El Born, the Pompeii of Barcelona


The walls of the Born they speakbut so do their streets or the Rec Comtal become one large sewer of memories. They also speak files: archaeologists reconstruct the lives of houses with what they find digging, but they can also access documentary information. "Here we can study everything," says the head of Pla Barcino, Carme Miro, with some enthusiasm.

El Born is serving to rebuild in detail the city of Modern era and certify the splendor of the Barcelona then. El Born has also become, precisely because of the above, a international reference where historians from all over Europe look for answers. The abundance and variety of everything found allow them to be given.

“Barcelona in the 17th and early 18th centuries was a large commercial and administrative center and not as a dark city has always been said, ”said the head of Pla Barcino. They have evidence: They find them every day. “We are in one of the archaeological sites urban largest in the world, ”adds Miro. Some experts already talk about a new Pompeii.

Object of study

Excavations reveal a large commercial pole

This week, for first time, a team of six archaeologists professionals. It has begun to intervene outside the summer campaigns that are carried out with students of the UB since 2015 (in the last they joined the UAB). There is still much to discover.

After the War of Succession it was razed a third part from Barcelona. El Born is a 10% of that dynamic city where time stood still: that piece of the city was underground, but it did not disappear. And this has also helped keep the mark of those who lived there before 1714. "Here we also have part of the Roman Barcino," says Miro. But it has only been excavated by 20%.

Coins, ceramics, tips of tips, pipes or hair pints or some thimble are some of the objects that have appeared

Coins, ceramics, tips of tips, pipes or hair pints or some thimble are some of the objects that have appeared
(Ana Jimenez)

"What's that over there?" Asks the archaeologist Toni Fernandez, who already participated in the great intervention of 2001-2002, to his partner Vanessa. He commands the team of six professionals who will work on this new campaign of autumn and winter. "What is it about?" Carme asks Toni now. "Is a phalanx”, He says placing a small bone on top of one of his fingers.

“We are finding many small human remains, some rib …. Also remains romans that would come from the necropolis from there, ”says Toni looking towards the other end of the complex. Beyond where there are two other archaeologists, Laia Y Raul, which prepare a carrycot to take outside: it is one of the complexities of digging in the Born: extract the earth off site.

Own feature

El Born attests to the historical miscegenation of the city

The group is working on the Santmarti House. They have located living in that farm, around 1680, yet mule merchant He rented them. The building is at one end of the Born. It has already reached levels of the century XVI. “All houses exist more or less since 400 years, they are in Gothic origin that are modified, but in this house there is a moment that expands and remakes itself. Perhaps affected by the Segsors War? ”Asks Fernandez himself. It is one of the answers they hope to clarify.

The Santmarti house is right in front of the Pla d’en Llull, that is, it is in the outermost part of the city (the War of Succession also lived from the front line). There are more things: in what was once home, a path that could be of the century has also been discovered XII that leads to Rec Comtal. Part of this water line that supplied Barcelona through the complex, although at this point it was a true dump. In fact the pipes of the Santmarti house scrapped in it.

Fernandez shows the piece of two different pipes found in the house: one Dutch, another Catalan. "He smoked a lot," says Miro, who also highlights the presence of rich Italian pottery throughout the complex, something that does not happen in other cities. In Barcelona it abounded. "It is even found in fishermen's houses," adds the head of the Born excavations.

The head of the Pla Barcino, Carme Miro, observes part of the archaeological complex from the path of the Corders

The head of the Pla Barcino, Carme Miro, observes part of the archaeological complex from the path of the Corders
(Ana Jimenez)

"Is a unique complex of the modern age and of the medieval world ”, says the head of the Pla Barcino that highlights a characteristic of her own: miscegenation. “In Barcelona you find houses super rich next to houses too poor, since Roman times, ”he says. And Miro insists: "Barcelona was in a great administrative and commercial center, then and in the Middle Ages, as it is now."

Another evidence of the splendor of the city is in the section of the Rec that is in the complex and that has been preserved, half excavated, for visits. There are different layers open, the last one is the one that corresponds to the first years of the century XVIII. Objects of all kinds abound, especially ceramics. “There was also an iron mass that we later saw was a gun. That is a cannonball”, Indicates the head of the group of archaeologists. This piece of Barcelona was demolished between 1717 and 1718. “They had to leave their homes and many chose to throw away what they could not take, thinking that nobody would keep it that way,” explains Fernandez.

Archaeologist Toni Fernandez reviews the different types of pottery found in the Comtal Rec

Archaeologist Toni Fernandez reviews the different types of pottery found in the Comtal Rec
(Ana Jimenez)

“When we think of the Born we do not do it only as a merely expository place, but as a site, as a research space for the dissemination and pedagogy of urban history, ”says the councilor of Memòria Democratica, Jordi Rabassa.

“In a field, as a research space, it is essential that professionals, archaeologists work and take advantage of it as much as possible,” adds the mayor. The team commanded by Toni Fernandez will be excavating until January. When the work is finished, the pavement that has been removed will have to be replaced and left at the same point it was. And then? For now there is no news that there will be a team in a fixed way or a own laboratory, as if it happens in other archaeological complexes, many, of less value than what is already considered as the new Pompeii … of Barcelona.

The bets and the game

Large rooms in the middle of small houses

He demographic weight of Barcelona during the 16th and 17th centuries it made the houses of the city subject to various partitions: if a house was divided into five parts, they were charged five rents and not just one. In El Born it is clear, although there are some buildings that, on the contrary, when abandoned in the early eighteenth century have large spaces, great rooms.

It is what happens with the Corrales house, next to the Rec. There, more than ceramic remains, many dice were found. "It was one game room, so we are here a great stay, ”says Toni Fernandez. Something that they have also been able to verify thanks to documentation. "The butcher, who had the house there, also did it," says the archaeologist. "We still have a lot to discover."

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