Archaeologists excavating the House of the Amphitheater in Merida, in western Spain, unearthed a bath it is much more than the usual baths in Roman private residences.
Mérida was founded by Augustus in 25 BC. as Emerita Augusta, a colony for the veterans of his two legions. It was the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania and flourished as the terminus of the Silver Way, a Roman road connecting the capital to the gold and silver mines outside of Asturica-Augusta (modern-day Astorga) 300 miles to the north. More monumental Roman public buildings survive here than in any other city in Spain. The Roman Theater of Mérida and the Amphitheater of Mérida, built between 15 and 8 BC, were an entertainment complex offering theatrical performances and gladiator fights.
The Amphitheater House is a suburban domus built next to the amphitheater outside the city’s original defensive walls. It was built as a typical Roman city house with a central trapezoidal courtyard surrounded by a portico. This is the largest Roman house in Mérida, but the newly discovered baths are huge compared to the size of the house.
Inside the bathing area (lead archaeologist Ana Maria) Bejarano said her team found “perfectly preserved” individual bathrooms. The area had many wall and floor decorations, including marble slabs, moldings, paintings, and various underground structures associated with baths, all in excellent condition.
In most cases, the pool is located next to the Roman baths. However, nothing has been found in the Amphitheater House so far (although archaeologists plan to continue searching). (…)
The installation of such a vast Roman bath suggests that the householder may have held huge social gatherings, perhaps in connection with nearby gladiatorial games.
The excavations of the House of the Amphitheater are part of a series of collaborative projects with several research institutes and universities to study the imposing Roman structures of Mérida, including the theatre. The aim of the team working on the domus is to expand the excavated spaces and establish more of the chronology of the house.