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De Ulisses a Viriato
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia



Presentation

 
The exhibition means to make known some of the most relevant aspects of the history of the territory which today is Portuguese, during the 1st millennium BC, that is, between the Late Bronze Age (about 1250 BC) and the conquest of the North of Portugal completed in 25 BC by Augustus, whose marble portrait closes the exhibition. Of the Late Bronze Age, some materials are presented, coming from small dispersed farms, probably self-sufficient, but already integrated in economic and social networks, as well as many metal objects - swords, axes, sickles and gold ornaments - from the European long distance commerce. The beginning of the Phoenician commerce, with the settlement of colonies and trading posts, from the 8th century BC onwards, in the South of Spain, pushes the development further, which gives birth to the 1st Iron Age. From the 7th century onwards, some of these places are known to exist in Portugal. Santa Olaia is the most important of these places. They were looking for silver and tin and maybe also iron. They brought in exchange amphorae of wine and olive oil, red slip ceramics, painted earthenware, jewels, ivory artefacts, glass vases, and other things. An important distinctive trait of this phase and of its advanced level of civilisation is made apparent by the writing, whose meaning remains unknown despite the knowledge of the phonetic value of its characters, that we know today only from gravestones and some graffiti, but that may also have been used in correspondence, records of merchants or administrative registers. The 2nd Iron Age - from 450 BC onwards - seems to be marked by an expansion of the Celts, which distributed more abundantly through the South the characteristic stamped ceramics of that people, which may be admired between the materials of Castro da Cabeça de Vaiamonte and of Segóvia. Alcácer do Sal, with its weapons, also documents this penetration of the Celts to the West. From Alcácer do Sal, there are also the beautiful Greek vases presented, which confirm the reopening of commerce with Gadir. In the North the "castros" (fortified camps) provide an abundant ceramic of micaceous paste and dark tones. Their artisans were also skilled goldsmiths, who produced magnificent jewels, of which the "torque" of Vilas Boas is an exponent. At the end of the 2nd Punic War, which drove the Carthaginians out of the Iberian Peninsula, the Romans initiated the systematic conquest of Hispania. They brought new earthenware, made in Campania, amphorae of wine and olive oil, the coin and especially the Latin language.
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