Traces of Roman temple found in Lisbon

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An archaeological intervention in Rua da Saudade led to the discovery of remains that are interpreted as belonging to the floor of a Roman temple, according to an announcement by the Lisbon Museum. This is the first discovery of its kind in Lisbon.

Traces of Roman temple found in Lisbon
Credit: © DR

The archaeological intervention that resulted in the discovery of the floor took place in a private building with the aim of “of transforming the interior” of a ground floor into a garage.




“Given the proximity to the Roman theatre, a listed heritage monument, the team of the Museum of Lisbon-Roman Theatre carried out the excavation work necessary for the implementation of the new engineering project, which is mandatory whenever places of potential archaeological value located,” explained the organization in a statement.

Traces of Roman temple found in Lisbon
Credit: © DR

Lidia Fernandes, coordinator of the Roman Theatre, explained what was found on Rua da Saudade: “Actually, it cannot be said that we found the floor. What was preserved is less impressive but much more curious. What we found were the perfectly preserved impressions left by the stone slabs in the still fresh mortar, when the stones were placed. The geometric motifs that the slabs formed were quite elaborate, integrating central motifs delimited by rectangular panels”, said the statement.




“Not knowing which stones were used we were lucky that the Roman masons had taken advantage of the leftover pieces of the slabs to level the ground where the panels were placed. At present, we have identified more than 30 ‘lithotypes’, that is, different types of stone,” said the archaeologist.

Traces of Roman temple found in Lisbon
Credit: © DR

Although the flooring of the Roman period is “quite diversified”, what was found in Lisbon is not very common. In Portugal, few examples of the opus sectile are known and, in Lisbon, the only one that is preserved is the Roman Theatre. However, what has now been found is “much more interesting” than the latter, since “the motifs are more elaborate and the types of stone more diverse”.




Opus sectile is an architectural ornamentation technique where materials were cut into geometric, vegetable or figurative shapes and inlaid into walls and floors to make ornamental compositions.

Traces of Roman temple found in Lisbon
Credit: © DR

Taking into account the location of the new discovery, and also taking into account the identification of another structure in the adjoining building (to the east) by Irisalva Moita in 1987, the interpretation of this as a Roman temple is likely.

“Several temples once existed in the city of Felicitas Iulia Olisipo; this, however, is the first with archaeological evidence,” said Lidia Fernandes.

Source: Publico [June 11, 2019]