They discover a Roman quarry in Perafort

They discovered a Roman quarry from which stone blocks would have been extracted to build the Tupino bridge -similar to the Devil's bridge, but smaller-, in the municipality of Perafort (Tarragonès).

This is one of the main findings of the excavation campaign promoted by the Catalan Institute of Classical Archeology (ICAC) this year. The works, which began in October and will last until this week, have also made it possible to discover new sections of the Francolí Roman aqueduct.

Specifically, the researcher Jordi López, He has highlighted the "excellent" state of conservation of the section located near the Puigdelfí cemetery. Later, work will be done to visit the areas of the vestiges and two more years of excavations are expected.

The archaeological works are part of the project 'The Roman aqueducts of Tarraco' and, this year, they have focused on following five kilometers of the Francolí aqueduct within the municipality of Perafort.

Specifically, the archaeologists cleared the area around the Roman quarry of vegetation and excavated parts of the aqueduct that revealed a stretch of more than ten meters. The ICAC researcher has explained that these cleaning tasks will serve to carry out from now on the planimetry, photogrammetry and documentation of these vestiges. One of the main novelties of this campaign is the discovery of the Roman quarry, which was not listed in the heritage inventories.

According to López, the main hypothesis is that the Romans extracted stone blocks from this site that were used to build the Tupino bridge. In addition, he explained that the quarry was located next to the bridge and that it did not have "exceptional" dimensions. Specifically, it had an area of ​​about 300 m2 and three carved fronts are currently well visible. At several points, the negatives of stone blocks that were extracted using the manual technique of making a trench that delimited the block and, with the help of wedges or metal wedges, separated the block from the rocky matrix, can be clearly distinguished.

«A study would have to be carried out on the displacement of the extracted stone and that which was needed to raise the arcades, which at the moment we cannot do, we do not know the thickness of the earth that we have between where we step on and the rocky base if it is not excavated in a future”, added the researcher. This quarry is located 350 meters from the Tupino bridge, a bridge with arcades, similar to the Devil's bridge (or Les Ferreres bridge), but which was much smaller and of which few remains remain, in the municipality of Els Pallaresos. "Unfortunately, only the ends of this bridge remain, it has disappeared due to the looting of construction material," he indicated. Both the Devil's bridge and the Tupino bridge would date from the 1st century AD.

In last year's campaign, more than 50 sections of the Francolí aqueduct were identified, recorded and surveyed. Thus, the entire route of this infrastructure was defined, which experts calculate included 23 kilometers. The channeling can be followed discontinuously through the municipalities of Vallmoll, Garidells, Perafort, Pallaresos and Tarragona. According to the researchers, there are visible sections, but most of them are hypothetical. This year, the ICAC team has surveyed "more thoroughly" these spaces and sections that had not yet been excavated.

"Some have given very pleasant surprises, for example, the section next to Puigdelfí, near the cemetery, we have found a part of the aqueduct in an excellent state of conservation, the pavement is perfectly preserved, both ATMs, no element is missing" , has specified the expert. However, López has indicated that they have excavated a small part that was buried and that they could continue with the work.

Likewise, López has highlighted that the findings of this campaign are revealed because not only have infrastructures been located that allowed the aqueduct to be "raised" but also other elements such as the quarry or lime kilns. "The interest is above all because we broaden the vision not only of driving but of all the elements that were necessary to build it", he stressed.

Signaling and displaying the remains as museums, in the future

From the ICAC they point out that sections could be signposted and made accessible, such as the Tupino bridge, in the future, but that it depends on the will of the municipalities to make these areas visitable. With a view to upcoming campaigns, they plan to continue with the work in the Perafort district and could expand it to other municipalities if they agree with two other consistories. López estimates that the project could take two years and has stated that the objective is to write a book where all the information obtained during the years of archaeological excavations is compiled.

These began with the Quadrennial project of the Generalitat, 'The Roman aqueducts of Tarraco', which was carried out between 2018 and 2021, and which culminated in the recognition of the Tarraco Prize awarded by the Tarragona City Council in the 2021 edition.

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