Making an Entrance


September/October 2018

Trenches Spain Mengibar Roman ArchRemains of an imposing arch, believed to have been around 25 feet tall and more than 50 feet wide, that marked the starting point of a road in Roman Iberia, have been uncovered near southern Spain’s city of Mengíbar. According to archaeologist Juan Pedro Bellón of the University of Jaén, the arch of Janus Augustus signaled the beginning of the Hispania Baetica section of the Via Augusta, a nearly 1,000-mile-long road that stretched from the Atlantic through the Pyrenees and connected with routes to Rome. Hispania Baetica, the southernmost Roman province of the Iberian Peninsula, roughly corresponds to Spain’s autonomous community of Andalusia. “We believe that both the Via Augusta and the Janus Augustus arch were part of a transformation of the frontier ordered by the emperor Augustus between 13 and 7 B.C.,” Bellón explains. He says that the discovery of the arch will help reconstruct local territorial boundaries that would have been encountered by invading Romans and will provide important new insight into strategic decisions they made when building infrastructure and monumental symbols of Rome’s power in the region.