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Augusta Emerita: Forum


Civic Forum. Photo Marco Prins.
Civic Forum
Augusta Emerita: Roman city in western Spain, modern Mérida, capital of the province of Lusitania.
 
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The Civic Forum of Augusta Emerita was in the center of the city, where the main roads crossed. Among the monuments were the so-called Temple of Diana and a bathhouse that was supplied by the aqueduct of San Lázaro. The remains of a fountain have been identified. 

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Medusa and Ammon. Photo Marco Prins.
Medusa and Ammon

Of course, there must have been a basilica, a meeting place for the town council, and an office for the magistrates of the city; the basilica may even have been found, although some doubts remain. The forum was surrounded by a portico, built in the first century CE, of which a part has been reconstructed. It was decorated with alternating heads of Medusa and Jupiter Ammon. This type of decoration can also be found on the Forum of Augustus in Rome. Caryatids and Corinthian capitals have also been excavated: this must have been a splendid place.
Temple of Diana. Photo Marco Prins.
The so-called Temple of Diana

The name "Temple of Diana" (satellite photo) was proposed in the seventeenth century by a local historian, but is unfortunately incorrect. The sanctuary, which stood in the eastern part of the forum, was in fact dedicated to the cult of the emperor, and was built at the beginning of the common era. It may originally have been dedicated to Roma and Augustus. Here, archaeologists have found a fine bronze statue of the Genius (protective deity) of the Senate. It can now be seen in Mérida's Museo Nacional de Arte Romano.
Genius of the Senate, from Mérida (Spain). Photo Marco Prins.
The Genius of the Senate

North of the Civic Forum, near the modern Plaza de la Constitución (satellite photo), a second forum has been found; it is tentatively indicated as the Provincial Forum. A basilica and a large temple were found, which is called the Capitolium, although it may have been dedicated to an emperor as well. The concrete podium on which this temple once stood was excavated in 1982 and turned out to be about 25 meter long and three meter high.

The two fora were connected by an arch, which is known as the Arch of Trajan. Again, this name was coined by the Méridans, and again, it is incorrect.
Part of the decoration of the Forum of Emerita. Photo Jona Lendering.
Part of the decoration of the Forum of Emerita.

A satellite photo of the area of the forum can be seen here.

History Photos
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2009
Revision: 28 June 2009
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