by Nora McGreevy/Smithsonianmag.com
Archaeologists at the University of Cádiz recently announced the discovery of a series of ancient and prehistoric structures along Spain’s southern coast, offering a glimpse into the varied, long history of human settlement in the country’s Andalusia region.
First, report Zamira Rahim and Vasco Cotovio for CNN, the team unearthed the remains of a sprawling Roman bath complex, or thermae, where the empire’s ancient citizens gathered to wash, exercise and relax. Preserved beneath sand dunes for nearly 2,000 years, the baths’ 13-foot-tall walls have now been excavated for the first time since their abandonment in late antiquity, per a statement.
So far, researchers have only surveyed two of the rooms from the complex, which sits on the coast near the Caños de Meca beach. They estimate that the entire structure once extended over 2.5 acres.
The site features multiple rooms decorated with red, white and black stucco and marble, suggesting the baths once boasted rich decorations, reports Colin Drury for the Independent. According to the statement, double-walled structures such as these allowed the ancient Romans to create heated thermal enclosures for steaming and ritual bathing.