The necropolis

Throughout its existence, pre-Christian Lisbon had several burial grounds of variable size and in use for different lengths of time. Not all are archaeologically known, as sometimes there are only written records from the 17th and 18th centuries, and some reused previously existing structures.

One of the greatest in size was located in today’s Praça da Figueira (Fig Tree’s Square), a main plaza in downtown Lisbon. It appears have been used from the 1st to the 3rd centuries CE, with a prevalence for cremation burials (Irisalva Moita 1994, 56), and was seemingly located along a road that followed next to the inlet of the Tagus and one of the streams that flowed towards modern-day downtown. The same Roman way would have crossed other burial grounds: one next to today’s church of Saint Nicholas (as already mentioned here) and another in the area of Anjos, further north in modern Lisbon. (Guardado da Silva 2008, 49). Around the Praça da Figueira, several funerary inscriptions have been discovered, though it is not certain if they came from the plaza’s burial ground or from some place else to be used as construction material: one was found in the Street of the Magdalena’s (2nd century CE, currently on display at the City’s Museum) and another near the Baths of the Cassiuses (Irisalva Moita 1994, 43). Also on the western part of the city, at the modern Rua dos Correeiros, a place where garum (currently an underground archaeological site) was produced was later used as burial ground somewhere between the 1st century BCE and 1st century CE, as a cremation urn dated from that period has been unearthed at the site, along with small phials and a ring:

East of the castle hill, along the road that led to Scallabis (see here), several other grave sites have been discovered. In the 17th century, a necropolis was unearthed close to the modern train station of Santa Apolónia, the description being that of domes under which there were cremation urns, among which there was a figurine of two hugged boys, which have been interpreted as Castor and Polux; more recently, the same location has also wielded valuables that indicate it to have been a burial ground for wealthy people (Irisalva Moita 1994, 54-5). Further up the road, near today’s Calçada da Cruz de Pedra (Sidewalk of the Stone Cross), another necropolis was found in 1884, assumingly of inhumation graves (Irisalva Moita 1994, 55), and in the area of Chelas parts of a richly decorated sarcophagus have been found and dated from the 3rd century CE. Currently on display at the National Archaeology Museum, it depicts the Muses and philosophers and is a sign of yet another wealthy burial:

Apart from these, there are other places around ancient Lisbon where burial grounds are known to have existed or, at least, where funerary inscriptions have been found: Poço de Cortes, Ameixoreira, Ajuda, Santos, Republic’s Avenue (Irisalva Moita 1994, 54), and Entrecampos, the latter also on display at the National Archaeology Museum:

And then there are loose funerary inscriptions which have been found a bit all over the city, with no context to indicate if they were close to their original location or brought from elsewhere to be used as construction material. As an example, there’s record of one from the castle wall, found in 1939, and dedicated to the memory of a child of only three years old (Vieira da Silva 1944, 99; n. 6).

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