By Isabel Laguna
Cádiz, Spain, May 17 (EFE).- Extraordinarily well-preserved Roman baths dating back 2,000 years have emerged from the sand dunes of the emblematic Trafalgar Cape in southwest Spain.
The four-meter tall structure surprised archaeologists at the University of Cádiz as well as locals, who for years have walked across the dunes oblivious to the relic of history lurking below the sand.
“It is a structure that has an exceptional state of conservation for the Iberian Peninsula and the western Mediterranean in general,” Darío Bernal, a professor of archaeology at the University of Cádiz, tells Efe.
Roman discoveries in Spain more often comprise much shorter remnants of building foundations, but the baths unearthed at the beach near Cádiz retain entire walls, windows and doors.
Bernal and his team believe the building was a sophisticated rural bath complex complete with an oven-fueled hot air current that warmed the walls and floors.
It most likely served as a communal hot bath for local workers, many of whom would have toiled away in odorous coastal jobs like fish farming and salting.
In fact, Bernal’s team first hypothesized that they had stumbled across a fish or crustacean farm that had once been connected to the sea.
Such structures, developed by the Romans in Andalusia and Morocco, are currently the focus of an archaeological investigation into early agriculture and the fishing industry in the area.
The nearby ancient Roman town of Baelo Claudia, near Tarifa, was famous for its fermented fish sauce, which was exported across the empire.