The La Alcudia site – the ancient city of Ilici – is located near Elche, on the Vinalopó river. The site stands on a small elevation covering an area of about 11 hectares, which is, in part, an artificial tell. Surrounded by fertile lands, it has been well connected by roads and pathways since Antiquity.
While there are archaeological materials from the Neolithic period, the stratigraphic sequence spans (not always for continuous periods) from the Bronze Age to the beginning of Islamisation, according to current archaeological data. During the Iberian period, Ilici must have been a major enclave. A magnificent sculptural ensemble from this period is particularly noteworthy, with masterpieces such as the Lady of Elche or the Warrior’s Torso.
Vasija de estilo ilicitano
As time advanced, and already during the late republican era, Ilici emerged again as a city conceived within a context of political, economic and military organisation in Rome. This period saw the development of earthenware decorated in the so-called Elche style, produced in the surrounding area and, without a doubt, one of the major attractions of La Alcudia’s collection.
Tábula de Ilici
In the year 26 BCE, the ancient city was elevated to the rank of Roman colony with the name of Colonia Iulia Ilici Augusta, which makes reference to its previous name and to Augustus, the new emperor. Its urban structure and the walled perimeter were probably modified at that time, and the surrounding lands were distributed among the new settlers. An exceptional document about this fact is kept at the Museum: a bronze plate on which part of the distribution of these lands can be read, with the name and place of origin of ten of those settlers.
Over the centuries, the ancient Roman colony was transformed. Archaeological evidence indicates that, in the 5th century, Late Antiquity had undoubtedly started in the city. During these centuries of instability, it was conquered by the Byzantines as part of Emperor Justinian’s offensive to restore the Empire. Returned to the Visigoths and turned into an episcopal see, it existed until the first moments of the Islamic period, when it gradually lost the status of city.
Tesorillo de La Alcudia. Colección Ramos
The La Alcudia site has been known for centuries. The first written accounts that make reference to these ruins date from the 15th century, but the first archaeological excavations undertaken for scientific purposes did not start until the 19th century. These works experienced a boom during much of the 20th century and especially after the Foundation was created. Launched in 1996 by the University of Alicante with support from the Elche City Council, the Alicante Provincial Council and the Valencia Region’s Government, the Foundation marked the beginning of a new stage, aiming to give Ilici the scientific prominence it deserves, make its monuments known and enhance its cultural heritage.