Category Archives: Articles

The archaeological collection of the Bética Hotel (Pias)

For many years Mr. Victor Hugo, founder and owner of Hotel Bética in Pias, was the
faithful keeper of the many archaeological materials that kept being found around the village.
We owe him the preservation of this objects that otherwise will lost or sell for the best price.
This interesting collection can be seen on the hotel lobby, namely coins, tegula, loom weights, glandes, rings, a small bronze figurine of a goat, and three inscriptions. Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact provenance of these findings as Mr Hugo couldn’t finalize the inventory of the collection due to his sudden death. Only his incredible collection of more than 200 Roman coins were subjected to a preliminary study in 2017 by Marco Paulo Valente but the work didn’t have any continuation.

Archaeological materials on display at the lobby of Hotel Bética

Three inscriptions found close to the village of Pias apparently with the same inscription:
SCLA DMA (?)

Bibliography: Valente, Marco P. (2017) – “Circulação monetária na Freguesia de Pias (Concelho de Serpa, Distrito de Beja). Quando Roma era Império”. in «Scientia Antiquitatis», vol. 1, nr. 2.

Coordinates: 38.022248, -7.480839

Road building in Roman times

(Originally published on August 22, 2014)

In an article published in 2009 – “Costruire strade in epoca romana: tecniche e morphologie. Il caso dell´Italia settentrionale ”, Michele Matteazzi of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Padua reviews the constructive panorama of the Roman roads in northern Italy, presenting the various techniques and morphologies identified during the archaeological excavations carried out in the region during the last century. This excellent compilation highlights on the one hand the wide variety of constructive techniques used by Roman engineering to overcome difficulties and on the other hand rebounds the great misconception that has plagued virtually all Roman road studies to date: the assumption that all the Roman roads were paved with great slabs of stone; This misconception originated in 1622 when Nicolas Bergier published his seminal work L’Histoire des Grandes Chemins de l’Empire Romain, when he (wrongly) considered a passage from Vitruvius that spoke of paving housing structures as a reference to the technique of road construction, proposing for the roads a stratigraphic sequence that became canonical, composed of statumen, rudus and nucleus; its persistence to this day is also linked to the little attention given to Roman road technique until very recently, as the traces have always pointed in another direction, ie the use of various construction processes and a wide variety of materials (often obtained in the vicinity of the work) arranged in successive layers which allowed a simpler and faster construction without losing its road efficiency. Given the importance that the article may have in the study of the road network in Portugal, I decided (with the proper permission of the author to whom I thank) to make its translation available in Portuguese. The article can be read in the Italian or Portuguese version.

Roman tech – Modern uses

(Originally published on October July 15, 2010)


Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Centre, Peter Rich Architects, (2008), a) interior view, b) under construction (Photo: James Bellamy).  

The construction of the Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Centre in South Africa was inspired by ancient Roman construction techniques such as the arched ceiling structure and the use of local materials for a new model of subtlety. The project, designed by John Ochsendorf, a professor of civil engineering and architecture at MIT, and built between 2007 and 2010, aims to demonstrate that it is possible to build modern buildings using inexpensive materials near the construction site (one of the rules). to minimize costs and reduce construction time), thereby significantly reducing energy consumption and pollution associated with construction projects. A time-lapse video about this building could be watched here.

Wine production with Roman vessels

(Originally published on January 5, 2010)

French cellar using Roman-style vessels

TIME magazine has just published an interesting article about the recent use of the Roman amphora model in the production of high quality wines. Once again the validity of Roman technology is recognized for achieving excellence while ensuring the sustainability of the solution both in terms of energy and the materials used. The recent massification of the use of stainless steel vats has created some problems in the quality of the wines obtained namely in the production of Port Wine, forcing the use of micro-oxygenation and others processes to improve the bouquet, body and other characteristics of wines. In contrast, the porosity of the Roman vessels provide a natural micro-oxygenation without energy consumption. Another important advantage is the oval shape of the vessels that allows the formation of a vortex during fermentation which are attenuated by the angles of the traditional vats; the vortex can rotate for weeks facilitating the natural lifting of the sludge.
Read original story here.

Roman Roads of Beja in 1938

(Originally published on May 21, 2007)

Mr. Manuel Geada kindly send me an interesting article from the newspaper “Diário do Alentejo” from 13th August 1938 with a brief description of the route linking Évora to Beja. The other route also mentioned linking Beja to the Algarve in fact doesn’t exist and is just a misinterpretation of Anthony’s Itinerary (Via XXI). See article here.

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#evora_beja