The La Alcudia archaeological site is managed by the La Alcudia University Foundation for Archaeological Research. The iconic location where the Lady of Elche was discovered in the late 19th century, it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1992 and has been owned by the University of Alicante since 1996. Over these 25 years, researchers have delved into the different periods in which it was occupied, from the Early Neolithic period (5th millennium BCE) to the 8th century, when the Arabs abandoned it and moved to what is now Elche.
Prehistoric settlers, Iberians, Romans and Visigoths inhabited an area with abundant water and arable land. It went through a period of splendour in the 1st century BCE, particularly the year 26, when Augustus, first Roman emperor, founded the colony of Iulia Ilici Augusta. From then on, the city flourished with new religious and civil buildings, a sewer system, luxurious private houses (called domus) and bath houses that served a thriving population.
Between the 1st and 4th centuries CE, in the surroundings of the walled enclosure, large country houses (known as villas) were built, with mosaics, wall paintings and even private baths. Some of the finds, kept either at La Alcudia or at the National Archaeological Museum, are on display here.
The exhibition showcases relevant pieces recovered from excavations at Ilici: a large-size mosaic that was part of the private baths of a Roman villa; Iberian, Roman and Visigothic ceramic vessels; the tabula of Ilici (one of the earliest epigraphic documents in Latin found in the Valencia Region), which makes reference to the allocation of land plots to ten Roman settlers; or everyday items like pitchers, coins, bowls or oil lamps.
The explanatory panels and the audio-visual material provide an overview of the history of Ilici and the site, the finds from excavations and the archaeological and restoration work undertaken by the UA and the La Alcudia Foundation.
The final section of the exhibition is devoted to the research projects by three archaeological teams from the UA, currently excavating several sectors of La Alcudia: Ladies and Heroes Project (near the find-spot of the Lady of Elche); Astero Project (in the area of the eastern baths); and Domus Project (in a residential area in northern Ilici). Their research work is proof of how, in every excavation campaign, new discoveries are made that are fundamental to understanding human activity in and tracing the history of Ilici.