Museu Martins Sarmento: pre-Roman sites in the North of Portugal

Category: Others/ Misc

Presentation Description

The Museum's most relevant artifacts from celtic settlements


Presentation Transcript


Martins Sarmento Museum, in Guimarães A collection of pre-Roman artifacts from sites in northern Iberia


This archaeological museum was founded in 1885 in Guimarães, to gather artifacts from pre-Roman sites in the North of Portugal. It’s the most important museum of the “ castro ” culture. It is also housed in parts of a previous St. Dominic Convent from the 14th century, namely its gothic cloisters.


The Museum is a private foundation and was created after excavations in archaeological sites of the celtic era, most of which a few miles North of Guimarães, Portugal. They were led since 1874 by Martins Sarmento, whose name was given to the museum. This is one of my favourite small museums.


A possible interpretation of these carvings is that the left petroglyph is for water, the right one for wind. This is a typical stone from Iberian celtic settlements.


A stone from the 1876 excavations led by Martins Sarmento in Briteiros. Maybe it’s part of the lintel or door header from a castro house.


Bronze spears and axes (10th to 9th cent. BC) Luso-Roman ceramics


A bronze Roman Phalera.


Roman Lucernes (oil lamps).


Ampulla , a ribbed blue bowl, from southern Portugal.


A magnificent Luso-Roman bowl in light green glass (1st cent.) from Briteiros.


A Pre-Roman golden bracelet (3rd cent. BC to 3rd AD)


The Pedra Formosa ( fair stone ) was found in a Briteiros castro’s balneary. It’s a granite monolith, probably worked about three thousand years ago, weighing approximately five tons. It served as Stela of an ensemble of baths (steam and water) built around the 6th century BC in Briteiros. It’s the best known and most iconic object in the collection.


The bas-relief stone has an astral motif on the top of the triangular shape, probably the Sun and the sky; but the structure also reminds of a stylized body - head, arms, open legs; and the base petroglyphs might represent water. The central decoration can be the village as well as earth (land). The hole was the passage for the bather into the hot chamber.


The Pedra Formosa was a partition wall in the warm room of the bath compound, giving access to the hot bath room by the small hole in the base. This was a well engineered structure. There are diverse opinions, some defending this was a crematory and funerary chamber.


This is how the bath system might look; it’s remarkable how pre-Roman tribes had already developped a system with this complexity.


Citânia de Briteiros is a pre-Roman fortified ‘ castro ’ settlement from around 2000 BC. In the 19th century the finding attracted several german and nordic archaeologists’ attention.


A ‘ castro ’ is a north-Iberian pre-Roman settlement, from the late iron or bronze age, associated with the Celtic presence in Iberia. The society from the Bronze Age to Roman occupation in the 1st century AD was a dynamic, varied community in constant change. Briteiros grew up to an important three-rampart city, a large compound with paved roads dominating the area and providing administration, public baths and other services.


The top of a hill dominating the landscape was the favorite location of castro settlements. Here the Council House, the largest in the village.


Stone was the material of choice to build round houses like these,


© Mário Ricca, 2017

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