Augusta Emerita, Civic Forum

Augusta Emerita: Roman city in western Spain, modern Mérida, capital of the province of Lusitania.

The so-called temple of Diana

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.

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.

The name "Temple of Diana" 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.