Ancient Roman military camps discovered in Portugal. The 2,100-year-old field of Lomba do Mauro in Melgaco, Portugal, was used by some 10,000 Roman soldiers sent to conquer northwestern Iberia. The 2,100-year-old Roman military camps of Lomba do Mauro in Melgaco, Portugal. Image credit: University of Exeter.
Ancient Roman military camps
Covering an area of more than 20 hectares, the Lomba do Mauro site was explored using remote sensing techniques. “Written sources mention the army crossing various gorges, but we didn’t know exactly what until now,” said Dr Joao Fonte, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter and a member of the Romanarmy.eu project.
Due to the temporary nature of the site, it is almost impossible to find without using remote sensing techniques, and radiocarbon dating is not accurate as plant roots are embedded in the structure. Dr. Fonte and his colleagues analyzed a portion of sediment from the base of the camp wall using an optically induced luminescence dating technique. This allowed us to know how long and how long the quartz crystals were buried under the walls the last time they were exposed to sunlight.
“We have found several military camps in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula in recent years, but their dating is very complicated,” said Dr. Fonte said. As they are temporary enclosures, they contain little material or biological evidence that allows a scientifically valid dating to be obtained so far.
The Lomba do Mauro camp was built in the 2nd century BC. C. by Roman soldiers who crossed the mountains of Laboriro between the rivers Lima and Miño. It was designed as a temporary fortification, to be used for a day or a week in warmer months, and it was built quickly.
The camp is the oldest scientifically identified Roman camp ever discovered in Galicia and northern Portugal. “The dating of Lomba do Mauro places the site in the historical context known from classical sources: Rome’s increasing pressure on northwestern Iberia and the first advance of its giants to subjugate the Calassi region,” the researchers said.
In this context of the confrontation, the most famous episode is the campaign of 137 BC. C. of the Roman consul Décimo Junio Bruto, who entered Galicia with two armies, crossing the Duero and Lima rivers, until reaching the Miño. It was on the Lima river where classical sources describe the mythical episode of the river of oblivion.
The two completed dates of the wall, together with the large dimensions of the enclosure, support the hypothesis that the camp could have been built by a crew belonging to these times, although this is difficult to establish due to the degree of uncertainty of the dates. . A direct connection to the Decimus Junius Brutus episode. Due to his success in the military campaign, Decimus Junius Brutus was known as Callicus.
The oldest Roman military camp discovered in northwestern Iberia. NW Iberia rarely attracted the attention of classical writers, who circulated cartoonish depictions of the land and its inhabitants. Some of the episodes belonging to these authors were fragmentary records of military campaigns carried out by Roman generals during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, when the region was effectively annexed by Rome.
The oldest Roman military camp
The oldest Roman military camp discovered in northwestern Iberia. Over the centuries, various scholars attempted to reconstruct these facts, but the paucity of archaeological data fueled circular debates about the conquest and the expression of ancient narratives. Roman military archeology has a fairly late development in Iberia (current Spain and Portugal) and research has focused mainly on the Sudi of the Asturian and Cantabrian regions.
Where the last events of the war took place in the August period. Thus, large areas of northwestern Iberia (such as Galicia or northern Portugal) were left out of the scientific focus, silenced by ancient sources and forgotten by modern scholars. Collectively, one of the main goals of romanarmy.eu is to develop new archaeological narratives to help reconstruct the ancient history of northwestern Iberia as a whole.
Understanding the conquest and integration of the region within the framework of the Roman Empire can also help to better understand the policies and strategies that Rome developed throughout Europe. In this sense, the archaeological intervention in the Roman camp of Penedo dos Lobos (Manzaneda, Galicia, Spain) has made it possible to discover the oldest Roman military presence ever discovered in the area of present-day Galicia.
which can be chronologically related to the Cantabrian-Asturian wars. During an archaeological prospecting expedition carried out by the Romanarmy.eu collective and directed by Joo Fonte (Institute of Heritage Sciences-Insipit-, CSIC), material belonging to the Roman army was found, including shonnels from the famous Roman army. Sandals (Calige).
But the most important evidence recovered were two bronze coins minted by Publio Carisio (Augusto’s legacy during the Cantabrian-Asturian wars) in Emerita Augusta (current Mérida, Extremadura) between 25 and 22 BC, who would be legionaries. paid out. He fought in the previous campaigns.
These findings imply that the Roman camp of Penedo dos Lobos was formed on a chronological horizon prior to the transformation of our era, and is probably contemporary with the Cantabrian-Asturian wars, after which Rome annexed the last independent territory of Iberia. It is, by far, the oldest Roman military presence in the area of present-day Galicia, and constitutes a discovery of great historical importance for the knowledge of the first stages of the Romanization process of the region.
Until now, many experts believed that the Galician region was on the brink of conflict. Although it is not possible to determine the actual mission of the Penedo dos Lobos military force at this time, these findings would redefine what was known about the period and help refer to the Roman military presence in the region.
As discovered by the romanarmy.eu collective and other research teams in recent years, this appearance is broader and more diverse than has been understood so far. The archaeological expedition ended last Saturday and is promoted by the Institute of Heritage Sciences (INSIPIT) of the CSIC, the City Council of Manzaneda and the Syncrisis Research Group (Department of History, University of Santiago de Compostela).
An exceptionally well-preserved archaeological site
Penedo dos Lobos is located near the ski resort of the Roman camp Cabeza de Manzaneda, and was traditionally a grassland area with low vegetation that made it difficult to identify archaeological structures. Its size (2.34 ha) made it a small camp with the capacity to house 1000 soldiers. Archaeologists noted the “excellent” state of preservation of the defensive structures. As such, Penedo dos Lobos still shows the four canonical gates that defined the Roman military enclosures, and almost the entire perimeter of the defensive walls is still present. Rather unusual, Thiede’s defenses were built in stone.