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Carmo (Carmona)


Puerta de Sevilla. Photo Marco Prins.
Puerta de Sevilla.
Carmo: city in ancient Andalusia, modern Carmona.

Carmo is a very ancient town, probably founded by the Iron Age native population of Andalusia, which is usually called "Tartessian". The Carthaginian presence on the Costa del Sol must have been the incentive towards urbanization. The walls of Carmo contain traces of Carthaginian masonry. It must have been hard to take, as the city is based on a steep plateau.

After the Roman conquest in the fourth quarter of the third century BCE, and the problematic years after the Second Punic War in which Andalusia had to adapt itself to different rulers, Carmo became an important production center of olive oil. In the two, three first centuries of the Roman Empire, Andalusian oil was transported to the city Rome on a really massive scale.

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Puerta de Córdoba. Photo Marco Prins.
Puerta de Córdoba. 

The Puerta de Sevilla is essentially a Roman construction. It is situated in the west of the town, from where the road continued to Italica and Hispalis (modern Seville). The other gate of Carmona, the Puerta de Córdoba, was the eastern access to the town, where the road to Astigi (Écija) and Corduba began. The foundations of the two octagonal towers date back to the Roman age.

The amphitheater of Carmo. Photo Jan van Vliet.
The amphitheater of Carmo.

West of the Puerta de Sevilla -at a distance of about 900 meter- are the remains of an amphitheater (a satellite photo can be seen here). It was discovered in 1885 but not fully excavated until the 1970's. Like the amphitheater in Syracuse, it is partly cut into the rocks, and on several sites, smaller structures were added. Postholes betray that there used to be several wooden structures as well. The arena measured about 55 x 35 meter.

The Circular Tomb. Photo Jan van Vliet.
The Circular Tomb.

Immediately southwest of the amphitheater was a large necropolis, which is a good reason to visit the small town. It consists of ancient Tartessian funerary monuments and Roman tombs, which all share one characteristic: that the body of the deceased was buried in a bent position, with the head always facing the west. At end of the first century CE, cremation and other customs also became common.

One of the best-preserved tombs is called the "Circular Tomb". It resembles Etruscan tumuli, or grave mounds and must have looked like a low hill, with a vaulted chamber carved out in the rock.

Tomb of the Elephant. Photo Jan van Vliet.
Tomb of the Elephant.

The Tomb of the Elephant is named after a little stone statue of the well-known animal, which was found inside. It was not an ordinary tomb, because it appears to have served as a sanctuary as welll at least, it contains depictions of Anatolian gods like Cybele (the "Great Mother") and Attis. It may have been a mithraeum. The second of the five photos on the line below shows one of those statues. To the left and right, you can see the banks on which people came together to join the celebrations.

Tomb of Servillia. Photo Jan van Vliet.
Tomb of Servillia.

As far as we know, the Tomb of Servillia was the most monumental tomb of the Carmona necropolis. There was a courtyard, which was surrounded by porticos, where many statues were discovered. (Here you can see it on a satellite photo.) They are now in the museum near the excavation and in the Museo Arqueológico of Seville. The Tomb of Servillia was not just a tomb, but the monumental display of wealth of what must have been one of Carmo's leading families.


Portico of Tomb of Servillia.

The portico of the Tomb of Servilia gave access to a doorway and a small antechamber with a beehive-like vaulted roof, which in turn gave access to the burial place itself. You can see the antechamber on the fourth photo on the line below' the fifth photo shows the niches for the urns, and traces of the frescos that once coverd the walls and the ceiling of the Tomb of Servilia.

Circular Tomb. Photo Jan van Vliet. Tomb of the Elephant. Photo Jan van Vliet. Tomb of the Elephant. Photo Jan van Vliet. Tomb of Servilia. Photo Jan van Vliet. Tomb of Servilia. Photo Jan van Vliet.
Circular tomb Tomb of the Elephant Tomb of the Elephant Tomb of Servillia Tomb of Servillia
Bust of Mars. Museo Arqueológico,  Sevilla (Spain). Photo Marco Prins.
Finally, a photo of a bust of Mars, the Roman god of war, from Carmo. It is now in the Museo Arqueológico in Seville.

Thanks

... to Jan van Vliet for sharing some of his photos.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2007
Revision: 13 May 2013
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