Documentation and modelling of a hypothetical reconstruction of the first Roman watermill in Hispania

Josefina García-León, Jesús A. González-García, Pedro E. Collado-Espejo


The accurate graphic survey of an archaeological site is fundamental for its analysis and research. Furthermore, if this site is to be covered by a building and will not be accessible or visible, its documentation is essential, not only to continue with the research, but also to disseminate and enhance the discoveries. An example of this is the "Hoya de los Molinos" archaeological site in Caravaca de la Cruz (Region of Murcia, Spain). This is where the first mark of the wheel of a Roman vertical watermill in the Iberian Peninsula has been found. This fact is crucial because remains of Roman vertical-wheeled watermills have been found across the Mediterranean but not in the Iberian Peninsula. Moreover, the fact that this watermill still has all its structural elements makes this archaeological site in Caravaca de la Cruz very interesting. Due to these facts, it is essential to disseminate this discovery, so that it can be recognized and considered as archaeological and cultural heritage. To that end, the researchers have carried out a three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of the most characteristic elements, such as the vertical wheel, the gears that allowed grinding the grain, and the building protecting them. A virtual recreation was carried out, based on the historical and building research, which is displayed in an explanatory video. Furthermore, two reproductions were created: one made to scale of the archaeological site with a 3D printer and another one of the hypothetical structure of the Roman watermill. To achieve this result, historians, archaeologists and engineers have collaborated, thus enabling not only its adequate dissemination, but also its accurate documentation, in an inclusive manner. Thanks to all the work that this paper describes, the Roman watermill found in Caravaca de la Cruz can be known, studied and assessed.


  • The first Roman watermill in the Iberian Peninsula has been found with all its structural elements, from the imprints left in the stone by the wheel.

  • Virtual reconstruction of the first vertical wheel watermill discovered in Hispania has been made.

  • An animated video of the hydraulic watermill gears performance has been created for documentation and dissemination.


virtual archaeology; digital archaeology; cultural heritage; documentation; 3D reconstruction

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Universitat Politècnica de València

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