Roman Fish Salting Factory in Denia

FOLLOWING on from the recent discovery of archaeological remains in the heart of Denia, a new excavation has brought to light the structures of an ancient salting factory under the town’s modern buildings.

The remains appear to be late Roman, dating from the 4th and 5th centuries, when old Denia went under its Roman name of Dianium, and consisted of “ a set of four contiguous pools of regular ground, dug into the earth, and have a strong coating of signinum opus (a heavy lime based plaster)” said local architect and the head of Denia’s Municipal Architecture Department, Josep A Gisbert.


These structures “are related to a common type of late Roman factory, the likes of which have been well documented along the coast of  the Levante, and coastal enclaves of Andalusia and Tarragona “ continued Sr. Gisbert.

Archaeological excavations in this area have not yet been completed.

And this week works are commencing on a new ‘dig’ in Denia in an attempt to expose more of the extensive factory remains and so gain better understanding of the factory and its workings.

The factories were coastal based to give easy access to salt beds, and so also were conveniently situated to offer instant salting for the locally caught fish trade.

“It’s (the salting works)  special location is in an area close to the old city centre, adjacent to the forum (the main square in Roman times). This proves a strong urban regression from the classical city, which has overlapping ruins of industrial and domestic architecture, as well as fifth and sixth century cemeteries,“ said Sr. Gisbert.

The discovery “leads to another conclusion” he said, “this small salting factory which ran for almost one thousand five hundred years and was part of the fabric of Dianium, is a historical reference that confirms the presence of salted fish in the diet and work of the people’s daily lives.” In short, archaeology is not simply the study of old rocks. It tells us things. It explains life.

By Paul Deed

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