Since time immemorial, the term ‘breña’ refers to a broken land between rocks and populated with weeds. Just around the municipality of Talaván – 32 kilometers from Cáceres -, with currently 776 inhabitants, this type of land emerges that is ideal for the creation of moats and defensive systems, from its privileged location, right in the middle of the Vía de la Plata and the banks of the Tagus River, to exercise military and economic control of the area.

This is attested to by the exhaustive work carried out on the ground since 2020 by a team of seven researchers (specialists in geophysics, geology and remote sensing) led by the Institute of Archeology-Mérida (CSIC-Junta de Extremadura) in collaboration with the University of Extremadura and with CICYTEX (Center for Scientific and Technological Research of Extremadura). The results obtained so far prove the existence of a “complex and very elaborate defensive system” linked to the Roman implantation in the Iberian Peninsula between the end of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 1st century BC, in the late Republican period, approximately 2,100 years ago.

In the middle of dozens of olive groves, some of them unique and centuries-old, is the well-known Cerro de la Breña, which contains voluminous vegetation of scrub and scrubland. It is an agricultural land, where very few of its owners are already dedicated to farm work. In this area of ​​3.5 hectares, it has been possible to confirm the existence of this privileged defensive fortress, a camp from which its inhabitants would dominate the entire territory, as explained by the director of the group of specialists, Victorino Mayoral Herrera.

In the absence of the certification that will arrive with the start of the excavations in the coming weeks, the studies have revealed an extensive protective wall, a powerful open-air pool (now drained), a double protective moat against the foreseeable attacks of the enemy or the remains of cast iron, which could come from metallurgical workshops.

The same occurs with the appearance of fragments of an amphora or even some coin (obverse of a silver denarius), many of them already dated in their day (there are references in the 18th century) as ceramic fragments or tableware, which which leads to the existence of “an important urban structure, dense, well defined, with houses and straight and regular streets, which would confirm the existence of an important Roman settlement linked to the late republican period”, where internal battles multiplied in the republic. Roman until the time of Julius Caesar, with war conflicts throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

“From that position and the construction of an important settlement of enormous strategic importance, there would be great visual control of the environment towards the western and northern flanks,” comments the person responsible for the project. The fortress would also control the passage to the Cañaveral and Mirabel mountain ranges, key spaces for access to the Central Plateau from the west of the peninsula, as confirmed by Mayoral, at a time of significant demographic growth.

The various and exhaustive methods used by the researchers have been carried out under the name of “non-invasive archaeology” through the use of remote sensing and geophysical prospecting, including the use of drones equipped with different types of sensors or a gradiometer equipped with five sensors. within a research project that would close a triangle of Roman enclaves in the so-called Alta Extremadura, including “Cáceres Viejo”, in Cañaveral, and “Cáceres del Viejo”, a hill north of the capital of Cáceres, all of a similar chronology .

“In this scenario of transition between clearly indigenous forms of occupation at the end of the Iron Age, and the beginning of the stable presence of the Romans in this territory, that of Talaván appears,” comments the expert, who thanks the City Council “for its invaluable collaboration, essential for the research to move forward. The excavation campaign will “precisely” determine all the important geophysical evidence found of the military contingent to accurately delimit the specific date or the total number of soldiers and inhabitants in the fortress.