Integrated Actions (IA) 2009: Cordova and Colonia. Two Romans Provincial Capitals and their Material Legacy

Funded by the General Service of International Programs of the Ministry of Science and Innovation. Call for 2009.
Duration: 2010-2011 Reference: DE2009-0065
Institution: University of Córdoba Center: Faculty of Philosophy and Letters
Departament: History of Art, Archaeology and Music Director: Prof. Dr. Desiderio Vaquerizo Gil

The joint review and comparison of the material legacy of two Roman provincial capitals, Colonia Patricia (Cordova) and Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Köln), as well as the results of their study to date, are the main objective of the collaboration Scientific evidence presented here. Such a comparison of the archaeological evidence is certainly very interesting, since these two cities, in spite of their different natural conditions, developed similar urban structures and maintained cultural affinities among themselves, due to their membership in the Roman Empire and its common function Of capital of a province. However, by contrasting the archaeological data, they will also reveal the respective local peculiarities and the different urban evolution they both knew during Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages. Through joint activities, such as visits to excavations or to museums, lectures and workshops, discussions can be held around pieces, findings, destination centre and interpretations. In addition, it is hoped to conduct an exchange of views and experiences on methodological aspects of research and on the problems posed by the conservation of archaeological heritage. Special attention will be paid to the valuation of Roman material culture preserved in the two cities as a firm expression of a message of political unity and socio-cultural differentiation.

The present cities of Cologne (Germany) and Cordova (Spain) have evolved over the centuries from two Roman colonies along a large river. Both cities acted in the Antiquity as places of control of great territories of the western Roman, playing a significant, although different, paper, from the new order established by Augustus in the whole Empire. While Corduba, with an important republican past, at that time reached the rank of colony with the name of Colonia Patricia, extended its surface until the Guadalquivir and became capital of the rich province Hispania Ulterior Baetica, Köln was refounded by Augusto and acted Like center of the, then in project of formation, province Germania. After the defeat of Varo in 9th Century AD, which disrupted such plans, the city of Rhine would only obtain the rank of colony under the Emperor Claudius; And only after the creation of the Germania Inferior province by Domitian did it become, in fact, the capital of a Roman province.

As evidenced by their abundant archaeological evidence, the two cities experienced remarkable processes of constructive monumentalization at the beginning and middle of the imperial epoch, while maintaining their importance, despite the urban transformations that occurred during Late Antiquity. At that time, they became episcopal headquarters and minted coins for two Germanic states: Köln for the Franks and Cordova for the Visigoths. In the late Middle Ages, after the Islamic conquest, Cordoba once again experienced important urban development and achieved prominence in the context of the western Mediterranean as the capital of Al-Andalus. A similar situation, although delayed in time, is also observed in Köln, which, after recovering from the incursions of the Franks in the 5th Century AD, became the High Middle Ages, and until the end of the medieval period, Religious center and in the most important city of Germany.

As a consequence, therefore, of their long and outstanding historical trajectory, the two cities have preserved a rich archaeological legacy that provides information on their urban and architectural changes over time or on the representation of power and the ruling classes (through of their statues and inscriptions); But also about the self-representation of its inhabitants in their homes and, above all, in their tombs. The small finds often offer interesting facts about the daily life of its citizens. For decades, all these material testimonies have been studied by researchers attached to the Archaeology Area of ​​the University of Córdoba and the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Cologne, respectively.

In this sense, the Archäologisches Institut in Cologne has not only dealt with architecture, sculpture or Roman mural painting, but also more modest remains such as fibulas, pottery or glass. Something similar should be pointed out in regard to Cordova, where the Archaeology Area of ​​the University has dealt with similar research topics, without neglecting the study of archaeological remains belonging to the Late Middle Ages.

The scientific and academic collaboration presented here therefore has among its main objectives the joint presentation and comparison of the results of the archaeological investigations carried out to date or currently under execution on the two cities mentioned. It is intended that the two collaborating groups establish among themselves ways of dialogue, discussion and reflection on findings, objects, chronologies and interpretations; But not only in relation to specific scientific questions, but also to essential methodological aspects of the research or problems arising from the conservation and dissemination of archaeological heritage in historic cities. In this way, contacts between the two research centers can be expanded and enriched considerably in the future.

At another level of the project, and through common meetings, we will proceed to the analysis and joint evaluation of the material culture of the Roman period from both cities (without losing sight of the late medieval and medieval testimonies), as an expression of political unity and social differentiation. By means of images, architecture and everyday objects, the political unity of the Roman Empire, secured and guaranteed by military and administrative means, was reflected in these two cities, far removed from each other geographically. This can be traced, for example, in urban infrastructure or in the means of imperial self-representation, which refers to conscious and deliberate political decisions. But the acceptance of the Roman ways of life was not even homogenous or total. On the contrary, local preferences and specific forms of assimilation are evident; In addition, despite political centralism, local cultural traditions also acted for centuries. Beyond regional differences, there are also manifestations of social distinction in the two populations, such as funerary art and material witnesses of everyday life.

Therefore, the comparison between the archaeological reality of Colonia Patricia and Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium is extremely interesting, since both sites, in spite of their different conditions, formed similar urban structures and common cultural characteristics, due to their membership in the Roman Empire and its common function of provincial capitals. Nevertheless, local particularities and the different urban evolution experienced by Cordova and Cologne during the late and late Middle Ages periods will also be revealed. The continuation but also the rupture of the classic forms in both cities will be one of the main questions to be treated in relation to these stages.

In this way, the requested project connects with a line of research currently developed in Spain (for example, in Valencia or Barcelona) and in Europe (Portugal, Italy, France or England): the diachronic archaeological study of historical cities with an important Roman past and a remarkable development in the Late Antiquity and the High Middle Ages.