The first archaeological stratum of the Phoenician city of La Vila Joiosa is discovered

Until now, only the world of the dead was known, through the large cemeteries of Casetes (from the second half of the 7th century BC) and Poble Nou (from a century later). Both have yielded numerous tombs, some very large and elaborate, reflecting an oriental society buried with jewellery, metal objects, ceramics and other items brought from Egypt, Canaan and other parts of the Mediterranean. According to the Municipal Archaeological Service of La Vila Joiosa, everything pointed to the fact that the city where the owners of these tombs lived was on the hill of the old town.
The surprise came during the archaeological monitoring of the refurbishment of No. 32 Fray Posidonio Mayor Street, directed by Ana Martínez for the developer SOLLOLLI S. L. at the end of 2022. Never before has such a modest find - a simple stratum preserved in a small area - been so important in the archaeology of Vila. What makes it special is that it only contains fragments of amphorae, red engobe dishes and grey Phoenician-Punic pottery from the 6th century BC. For the first time, we see the face of the living world that ended up occupying these burial sites.
If remains of the Phoenician city had to appear somewhere, it was precisely under a building next to the Renaissance wall, like this one. The explanation is very simple: in 1301 Vilajoiosa was founded and built in the style of the Christian conquest, with urban planning in the form of a grid. They looked for the flattest possible terrain, and laid out parallel streets running down to the sea and others perpendicular to them. Nothing to do with the Islamic towns, adapted to hills, with winding and steep streets, such as Biar or Petrer. But Vilajoiosa was a vila nova, created from scratch. It did not occupy a previous Islamic town, because it did not exist. Only the ruins of Allon, abandoned 700 years ago, remained.
To create this flat surface, the centre of the hill had to be razed to the ground and this land had to be used as embankments for the wall that surrounded the new Vilajoiosa. In other words, a mound had to be converted into a large esplanade. And in doing so, they destroyed the overlapping remains of the previous cities around the centre of the hill: the Phoenician, the Iberian and the Roman, built one on top of the other for 1300 years (from the 7th century BC to the 6th century AD). Only on the edges of Vilajoiosa, right near its walls, those ancient strata were not razed to the ground, but covered and preserved.
The Phoenician stratum was cut to build the river wall, but part of it was preserved behind it. We thus have the first material evidence of the northernmost Phoenician colony on the Iberian Peninsula, founded in the 7th century BC, judging by the tombs of Casetes. Its position was strategic, a day's sail from the Phoenician cities of La Fonteta (Guardamar) to the south, and Ibiza to the east. It was therefore a stopover on the shipping route between Gadir (Cadiz) and Canaan, as the Phoenicians called their country. This explains the richness and exoticism of the pieces found in La Vila Joiosa, such as the well-known Phoenician-Punic gold necklaces, the talc stone amulets, the decorated ostrich eggs and the Egyptian New Year's canteen, among many others.