In search of Pollentia's southern harbour: Geoarchaeological evidence from the Bay of Alcúdia (Mallorca, Spain)

Matthieu Giaime, Christophe Morhange, Miguel Ángel Cau Ontiveros, Joan J. Fornós, Matteo Vacchi, Nick Marriner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Roman city of Pollentia was founded on the north-eastern coast of Mallorca (Balearic archipelago) after the Roman conquest of the island in 123 BCE. There is evidence that the city had two harbours, a small harbour located to the north, whereas the main harbour was located to the south of Pollentia. Our study focuses on the southern harbour, on a coastal plain in proximity to the ancient city. Four sedimentary cores were taken and bio-sedimentological analysis was performed. Here, we describe the palaeogeographical changes in this area, evolving from an open lagoon environment between ca. 3200 and ca. 500 cal. years BCE to a semi-enclosed lagoon during Roman times. Progressively, the lagoon became silted and was isolated from the sea by the development of a large sand spit, probably during the second half of the first millennium CE. We also discuss the water depth, linked to the palaeosea level, which is important in defining the possible ancient harbour location.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the Labex OT-Med ( ANR-11-LABX-0061 ) and of the A*MIDEX project (n° ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02 ), funded by the “Investissements d'Avenir” French Government program, managed by the French National Research Agency (ANR) . We are also grateful to the Consorci de la ciutat romana the Pol·lèntia and the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deportes de España, for financial aid in order to carry out the coring campaign. These activities are part of the archaeological investigations of Pollentia headed by M.A. Cau and E. Chávez. In addition, this research is part of the activities of the Equip de Recerca Arqueològica i Arqueomètrica de la Universitat de Barcelona (ERAAUB), Consolidated Group (2014 SGR 845), supported by the Comissionat per a Universitats i Recerca del DIUE de la Generalitat de Catalunya. Part of the sedimentology analyses were performed at the Geology Lab of the Universitat de les Illes Balears under the funding of a MINECO grant, CGL2013-48441-P to J.J, Fornós.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016


  • Ancient harbour
  • Balearic Archipelago
  • Dredging
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Holocene
  • Lagoonal harbour
  • Mallorca
  • Mediterranean
  • Palaeogeography
  • Pollentia
  • Sea-level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Paleontology


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