The Hadrianic city of Italica
Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain
Andalusia, Seville, Santiponce
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The property being proposed for inclusion on Spain’s Tentative List is an ex novo sector of the Roman city of Italica, referring to an urban planning project dating back to Hadrian’s era. This project significantly extended the limits of the city and completely changed its urban space. This autonomous sector of Italica is located in the northern area of the site, declared a Property of Cultural Interest and administered as an Archaeological Ensemble by the Regional Government of Andalusia. The settlement is located in the municipality of Santiponce, 9 kilometres northwest of Seville.
The origins of Italica date back to the Second Punic War. After the Battle of Ilipa, in 206 BC, Publius Cornelius Scipio built homes for the veterans of this conflict on a promontory on the right banck of the Guadalquivir River, where a Turdetanian settlement had already been established. He called it Italica, in reference to the place of origin of the new settlers. This city was the first permanent Roman settlement founded on the Iberian Peninsula. From this prominent position, it played a major role in the Romanisation of the Guadalquivir Valley.
This urban centre of the Baetica flourished during the reign of the Emperors Trajan, born in Italica, and, particularly Hadrian, whose family was from Italica. During the 2nd century, this site experienced a radical transformation, with the area it originally covered increasing fourfold. In 1960, Antonio García y Bellido called this Nova Urbs extension, the ‘’new city‘’ It was also in the 2nd century that Italica acquired the status of colony. This new situation involved changing the title of the city, which went on to be called Colonia Aelia Augusta Italicensium. Italica was affected by the crisis during the 3rd century, as were many other parts of the Empire. After just over one hundred years, the urban expansion of Hadrian’s time was practically abandoned. The late Roman population retreated south and enclosed its perimeter in the north with a new wall. The urban planning carried out by Hadrian in this area of the Nova Urbs (the new city) was not rebuilt or occupied at a later date.
The last episodes in the life of Italica are documented in the Middle Ages. The site, which is much smaller now, was called Taliqa by the Muslims. This medieval occupation is located in the southern area of the archaeological site. No further buildings were constructed after the Roman period in the urban area forming the subject matter of this proposal, therefore, the original layout designed by Hadrian was never changed. During the 14th century, very close to the archaeological site of Italica, the Monastery of San Isidoro del Campo was founded and this property included the abandoned Roman plot. In 1603, the Guadalquivir flooded, prompting the town of Santiponce to move its location from the area of Isla de La Cartuja (Island of the Carthusians) to its existing location. This is where the area of the Santiponce hamlet and the southern area of Italica began to come together. The northern area remained as a large plot of agricultural land, which falls within the proposed area.
The recovery and historical study of Italica began during the Renaissance. Thereafter, scholars, artists, poets and travellers started visiting the site, with the aim of discovering the ruins of a major city, whose amphitheatre was testament to its Roman past. During the 17th century, the work of scholars suchas Rodrigo Caro enabled the groundwork for the “archaeological investigation” of the site to be laid, by comparing the remains that were discovered in an area known as Sevilla la Vieja (Old Seville) with references about Italica in written accounts from the classical period, inspired by the fact that Italica was the homeland of the Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Since then, the knowledge and archaeological recovery of this property have been presided by its consideration as an exceptional testimony to Roman history. The long-term research conducted here has made it a vitally important site in classical archaeology at a national and international level.
The historical value of this ancient city and the absolute certainty of its vestiges have been eulogised in a literary production and represented in a graphic repertoire, which began with the first signs of interest in studying the site during the 16th century. From then on, written in a mixture of verse and prose, the ruins of Italica have been a metaphor and a space for reflecting on the passage of time, the meaning of life, beauty and death. The vast amount of graphic writings about Italica, illustrates, with images of all sorts and from various perspectives, the gradual recovery of the remains of the ancient Roman colony. It also illustrates how this archaeological site has lured visitors since its early years.
Nova Urbs ex novo
The site proposed for inclusion on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List, consists of an urban planning project designed during the Hadrianic period, which extended the boundaries of the city of Italica northwards, ex novo, in the way of a Nova Urbs, a new city, as occurred in Athens. To do so, 38 hectares of land adjoining the pre-existing village were occupied. This was a plot of land without any buildings, with hills and streambeds, which were incorporated into the design of the new urban layout. Most of this sector dating back to the 2nd century can be extensively identified, and in great detail, within the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica, a space open to visitors and managed by the regional government. Another is located in a rustic area situated to the west of the preceding area. Both sectors are located in the area declared Property of Cultural Interest.
The section of roads preserved in the area of the site that can be visited creates an urban environment in which the main elements of a well-planned city can be felt, when culture was at its height during the Roman Empire, which reflects the urban landscape of the Hadrianic period in an outstanding and universal manner and which would have been designed by the Emperor himself.
The perimeter of this northern area of Italica was defined on three of its sides with a walled enclosure. To the south, the new enclosure would join what until then had marked the outline of the town, although we are not archaeologically aware of this connection. Inside the walls, the Hadrianic sector of Italica is orthogonal in shape, organised around wide avenues delimiting plots on which there are various types of buildings with different functions. Undoubtedly, one of the most characteristic elements of the Hadrianic Italica is its avenues. The roads are paved with polygonal slabs of stone separated from the pavements by a kerb. This pedestrian area was porticoed. If both the pavement and roadways are taken into account, the roads in Italica are around 16 metres wide. This width differentiates this city, in the province of Baetica, from many other urban centres, particularly those located in the western area of the Empire.
The plots in the Hadrianic city of Italica were not uniform. The larger plots were used to accommodate public buildings, strategically located in accordance with imperial ideology that sought to create a set design within the metropolitan area. This is the case with the Traianeum, a large religious complex built in a prominent position in the urban centre. These aspects led to the building being considered an urban and ideological landmark, which marked the entire urban development in the Hadrianic sector.
The Traianeum occupies a single, very imposing plot and, although it is well-preserved in terms of foundations, the original magnitude of the building is evident in the preserved structural ruins and sculptural remains. It is a temple dedicated to Trajan, located in the centre of a large porticoed square that was decorated with statues. Three of the sides of this portico had alternating rectangular and semicircular exedras around its exterior. These apses projected towards the exterior of a mighty wall enclosing the perimeter of the religious complex.
Polychrome marbles from various parts of the Empire were used in the construction of the Traianeum. Some were obtained from areas near to Italica, but others were brought from imperial quarries located in its western and eastern provinces. The architectural decoration of this building and the construction materials used include elements that coincide, in terms of style, typology and the presence of certain traces of masonry, with materials from other buildings that were projects commissioned directly by Hadrian, such as Hadrian’s Villa (Tivoli, Italy) (included on the World Heritage List – hereinafter referred to as WHL – in 1999) and the Baths of Neptune in Ostia (Italy). These details therefore reveal the involvement in the Traianeum project of both the Emperor and the imperial workshops made up of teams of highly qualified artisans working on the projects commissioned by Hadrian. The components of these teams contrast in terms of manufacture with others attributed to the intervention of local workshops. Finally, there is epigraphic material regarding this religious complex, indicating that members of the local elite had statues dedicated to them, which were placed in this building to honour various Augustan deities.
From a formal point of view, the layout of this place of worship is based on Roman architectural models, to which elements were added, which renewed the original source of inspiration, creating a unique design. The most direct parallel for the Traianeum is located in Hadrian’s Library in Athens. Both coincide in that their porticoes are designed in alternating semi-circular and rectangular exedras; their enclosures are of a similar size and polychrome marble obtained from various locations was used to build them. However, they differ in their configuration and architectural design, as well as in their function. In Athens, the centre of the portico is not occupied by a colossal temple, as in Italica. Instead, the buildings were mostly to be found on the lower side opposite the main entrance, following outlines more closely related to former public Roman architecture, such as the Flavian Templum Pacis in Rome (included on the WHL in 1980). The arrangement of Italica’s Traianeum is therefore original and may have served as a model for the subsequent construction of temples of worship, such as the Hadrianeum in Imperial Rome (currently Piazza di Pietra). Furthermore, very recent research has enabled the Traianeum portico to be reviewed. This research revealed that the rectangular exedras are larger than originally thought. This breaks the linearity and harmony of the complex by alternating different exedras in the layout, although they were the same size. This information also distinguishes Italica’s Traianeum portico from that of Hadrian’s Library in Athens.
Termas Mayores (Large Baths)
Another public building in 2nd century Italica was an area with thermal baths and a palestra. Covering an area of more than 32,000 m2 it is the largest architectural complex of Hadrian’s urban infrastructure and the largest thermal complex of all those documented in Hispania, coinciding with the design of imperial thermal baths. The archaeological work conducted at the end of the 19th century and further work carried out in the middle of the 20th century only disinterred part of the space known as Termas Mayores (Large Baths), to distinguish it from the so-called Termas Menores (Small Baths) located in the southern part of the site dating back to Trajan’s time as emperor.
Only the entrance to these public baths in the Hadrianic city has been excavated, together with some rooms in the bathing area and some service rooms and galleries. However, this only represented part of a larger building that continued to the south with a huge palestra. This second space, documented by geophysical techniques, consists of a central diaphanous palestra, delimited by a portico with exedras following a similar design to that of the Traianeum, and the aforementioned Hadrian’s Library in Athens. However, the design of the palestra resembles a model of Greco-Hellenistic gymnasiums, but of colossal dimensions. Likewise, both the architectural model and the use of marble from imperial quarries, associate Italica’s baths with the Traianeum and with Hadrian’s Library in Athens. These factors yet again suggest Hadrian’s involvement as the developer in its construction.
Apart from the connection with the Greco-Hellenistic world by applying the thermal baths-gymnasium model often found in eastern Mediterranean cities, there are also elements of these baths in Italica that are present in Roman bath buildings in North Africa. Finally, the mixture of tradition and innovation in architecture, so characteristic during Hadrian’s reign, can be seen in the elements borrowed from the architecture of Pompeii and used in the Large Baths.
In the construction of the thermal bath-gymnasium complex in Italica, there was a desire to promote the use and the customs typical of these types of buildings in the Greco-Hellenistic world: a place for everyday use, that was not limited to bathing and hygiene, but also a space for practicing and teaching sports, for establishing social relationships and promoting education and culture which, during Hadrian’s time, clearly takes us back to the East, to an endeavour to merge tradition/innovation and imperial globalisation (West/East), which was particularly embodied during Hadrian’s reign.
Among other purposes, in Hadrianic Italica, the smaller plots were reserved for private residences. Normally, two large mansions were built in each insula. The size and wealth of each domus illustrates that these residences belonged to the political and economic elite of Italica, which to a large extent would have belonged to the senatorial order. As indicated by Professor Fabrizio Pesando (University of Naples L’Orientale), a prominent specialist in domestic Roman architecture: “Houses excavated in the Nova Urbs (of Italica) are relevant in size, comparable only with those of the largest Pompeii domūs of the 2nd century BC and some sectors are inspired in the great Hellenistic and Roman residential architecture.”
Only some the houses that would have occupied the northern area of the city have been excavated. Particularly noteworthy, as the full extent is known, is the Casa de Los Pájaros (House of the Birds). This domus, which covered an area of approximately 1700 m2, is not one of the largest in the sector. It is a house with a porticoed patio, and, along with other residences in the same area, it had commercial premises at the front; there was also a triple entrance leading on to a small hallway enclosed by a curved wall. It also coincides with other houses in the manner in which the mosaic floor tiles were reserved for the bedroom and reception room. The living room or exedra is what gives the building its name, with its bird mosaics, this main central room is flanked by two smaller rooms, following a pattern “which is a similar to that of the main peristyle in the Vergina Palace and, hypothetically, the peristyle in the Royal Palace at Pella. A similar solution is finally documented along the west side of the main peristyle of the Palace of the Columns at Ptolemais” (F. Pesando). The solution adopted in the House of the Birds in Italica in its triclinium flanked by two small pseudo-peristyles, identified as oecus Cyzicenus, also resembles the Palace of Ptolemais and, particularly, Domitian’s massive imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome (known as the cenatio Iovis, which was the Emperor’s dining room).
The extensive repertoire of mosaics from Hadrianic sector is one of Italica’s distinguishing features. The design illustrates the intervention of local or provincial workshops which, using techniques and styles from the models of the metropolis, created a unique style widely used in the Guadalquivir Valley. They is also an exceptional representation of opus sectile, with a wealth of enormous marbles, as illustrated in the Casa de la Exedra (House of the Exedra), (covering an area of around 4000 m2), which is one of the most luxurious residences in the Hadrianic complex, occupying an entire plot. Particularly noteworthy is the triclinium/ nymphaeum, which gives the house its name, in association with an ambulatio, which reproduces a smaller version of the “Canopus” of Hadrian’s Villa, in the tradition of the architecture of the two large imperial palaces on the Italian Peninsula.
Together with the domestic residences, there are other very large buildings with a great variety of features. Although they have been interpreted as being the homes of rich owners, they have also been considered to be semi-public buildings that were the venue for guilds or professional associations using their spaces for meetings or other functions. In this case, it is the House of Neptune, which is a municipal complex, known to have had a thermal bath area and some grand halls. This building has a series of mosaics with technical characteristics and decorative motifs that are similar to the floor tiles found in the Baths of Neptune in Ostia. Likewise, on the floors of this building, but also in those of the House of the Exedra, there are mosaics with Nilotic motifs, which are very typical of the period and which reproduce exotic features and elements inherent to the eastern region of the Empire.
Water supply and sewage system
The natural topography of the land was key when installing the elements that formed the complex water supply and sewage system that ran through this city during Hadrian’s reign. On an elevated position, next to the northwest corner of the walled enclosure and inside the town, a large water tank was built. This deposit was a final castellum aquae (water distribution station) of an aqueduct also built by Hadrian and which, after a 30 km journey, brought water to the new urbanisation of Italica from the north of what is now the province of Huelva (Fuentes de Tejada). From this tank, the water reached the buildings in the area and the public fountains located at the crossroads of some streets. It ran through lead pipes, such as those found bearing the seal of the city C•A•A•I• (Colonia Aelia Augusta Italicensium), or that of the Emperor, IMP•C•H•A• (Imperatoris Caesari Hadriani Augusti), which certified that the work had been financed by the same emperor.
Surplus water was channelled via a drainage system underneath the roads. At some crossroads there were manholes, which could be accessed to carry out maintenance tasks. Some of these wells and a drainage point below the north gate of the walled enclosure are still visible in the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica. The drain network ended up draining water into collectors located on the two streambeds that defined the north and south contours of the new urbanisation.
Outside the city, approximately 300 metres from the northern door, is the amphitheatre. This is Italica’s most emblematic building in terms of size and for having been the indicator marking the presence of this Roman city in the territory throughout history. Although it has been affected by pillaging in the past, the work carried out since the 19th century has enabled a large part of the configuration of this building to be identified; a building used for events and which was one of the largest in the Empire, after the Italian amphitheatres of Rome (the Colosseum), Capua and Pozzuoli. It could accommodate almost double the population of the city of Italica even during its busiest period. The amphitheatre was built into a streambed that had to be channelled. It has an oval shape and the structure of the building is opus caementicium, reinforced with stone or brick ashlars and covered with marble.
The first level of seating terraces still remains and part of the second, with the third row somewhat more deteriorated. The sheer size of the fossa bestiaria can still be seen in the arena. In this underground area, which was covered with decking, the marks of cages of the animals that took part in the shows can still be seen on the brick floor. Regarding the accesses to Italica’s colosseum, more details are known about the main entrances; those known as triumphalis -to the east- and porta libitinensis -to the west. In the corridor of the first of these, close to the arena, was a place of worship dedicated to Dea Caelestis. After the temple of Carthage (Tunisia) included on the WHL in 1979), this is the largest temple dedicated to this goddess and the only one of its kind located in an amphitheatre. Various ex voto inscriptions have been located in association with the temple at Italica, dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess of revenge and divine retribution. Likewise, game boards and other engraved motifs have been preserved in this corridor’s paving stones, indicating the passage of people and the use of this place, which was the main entrance to the amphitheatre.
The ambitious Hadrianic project did not last long. Barely a century after it was first used, a large part of this urban sector was already abandoned.
The geophysical surveys carried out in the unexcavated areas in this space revealed that, although streets and sewage networks were designed, some plots were never occupied by any properties. Other areas were never even urbanised. These geophysical techniques have enabled a wall from a later date to be identified, which would have marked the new outline of the city nearer the 4th century AD. The Traianeum was located within this urban perimeter, the building of imperial cult that marked the central point and established the urban landscape of the Hadrianic sector of Italica.
This abandonment and the subsequent non-occupation of the area resulted in the ex novo Hadrianic urban landscape configured in the Hadrianic city of Italica, in the Nova Urbs of the new colony of Italica, being preserved without subsequent alterations. Therefore, its archaeological recovery since the 19th century to date (by means of excavations or geophysical surveys) offers reliable and vast knowledge of the Hadrianic urban development projects, with its large public and private buildings and all of its associated infrastructure.
The proposal for the inclusion of “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List, includes a buffer zone. This zone, which houses other sectors of the archaeological site that help to explain the establishment of the city in the territory and to define the entity of the urban settlement of Italica, both during Hadrian’s reign and during other moments in history, is included in the area declared Property of Cultural Interest.
To the south, the buffer zone coincides with a part of the archaeological site located to a large extent below the town centre of Santiponce. The entire historical process of Italica’s occupation is documented therein. The population resided in this southern part of the ancient city, which coexisted with the Hadrianic area of expansion. Interventions dating back to the Hadrianic period have been documented in this area, although they are no clear examples of urban development projects that have been studied in depth, as is the case with the north sector or Nova Urbs. Of particular note among these is the area of the theatre, built during the Augustan-Tiberian period. It consists of an Iseum erected in the portico; also, two milestones with corbels bearing the name of the emperor and which are related to the new road that led to Merida, built by Hadrian. In addition to this, there are new angles of research resulting from the knowledge, still in the very early stages, of a large property, similar in size to the Traianeum, which occupied the top of the hill on which the building housing events is located.
The eastern area of the perimeter that surrounds the property forming the subject matter of this proposal, also coincides with an archaeological sector located on the urban land of Santiponce. It is in this pastureland area, to the east of the Hadrianic urban infrastructure, where a necropolis would have been located, covering various periods of Italica’s history, and where the road, to which the milestones found in the area of the theatre would refer, would have run.
Finally, the north and west flanks of the buffer zone refer, on the one hand, to a green area without any archaeological remains, which delimits the visitable area of the city, in both environmental and landscape terms, within the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica. On the other hand, a rustic area, located in the western part of the municipality of Santiponce. From a historical perspective, these areas are connection points for the old town with the countryside and with its catchment area. This was where Italica merged with the agricultural land of the Gerena Depression, the mines of Sierra Morena and, particularly, the Campo de Tejada. The latter is where the water catchment area from a branch pipe from the Italica aqueduct constructed during Hadrian’s reign was located, to increase the flow rate and to effectively supply the city, as mentioned previously.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The fact that it is the homeland of Trajan and Hadrian is a fundamental part of the universal nature of Italica. The two Emperors represented a time of maximum territorial expansion when Roman culture and prosperity were thriving. These two rulers transformed an empire that opened up to the multicultural reality of the provinces that formed part of it and made diversity one of their distinguishing features. Traces of the Roman legacy are very present in Western culture, with this heritage being one of its essential pillars.
Italica is unique among the series of towns that were subject to the lavish urban initiatives carried out by Hadrian. The remains of this city preserved in the northern area of the site are a leading reference for discovering the ideological bases and effects of an action strategy that enabled territories to be integrated, cultural relationships to be established, knowledge to be exchanged, while also disseminating and maintaining the values on which Rome was based during the 2nd century. The case of Italica is an exceptional illustration of Hadrian’s muniticence construction policies in the cities of the Empire. This was not only implemented via architectural projects and civic works in city centres, but also by establishing new colonies and through the large-scale renovation of existing ones.
In this regard, Italica is outstanding, as it is the only city in the Western Mediterranean with a strictly ex novo Hadrianic urban planning project, widely known in architectural terms and without any subsequent determining alterations, due to the early abandonment of this urban sector. In fact, unlike other towns that were also had imperial backing, the city of Italica was an initiative carried out in an area without any buildings and, therefore, without any conditioning factors, as was the case with interventions in previously urbanised areas. This advantage enabled a city model to be designed, in line with the architectural, aesthetic and ideological standards of the period.
The newly built area was an ambitious project which established a new sector of the city that was as complete as it was vast, which could be interpreted as the new Italica, in accordance with its transformation from a town into a Roman colony, a status granted to it by Hadrian.
The complete preservation of the entire urban development, the spatial scope of the project and the diversity of its components make Italica the finest and most illustrative universal example of the concept of urban space during the Hadrianic period.
From a formal point of view, the scope of the Hadrianic Italica is coherent with the monumental scale of its public buildings, with the width its the avenues, with the size of its private residences and with it sophisticated water treatment and sewage system. This harmonious scale is a feature that identifies Italica and which differentiates it from other cities in which Hadrian also carried out projects. In these cases, as they were mainly areas that were already inhabited, they consisted of isolated interventions, or diverse projects distributed across the city, but which needed to be adapted to the available space and introduced into the pre-existing urban layout.
The Hadrianic sector of Italica is unique because of the explicit legibility of its urban planning layout, in which properties are interspersed in the grids that form the roads like a drawing on a map. The image of Italica as a map is one of the distinguishing features of this site, in which the diversity of the elements takes precedence over its vertical preservation. The urban environment created by its road network enables the main components of a city designed during the Hadrianic period to be recognised. There is also a vast archaeological reserve area still to be excavated. An initial assessment regarding its historical potential has been conducted in relation to the function of specific elements, according to the data provided by geophysical studies.
Hadrian was directly involved in the change of image and urban scale of Italica at the beginning of the 2nd century. The presence of the Emperor’s seals on some water supply infrastructures; the external origin of some of the construction materials which also came from quarries owned by the Emperor and used in public buildings; some masonry marks and the high technical quality of some elements, together with the architectural models that coincide with other imperial buildings, confirm the testimonies included in ancient written sources about the generosity of the Emperor with his hometown. Likewise, it is important to remember that Hadrian was named quinquennial duumvir in Italica. Although he would hold this office in absentia, much of his generosity to his hometown may also be related to his local magistracy.
Second-century Italica was neither a provincial capital nor a legal community, but the homeland of Hadrian and the birthplace of Trajan, his predecessor and adoptive father. Italica also has additional features that make it stand out from other cities, such as being the oldest Roman city on the Iberian Peninsula, having been founded by Scipio during the Punic Wars and having played a fundamental role in the Romanisation of the Guadalquivir Valley.
The Hadrianic sector of Italica integrates the natural lie of the land with the design of its urban form and, above all, creates a setting with great symbolic value. The spatial scope of the building project and the sound archaeological knowledge of the sector enable us to interpret a space in which everything had been meticulously planned. In this regard, the Traianeum’s central position within the ensemble, its location on a prominent point and its dynastic value as a temple of the imperial cult, identify this building as the landmark that established the urban infrastructure of the northern area. This was the most prominent and outstanding part of The Hadrianic city of Italica, since it was not only the place that represented imperial power and the start of the new “Hispanic” dynasty with Trajan; but also the ideal point to disseminate Roman values and to foster the local community’s allegiance to the Emperor.
Trajan was worshipped in Italica’s Traianeum.
However, there was a special reason that made this place of worship in Italica different to others also dedicated to the same emperor located throughout the Empire: the one in Italica was located in the birthplace of Trajan. With this temple, Hadrian not only paid tribute to his adoptive father, but also reinforced the bonds between the imperial family and the provincial communities right in the place that was his own homeland. The special meaning of this temple and its value as a central and organisational element of the new urban infrastructure indicate its consideration as a city dedicated to Trajan. If a basilica was dedicated to Trajan’s wife, the Empress Plotina, after her death in her birthplace Nemausus (today Nimes), and an entire city, Antinoopolis, to his favourite Antinous, in the place where he died, Hadrian paid tribute to Divus Traianus, his adoptive father, in the place in which he had been born. The only comparison would be the Traianeum dedicated to Trajan and to Plotina in Rome, built by Hadrian at the top of the Forum of Trajan, close to the urn containing the ashes of the Optimus Princeps in the basement of the Trajan’s Column.
Furthermore, the thermal baths with the palestra built during the Hadrianic period were not just an everyday place for bathing and hygiene purposes or a place for practicing sports. The imperial promotion of this building went hand in glove with the desire to promote the educational and cultural values of the thermal baths-gymnasium of the cities of the Eastern provinces. Likewise, the amphitheatre was designed not only to congregate the local population, but also those from other parts. Apart from being a place for staging events and socialising, it also served as a propaganda space and a place of imperial worship and as a driving force behind the local economy.
In relation to the private aspects, the houses, designed around vestibules and porticoed patios, with their triclinia and other large rooms with mosaic floors, are testament to the lifestyle of part of the population – the political and economic elite - that followed the trends and social customs inherent to Rome and the Empire.
The imperial scale of the public buildings in Italica during the 2nd century is exceptional in all the provinces of the Roman West. They are also unique pieces forming part of Hadrian’s monumental architecture. The Traianeum and the palestra in the Major Baths are unique representations. The layout of these buildings is similar to that of another similar and essential building, such as Hadrian’s Library in Athens, based on the former imperial architecture and Greco-Hellenistic periods. The two buildings in Italica, plus the amphitheatre, are exceptional examples that illustrate the defining features of the monumental architecture of the Hadrianic period. They also reflect tradition and innovation, local and external influences, beauty and passion, together with the Emperor’s desire for self-glorification. The Traianeum temple, in the centre of a porticoed square, surrounded by over one hundred columns, may have served as a model for subsequent buildings, specifically for the Hadrianeum in Rome.
The domestic architecture of the houses with porticoed courtyards, the construction and decorative styles of the period, which coincide to a certain degree with imperial palace architecture, particularly Hadrian’s Villa, and are modelled on Greco-Hellenistic architecture. The mosaics with styles imported from the metropolis and exotic motifs inspired by the Eastern Roman Empire, are proof of this. However, the series of mosaics in Italica, also include pieces that reveal the creation of a distinctive, personal style, which would be continued and become common in Hispania Baetica.
The construction of the Nova Urbs not only changed the scale and appearance of Italica, but also the essence of the actual city, which became an outpost of a Rome that was broadening its horizons. The town-planning and architecture of Hadrian’s city reflect the arrival of new materials and construction designs, new urban approaches, together with new technical knowledge and decorative styles.
The historical meaning and exceptional nature of the architectural ensemble preserved in the northern area of Italica distinguish this place as an outstanding heritage site in the urban-development context of the Roman Empire. The extensive period of study and archaeological recovery of evidence accumulated in this site have made it an international benchmark in classic archaeology.
In turn, the protection initiatives implemented in The Hadrianic city of Italica over the past century have allowed this outdoor site to be opened to the public, where, along with the archaeological vestiges, the signs of the restoration work carried out over time are treasured as part of the site’s history. This protection mechanism has enabled the preservation of a site that is an outstanding example of a Rome that extended its cultural horizons by looking to the territories within its frontiers.
Criterion (ii): The town-planning and architecture of the Hadrianic sector of Italica, are exceptional examples of the interchange of ideas and values that broadened relationships between the populations of the Mediterranean world when the cultural splendour of the Roman Empire was at its peak. During the 2nd century, Italica was the receiving point for innovations and technical knowledge. Italica welcomed architectural designs, diverse construction materials from abroad, unused in the area on such a large scale, highly skilled labour, greatly refined artisanal practices, decorative styles typical of the metropolis and the cities of the eastern reaches of the Empire and also urban planning design that contrasted with those normally used in the cities of the Western Roman Empire.
Criterion (iv): Italica is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble that illustrates, in an exceptional manner, the concept of urban space and the defining features of architecture during Hadrian’s reign.
The urban planning project that changed the image and urban scale of Italica during the 2nd century benefited from being an ex novo initiative, which covered a vast area of land in which an urban design was created with a powerful symbolic meaning, in which each element fulfilled a specific function. The variety of elements - walls, roads, water supply and sewage systems, the temple of the imperial cult, thermal baths with palestra, large private residences and/ or semi-public buildings, an amphitheatre - and the comprehensive preservation of the urban development layout, enable the underlying concept of urban space of Hadrian’s project to be known. Furthermore, theTraianeum, the Major Baths with a palestra and the amphitheatre are outstanding examples of their kind, which also illustrate the defining features of Hadrian’s monumental architecture. These reveal, among other aspects, tradition that is reformed and renewed to give way to innovation; the combination of local materials with the introduction of materials, styles and construction forms that differed from the traditions of Rome, which illustrate the universal nature of Hadrian’s political and cultural project; the importance of the beauty and spectacular nature of the architectural work, as well as the fact that this project was the Emperor’s own design.
Criterion (vi): Italica was the homeland of Trajan and Hadrian, two of the most important Roman emperors responsible for the largest territorial and cultural expansion of an empire that is one of the fundamental pillars of Western culture.
Trajan, born in the city of Italica, was the first provincial emperor. With Trajan, Rome reached its greatest territorial extent, in an area very close to what is now Europe. Trajan was recently honoured in Rome with the exhibition “Traiano, costruire l’Imperio, creare l’Europa”. As indicated by the organisers, his administration tried to “include” the populations submitted “under a single State that was governed with laws that still exist today in modern jurisprudence”. Trajan’s work as a ruler, often referred to as the “Father of Europe”, was so prominent that he was officially declared by the Senate Optimus Princeps. Hadrian, whose family was originally from Italica, succeeded Trajan, his adoptive father. Although he was an excellent soldier, he was an educated emperor, traveller and cosmopolitan, who promoted the prosperity and well-being of the Empire through the cultural integration of its provinces.
With the two emperors from Italica, Rome was transformed, it opened up to its territories, integrating them, and made diversity a hallmark of its own personality. The influence of the Roman legacy in the formation of Western culture is essential and traces thereof are still very present in today’s world.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Pursuant to the provisions set forth in paragraphs 79 to 86 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the Nara Document on Authenticity, the conditions of authenticity must be duly present in the proposal and the cultural value shall be reliable and credible via its various attributes.
The Hadrianic city has preserved its characteristic structure and design, since its layout, together with the significant remains of its original structures and the interventions carried out on these have been limited to guaranteeing their preservation, without introducing substantial changes that would distort their tangible authenticity, thus including the authenticity of materials and substance. And as a visitable archaeological site, its use and function have been preserved since it was first opened to the public.
The research carried out in Italica is conclusive and unanimous in terms of the attribution of the monuments to the aforementioned period and it illustrates the authenticity of its chronology. The same applies to the authenticity of the architectural styles which they are displayed, since their authenticity has been determined by scientific criteria.
Interest in the study of Italica began in the 16th century and, since then, there have been many testimonies confirming that the remains located in the area then known as Sevilla la Vieja were the remains of the Roman city of Italica. In this regard, the identification of the archaeological site with a specific historical association has been accredited.
Regarding the association of an area of the city of Italica - the north sector - with a specific moment in its history - Hadrian’s reign - it should be noted that the bases for the archaeological investigation of the site established in the 17th century have been extended and reinforced with subsequent fruitful research. This situation is paradigmatic in the case of the Hadrianic phase, which is doubtless the most documented of the protracted life of this ancient city centre. The important area of land revealed by the archaeological excavations in the northern part of the site and the data obtained from the geophysical analyses have enabled the urban infrastructure of this sector during the Hadrianic period to be dated. Likewise, the documentation of certain architectural patterns, construction materials, decorative styles and the presence of the Emperor’s name on some elements, are first-hand testimonies that prove Hadrian’s direct intervention in the development of Italica. The foregoing coincides with the references in the ancient written sources to the favours that the Emperor bestowed on his homeland and on the Baetica province.
In short, the tangibility and chronology of the archaeological remains of the Hadrianic city, are reliable proof of the authenticity of the property intended for inclusion on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List.
In addition to the foregoing, most of the area included in this proposal is located outdoors and open to the public – the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica. The current situation of the site is the result of a long period of research that has enabled a large part of the urban structure of the area urbanised in the 2nd century to be recovered and the ephemeral nature of the occupation of this part of the Roman city to be discovered. This recovery has been accompanied by consolidation and restoration works on the archaeological remains. The traces of these interventions can be interpreted from a historiographical perspective, as they are present on many of the properties that can be seen when visiting the site.
The amphitheatre is a fine example of this. After the initial recovery work and archaeological studies conducted on this building at the end of the 19th century, the preservation works began. As a result of the gradual recovery of the property, the first consolidation solutions were applied at the beginning of the 20th century, which continued with the restoration interventions mid-century and the works carried out in the seventies and eighties. The conservation work on the amphitheatre has continued with subsequent interventions that have combined conservation with museology and interpretation of the spaces in which work has been carried out.
If the amphitheatre is a key point in the preservation of Italica, the mosaics and the houses in this city built during the Hadrianic period are further key aspects in this regard.
The preservation of the private residences and, particularly, their floors, have been given priority in the preservation works carried out. Since Italica’s mosaics were first unearthed, the array of solutions applied has enabled a varied repertoire of this fragile type of floor tile to be admired when visiting the site. Given the decorative wealth, technical quality and size of some of them, the mosaics are one of Italica’s emblems.
The conservation of not only these tiles, but also those of the entire property in which they are located, are two fundamental values that have led to the recovery of two of the most well-known houses in the northern area of Italica: the House of the Birds and the House of the Planetarium. From different intervention criteria, these two private residences allow visitors to gain a better understanding of both the spatial structure of the house and its different uses.
The property “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” covers a sector located in the northern part of the Roman city, consisting of an ex novo urban planning project dating back to the 2nd century. Since the archaeological remains in the area of the property enable the scope and detail of an urban space designed during Hadrian’s reign to be identified, it possesses all the elements required to express its Outstanding Universal Value and has the appropriate size, which enables the complete representation of the characteristics and the processes that transmit the importance of the property, without showing adverse signs of development or negligent acts.
However, to date, the excavated area in this 2nd century urban infrastructure only represents part of the original ensemble. A significant area of this sector is still to be researched. Various geophysical studies have been conducted in this protected area, which have resulted in an initial assessment of the underground archaeological record, providing details regarding the urban organisation of this space and regarding the function of some of its buildings. This resource has also enabled the layout of the streets, yet to be excavated, to be integrated into the visitable area of the site, outlining the layout of the Hadrianic expansion in points where it is not visible and marking the monumental scale of this urban planning project.
Comparison with other similar properties
The important territorial expansion and the cultural scope of Rome resulted in the footprints of this legacy being present on many properties included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. The Tentative Lists of States Parties of this international organisation also include properties of this cultural nature.
From a geographical perspective, the Roman Empire’s sphere of action not only focused on the Mediterranean Arc, but also on Central and Western Europe. This means the geographic scope of the comparative study for the proposal “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA”, affecting two of the regions in which the UNESCO organises the vast cultural areas forming the World Heritage. On the one hand, it includes the region of Europe-North America. However, the North American sector must be excluded from this area. On the other, it covers the region of the Arab States, although the comparative study is limited to the territory in which vestiges from the Roman Empire have been recorded.
From a typological point of view, the properties from this civilization are included in various categories on which basis the cultural entities declared World Heritage are recorded.
From a thematic perspective, there is also a diversity of elements that cover a wide range of aspects that respond to the multiple facets of this culture.
Quantitatively and qualitatively, the Roman legacy is widely represented among the properties already declared World Heritage Sites. Likewise, there are also examples figuring on the Tentative Lists. There are various types of entities in this representation, which share the space and time of the Roman civilisation. This is a polyhedral ensemble, in which, when comparing the proposal “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” with properties from the same cultural circle, the specific and unique nature of our case must be indicated in values that go beyond the building typology of some of its properties and their inclusion in an urban centre. In this regard, the area of intervention in which Hadrian’s urban planning project is carried out, the symbolic component of the place, and the scope and diversity of the elements that form part of the ensemble, are some of the reasons that justify the outstanding nature of this site nominated for its inclusion on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List.
The Roman legacy is present in Europe in World Heritage Sites that are living cities. It seems obvious to cite the case of Rome (included on the WHL in 1980, extended in 1990 and with a boundary modification in 2015). However, there are other World Heritage Sites that are also existing cities with a long past, in which the Roman footprint is still present on a larger heritage site. These include Split (Croatia, included on the WHL in 1979), Jerusalem (Israel) (inscribed in 1981), Cordoba (Span) (inscribed in 1984 and extended in 1994), Segovia (Spain) (inscribed in 1985), Istanbul (Turkey) (inscribed in 1985), Evora (Portugal) (inscribed in 1986), Budapest (Hungary) (inscribed in 1987), Bath (Great Britain) (inscribed in 1987),Vicenza (Italy) (inscribed in 1994 and extended in 1996), Lyon (France) (inscribed in 1998), Verona (Italy) (inscribed in 2000), Regensburg (Germany) (inscribed in 2006) and Bordeaux (France) (inscribed in 2007). Although, to a lesser degree, there are also World Heritage Sites in the Arab States, which are living cities that conserve traces of their ancient past together with buildings from other periods, such as the ancient Syrian cities of Damascus (included on the WHL in 1979), Bosra (since 1980) and Aleppo (since 1986). These examples, which are living cities, have the disadvantage that comes from being superimposed cities. In these, an easily identifiable, specific moment in history - Rome or a specific episode of this period, for example, the Hadrianic period - can generally only be observed in the existence of elements from later periods. In these sites, which are cities with a lengthy development over time, the value focuses mainly on showing the succession of various historical stages. For comparing the property forming the subject matter of this proposal, it is important to indicate that among the sites declared World Heritage, there are only two cases which are living cities in which Hadrian’s urban benefaction initiatives have been recorded. The city of Rome (included on the WHL since 1980, extended in 1990 and with a boundary modification in 2015), as the capital of the Empire, cannot evade the points that were subject to works carried out by Hadrian. These consisted of newly constructed buildings, works that may have started during the reign of his predecessor and which he completed, together with the restoration of pre-existing properties. Of particular note as areas of action are the Campus Martius, where multiple projects of varying degrees were carried out and the area of the imperial fora, where, together with the Senate, he would build a Traianeum in honour of Trajan and Plotina. In general terms, the vestiges of Hadrian’s work in Rome are inserted in the design of an existing city - the Pantheon, for example - or under some historical buildings - the Temple of Trajan – making it impossible to observe the urban area in which they were once integrated. In other cases, they are located in large archaeological areas along with other elements and spaces of the ancient city that form an area with properties from different periods - such as the Temple of Venus and Roma. On the other hand, a visit to Italica enables a series of Hadrianic elements to be recognised in a stretch of road that is an urban planning project dating back to the 2nd century, exclusive to Hadrian’s reign.
Another example of a city with Hadrian’s interventions is Jerusalem (included on the WHL in 1981). Here, Hadrian founded a military colony in the context of the Jewish revolt. He called it Colonia Aelia Capitolina. Written sources from ancient times indicate that this emperor carried out important construction projects in this city. Although part of the configuration of the Roman city and some buildings have been documented, the works that some sources attribute to Hadrian are not known as a result of the continued occupation of the site. In the case of the colony’s forum, this could be located in the area of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Muristan. In Jerusalem, remains from the classical period are barely visible in a city that shares space with structures from other key moments of its history.
In the city of Leidschendam-Voorburg (the Netherlands), there are remains of the Forum Hadriani. Some vestiges of this Roman town, which could be foundations dating from the Hadrianic period, have been identified in the existing town centre. This ancient complex is included in a proposal for a property that includes various sites that formed part of the Roman Empire’s frontier in the Germania Inferior sector (property included on the Tentative Lists of Holland and Germany in 2018).
In turn, the French city of Nimes has various remains of the ancient Nemausus. These include the temple dating back to the Augustan period known as the Maison Carrée and an amphitheatre. Written accounts suggest that Hadrian built a basilica dedicated to Plotina - Trajan’s wife and his adoptive mother - in the location that was her birthplace. This building could be located in the southern area called the Fountain Sanctuary, a building complex dating back to the Augustan period, which would have been a space dedicate to the imperial cult. This Roman complex is now located inside a garden designed during the 18th century. The basilica cited by the sources would have been an element associated with the imperial family, as with the Traianeum in Italica. However, it would represent and isolated intervention by Hadrian in the city of Nemausus. Furthermore, if the remains of that basilica were to be found in the Fountain Sanctuary complex, this element would be a landmark within a site called “Nimes”. These remains and others from different historical periods confirm the value of the site intended to be protected: Nimes (included on France’s List in 2012).
Furthermore, ancient Nicaea is currently the city of Iznik (included on Turkey’s List since 2014). There are testimonies of this city’s Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past in the city centre. One of the emblems of this place is its walls, built during the Roman period. Ancient written sources attribute this intervention to Hadrian in this complex after an earthquake. He would have rebuilt the walled enclosure and two of its entrances; the East Gate (Lefke Kapi) and the North Gate (Istanbul Gate). This enclosed area would have undergone subsequent construction interventions. Despite the walls of the city of Iznik being one of its most representative elements and the construction being carried out during the Roman period, they are not, in themselves, an example comparable with the Hadrianic urban development project in Italica. The remains of the Roman enclosure in this Turkish town, now form part of a living city, with an extensive history.
Finally, there are sites that are existing cities with remains of the Roman legacy that are not included in UNESCO’s catalogues, but which, as they underwent interventions during the Hadrianic period, should be included in the comparative analysis of the site we are studying. This would be the case of Izmir (Turkey), previously Smyrna. This town was one of the urban centres of the Eastern Mediterranean that received most attention from Hadrian, according to ancient sources. In this case, some sources refer to the economic contribution of the local elite to these improvements in the city. In Hadrian’s day, a corn market would have been built, together with a gymnasium and a temple of the imperial cult. The remains of the temple could be those of a building located in the 19th century. It was a very large property, located in a prominent position, but which, after its discovery, was pillaged. Furthermore, traces of other areas of the ancient city have been located beneath the existing town. The agora is particularly noteworthy, a horizontal excavated area open to visitors, which does not date back to Hadrian’s day. The town of Izmir is home to remains and monuments from different historical phases, and it is a site with a long history of occupation. It is therefore not comparable with the Hadrianic sector of Italica.
Lastly, Athens is included in the cities in which important interventions by Hadrian have been recorded. Together with Rome, this was one of the communities in which most construction interventions promoted by Hadrian were recorded. These works consisted in the execution of public works, building new properties, completing building works that had remained unfinished for centuries and renovating pre-existing urban spaces; in fact, a gate was built - according to the extant inscription - that led to “Hadrian’s new Athens”, although it is a propaganda or ideological resource, since the area existed before Hadrian’s intervention. Some of the vestiges of Hadrian’s work are located in spaces open to visitors, which are located in the urban centre of Athens as we know it today. However, part of these works is in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site of the Acropolis in Athens (included on the WHL in 1987). This would be the case with Hadrian’s Library, for example. Others, such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, are located outside the buffer zone of the Acropolis. These properties constructed by Hadrian and others included in Greco-Roman Athens form part of different moments in the history of this great Eastern Mediterranean city. Particularly relevant for Italica’s specific case is Hadrian’s Library in Athens. This property is one of the most direct parallels for both the Traianeum and for the palestra of the Large Baths. The three examples coincide in that they have porticos with semi-circular and rectangular shaped exedras in alternating positions, although the general configuration of each property is different. Furthermore, this solution can also be found in the architecture of Rome itself, during the Flavian (Templum Pacis) and Augustan period (Porticus Liviae). The Traianeum and the Library in Athens are very similar with respect to the size of their enclosures and in that polychrome marble from various sources was used extensively in their construction. This material was also used in the Large Baths. However, the three examples differ in their function: those in Italica would be used as a temple of the imperial cult and another as a palestra, while the one in Athens has been interpreted in many ways, although it has always been assigned an administrative use (provincial government headquarters), apart from a certain value as a space dedicated to the imperial cult. The connection between the two examples of Italica and that of Athens is clear, and the three are, undoubtedly, testimony to Hadrian’s same policy, which enabled relationships to be established between the different territories of the Empire and the values on which these were based to be preserved. The Traianeum in Italica and Hadrian’s Library in Athens are fine examples of Hadrian’s monumental architecture and of properties with a special meaning in the configuration of cities that were highly valued by the Emperor. Athens in the East and Italica in the West. This architectural style, particularly in Italica, may have served as a model for subsequent Antonine buildings, such as the Hadrianeum in Rome.
Sometimes, World Heritage sites ascribed to the Roman Empire consist of a group of elements or an isolated element located in an existing city centre. These sites represent significant examples of a historical period - the Roman period - or various periods - which would include the Roman period. This is the case with the Spanish archaeological ensembles of Merida and Tarragona (on the WHL since 1993 and 2000, respectively) and the Roman Walls of Lugo and the Tower of Hercules in Corunna (on the WHL since 2000 and 2009, respectively). Other European examples include the Roman and Romanesque monuments of Arles, together with the Roman Theatre - with its surroundings - and the Triumphal Arch of Orange in France (both included on the WHL since 1981); also, the Roman remains and the monuments of Trier (Germany) from a later period (on the WHL since 1986).
It is less common to find these types of World Heritage sites in the region of the Arab States. The amphitheatre of El Jem (Tunisia) (included on the WHL in 1979) is the only example. This building, used for performances, was built during the 3rd century in the city of Thydrus, although its vast seating capacity would have served to accommodate inhabitants from other areas.
In the case of isolated Roman buildings or those accompanied by others located in a living, historic city, the capacity of appreciation of a space or an architectural ensemble of a specific phase is limited, with the only protected cultural landmark being the one that illustrates a specific stage or moment in the life of the town; and also, the building typology.
In this particular case, it is important to cite the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarragona (on the WHL since 2000). This serial site is located in a space dedicated to the imperial cult of Augustus, which was built during the 1st century during the reign of Augustus’ successor Tiberius, although it underwent a considerable transformation under the Flavian Dynasty, associated with a lower terrace and the circus. Ancient written sources indicate that Hadrian restored the temple. The archaeological documentation regarding this religious complex is partial as it is located on a site now occupied by Tarragona Cathedral. In turn, the other elements included in the archaeological ensemble of Tarragona forming part of the World Heritage Site are also dispersed around the existing city and the surrounding area, and it also corresponds to different moments of the Roman phase. All of them can be dated between the 3rd century BC and late antiquity. Hadrian’s interventions in the temple of Tarraco mentioned in the literature, are not comparable with Italica, neither in terms of the degree of archaeological knowledge of the religious space, nor in terms of being recognisable within an urban complex from the Hadrianic period.
The city of Durres in Albania is home to the remains of a Roman amphitheatre (on Albania’s TL since 1996). Durres was previously called Dyrrachium. There are numerous remains of the Roman city in this town, including the amphitheatre. It was built during the 1st century and was in use until late antiquity, before a Byzantine chapel was built on the site. Together with this amphitheatre, other Roman buildings have been found, such as a section of an aqueduct. The epigraphical sources indicate that Hadrian built an aqueduct in this Balkan city. However, the property included on the Tentative List is the amphitheatre.
Given the inability to prove an urban reality of a specific phase of the properties located in a living city, those that are archaeological sites that correspond to the sites of ancient cities - now, dead cities – paint a very different picture. Cities that were occupied during the Roman Empire and which form part of the European region’s World Heritage include Hierapolis (Turkey) (included on the WHL in 1988), Buthrotum (Albania) (inscribed in 1992, extended in 1999 and with a boundary modification in 2007), Pompeii and Herculaneum (Italy) (inscribed in 1997), Ilium (ancient Troy, in Turkey) (inscribed in 1998), Aquileia (Italy) (inscribed in 1998 and with a boundary modification in 2017 and 2018), Syracuse (Italy) (inscribed in 2005), Pergamon (Turkey) (inscribed in 2014), Ephesus (Turkey) (inscribed in 2015), Filippos (Greece) (inscribed in 2016) and Aphrodisias (Turkey) (inscribed in 2017).
In the region of the Arab States, there are also World Heritage Sites that formed part of the Roman Empire, such as Carthage (Tunisia) (included on the WHL in 1979); Palmyra (Syrian Arab Republic) (inscribed in 1980); Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Cyrene (the three in Libya and inscribed in 1982); Djémila, Tipasa and Timgad (in Algeria and inscribed in 1982); Baalbek, Byblos and Tyre (in Lebanon and inscribed in 1984); Petra (Jordan) (inscribed in 1985); Dougga (Tunisia) (inscribed in 1997); Volubilis (Morocco) (inscribed in 1997), and Umm ar-Rasas (Jordan) (inscribed in 2004).
In archaeological sites including ancient towns that are now considered dead cities, it is possible to recognise the extent of the layout and the urban components of a town. On the long list of places declared World Heritage Sites, there are incomparable and prominent sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy (included on the World Heritage List in 1997), which are universal examples or archetypes of the Roman city. The variety of components, the extension of the ensemble and the exceptional conservation status of their remains, make these two sites unique. However, the final moments of life of both of these, recorded in the 1st century, invalidates the comparison thereof with the Hadrianic urban programme in Italica, conceived according to the ideas of Rome in the 2nd century. Other sites that offer vestiges of ancient cities with a comprehensive historical development is Filippos (Greece) (included on the WHL in 2016). This is an Eastern Mediterranean city with a vast number of components that form an urban complex with traces of different historical moments. This case and others indicated previously, are different to the area of Italica, limited to an urban development project dating back to the Hadrianic period.
The long list of World Heritage properties includes sites that comprise ancient towns that are settlements in which Hadrian carried out generous construction work. This is the case with Cyrene, Ephesus and Pergamon. The three represent unique examples of large urban strongholds in the Eastern Mediterranean, a sector of the Empire that benefited greatly from Hadrian’s largesse. These three cities reflect urban development to its full extent and a wide variety of monumental architectural elements, among other things. However, the buildings constructed by this emperor in these cities were inserted in pre-existing urban layouts and, furthermore, they continued to be inhabited during subsequent periods. They are not, therefore, examples of interventions that form part of an urban development project that designs an extensive area of a city based on the models used during Hadrian’s reign, as is the case in Italica.
In the case of Cyrene (on the WHL since 1982), Hadrian’s lavishness was aimed at alleviating the damage caused by the Jewish revolts. He restored the road that connected this town with its port - located in Apollonia - a bath complex that may have been the baths Trajan donated to the city and the Temple of Hecate. He also intervened in a sector of the Cesareum - a gymnasium dating back to the 2nd century BC, which in the 1st century was transformed into a space dedicated to the imperial cult - and he promised to construct a gymnasium. It would appear that, following these interventions, other temples were restored, but by other agents. Cyrene represented the ideal Greco-Roman urban- fabric adored by Hadrian. It shares a relevant past with Italica, but the interventions of the emperor in Cyrene focused on specific buildings that already existed and which were restored. It was not, therefore, an ex novo intervention that involved planning a new city or a vast urban sector and in which, in addition, its main components were deliberately positioned.
The sources tell us very little about Hadrian’s interventions in the port city of Ephesus (included on the WHL in 2015). There are more accounts of the temple of the imperial cult that he would have authorised. This temple may be a large building identified as the Temple of Hadrian or of Zeus. Centuries later, a Christian church was built on this site dedicated to the Virgin Mary. But in Ephesus there is a small sanctuary, located on Curetes Street, dedicated to Hadrian and Artemis by a local oligarch during the initial years of Hadrian’s reign. This building was restored during the 4th century as a monument to the Christian emperors and founders of the city. The relationship between Hadrian and Ephesus is clear, with Antinous, for example, being identified with the local hero Androcles, this being particularly so in terms of the value that the city gave to this emperor and the monuments it dedicated to him in response to his generosity towards the city, concentrated in the area of the port, and towards some of its citizens.
In Pergamon (on the WHL since 2014) there is an imperial temple of worship known as the Traianeum dedicated to Zeus and Trajan. The construction of the temple would have begun at the end of Trajan’s reign, in 114, and have been continued under Hadrian’s. The worship of Hadrian would have then been added, with this building being identified with the Hadrianeum cited by Aelius Aristides. It was located in the acropolis dating back to the Hellenistic period and, given its height, the surrounding area could be controlled visually. The restoration works on this Roman building carried out during the 20th century, provide a good idea of the visual impact it had in its day due to its the vastness. It consisted of a square with a temple in the middle, which coincides with the Traianeum in Italica, although in the one in Pergamon, the portico only extends on three sides and the fourth is open, which is typical of Greco-Hellenistic architecture. However, this building does coincide with that of Italica in the interpretation made with typical Hellenistic construction solutions to adapt them to Roman imperial architecture. Both have temples located in the middle of a square, which are built on a podium that dominates the complex, and are accessed via a front staircase of stone. However, there are more differences that similarities between the two building complexes, although the two are temples and dedicated to the imperial cult.
Hadrian is also said to have been responsible, together with members of the elite from Pergamon, for the construction of a sanctuary of Egyptian Gods, with the so-called “Red Hall” standing out for its stone materials and Egyptian sculptures. This sanctuary was at the foot of the acropolis and its construction required a significant engineering intervention over the River Selinos. After the Roman period, it continued as a place of cult, but now based on different beliefs. In this case, neither the architectural typology nor its dedication to an Egyptian God, is comparable with the temple in Italica. Furthermore, the Asclepeion in Pergamon was constructed during Hadrian’s reign by local oligarchs. It was the most important construction in the city during the 2nd century, but its architectural design is unlike that of temples such as the Traianeum in Italica.
Hadrian’s interventions in Pergamon can be seen in renovation works in specific points of the pre-existing city. It was not an urban development project that involved building a new area of the city or, at least, actions aimed at reforming large urban areas.
Finally, this section includes two sites relating to Hadrian’s building programme which are not included in the World Heritage Catalogues. The first of these is the site of Antinoopolis, a city located in the eastern part of the Empire. This archaeological site is located next to the Egyptian town of Sheikh Ibada. This is an urban sector founded by Hadrian on the site at which his favourite, Antinous, had died. It was therefore an important place for the Emperor, with a strong symbolic significance, as is the case with Italica. This Egyptian city was a mixture of Greco-Hellenistic and Roman components expressed, among other aspects, in the architecture of its properties and its town-planning. There was also a local component and a connection with Egyptian tradition, as there was a temple dating back to Ramses II’s time and an indigenous population. The city founded by Hadrian had an orthogonal layout, with avenues measuring up to 16 metres wide and porticos with large columns. But Antinoopolis also had public buildings in the way of monuments: forum, praetorium for the governor, theatre, stadium, gymnasium and temples, including the Temple of Osiris-Antinous. A considerable part of what is known about this Roman city in Egypt was obtained from ancient written sources, since it is a site that has been considerably pillaged and subjected to strong pressures which, among other causes, are the result of having an existing town in the area. However, it is a site in which research has been conducted in recent years.
Antinoopoolis and The Hadrianic city of Italica coincide in the historical context of their urban infrastructure; also, in that they are places with a strong symbolic significance given their association with determining episodes in Hadrian’s life. They are also projects that design a new, large space, with numerous monumental architectural elements and with an urban layout with wide, porticoed avenues. Antinoopolis emerged as a city, Hadrianic Italica as part of a city so wide and so complete that it is almost a city - this new sector was three times larger than the pre-Hadrianic Italica.
Both have a mixture of Greco-Hellenistic, Roman and local elements. In Italica, there are also elements pertaining to the Egyptian world. However, one is in the East and the other in the West. Unlike Antinoopolis, Italica is a site in which extensive archaeological research has been conducted and heritage preservation tasks undertaken, which has enabled The Hadrianic sector of Italica to be a publicly managed space open to the public, in which the components of an urban space designed under the ideological, formal and aesthetic standards of the 2nd century, are for all to see.
The second archaeological site with Hadrian’s interventions not included on the World Heritage lists is Ostia (Italy). In this city so close to the Urbs (new city), forming a considerable part of its harbour, the emperor’s buildings work focused on the renovation of two urban sectors. On the one hand, he intervened in the area known as the Baths of Neptune, which he would reform based on a previous building. He also built a fire station and intervened in a section of the Decumanus Maximus, in which he erected porticos similar to those in Italica. In these Ostian baths, there are mosaics that are very similar to others located in Italica, for example, in the Baths of Neptune. However, the former do not occupy a prominent position within the city as a whole or have the size and layout of the baths in Italica. Nor do they have a gymnasium, as in Italica. The other sector renovated by Hadrian in Ostia was the area of the Forum, which he extended. During this intervention, he included the construction of two porticos and a new temple. He also renovated the cardo maximus and he repeated the portico solution that he erected in the other part of the city.
These works conducted by Hadrian - some finished by his successor, as is the case with the Baths of Neptune - changed the urban image of two sectors of Ostia, but they did so in a traditional fashion, rather than mixing elements as seen in other works he sponsored in other cities of the Empire, such as Italica.
Lastly, included on the Tentative Lists of some countries and in sites forming part of the World Heritage, there are archaeological sites that are ancient sectors in which Hadrian carried out projects. However, they are isolated interventions which, in some cases cannot even be taken into account in a constructive or functional comparison with properties located in the Hadrianic sector of Italica. In this regard, special mention should go to the cities of Patara and Myra, which form part of a proposal for nomination of the ancient cities comprising the Lycian civilisation (on Turkey’s TL since 2009). In these, Hadrian organised the construction of large cereal warehouses in the two cities. Buildings of this type are not currently known within the Hadrianic urban infrastructure of Italica. There are also various inscriptions relating Hadrian to the restoration of an aqueduct that supplied the city of Caesarea (on Israel’s TL since 2000) with water. In the case of the city of Sarmizegetusa (Romania), there are accounts of Hadrian’s intervention in the construction of an aqueduct. This city formed part of the site known as the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains (included on the WHL in 1999). In Sarmizegetusa, there is knowledge of Roman baths with different water storage and distribution elements. Apart from restoring aqueducts, Hadrian endorsed the construction and extension of them.
In Italica, one from a previous period was extended, designing a new branch to supply a population that would increase after the northern part of the city had been settled. This aqueduct forms part of the Hadrianic urban development programme in Italica, and therefore, is not an isolated intervention in a city, as would appear to be the case in the aforementioned examples.
The Turkish archaeological of Cyzicus is not included in the World Heritage catalogues. It is an important city of Mysia in which Hadrian intervened after an earthquake had seriously affected it. One of the largest temples of the Empire was built there, i.e. the Temple of Zeus. It was erected on the remains of a previous one, but was far bigger. The temple in Cyzicus exceeded the size of others built by Hadrian, including the Traianeum in Italica, but its design faithfully followed the Hellenistic traditions of the temples of Asia Minor. In this regard, it is also different to the Traianeum at Italica. When Cyzicus acquired the status as neokoros, it became a space dedicated to the imperial cult and the Temple of Zeus also became to be known as the Temple of Hadrian. The construction of the building, other imperial favours and the fame acquired by its quarries, made this city one of the most important in Asia. Hadrian’s construction work in Cyzicus focused on one element, a temple, which, as with the Traianeum, would be a space dedicated to the imperial cult, but the two are different in terms of size and architectural design.
There are different situations in other sites relating to Hadrian’s generosity with the Empire’s cities, but in which he does not appear to have been directly involved in the buildings. This would be the case with Stratonikeia (on Turkey’s TL since 2015). This archaeological site was one of the cities founded by Hadrian in the Eastern Mediterranean. It emerged from the union of two towns and was named Stratonicea- Hadrianopolis. In Aphrodisias (included on the WHL in 2017), there are buildings dedicated to the Emperor, such as Hadrian’s Baths, which were the result of an act of local euergetism. In turn, in Sagalassos (on Turkey’s TL since 2009), the construction of a temple of the imperial cult would have begun during Hadrian’s reign, although it would be concluded during the reign of his successor Antoninus Pius, which would have been dedicated by the city to those emperors. This would have been the origin of the colossal sculptures of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius with their families, found in some baths in this city.
Finally, special mention should go to the case of Hadrian’s Villa (included on the WHL in 1999). This is the Emperor’s villa in Tibur (Italy), a property featuring all the artistic and stylistic trends and construction techniques of the Hadrianic period. By studying Hadrian’s Villa, one can understand the key aspects of the monumental architecture of the northern sector of Italica. In fact, it seems like the same work teams took part in Hadrian’s Villa and in Italica, particularly in the Traianeum. However, despite the aspects that relate the two places and the fine example represented by the Tiburtine case in terms of studying the monumental architecture of Italica, it should be pointed out that this was an imperial residence and the other a part of a city. Likewise, the Italian villa does not fall within Hadrian’s generous urban development programme, which is indeed the context of the comparative study with Italica.
Other Roman legacy properties declared World Heritage or included on Tentative Lists cover more facets of this culture. Some are even from the Hadrianic period, such as Hadrian’s Wall, which forms part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire (included on the World Heritage List in 1987). This fortification does not fall within the policy of improving cities so strongly advocated by this emperor.
In short, the review of the range of sites similar to the proposed “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” reveals the outstanding nature of this archaeological site to show the form and the outline of a city designed according to the architectural, aesthetic and ideological standards of a specific moment in the history of humanity, as was Hadrian’s reign. This stage coincides with a time of utmost cultural grandeur during an empire that is a fundamental pillar of Western civilisation.
Likewise, the spaciousness and variety of elements that make up the Hadrianic urban development programme in Italica, enables one to gain a full understanding of an area that is the best possible manifestation for understanding the concept of urban space and the use and customs of 2nd-century Rome.
It is precisely the vast size of the intervened area in Italica and the fact that it was an ex novo project, carried out on a site that had no buildings, that differentiates Italica from other urban settings in which Hadrian also implemented generous urban development programmes. In most of these places, the Emperor renovated specific areas of pre-existing cities, reformed buildings from other periods and carried out construction work, but none of these projects were as significant, deeply transforming the urban image of a town, as Italica.
Likewise, although this city was not the only one Hadrian transformed on a large-scale, it is unique in that it offers the best vestiges of this intervention. This is thanks to the complete preservation of its urban development layout, as no other urban occupations have been recorded in the area after the Roman period. This makes Italica unique, particularly when compared with sites that are now inhabited cities. In the case of archaeological sites, without existing cities located on them, Italica stands out for its high degree of archaeological knowledge of the sector and for the long period of protection it has enjoyed, enabling remains to be preserved that now form part of a complex open to the public. This aspect is what enables the vestiges of the Hadrianic city to be recognised in depth and in detail and in an urban environment.
Italica shares the symbolic importance of the urban sector with other places that benefited from Hadrian’s muniticence. However, in the case of Italica, this ideological context can be understood from the analysis of the preserved architectural ensemble. This enables an overall understanding of the place, without the handicap of having a more limited knowledge of an area, which is the case with other places that are now existing cities or that have not undergone considerable archaeological interventions. Although Hadrian’s work was carried out across the entire Empire, Italica is an outstanding example within the Roman territory. The fact that it was a newly built urban development project, the significant area of intervention, the variety of elements recorded there and the excellent level of preservation of the Hadrianic urban layout, differentiate Italica from other western provinces of the Roman Empire and also, other cities in the East. This makes Italica the finest universal example of an urban space developed during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
Finally, from the point of view of monumental architecture, the public buildings in Italica, dating back to the 2nd century, are the most extraordinary to be found in any the western province of the Empire, given their imperial scale. They are also unique buildings that illustrate the defining features of Hadrian’s monumental architecture. In addition to this, the value of some of these buildings, such as the Traianeum, as a possible model for subsequent buildings, should also be taken into account.