Category Archives: Books

«Diplomata et Chartae» – early medieval docs

(Originally published on November 18, 2011)

The Diplomata et Chartae is a compilation of documents from the 9th to the 12th centuries collected in abbeys and monasteries’ libraries. These are mainly legal documents stating the agreement established between parts. These documents were organised by Portuguese writer Alexandre Herculano and later published by the Royal Academy of Sciences of Lisbon between 1856 and 1888 in a four volume work entitled the «Portugaliae Monumenta Historica», containing many of the extant medieval manuscripts. Mostly are property selling or donation, as back then all notary acts were performed by the church. These properties were commonly delimited by ancient public roads that are referred in the documents with names such as «via publica», «karraria antiqua», or «Moorish roads». These designations clearly indicates that they were already used for many centuries before, eventually since Roman times. Given that few roads were built from the late Roman period to the ninth century, it is very likely that these are in fact references to roads already operational during Roman times, turning these documents an important source of information for the study of the Roman network.

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A book about Roman Itineraries in Alentejo

(Originally published on April 6, 2009)

A new book about Roman roads has just been published by researcher André Carneiro. The book entitled «Itinerários Romanos do Alentejo» ( “Roman Itineraries of the Alentejo”) is a rereading fifty years later of the singular work of Mario Saa (1893-1971) entitled «As Grandes Vias da Lusitânia – o Itinerário de Antonino Pio» (“The Great Roads of Lusitania – The Itinerary of Antoninus Pius”) published in six volumes between 1951 and 1967. Despite its imperfections, the work of Mário Saa is still of primordial importance for the study of the Roman roads in Portugal. He has been widely criticized for its fanciful interpretations, errors and inaccuracies. However, the pioneering spirit of the work and the amount of archaeological information contained in it deserve this rereading entirely in the light of current knowledge. André Carneiro thus tries to mark the routes proposed by Saa with the remaining evidence on the ground while integrating the enormous advances of recent years in the knowledge of the Roman road. Although this work is still far from being completed by pointing a direction and a way, André Carneiro’s work will certainly have a strong impact on future work on the study of Roman itineraries in the Alentejo.