Conímbriga

When we got to Conímbriga I stopped to get a picture of me in front of the gorge that is part of the reason the Romans established a foothold here. In fact, if you want some background on the city, click here. It's hard to see in the picture but there is actually a trail leading all the way down into the gorge. The city was built here becuase it was easy to defend.

The pictures below are all parts of the ruins. The first shows one of the gardens, while the next two show the wall that was built to protect the city. In the first picture of the wall you're seeing a lot of the filler that's left from the middle of the REALLY BIG wall. The next picture gives you a better idea of what it originally looke like. The columns were built from solid brick and then covered with marble. This is one of the later stages of construction, when solid granite pillars were very expensive. Eventually, they started building with brick facades covered by marble or stucco. The centers were then filled with rubble. The fountain in the rightmost picture is pretty cool. The center areas were planters, with water all around. You can't see it from this angle, but ther are covered channels to provide water for drinking and for all the fountains they seemed to like so much. All of these places are just outside the city walls.
This next shot is a good one. Doty is standing in between a couple of interesting things. On the left side, you can see one of the baths, and on the right side of the image you can see a little arch (under his hand). These arches were set up to support the floors and provide airflow for heating the buildings. The Romans would have a strong fire going in one are of the home and these conduits would allow the hot air to flow under the concrete floors to heat the building. You can see the remnants of one of the floors just above his left hand.

The next few shots are of one of the baths. That's me about to hop into one. (I stopped when I realized there wasn't any water left). These are part of what was one of the largest homes in Conímbriga. The next shot shows most of the bath area. There were three baths in this building, a hot, warm, and cold one There is a warm bath on the right side of the third image. The last image shows a close-up of the water heaters. The conduits (look at the arches) run under the floors to heat the water. At the top left of the image, you can just see one of the main furnaces.
The first two of these are pictures of an old potter's shop and an arch that led to another part of the city. They've onld found evidence that suggests that there was a potter's wheel, but they haven't actually excavated the wheel yet. Keep in mind that all of this is an active archaeological dig. I saw some strange flowers so I took a picture in hopes that I could identify them later. The blue ones are pretty intense, but the starburst ones are really cool. They look like fireworks exploding. I couldn't get the detail I really wanted in the picture but trust me, they're cool. Next to the flowers you can see me look at what you could find if you dug down about 30 feet or so in your backyard (don't try this in Florida). The last shot in this sequence is me sitting next to the remnants of an original Roman road. There are parts of them still left, although most of the major roads were cut of when they built the new wall.
These are all pictures of the Forum, which was originally built during the reign of Augustus. It consisted of a public square marketplace and courthouse. On the north side of the forum there is a temple. The area visible here is actually part of the second forum, which was built over the original site in the last part of the first century AD. This second temple was designed specifically to serve the imperial cult. The picture in the middle shows what it probably looked like when it was new. If you look carefully in the rightmost picture, you can see the multiple levels of the temple, each of which was more holy than the outer one.
There's the Professor blindly leading the tour (me) to the main point of interest in the ruins. The covered area protects the well preserved mosaics, and to the right you can see the inside of the wall. Next, you can see me posing in front of the garden. This is a style that was common at the time. They would build a large open area on the upper floor with a fountain and garden, while the living areas were on the ground level. The picture to the far right shows what's been excavated on the lower level. Keep in mind that while all the living quarters are underground now, at the time that's where ground level was. A lot of dirt builds up in a few thousand years. In front of the fountains on the bottom picture, you can see some of the mosaics this area is known for. The bases of the pillars are still standing, but the marble or stucco coverings are gone. The walls had the same stucco layer over the brick, and they were decorated with lots of colorful paintings. I've got pictures of those a little later.
These are the mosaics that Conímbriga is famous for. Some of them have a mythological theme, while others have patterns, but my favorite are the ones telling about hunting events. I've got a couple of shots of Poseidon and the story of the Minotaur. Those are pretty easy to see. The elephant and chariot mosaics didn't survive quite as clearly. The elephant looks like he's rearing his head back to attack something, but that's the part that's missing. The first two hunting scenes look like a big event, while the third one depicts a man returning from a hunt carrying his prey. He's walking with his dog next to him. A lot of the areas are closed off so people don't walk on what's left of the mosaics, and some areas are closed off because they are the objects of current archaelogical research. These mosaics were commonly used as the floors in wealthier houses, while the less wealthy used plain concrete floors.
PoseidonPoseidon (hi-res)Minotaur
Minotaur (hi-res)ElephantChariot
HuntingHunting (hi-res)Return
On the left you see what's left of an open quarry. The millstones are still down there at the bottom. On the right I got a great picture of the ancient Roman soda machine which kept the workers happy during their long days or work. In the distance, you can see the rest of the city.
After walking around the main area available for unguided visitors we stopped for a lunch break. We both made sandwiches this morning (we swiped some of the breakfast goodies) so we just grabbed a couple of drinks and had lunch on a terrace with the view you see on the right. Pretty cool, eh?
I took a few pictures in the museum onsite. They've removed and brought inside some of the more valuable pieces to protect them. I wasn't allowed to use a flash to take any of these pictures. The lion was a decoration for an entryway. Some of the stones are tombstones and others were removed from buildings. The middle, left picture shows some of the stucco from the walls of the buildings that were intact. There aren't very many pieces left, but the ones that are give a pretty good idea of how bright the colors were when they were new. The bottom picture is a shot of some of the interior trim from some of the homes. They're pretty fancy, and I still see similar patterns on modern houses.


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