Italica: A Historiographical View Lecture Series Cities in Mediterranean Antiquity

Italica: A Historiographical View

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José María Luzón

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  1. José María LuzónJosé María Luzón

    Es catedrático emérito de Arqueología de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Estudió Historia en la Universidad de Sevilla, donde se doctoró en 1968 con una tesis sobre la arqueología de la provincia de Huelva y particularmente de los centros mineros de Riotinto y Tarsis. Desde 1970 a 1972 estudió con una beca de la Fundación Alexander von Humboldt, en la Universidad alemana de Marburg. Hasta 1976 dirigió las excavaciones de Itálica, teniendo ocasión de poner al descubierto una buena parte del trazado de la ciudad romana y el teatro. En 1976 se incorporó a la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela como profesor agregado y luego como catedrático de Arqueología. De 1983 a 1988 ocupó la cátedra de Arqueología en la Universidad de Cádiz, donde inició los estudios de navegación en la Edad del Bronce en el Mediterráneo. Posteriormente fue director del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (1988-1991), director general de Bellas Artes y Archivos (1991-1993) y director general del Museo del Prado (1994-1996). En 1999 fue elegido miembro de número de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, donde tuvo a su cargo el Taller de Vaciados y Reproducciones.

    Actualmente es académico delegado del Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Dirige desde 2007 el Proyecto de Excavación de la Casa de la Diana Arcaizante en Pompeya (VII-6-3), con financiación del MINECO en el proyecto.

A few kilometers away of Seville, were the locality of Santiponce currently is, we can still see the vestiges of what was one of the most renowned cities of Andalusia: Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica. Many sources point out that this was the birthplace of Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. It is particularly due to the later that his city of birth grew and obtained the rank of colonia. Because of this, Italica possessed monumental buildings of huge dimensions, which have lasted like visible ruins for centuries after it was abandoned.

Since the 16th century, the ruins of Italica begin to catch the attention of scholars and travelers. Thanks to them, we have descriptions and drawings of what was left of the Roman city in the hills now planted with olive trees that used to belong to the monks of the neighboring convent San Isidro del Campo. In the 18th century, influenced by the spirit of Enlightenment, excavations were done resulting in the findings of important epigraphic texts and sculptures of great artistic quality. Further on, during the 19th century, during a wave of confiscating ecclesiastic goods, it was possible to do some excavations but under very poor conditions. The names of  Ivo de la Cortina and Demetrio de los Ríos are associated with these works, and a wide repertory of great quality drawings are due to them.

During the 20th century, the ruins of Italica have several moments of interest, first when they are declared National Monument with the law of 1911, and later with the impulse given to the archaeological works in the years prior to the great Ibero American Exposition of Seville in 1929.

Finally, in the decade of the 70's excavations in large areas of the city were done to learn which was the urban layout, the current interpretation center was built, and a new period of research began that has produced great results. This corresponds with most of the Italica that we can now visit.