Ancient ceramic items found in frontier tunnel excavation works

Historians and archaeologists are excited by this latest find.r
Historians and archaeologists are excited by this latest find.r / SUR
  • The items found are believed to date from different periods and experts believe some may come from wrecked ships

Excavation works for the frontier tunnel under the airport have revealed ancient remains including items which are thought to have come from wrecked ships. The remains were found six metres down, in the sand.

All excavation works of this type in Gibraltar are monitored by archaeologists, and on this occasion they are particularly excited by the find.

There are nearly 200 fragments of Roman ceramics of varying sizes, thought to be from different periods and origins. These include pieces of Terra sigillata Africana (a type of high quality reddish ceramic which was very common in Roman times) along with remains of amphorae from the Late Period (3rd to 5th centuries AD), possibly from the region of Lusitania (the Roman province that covered what is now Portugal and the province of Extremadura).

Some of the fragments of amphorae can be placed between the 1st century BC. and the 1st century AD. These are common in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and in the area of the Strait of Gibraltar they were usually used to transport products derived from the salting of fish, including the garum sauce, which was highly valued in Roman kitchens.

The fragments of Terra sigillata Africana ceramics seem to be from a later period - possibly between the 4th and 5th centuries AD - and as is common in this type of ceramics, they contain embossed or patterned decorations.

A human skull was also found, which a very preliminary analysis suggests may have belonged to a middle-aged man.

Heritage Minister Dr John Cortes says these latest finds reflect Gibraltar's diverse history. "One day you are looking at WWII structures, the next, artefacts dating to the Great Siege and the following day to Roman times," he explains.