In the eastern sector of La Alcudia of Elche (7-F) is one of the main thermal pools of the old Ilici colony which, given its size, would have been public baths. For the Romans, the thermal baths fulfilled not only hygienic functions, but also constituted one of the main social centres of the city: as recreational, meeting, sports or business centre. For a small fee these public pools were accessed on alternate shifts by both men and women.
The eastern thermal baths of La Alcudia were in use during the early imperial era (1st-2nd centuries CE), and their structures, refurbished and remodelled, continued to play other roles (domestic, artisanal or agricultural) until, at least, the 7th century CE. After its discovery in 1998, the excavated sector of these hot springs was partially dismantled, restored and consolidated until reaching its current state, although the rooms in its northern and eastern parts are still undergoing excavation, consolidation and research.
The archaeological site had its main access from the street (A27) in its western part (A11), from where it would pass through a long corridor to the distributor (A1), paved with polychrome mosaic that imitates marble slabs. Then, the changing room — apodyterium — (A3-4-5) would be accessed a space that was transformed as the thermal complex was remodelled. The entrance to the thermal circuit was made through an unheated space (A25) with a small source (labrum) that would act as an extension of the cold room (frigidarium) or simple access distributor. From there, the heated circuit began: warm room — tepidarium — (A29), hot room — caldarium — (A31) and a small sauna — laconicum — (A28). The tour was completed with an outdoor walk and a cold bath — frigidarium — (A21-22-23-24), which included the large central pool — natatio — (A20), paved with a resistant hydraulic mortar made of opus signinum.
The remains that are currently conserved allow us to observe a series of complementary rooms that would form part of the building, among which it is worth noting some large public latrines (A14-16), open to the street (A27). These would also provide service to the thermal baths. Likewise, in this sector, another smaller thermal complex (A17-18-19-33) was located, the result of the successive reduction and remodelling of the main early imperial architectural development.
SOURCE OF INFORMATION
Molina Vidal, J.- Muñoz Ojeda, F. J.- Álvarez Tortosa, J. F., 2020: “Las Termas Orientales de
La Alcudia (Elche, España): nuevas perspectivas de la investigación reciente (Proyecto ASTERO, UA-
Patrimonio Virtual)”, Noguera Celdran, J. M.-Garcia Entero, V.- Pavia Page, M. (Eds.), Termas Públicas
de Hispania (Congreso Termas públicas de Hispania, Murcia, abril de 2018). Anejos de SPAL. Editorial
Universidad de Sevilla.