Cartagena is a melting pot of more that two hundred thousand years of history and culture, whose archaeological records have been overlapped and mixed with several cities within a continuous process going from Antiquity to the present. The historiography from the 16th to the 19th century, the relevant contributions from personalities of the size of Antonio Beltrán and Pedro San Martín in the 20th century, and the notable development of scientific research, as well as urban and underwater archaeology, in the last three decades, have currently allowed Cartagena to become an observatory from which it is possible to register and study the history of the successive Carthaginian, Roman, Late Roman, Byzantine, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary facies. In this context, the research projects such as the ones done in the Augusteum theatre, have allowed to propose the analysis of the Roman city applying new perspectives. More recently, the project of the Molinete Archaeological Park that started in 2008 is allowing for the study of an archaeological reserve of 26000 m2, which due to being in the centre of the old town has become a privileged laboratory for the study of the material history of Cartagena in Antiquity, but also in the Medieval and Contemporary periods.
This scenario of Cartagena's urban archaeology have fostered the discovery and study of relevant architectural testimonies of the Roman city. Some of these have been preserved and valued by the "Cartagena Puerto de Culturas" consortium, while the "Fundación Teatro Romano de Cartagena" have decisively facilitated an excellent project for the preservation and transformation into a museum of the roman theatre building, an effort almost finalized that has been recently recognized through the prestigious EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2010. The recent works in Molinete have also received the National Award for Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Goods in 2012. This way, the archaeological activity and cultural, historical and archaeological heritage of the city, a legacy from a splendorous past, has become the motor to overcome the last of the several crisis hitting the city since the 90s, proving how a well managed and exploited cultural heritage can be one of the best assets an increasingly cultivated society can rescue, maintaining their identity pride as the key formula to face the challenges posed by the 21st century.
This conference will expose the main milestones and ways of recovering and giving value to all this cultural, particularly the archaeological, heritage. In the same way, we will present a diachronic historical evolution of Cartagena from Antiquity to posterior periods (Medieval, Renaissance,...), from the view of the archaeological records, and stressing the analyses of the several arguments regarding a Punic city from the 3rd century a.C. founded by the Barca linage of Carthage to be used as capital of the political-military suzerainty of Iberia; a Roman Republic city and its first big urban and architectural equipments deriving form the exploitation of the surrounding territories; and the city from the Cesar-Augustan period and the 1st and 2nd centuries, which produced important patrons included among the big figures of the Roman State, and that began a vibrant urbanist and architectural programme, including the forum and theatre. The archaeological records will also allow us to review some of the most highlighted milestones of a Late Roman and Renaissance city, focusing particularly in its transformation into a naval base of the Spanish monarchy granted with new and elaborated defensive walls. All of this analyzed with the scope of the Mediterranean vocation that characterized the entire historical development of the city.