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Old things brought to light: a Roman theatre & some orthophotos


  • 5 BC. A great Roman theatre is built in Carthago Nova (today Cartagena, in Southern Spain), one of the largest in Hispania.
  • 5th century. Hispania becomes a Visigothic kingdom. Many Roman theatres are eventually abandoned and forgotten. Across the Middle Ages, houses are built on top of the ruins of the Cartagena Roman theatre.
  • AD 1245. A cathedral is built in Cartagena, partially overlapping the remains of the then-unknown Roman theatre.
  • AD 1930. Julio Ruiz Alda produces a series of aerial orthophotos covering parts of South-eastern Spain, including Cartagena. This imagery is served today via WMS by the Confederacion Hidrografica del Segura (first screenshot).
  • AD 1938. The mentioned cathedral is destroyed during the Spanish civil war.
  • AD 1956. The Spanish government produces a massive aerial orthophoto covering the whole country (second screenshot, served by the Murcia regional authority).
  • AD 1988. The Roman theatre is accidentally discovered. Newer buildings on it are removed. Archaeological and restoration works continue up until present day (third screenshot).

Blue shapefile: cathedral
Red shapefile: Roman theatre


1930: The theatre is covered; the cathedral is in good condition


1956: The theatre is covered; the cathedral’s roof is gone due to 1936-39 bombings


2007: The theatre is uncovered and is being restored; the cathedral was never restored (there is another cathedral elsewhere)



One thought on “Old things brought to light: a Roman theatre & some orthophotos

  1. It’s quite astonishing how close to time travel one can come with such a small device and some photos!

    Posted by wankel | 10/06/2009, 9:41 PM

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