The Roman Excavations

The Roman Excavations (46)

The Portuguese Commercial Bank hides, behind its entrance, a big surprise for visitors. All of Lisbon’s archaeological deposits are found in this building located in the street “Rúa Augusta”, and make up an unusual collection. Walking past these examples of antiquity is an incredible experience if you consider that the pieces on display have survived the effects of the city’s natural disasters which destroyed many of Lisbon’s more modern monuments. 

The entrance to this priceless building is located on the street “Rúa dos Correiros”. A guide will show you around the underground sections, which display the walls of Roman residences, streets forming part of an old marine commercial centre and even a necropolis and crematorium. 

The oldest archaeological pieces found over the last few years include some that date from the 3rd century B.C and the city’s Phoenician period. On display are grey ceramics, red varnished relics and Iberian-Punic amphora.  

However, the most noteworthy of the relics are objects connected to the possible commercial complex that was located here. This is because it reveals exactly what has characterised Lisbon over the years: its life based around the river Tajo, the river mouth and its relationship to the sea with respect to food and communication. 

Some of the structures still found standing were dedicated to fish salting and conservation, and that is why many of the ceramic relics discovered were oil pots and casks used in the process. The local speciality was called “garum”, a fish and spice marinade shipped all over the empire.

The growth of the Roman city towards the sea took in this now underground district. This is a Lisbon site of great historic interest to the visitor but he or she should not forget another of the Roman relics: the thermal baths from practically the 3rd century which also display part of a magnificent mosaic.

Lisbon’s marine past is not just connected to the period of the conquests but involves much more besides. When passing through the area known as Cais de Sodré and visiting the various lovely salting houses, think that this tradition dates back to centuries before. To get a real glimpse of it come to the Roman ruins, an architectural joy of Lisbon, and see history in detail.  

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