of the colonnade in Mármoles Street together with the information about the assault and sacking of the church in the city by Gunderic around 426 indicate that, indeed, the episcopium of Seville was situated at its centre. Paradoxically, the novelty provided by these data is to confirm that Baetica is no different from other parts of the Empire which have been more extensively and better studied. We are thus witnessing, around the late fourth and early fifth centuries, a well-structured and, in a sense, logical process: the elimination of all religious competition, followed by the Christian occupation of the most emblematic sites of the cities. The entire process occurred relatively quickly. Clearly we cannot articulate a ‘story’ as if we had written documentation. But the facts speak for themselves quite eloquently. Moreover, this process took place before the arrival of the barbarians to the Iberian Peninsula 34 Ordóñez and García-Dils 2013. 35 Jacobs 2014; Jacobs 2015.


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(and of course, to Baetica), so it must have been supported (or at least not inhibited) by the imperial authorities. The Church gave a new twist to the situation, and went on to take control of cities and of the ancient sacred spaces in the countryside. To begin with, it got rid of all public trace of paganism, relegating the practices of that ‘antiquus error’ to the private sphere. Paradoxically, pagan (or paganizing) theme decor in mosaics still survived, which may have much to do with the aristocratic and elitist origin of the vast majority of bishops. As evidenced by the findings of Mértola,36 or in those in Écija,37 mosaics depicting paganizing motifs still appear well into the sixth century. We do not know whether slightly later or almost immediately the Church appropriated (both physically and ‘spiritually’) the sanctuaries and centres of pagan culture, transforming them sometimes into Christian churches. Finally, it took possession of the most symbolic and privileged sites in large cities such as forums, temples, and main streets, substantially altering the urban layouts and systematically violating the prohibition to conduct burials within the cities,38 with the exception of saints and martyrs (i.e. church relics). A mere glance at the findings allows us to see how the Church, in but a few years, appropriated both physically and symbolically the Via Augusta, forums, imperial cult centres, and temples. These places became plunder quarries for new constructions, as happened with amphitheatres and theatres. (The case of the circuses is more complex and not well studied in Hispania.) In fact, one of the hallmarks of the architecture of the time is the construction of walls with spolia of all kinds, from blocks of various sizes, fragments of bricks or tegulae, shafts, columns, and inscriptions. The transition from being a persecuted religion to being favoured by the emperor, and then encouraged by the State, to finally emerging as the only official religion, all occurred in just seventy-five years. In this short period (even in less) Romanitas and Christendom became one.39 So the writers of the time pointed out; so it was perceived by the enemies of Rome. The archaeological record in Baetica leaves no doubt (where it has been studied, of course). The change in urban religious spaces is dizzying, archaeologically speaking. It is at this time when we know that the metropolitan see of the ecclesiastical province of Baetica was Seville. We do not know if it had been 36 37 38 39

Lopes 2003. Ordóñez et al. 2013: 336–347. Codex Theodosianus, 9.17.6. Fear 2013.

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Córdoba during the fourth century, though we think it likely due to its connection with Ossius. We will refrain from reiterating the data that certifies how the province had an episcopal see (Seville) and a civil one (Córdoba). The choice of Seville cannot be accidental or circumstantial. It means this double capital policy must have some sort of explanation. Some have wanted to see behind this fact the reaction of the Church of Baetica to the excessive closeness of Córdoba to the imperial power and its dogmatic impositions. 40 This could well be the case. But for us the key lies in other issues. As we have put forward above, Seville would have been the economic management headquarters of Baetica, particularly regarding the matters related with the annona and the state officials in charge of it (procuratores). All the records and the infrastructure of this economic administration must have been based there. 41 Throughout the fourth and fifth centuries, the Church flourished under the protection of the State, gradually taking over the management of cities, at a time when the curiae were in decline. The bishops had not only become community leaders: they now acted as the legitimate representatives of the major cities and were responsible for the management of a wide territory. 42 All these competencies required funds and an infrastructure. It is clear to us that, for various reasons, Rome gradually ceded control of a major part of its economic structure to the Church in Baetica. There was no better enclave to place the new headquarters than the former imperial headquarters of the economic management of the region. This matter should be investigated further, to define exactly which parts of the state administration were eventually absorbed by the Church in the region, and why. For example, there are quite strong hints that Seville’s port, at least, was controlled by this institution. 43 Recent excavations in the Patio de Banderas in the Alcázar of Seville have unearthed what may be part of a suburban monastery, which was built on huge dockside warehouses. The set has been dated to the fifth century, which coincides with the data from nearby excavations outside the walls and allows us to assume that the whole south, along the Via Augusta to Gades, experienced an intense ‘Christianization’. The possible location of a monastery in the port of Seville can only be in response to the effective control by the Church 40 García Moreno 2007. 41 Ordóñez and González 2011: 28–29. The economic importance remained, at least, until Constantine’s time; see Ordóñez, González 2011: 72. 42 For Hispania, the case of Tarragona is well studied; see Pérez Martínez 2012: 155–191. For other parts of the Empire, it can be read in Roques 1987: 122–213; Ashkelony and Kofsky 2004: 201–204; and Allen and Neil 2013, especially 193–203. 43 Ordóñez et al. 2013: 330–336.


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of the economic activity generated by the port. The relationship between monasteries and the control of economic activities has been highlighted on several occasions, albeit mostly in relation to crafts and agriculture. 44 Recent research suggests that they were also linked to more lucrative activities such as trade, primarily maritime commerce. 45 All this happened in the fifth century, as stratigraphic data suggests –precisely the time when Rome ceased to exercise its authority over the region and the barbarians entered the scene. When the state machinery collapsed, who took over its properties? Who managed them? The Church seems to be the best option. 46 The occupation of spaces detected by archaeological excavations makes it clear that state organization was taken over by another very similar entity with experience in the management of resources. At least this is clearly the case in the cities. In the countryside, the holy places ended up experiencing the same fate, if we consider the data available. Although it is difficult to track, it would be logical to think that wealthy landowners seized imperial lands to increase their properties, thus continuing the process of accumulation of land that had been going on since at least the late second century. We do not know what happened to the rest of the economic activities that Rome controlled, such as quarries or mines; or who took charge of the road network, an essential infrastructure for economic activity. But judging by what happened next (as we shall see), it is very likely that they ended up being managed by the Church, in part if not entirely. As already highlighted, the fifth century was crucial in shaping the secular powers of the Church. There are excellent studies on the role of the Church: how the bishops appeared in the sources, their new roles, how they belonged to the ruling elites, etc.47 But, as we see it, there is a lack of studies attempting to analyse, in a multidisciplinary manner, what happened with the holding and management of the vast urban and rural properties of the State, as they could not continue to be supervised by their rightful owner. We do not really know much about what happened during the fifth century and early sixth century. The problem also lies in assigning a moreor-less precise date, which is very important when approaching the period. 44 Brenk 2004. 45 Díaz Martínez 1987: 94–109; Riera 2013. The economic activities of the late antique monasteries of the East Roman Empire are currently under investigation. Recent conferences have addressed these problems from different points of view, such as one held in March 2016 entitled ‘Monastic Economies in Egypt and Palestine, 4th to 11th Centuries’. We hope that the publication of the proceedings will serve to promote this type of study in the western region as well. 46 Barenas Alonso 2016. 47 Ubric Rabaneda 2015; Ubric Rabaneda 2004; Fear, Fernández, and Marcos 2013.

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As already outlined above, there is a line separating the before and after of the Andalusian Wars. 48 This period encompasses a complicated moment, from Agila’s attack on Córdoba until the end of Hermenegild’s revolt, which led to the final subjugation of the entire area to the control of the Visigothic kings of Toledo. Amid all this, there was a Byzantine invasion which, depending on the authors cited, decisively affected, or not at all, the area studied. 49 Archaeologically speaking, this stage is characterized by monumental architecture, albeit less linked to Roman engineering and closer to local masonry, with little presence of ashlar or large spolia blocks. Mixed solutions are commonplace, i.e. the combination of small blocks of stone or brick masonry in layers aimed at regularizing sections of the wall. The foundations are often, as they were a century earlier, pebbles arranged in the shape of a spike. Lime mortar was used, but in small amounts. They often used small stone walls on the outside and masonry and pebbles on the inside. The strength of the structure was usually achieved by increasing the thickness of the wall, not by technical improvements or the quality of the construction materials. This type of construction system is found in those buildings that can be dated (at least initially) to this time. The basilicas of La Losilla, Gerena, and Germo can be dated to around the second half of the fifth or early sixth centuries. The first of these is still being excavated, but there are signs that indicate it might be a double apse basilica; the two former ones are of this type. All of them show a heavy African influence,50 not only at their base but also in building design and implementation, showing masonry techniques of a domestic nature far removed from the teams of architects and the advanced engineering techniques of the imperial era. Some of the buildings in Cercadilla (annexed to the centre) and the remains found under the mosque of Córdoba follow this pattern, and the mosaics that decorate their rooms seem to confirm the proposed chronology. There is little doubt that they, or at least the one found under the mosque, must have been used as a cruciform funerary monument. Some of those found in Cercadilla also seem to have fulfilled this function, as evidenced by the grave of Bishop Lampadius, buried there in 549.51 Coracho, on the other hand, is very different. Its second phase, recently analysed, reflects a constructive system and a decorative programme the 48 García Moreno 1994. 49 Goubert 1946: 81–83; Ostrogorsky 1984: 92; Thompson 1969; Garcia Moreno 1994; Salvador Ventura 1990: 45; Vallejo Girvés 2012; Vallejo Girvés 1993; Vizcaíno Sánchez 2009. 50 Duval 1973. 51 CIL II2 / 7: 643.


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origins of which can be traced to the Byzantine world. These were made not only to reform the basilica, but also to adapt it to the eastern liturgy, completely oblivious to the Iberian usages. These data should be interpreted with caution. We cannot overlook the problems that have surfaced when excavating and documenting these sites. But some still seem reliable. At a time when the empire disappeared and barbarians roamed free along the Iberian Peninsula, it is possible to see how the Church had the ability to build basilicas of a significant dimension, simple but monumental. The Church consolidated its presence in suburban areas with new churches (Gerena) or monasteries (Patio de Banderas) and took to effectively control rural areas, establishing what we have interpreted as monasteries: El Germo, La Losilla, El Arahal, the caves of El Arrimadizo, and the most obvious case, the Córdoba–Toledo road,52 which was controlled by two basilicas erected in strategic locations close to the road, well supplied with water, and surrounded by relatively fertile land (if we take into account that the generally rough landscape of the area). Furthermore, each one of these are located a day’s journey from the capital of the bishopric (Córdoba) and the mining town of Solia,53 which was also the gateway to the mining district Sisapo–Almadén de la Plata.54 We get the impression that the Church took control of the road, strategically locating small monasteries and using them as authentic mutationes that were essential to maintain the flow of metals from the production areas to the capital.55 And, of course, he who controls the route also controls whatever goes through it: goods, livestock, etc. All this could not have been accomplished without the effective control of a territory. As indicated above, the importance of the bishops in their local communities is often mentioned,56 but we fail to stress the importance of the institution the bishop represented regarding the ample territories under the influence of large cities, which had their own tradition of selfgovernment within Rome. The figure of the bishop stood out, and rightly 52 Melchor 1994: 155–157. 53 Rosas Alcántara 2008. 54 Esteban, Zarzalejos, and Hevia 2016; Zarzalejos, Fernández, and Hevia 2012. 55 Roman roads were not merely roads but also complex articulations of the landscape. A thorough review can be found in Basso and Zanini 2016; and especially Corsi 2016: 53: ‘travellers expressed a growing disaffection towards the traditional stopping places, and they started to prioritise a new category of hostels, provided by initiative of the Church. These new infrastructures are characterised by new and different patterns. During the Early Middle Ages, this new settlement pattern would consolidate, and the Church increasingly proves itself to be the main provider of services related to travel and transfer.’ On the duty of hospitality in monastic rules, see Salvador Ventura 2015: 177–179. 56 Ubric Rabaneda 2015: 151–158.

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so, as one who assumed powers that had previously been the prerogative of the highest imperial officials, and this not only happened in cities, but also at a regional level. Iberian bishops, as representatives of the Church, successfully managed to meet the challenge of reaching agreements with the barbarians.57 As members of the aristocracy, they were also able to maintain a certain cohesion among the elites of their respective bishoprics, replacing the State in many of its functions and providing institution with which the barbarians were able to dialogue and establish arrangements. The barbarians, meanwhile, found a supra-institution in place that was capable of exercising control over the population, thus relieving them of the task of establishing a network of military settlements. This symbiosis, when not downright collaborationist (in respect to the Church with the invaders), was beneficial to both parties: the Church survived and the barbarians obtained the much desired stability. In this sense, it would be interesting to define exactly how the Iberian bishops were elected at this time,58 what role the various local aristocracies played in the election, and what was expected of the elected bishop. Because, in fact, the bishoprics each became a kind of independent microstate with its own resources, and they reached specific (and beneficial) agreements with barbarian leaders. As time passed the City of God on earth was became increasingly better articulated. The de facto independence of Baetican bishops can be deduced from their actions. No regional councils were held throughout the period. While Córdoba faced Agila and forced him to flee, Seville settled agreements with the Visigoths. Finally, not to dwell any more on this matter, the lack of support given to the Byzantine invasion makes it clear that their presence is considered a lesser evil, but it is certainly not considered a rescue campaign in respect of the Visigoths. The local population did not want to be dominated, either by the Visigoths or by Byzantium. In this sense, and as a collateral line of argument of the present paper, we would have to say that despite the persistence of modern historiography to deny the Byzantine presence in Córdoba (be it the city or its territory), the fact is that both archaeological and documentary proof indicates that the empire held sway in the area of Córdoba. The basilica of Coracho constitutes evident proof. The materials found at the construction site of the Basilica sancti Christophori in Córdoba speak of an obvious direct Byzantine influence. 57 Ubric Rabaneda 2015: 159–163. 58 An interesting study in this regard for large areas of the Empire can be found in Leemans et al. 2011. There are no similar studies for Hispania.


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Therefore, a thorough study of the archaeological data of the entire inner area (not just the coastal area) is required, together with a thorough review of the sources (which do not seem exhausted either) to accurately assess the evolution of the Byzantine presence in southern Spain, where Portugal should, by all means, be included. At some point (we cannot say exactly when) during this very turbulent period, the transfer of Córdoba’s episcopium from Cercadilla to the Great Mosque took place. It sought the protection of the walls, as happened elsewhere in the Empire. Notwithstanding this new location, some bishops were still buried in this site. The wars that occurred at the end of the period tested the power of the Church yet again, which survived and adapted. The wars of conquest undertaken by Leovigild,59 the civil war between the king and his son Hermenegild, and the involvement of Byzantium in both struggles turned the region into a desolate area. As we shall see shortly, the recovery of this rich region of Hispania was quick. However, a number of important structural changes took place, and these laid the foundations for a new period in Baetica which runs from the second third of the sixth century up to the Islamic conquest. This new stage could be classified as proto-feudal, and, contrary to what it may seem, it was a time of expansion (archaeologically speaking), far from the crisis supposedly attributed to the last moment of the Visigoth kingdom. The whole period is dotted with many ecclesiastical buildings.60 Many of them were mere reconstructions of existing churches that, probably as a result of the war, ended up in ruins and had to be rebuilt. El Germo, the church located on Duque de Hornachuelos Street, Cercadilla (in Córdoba), and Coracho are some of them. We can appreciate, particularly in the former, the kind of constructive developments eventually imposed: the walls were made of medium-sized masonry and land mortar was used, though lime is occasionally found. The walls became massive, extremely thick but inconsistent. Where buildings have not been completely preserved, we have the remains of architectural and liturgical decoration announcing the existence of fairly homogeneous decorative programmes.61 The motifs became unified and standardized, and the wealth of previous times vanished. In the example of Coracho, we can fully appreciate how the church suffered an intense transformation due to its adaptation to the Iberian liturgy, 59 García Moreno 2008. 60 The same process took place in Tarragona; see Pérez Martínez 2012: 248–259. 61 Sánchez Velasco 2006.

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becoming a basilica with two apses, albeit one of them semi-circular (El Germo) the other quadrangular (Gerena, probably). Clearly a huge effort was made by the Church to build churches. This effort can be seen in the epigraphy, where many inscriptions discuss bishops consecrating churches. Sometimes the consecration was conducted under strong ideological conditions, by reusing pagan altars or honorific pedestals that became Christian altars when endowed with a loculus for relics as was necessary in order to consecrate the church.62 Thanks to the union of archaeological remains and inscriptions, we can complete the Christian mapping in many places. The aristocracy joined this feverish building activity and ordered the construction of churches in their own latifundia. Thanks to ancient inscriptions and documentation, we know of several of these churches (Ategua), and even the owner’s name, however the one that has been excavated and published was found in La Roda de Andalucía. This has allowed us to know what some of these churches were like: small, poorly built, with irregular flooring and surrounded by graves, and perhaps with some annex funeral enclosure. The basilica of Morón stands out in this scenario due to the huge differences when compared to all the others. Its plan and construction system refers to typically Byzantine models. In fact, we may be dealing with a construction related to the imperial occupation of the natural routes of access to the coastal areas from the interior. Although the data extracted from the excavation does not allow for more accurate conclusions. This rush to build churches throughout the territory has been seen in relation to the total conversion to Christianity of the rural areas, and with the emergence of the parish network. But a detailed analysis of the location of many of these newly detected churches allows us to determine that they follow a pattern, and that they are not precisely related to an alleged evangelical mission. The Pax Gothica imposed by Leovigild, after the defeat of his son and the final subjugation of Baetica, brought significant changes in the ecclesiastical organization of the region. These changes were fully appreciated by the Third Council of Toledo, the proceedings of which showed no trace of some historic Christian communities and, conversely, mentioned some bishoprics of which there are no previous records, as is the case of Italica and Cabra. As already mentioned, we believe that this was due to a deliberate policy of weakening the traditional ecclesiastical centres of power by forming new powers loyal to the Visigothic monarchy.

62 Sastre de Diego 2013.


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Figure 44 ‘II Concilio Hispalense’. Emilianense Codex. Library of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, MS D.I. 1, fol. 205v. The author has painted the city of Seville, next to the river. In the centre of the city, the assembled council appears. At the top you can see personifications of the three bishoprics as armed soldiers ready to fight

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This control of the church was completed by favouring the election of bishops akin to the kings of Toledo. The council disputes have been studied from the religious or theological angle, but not from the point of view of the balance of power between bishoprics. Neither in Andalusia, nor in the rest of Spain for that matter, has the existence of important episcopal dynasties been discussed in depth:63 Leander, Isidore, Fulgentius, Florentina; they are all brothers and they all occupied an episcopal seat, save for the sister (for obvious reasons) who, nevertheless, seems to have enjoyed prominence in a monastery in Seville. These bishops, associated to the central power, and these episcopal dynasties, held sway over the councils. These councils not only addressed dogmatic issues, they also resolved ‘internal’ matters such as episcopal limits, possession of parishes, the flight of servants of the Church to other districts, etc. Within this framework of territorial struggles and power balances between, sees were strategically located on the borders of the bishoprics, facing other churches belonging to rival bishoprics (or nearby if preferred) (Fig. 44): for example, the consecration of the churches of Honoratus and Pimenius on the Via Augusta, just 10 km apart. To complete the picture, the territories that were gradually conquered by the Byzantines became another source of dispute, as we saw when we talked about the Second Council of Seville. This council was almost expressly convened in order to resolve turf wars between the bishoprics of Córdoba, Écija, and Malacca. Behind these territorial disputes there was not one wish to increase the number of souls who were to reach Paradise. Territories with resources that produce revenues were being disputed. That was the objective of the parish network, and it became the cause of severe criticism by the bishops against the aristocrats who built churches on their land for the sole purpose of generating income. These revenues were collected, in most cases, in kind. Hence, some archaeological structures, well-known in Africa (les salles à auges), have fuelled the debate of whether they were horse troughs or containers to collect taxes in villae and churches.64 We have identified some examples of such elements in the Olivares area. Once the Church in Baetica was linked to the Visigothic state (now Catholic), it might have lost autonomy, but it certainly made up for that loss in stability, wealth, and organizational strength, increasing its economic 63 The subject has only been studied in a brief and out-of-date work: Teja Casuso 1995. 64 In Paris a specific conference was held on this subject in May 2015 eneitled: ‘Les salles à auges dans l’architecture de l’Antiquité tardive, entre Afrique et Proche-Orient: Monuments pour les distributions publiques ou écuries?’


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power through an improved internal network of parish units. The internal structure was completed with the monasteries, which increased significantly throughout the entire seventh century: Almonaster (bishopric of Seville) and San Miguel de los Frestos (bishopric of Italica) constitute two possible examples of this. The kingdom’s support for the Church meant an increase in donations and privileges to major cult centres. Treasures such as those found in Torredonjimeno,65 or those from Guarrazar, clearly show the accumulation of precious metals deposited in the major basilicas of the kingdom.66 In addition, the Church in Baetica became part of the national Visigothic church,67 now Catholic, and was again protected by a relatively strong and well-organized State. Under this protection, and the political and ideological support offered to the Visigothic monarchy, the Church became a key player in the political life of the kingdom.68 Of course, the Church was the only institution with extensive control over cities and fields. This control was not only ideological. It was an effective economic control. In fact, the fight between bishoprics by the delimitation of its territories is very well reflected in the Visigothic councils. In these territories, there were cities and parishes from which to obtain rents or material resources. New research can shed much light on this topic. Some researchers have spent years studying Visigothic copper coins, arriving at interesting conclusions:69 Seville was not only one of the most important cities in the Visigothic regnum, but its fluvial harbour also enjoyed ideal conditions for Mediterranean trade. In addition to the official series, the region of Seville witnessed the emergence of a number of unofficial emissions, which were probably promoted by local or religious authorities and tolerated by the Crown. It seems likely that the lively commercial activity of the city and the circulation of nummi spilled into the surrounding areas, especially Aljarafe, where most of the finds are concentrated. However, it is also possible that the emission and use of nummi is an earlier phenomenon fostered by religious authorities, hence the lack of any explicit reference to location, and that the practice was adopted by the city of Seville only after Hermenegild’s arrival. 65 66 67 68 69

Perea 2009. Perea 2001. Ubric Rabaneda 2015: 163–168. De Francisco Olmos 2008–2009. Pliego 2015–2016: 154–155.

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For us, the issuance of copper coins is undoubtedly the work of the bishoprics. The Church, through its bishoprics, is the only local or regional institution strong enough to be recognized and respected. Only bishoprics had the capacity to be recognized as a ‘solvent entity’. Why would they mint money? The answer is not easy, and it must be investigated, but the commercial and fiscal needs might have led the Church to act as the State, emitting its own currency. In short, this is an interesting perspective of future work, which can better define the economic reality of the bishoprics. And, of course, the Church was the one institution where the effect of the accelerated proto-feudalización of society in the kingdom of the Visigoths was not felt. Omnipresent in the life of the kingdom, economically powerful and with extensive territories under control, the ‘City of God’ had reached unthinkable heights of power considering how this period kicked off in times of Leovigild. As an epilogue, and although this issue has not been addressed in depth in this book, we believe that the degree of power achieved by the Church in Visigothic times can very well explain what happened after the Arab conquest, and again archaeology can give us some clues. In a proto-feudal society like the one present in the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the eighth century, the only institution with real power was the Church. Needless to say it was the only one with an organized and effective territorial network. Recent research has placed emphasis on the harsh punishment suffered by the Church during the Islamic invasion, but again if we pause a moment to examine the facts the situation becomes more complex. Faced with the crisis of the invasion, the Church acted as it did in the time of the barbarian invasions centuries earlier: with pragmatism and resolution. If we look at the documents that tell us how the invasion was conducted,70 and its results, there is no doubt that the Muslim army managed to skilfully play its hand on the negotiating table facing authorities that were eager to come to an agreement – either that or it was made up of some kind of super-warrior. Otherwise, the speed and depth of the conquest of the entire Iberian Peninsula can hardly be explained. There are a good many studies on the agreements that some local aristocrats (like Theodomirus) managed to sign with the invaders.71 However, we know of no detailed study that addresses the role of the bishops during the invasion. Taking 70 Collins 1989. A very recent historiographical essay on the Arab Conquest of Hispania (but focused on refuting some aberrant theories on this conquest) can be found in García Sanjuan 2013. 71 Collins 1989; García Sanjuan 2013; García Moreno 2013.


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into account that major cities, large territories, and roads were under direct ecclesiastical management (as we have seen), it is unthinkable that they might have offered a staunch opposition to the invader. Rather, it seems that the opposite happened. In the light of what happened in Córdoba and other cities, the bishops must have quickly capitulated and speedily found an advantageous agreement with the invaders, which allowed them to retain their possessions and privileges. As in previous occasions,72 and later ones for that matter,73 the bishops must have shown themselves openly collaborationist and pragmatic, looking for quick and beneficial agreements. As in previous and subsequent times, the invaders were also keen to negotiate quickly with the authorities so they could control the territory and its people without a massive presence of soldiers scattered in small and weak garrisons. In addition, the invaders must also have been very interested in using the only regional network of collection and redistribution of income to their own advantage. An army does not subsist on air – the soldiers must be paid, men and beasts alike need to be fed, troops have to be clothed, and weapons must be made available. This can only be accomplished by using the resources available in the invaded territory, and if this is not done peacefully it has to be done by force, leading to the subsequent problem of widespread riots and uprisings. Seals on the payroll bags destined to the invading soldiers have been studied and make clear the perfect organization of the Arab army.74 Maybe that is why it was no coincidence that the first Islamic choras simply adapted to the bishoprics, precisely in order to channel resources (cash and kind) to their soldiers. Recent interpretations of the sources speak of the end of the Visigoths due to the disappearance of the Church after the Islamic invasion.75 Others come to defend the theory that the Muslim rulers of Al-Andalus marked the Christians with some sort of emblem.76 Against these interpretations, an objective consideration of the data becomes a necessity. These tell us that the Church not only acted pragmatically with the invaders, but that it 72 Ubric Rabaneda 2015: 163–168; Ubric Rabaneda 2004. 73 The collaboration of the church (and its bishops) with the Napoleonic troops during the occupation of Spain can be seen in Barrio Gozalo 2010; and Revuelta González 2008. 74 All documentation is available in the works of T. Ibrahim and R. Pliego cited here. 75 Arce Martínez 2009; Arce Martínez 2011: 20. 76 García Moreno 2015: 97. The author interprets these emblems as something similar to what happened in Nazi Germany with the Jews, but in reality we would have to think about the clothes of monks, as can be seen in the extensive studies of documentary sources in Palacios Royán 1998; and Herrera Roldán 2005.

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worked with them hand-in-hand and, thanks to that, it managed to survive nearly three hundred years. The Church ended up being dependent on a state that protected it because it was in the state’s interest to keep the structure functioning to its advantage. The proof is that the ecclesiastical structure managed to hold despite the constant provocations of a multitude of religious fanatics seeking martyrdom,77 who perhaps were even aiming at a widespread uprising against the Islamic government. At the end of the eighth century a bishop was buried in Coracho in the traditional custom of the Visigoths; the Mozarab gravestones of Córdoba leave no doubt about the economic and cultural capacity of the Christians in the capital of the Emirate. The Church, therefore, continued to operate, holding councils78 and being a leading institution in Al-Andalus. But that’s another story.

77 Palacios Royán 1998; Herrera Roldán 2005. 78 On the Mozarabic council convened on 21 February 839, see Simonet 2005: 372–373.

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Index Acinipo 46 Acisclus, St. 29, 59, 61, 63, 88, 106, 108-111, 113, 116, 267 Africa 38, 40, 54, 56-57, 59, 82, 137, 160, 171, 210, 261-262, 264, 266, 270, 283, 289, 291, 293, 302-304, 311, 317 Agila 59-60, 88, 311, 313 Aguilar de la Frontera 73, 75, 83, 209; see also epagrum Al-Andalus 58, 64, 74, 102, 127, 320-321 Alans 55 Alaric II, King 248 Alcalá del Río 80, 239 Alcarecejos 127-128 Alcolea del Río 239 Almonaster 79, 81, 208, 212, 238, 243, 318 Almonte 245 altar 31, 48, 67, 97, 103-104, 106, 125, 130, 132, 135-136, 150, 158, 161, 164-165, 177, 179, 184, 187, 191, 206, 208-209, 211-213, 218, 225, 228, 230-231, 233, 236, 238-239, 244-245, 250-253, 259, 263, 271, 293-294, 315 amphitheatre 44, 46-48, 110-113, 122, 125, 223, 232, 301, 308 Andalusia 25, 37, 57, 63-64, 77, 79, 123, 132-133, 136-137, 158, 173, 176, 215, 226, 245, 249, 252, 300, 311, 317 annona 43, 48, 210, 309 Antequera (Singilia Barba) 46, 50, 77, 84, 159, 185, 189, 214 Antonini Itinerarium 55, 77, 208, 211, 243, 245, 249 Apse 94-95, 97-98, 101, 103, 108-109, 112, 118, 129-131, 134-135, 139-141, 143, 153-154, 157-161, 167, 189-190, 216, 218, 222, 224-225, 229-232, 266-271, 273, 276, 285, 287, 290-291, 294, 296, 301, 310-311, 315 Arian 53, 56, 59-60; see Arianism aristocracy 57-59, 264-265, 299, 301, 306, 313, 315 Aroche, also Arucci 72, 78-79, 81-82, 212 Asia 57, 264 Asido, Asidonense 79, 213 Ategua 38, 76, 127, 150, 163, 265, 315 Athanagild, king 59 Atrium 32, 46-47, 98, 117-118, 201-204, 282-283, 269, 295, 301, 307 Ayamonte 249 Bacauda, bishop 150-151, 288 Baeturia 75, 81 Balearic Islands 230, 233-234, 266, 271, 291 baptistery 32, 92, 120-121, 125, 129-131, 133, 135, 145-146, 167, 182, 185-186, 195, 204, 224-234, 236, 248, 260-261, 263, 265, 269, 272-276, 291-295, 301

Barbarians 28, 51, 56-58, 248, 299-300, 307, 310, 312-313, 319 Basilipo 208 bath (thermal) 25, 29, 40, 44, 89-93, 107, 116-117, 121, 126 Beja (Pax Iulia) 63, 72, 75, 79, 81-82, 212, 238, 249, 253 Belisarius, nobleman 127, 150, 163 bishopric economy 25, 32, 70, 212, 319-320 elections 313 iconography 316 internal organization 64, 300, 304, 315 territories 30-31, 52, 61, 71-84, 238, 258, 317-318 Burguillos del Cerro 81, 233, 235-236, 238, 273, 276, 284 Byzantium, Byzantine influence 51, 59-61, 73, 75, 77, 90, 93, 123, 126, 152, 160, 162, 165, 210, 234, 252, 269, 288, 311-315, 317 Cabra (Egabrum) 25, 31, 49, 52, 61, 73-76, 78, 83-84, 127, 149-151, 155-156, 159, 161, 163, 165, 169-173, 177, 209, 251, 259, 280, 300, 302-303, 305, 315 Cadiz 82, 173, 193, 195, 213, 244 Caesar 38-39, 42, 44, 89 Caicena, river 76 Carmona 42, 45-46, 48, 73, 78, 80, 110, 123, 183, 194, 196, 203, 208, 219, 303 Cartagena 61, 175 Carteia 37, 42, 87, 180 Castellum 85-87 catholics, catholicism 56, 59-61, 73, 244, 248, 317-318 Cella 45-46, 49, 110, 112, 265, 295 Cercadilla 106, 108-110, 113, 115-116, 119, 124, 204, 248, 260, 267, 270-271, 277, 282, 284-287, 290, 294, 296, 300-301, 307, 311, 314 chancel 97, 101, 153-154, 160, 167, 189, 216-219, 228-229, 231-233 chancel-plate 245 chancel post 113, 132 chancel screen 87, 103, 113, 121, 179, 186, 190, 198, 217, 241, 244 Chindaswinth 72, 79, 84, 227 choir 161, 195, 218, 228, 230-231, 291 chora 70, 72-75, 77, 79-82, 253, 320 christianization 25-28, 31-32, 51, 67, 110, 122-123, 126, 159, 182, 213, 257, 259, 261, 300, 309 christianized area 122, 162, 180, 207, 219, 223, 238, 280, 295 christianized elites 208 christianized piece 171, 184 Ciprian, St. 88

352  colonnade 30, 32, 119, 126, 153, 179, 200, 202, 204, 228, 260, 282-283, 295, 307 Colubris 88 Constantine 40, 50-55, 57, 59, 61, 63, 109, 157, 203, 260, 299, 301-302, 304, 309 Constantius I 52 Constantius II 52 Conventus 43, 74-76, 83-84, 149, 163, 258, 304 Coracho 109, 133, 151, 156, 158-159, 161-162, 226, 230, 232, 266-269, 273, 285, 287, 290, 292, 296-297, 302-304, 311, 313-314, 321 Corbones, river 78, 214 Córdoba 25, 29-31, 37-40, 42-44, 46-50, 52-53, 55, 57, 59-61, 63, 69, 72, 74-75, 77, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91-92, 95-96, 98-99, 102, 105, 109, 111-113, 116, 120-127, 137-139, 144, 146, 149-150, 159-164, 170, 172, 175, 184, 202, 204-205, 207, 209, 223, 226, 234, 237, 241, 251, 259-260, 264, 271, 275, 280-282, 285-287, 289, 291, 295, 297, 300-302, 306-307, 309, 311-314, 320-321 Corteconcepcion 212 Cortijo de Chinales 16, 106, 113, 267 councils 25, 27, 30, 44, 53, 64, 70, 73-74, 196, 313, 318, 321 Braga 155, 191 Elvira 55, 61, 75, 83, 144, 174 Seville 76, 84, 175, 195, 316 Toledo 150, 315 counter-apse 291 counter-choir 291 Decimius Germanianus 52 Diocletian 27, 52-53, 119, 125, 288, 306 Domigratia 247 Domus 47-48, 89, 94, 98, 106, 122-123, 179, 206, 294 Dos Hermanas, also Orippo 79, 208, 213, 247, 281 Dux 60, 63, 69, 87 Écija 15-16, 25, 29-31, 39-40, 42-43, 45-47, 52, 61-63, 73-78, 80, 84, 87, 109, 123, 139, 173-175, 177, 179-185, 187, 189, 191, 207, 215, 223, 237, 239, 259-260, 281, 289-291, 295, 306-308, 317 Egnatius Faustinus 52 El Arahal 49, 78, 214, 219, 279, 290, 312 El Arrimadizo 170, 172, 280, 312 El Cañuelo 165, 168, 232 El Germo 30, 108, 110, 127-128, 133, 135, 140, 143, 214, 231, 233, 235, 267, 270, 273, 276, 278-279, 293, 295, 311-315 El Guijo 234, 236, 276 elites 25, 28, 30, 40, 43-44, 48, 51, 54, 56-58, 61, 64, 67, 175, 183, 208, 285, 310, 313 Encinasola 212 epagrum 73, 75, 83, 209 epigraphy 25, 28, 30-31, 33, 39-40, 45, 48, 53, 67-69, 72, 78-80, 125, 146, 156-157, 170, 172, 175, 196, 209, 212-214, 236, 246-247, 257, 265, 279-280, 315

The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Epiphanius, bishop 56 episcopium 102, 104, 119, 124, 126, 149, 173, 180, 183, 193, 201, 203-204, 207, 248, 259-264, 276, 281-283, 289, 295, 300-301, 307, 314 Espiel 127-128 Estepa 48, 182, 185-187, 215, 275, 293 ethnic 38, 48, 58 Euergetism 219, 289 Eulalia, St. 79, 88, 105, 121, 125, 180, 230, 281, 288 Eulalia, euergetes 150-151 Ficalho 125, 275 Firris 75, 81 Florentina, Isidore’s sister 175, 317 Fragellas 88 France 27, 191, 264, 289, 291 Fregenal de la Sierra 235, 238 Fulgentius 61-62, 73, 175, 317 Galerius 27 Gerontius, St. 73, 80 Gibraleón 82, 244 Gilena 77 governor praeses 52-53, 55, 83, 116, 120 umayyad 88, 102 Granada 73, 76, 87, 163, 164, 170 Greek 55, 97, 175, 222, 225 people 62 182 symbols 181-182 Guadalete, battle 63 Guadalquivir, river 37, 39, 42, 50, 60, 80, 105, 124, 127, 163, 173, 185, 194, 204, 209, 224, 226, 239 Guadiamar, river 81, 210, 212 Guadiana, river 81-82, 241, 243, 247, 249 Gunderic, king 56, 195, 307 Hannibal 37, 41 harbour 207, 318 Hermenegild 59-61, 63, 78, 209, 311, 314, 318 Hinojales 212 Honoratus, bishop 79, 204-205, 213, 247, 280, 317 Huerta de la Camila 110-111, 113 identity 28-29, 44, 48 Impost 90, 241 capital 124, 247 Isidore, bishop 30, 56, 61-62, 73, 88, 137, 161, 175, 195, 199, 205, 278, 282, 317 Israel 54 Italica 25, 31, 37, 39, 42-47, 52, 61, 73-75, 78, 80-83, 106, 209, 212, 221-224, 231, 233, 235, 237, 239, 241, 253, 259, 285, 303, 315, 318 Italy 26-27, 43, 180, 261-262, 264, 270, 274, 282, 285, 289, 291, 303-304 Iusta and Rufina, Sts. 29, 303



Jerez de los Caballeros 81, 235-236, 238, 251 Jerusalem 195-196, 199-200, 259, 264, 282, 304 jews, jewish 61-63, 320 John, bishop 75 Justinian, emperor 60, 124, 219 La Campana 78 La Chimorra 127, 138 La Losilla 30, 133-134, 139-140, 142-143, 215, 235, 278, 290, 311-312 La Roda 77, 133, 173, 182, 187, 215, 251, 267, 286, 295, 315 La Trinidad, necropolis 194, 196, 273, 284-287 Lacus Ligustinus 79 Laelia 209-210 Lampadius, bishop 120, 248, 311 Lazika 57 Leander, bishop 61, 73, 175, 317 Leovigild, king 60-61, 78, 80, 83, 126, 139, 162, 209, 221, 314-315, 319 Lepe 81 Liberius, byzantine patrician 59 limes 60 liturgy 26, 84, 129, 156-157, 160, 162, 244, 253, 268, 292, 294, 302, 312, 314 loculus (relics) 80, 125, 136, 150, 164, 191, 206, 211, 213, 239, 251, 315 Los Bojeos 166, 246-249, 253, 303 Lucurgentum 208, 215 Lusitania 37, 42-43, 72, 135, 164, 209, 219, 241, 249, 306 Málaga 42, 50, 75-78, 84, 87, 149, 162, 173, 187, 191 Manzanilla 80, 211, 244-245, 253 Marcellus, bishop 55 Marcian, emperor 57 Marcianus, bishop 217 Martos, also Tucci 74, 76, 82, 211 martyrium, martyrial 55, 106, 108-110, 113, 116, 122, 125, 151, 156-161, 197, 203, 207, 216, 218, 222, 232, 261, 267-270, 281-282, 285, 287, 289, 295, 297, 301-302 mausoleum 48-49, 99, 101, 109-110, 118, 134, 152, 156, 161, 167, 169, 183, 196-197, 200, 206, 219, 222, 224, 226, 230, 232, 236, 241, 248-250, 257, 261, 269-270, 272-273, 276, 284-287, 290-291, 301-302 mensae 123, 154, 296-297, 302 Mentesa 73 Mérida, also Emerita 53, 58-60, 69, 72, 75, 88, 125, 127, 136, 146, 169, 180, 184, 223, 230, 237-238, 252, 263, 281 Mértola 123, 134, 139, 224, 247, 249, 308 mitra, mithraic, mithraeum 50, 149-150, 172, 177, 222, 305 monasteries 25, 30, 32, 62, 84, 88, 105, 119, 128, 137, 146-147, 205-207, 277-280, 289, 294-295, 310, 312, 318 Montoro 23, 164

Morón de la Frontera 73, 77-78, 80, 211, 215, 217-219, 266, 290, 315 Munda 19, 38 Munigua 44-45, 239 Murensis 247 muslim 97, 320 chronicles 63 conquest 64, 96, 319 people 63 mutationes 43, 84, 312 Nabrissa 213 necropolis 25, 28-29, 33, 48-49, 53, 68, 101, 105-112, 122-123, 125, 140, 151, 154-158, 162-172, 179-180, 182-183, 187-189, 191, 194-198, 203, 206-207, 211, 215, 223-224, 227-228, 231-232, 249, 257, 268, 279-280, 284, 286, 301-302 negotiator 38, 57 Nertobriga 235 Niebla, also Ilipla 11, 25, 31, 52, 63, 74, 79, 81-82, 211, 241-251, 253, 259, 303 Nueva Carteya 165, 167-168, 232 Octavius Rufus, governor 52 Odiel, river 82, 244 Oppilanus, nobleman 62 Optimates 38-39 Ossigi 74 Ossius, bishop 53, 124, 301, 304, 309 Ostur 80, 244 Osuna, also Urso 48, 191 pagan, paganism 25, 29, 54-55, 84, 90-91, 110, 125, 154, 159, 172, 177, 197, 219, 259, 264, 268, 280, 296-297, 299, 301-302, 304-308, 315 Palestina 266, 282, 310 Patio de Banderas 196, 203-204, 207, 259, 277-278, 290, 294, 309, 312 Paulus (monk) 150, 288 Pelagius, St. 87 Phoenician 37, 42, 48, 193 Piedras, river 82, 244 Pompey 38, 42 Porcuna 74, 265 Priego de Córdoba 78, 169, 170, 280, 305 Puente Genil 50, 75, 77 Punta del Moral 110, 161, 241, 249-250, 272, 279, 284, 290, 296 Ravenna 120, 123-124, 126, 179, 214, 252, 262, 266, 276 Reccared, king 61-62, 73 Rechila, king 56 Refrigerium 110, 123, 154, 296, 302 Regina 46, 74-77 Rociana 245 Roderic 63, 88 Ronda 77

354  Sabinus, bishop 55-56 Salpensa 208 Samson, bishop 120, 248 San Juan, river 76 San Miguel de los Fresnos 139, 212, 235, 238, 267, 278 San Telmo, palace 203, 206, 286 sanctos 213, 296 ad 29, 183, 236-237, 249, 265, 302 retro 182, 230, 286 sanctuarium, sanctuary 45, 161, 167, 218, 228, 230-233, 302, 308 Sarcophagus 49, 53, 106, 113, 121, 123, 125, 138, 140-141, 156, 158, 161-162, 166, 168, 175, 181-182, 185, 206, 210-211, 214, 217, 223, 247-249, 253, 284-285, 287, 296, 301, 303 secretarium 195 Sehelati 88 senatus 57 Seneca 39 Serpa 82, 275 Sertorius 38, 42 Seville, also Hispalis 23, 25, 29-31, 42, 44, 47-49, 52, 55-62, 70, 72-74, 76, 78-84, 87-88, 102, 110, 119, 123, 161, 173, 175, 183-184, 187, 193-196, 198-199, 203-204, 207-209, 211-214, 217, 219, 221, 223, 237-239, 244, 247, 253, 259, 278, 281-282, 285, 290-291, 294-295, 303, 305, 307-309, 313, 316-318 Sinagius, bishop 75 Sisapo 69, 312 Sisebut, King 62 Spania 59-60 Spolia 30, 91, 109, 135, 153, 161, 165, 241, 308, 311 Suburbium 46-47, 49, 126, 159, 203, 262, 297, 300-301 Suevi 55-56, 195-196 Sulla 38 Syria, Syrians 54-55, 62, 87, 137, 218, 235, 261, 266

The Christianization of Western Bae tica

Tariq, muslim commander 63 Tejada la Nueva 80, 208, 211, 244 temple (pagan) 29, 44-45, 84, 176-177, 180, 198, 228, 231, 257, 279-281, 305-306, 308 Theodomirus, nobleman 64, 319 Thesaurum 218, 231 Theudis, king 51, 58 Toledo 51, 60, 72, 74, 79, 125, 127, 137, 140, 150, 169, 175, 281, 311-312, 315, 317 Torre de Palma 131, 271 Torreparedones 45, 48, 149 tower 32, 178-180, 230, 281, 295, 307 Trigaxes 247, 249 Urion 82, 212, 253 Utrera 78-79, 213 Vandals 55-56, 77 Via 154, 177, 307 XXIII 80, 82, 208-209, 211, 245, 249 Augusta 79, 127, 193-195, 197-198, 205-207, 213, 295, 308-309, 317 Vicarius Hispaniarum 52-53 Vicus 49, 62, 112, 122, 164 Villa 40, 46-47, 49, 62, 84, 136-138, 162, 173, 209, 294, 317 Villafranca de Córdoba 62 Villalba del Alcor 244 Vincomalos, bishop 246-248 Visigoths 51, 58-59, 75, 87, 195, 300, 313, 319-321 Wamba, king 78 Witiza, king 63 Zalamea 49 Zoilus, St. 88, 146