Major archaeological remains have been found in the area surrounding Alcolea del Río, including the Roman settlements of Arva and Canama, two centres for river trade on the Guadalquivir, particularly pottery production.
Several Roman baths and pools, and fluted columns with Corinthian capitals have been uncovered. A mural painting from the site gives insight into the local lifestyle.
This unique site between Alcolea del Río (Canania) and Lora del Río (Axati) is home to significant remains. Several authors, including Bonsor and Callender, have mistaken “El Castillejo” for Peña de la Sal.
The pre-Roman origin of Arva is clear from the Ibero-Punic pottery, and imitation Campanian ware found. However, the settlement did not become a major oil amphorae production centre until the Roman rule. Diggings on the side of a hill in 1890 unveiled a river port. The amphorae are marked with different initials, confirming the scale of the production. The manufacturers, some of them quite famous, would have undoubtedly come together to create a corporation. Some examples of the initials include QFF and QFR, which identify the workshops of Flavius Charisianus, son of Quintus Fuilvius Rusticus, a leader and priest of Arva.
Bonsor discovered amphorae markings on shards unearthed during construction works on the road to Lora del Río. The markings were dated between 1st and 3rd centuries AD according to Testaccio. However, the discovery of later tombs indicates that the settlement existed until the 4th century AD. Painted Ibero-Punic pottery has been found at surface level, as have been Iberian, Campanian, Arretine, South Gaulish and Hispanic ware.
The excavations in 1987 uncovered most of the monumental baths, which until then only the top of the “opus caementicium” vaults were visible. The baths were built using the natural gradient of the hill, arranging the rooms at two levels, with a clearance of about 6 metres. This building shows signs of systematic looting since ancient times. Most of the ashlar blocks and marble cladding having been removed from its walls. An important Iberian settlement has also been identified that pre-dates the founding of Roman Arva.