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Portugal Romano: A exploração dos recursos naturais (Roman Portugal: the exploitation of natural resources)
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia


On leaving the exhibition which, in this same place, brought him or her "from Ulysses to Viriato", the visitor encountered Augustus, the emperor who "brought peace, happiness and freedom to a world tired of war". Due to the complexity of the theme, which gathers five distinct nuclei, the way we treated it could not be exhaustive in the enumeration of natural resources exploited nor in its research. Besides, although testimonies from different sites are presented, it was not thought indispensable to guarantee an equal representation of the diverse regions that integrate the Portuguese territory, as the sharp difference between Lusitania and the lands to the North would, either way, be very clear. One could find strange that, the available space being scant, somewhat marginal objects, by its provenance or function, should be exhibited. Some of these objects - for example, the amphora lead labels, probably of African origin - are rare and practically unknown documents, outside the limited circle of specialists. Others, like the funerary materials selected for Tróia, Porto dos Cacos and Aljustrel, help us imagine environments and remind us the range that the commercial networks possessed at the time, respecting, no doubt, privileges and agreements, but completely ignoring the distances. The scale of Mértola, apparently so displaced, presents itself as an evocative emblem of the technical rigour, of the organisational effectiveness and of the production capacity, which made the Roman Empire possible. The visitor will realise, especially if he or she reads the catalogue, that some subjects are still the field for many doubts and questions; in some cases due to lack of archaeological testimonies or to testimonies gathered in poor conditions; in other cases, because the opinions of the specialists diverge.
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