Preliminary Investigations at El Gandul, Seville Province, Andalucia (Cuidades Romanas Project)

This describes an interim report on work carried out at El Gandul (Provincia de Sevilla) in Andalucia during autumn 1997. The work was the first part of a larger project, ‘Ciudades y enclaves urbanos Romanos de la Provincia de Sevilla’ funded by the Delegación de Cultura de la Provincia de Sevilla. The aim of this umbrella project was to locate and characterise the archaeological potential of Roman town sites within the province with a view to developing strategies for their protection and management. In a first phase, funded by the British and the Acciones Integradas scheme, all the sites in the province were visited with a view to identifying a representative range of sites which would then be investigated by non-destructive fieldwork. The work at El Gandul represents the first archaeological interventions at a selection of these sites; 10 were originally projected.

The Mesa de Gandul (Alcalá de Guadaira, Sevilla) is a broad promontory settlement situated at the south-western edge of the Los Alcores promontory. It is the last in a long line of settlements which are to be found the length of the Alcores. Moreover there is evidence to suggest that it is only matched in area and cultural importance by Carmona, at the north edge of the Alcores. For this reason it may have played a key strategic role in controlling access to the Sevillan campiña (to the south) and the lower/middle Guadalquivir (to the west) throughout much of antiquity. This strategic position helps to explain the extremely rich material culture of all periods at this site. Accumulated knowledge and limited archaeological work indicate that the settlement was important from the Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age, during the Tartessian and Turdetanian Iron Ages, as a major Roman town (possibly Lucurgentum) close to the Hispalis-Basilippo road, and as a Medieval ‘despoblado’.