Archaeologists near Roman site stumble on more recent — and explosive — find in Spain

Archaeologists surveying near a Roman bathhouse in Málaga stumbled on an unexploded bomb, possibly from the Spanish Civil War, officials said.

Archaeologists surveying near a Roman bathhouse in Málaga stumbled on an unexploded bomb, possibly from the Spanish Civil War, officials said.

Screengrab from Gran Senda de Málaga’s YouTube video

The blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea crest and crash along the sandy coast of southern Spain. The coastline is dotted with homes, visitors — and the ruins of an ancient Roman bathhouse.

Archaeologists were surveying a collapsed structure near the Roman baths of Las Bóvedas in Málaga region on Tuesday, May 30, La Opinion de Málaga, a Spanish news outlet, reported.

The structure’s outer wall had been damaged during a storm, another Spanish outlet, SUR, reported. Because of its proximity to the ancient Roman site, archaeologists needed to assess if there were any ruins or artifacts near the structure before it could be repaired.

To their surprise, the archaeologists stumbled on something much more recent — and much more explosive.

“At the moment, nothing was coming out until we found the projectile,” archaeologist Miguel Vila told SUR.

The “projectile” was just over 15 inches long, cylindrical and “very rusty,” Vila told the outlet.

Archaeologists identified it as an unexploded bomb, likely from the Spanish Civil War, La Opinion de Málaga reported. The bomb looked like a howitzer, a mid-range type of artillery weapon, that might have been launched from a boat toward the coast.

The area was cordoned off, and the Explosives Disposal Service of the National Police was brought in to safely remove and dispose of the bomb, La Opinion de Málaga reported.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936 to 1939 and erupted after social and political “polarization” culminated in an unsuccessful military coup, according to Britannica. More conservative factions of the military, known as the Nationalists, fought the central government, referred to as the Republicans, during the war.

Estimates of the death toll have ranged from about 500,000 to 1 million, per Britannica. The war ended after government forces disbanded and surrendered to the military factions.

After finding the unexploded bomb, archaeologists are “carrying out preventive archaeological probes” near the Roman ruins, Vila told SUR.

The Roman baths of Las Bóvedas were constructed during the third century A.D., according to the Málaga Provincial Council. The “unique” thermal spa had an octagonal shape with a central octagonal pool. The site was used until the fifth century A.D.

Video footage shared on YouTube by Gran Senda de Málaga shows the site’s vaulted ruins sitting along the coastline.

The Málaga region is about 310 miles southwest of Madrid.

Google Translate was used to translate the article from La Opinion Málaga.

Aspen Pflughoeft covers real-time news for McClatchy. She is a graduate of Minerva University where she studied communications, history, and international politics. Previously, she reported for Deseret News.

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