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BRACARA AUGUSTA (Braga) Minho, Portugal.

It is mentioned by Ptolemy (2.6) and Pliny (HN 4.20) who refers to the city as Bracarum oppidum Augusta, and the designation as an oppidum suggests that a settlement existed before the time of Augustus. There are, however, no traces of occupation before the 1st c. A.D. except for one small fragment of Campanian C ware and some rare coins. Around the city were many forts of the Bracari, a tribe which fiercely resisted the troops of Decimus Junius Brutus (137 B.C.).

The city became the seat of one of the judicial districts of Tarraconensis, the coventus bracaraugustanus. It was already an important economic center in the first half of the 1st c. A.D. Local workshops produced a curious pottery that recalls terra sigillata in its shapes and thin-walled pottery in its fine clay and its roulette decoration. A lamp mold signed by the African potter Lucius Munatius Treptus indicates either that he had a branch here or that he sold the mold to a local potter.

The Roman city was much larger than the area enclosed by the 14th c. walls, and the two cities only partially coincide. Outside the mediaeval fortifications, in the parish of Maximinos, there is an area suggestively called cividade, covered until recently with yards. Remains of the Roman town wall and an amphitheater were still visible there in the 18th c., but the area has not been systematically excavated. Remains of the Roman town wall were also visible in the Avelar farm E of S. Geraldo Street. This wall was probably late, built to enclose an extension of the town.

Inscriptions attest the existence of monumental buildings of which no traces remain today: a temple of the imperial cult, perhaps a temple of Isis, and a market (Flavius Urbitius dedicated an altar to the genius of the place). In the cloister of the Seminary of Santiago were found remains of a structure (bath?) with a pool covered with mosaics of sea life and another pool with mosaics was excavated in the garden next to the Largo de S. Paulo. The Fonte do Ídolo on Raio street is a curious sanctuary dedicated to Tongoenabiagus: a fountain gushes out of a rocky wall fashioned by the pick, and a niche in the wall holds a bust (of the god?) and a full-length figure wearing a toga (the donor?). Inscriptions name the donor of the sanctuary as Celicus Fronto, a native of Arcobriga. The fountain was certainly outside the fortifications, not far from one of the cemeteries. In fact, some burials have been found on Raio street, and on the E side of the avenue of Marechal Gomes da Costa.

There was another cemetery to the N near the presentday Alferes Alfredo Ferreira street, and a third to the SW in the area of S. Pedro de Maximinos. At the site of the Hospital de S. Marcos there was perhaps a city gate. Falcões street (now Hospital street) probably corresponds to the decumanus. Santa Maria street from the cathedral to the Santiago gate, in which was found a statuette of Minerva, may be the cardo.


Contador de Argote, Memória para a história eclesiástica do arcebispado de Braga (1732); R. do Carmo Sampaio, “Bracara Augusta,” Lucerna 3 (1963) 260-67.


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.20
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