(Idanha-a-Velha) Beira Baixa, Portugal.
On the banks of the Pônsul, ca. 50 km from
Castelo Branco. The Roman town existed at least from
16 B.C., when it received a sun dial from Quintus lalius
Augurinus. At that time it was governed by four magistrates, all with Celtic names, and was not yet a Roman
municipium. Romanization proceeded up to the time of
Claudius, when Roman citizenship was conferred on
Lucius Marcius Avitus, commander of the ala I Singularium civium Romanorum, stationed here from at least
A.D. 41 to no later than 69. Perhaps the mineral wealth of
the region justified the presence of a military detachment,
which was transferred at least by A.D. 69 to Germany.
Egitania became a municipium in the time of the Flavians. Various inscriptions call the city civitas Igaeditanis,
Igaeditanorum, or simply Igaeditania. Almost all the Visigoth kings from Recaredo (586-601) to Rodrigo (710-711) minted coins here. The fortifications, preserved in
almost their entire circuit, include numerous inscriptions
and worked Roman blocks; they date from the end of
the 3d or the beginning of the 4th c. A.D.
The cardo corresponds to the present-day Castelo and
Guimarães streets; the decumanus to Rua Nova. The
mediaeval tower is located on the podium of a Roman
temple, perhaps the Temple of Venus, known from an
inscription of the first half of the 1st c. A.D. and erected
by a certain Modestinus. He may be the Gaius Cantius
Modestinus who built a temple in Midões to the Genius
of the city and another to Victoria (CIL
ii, 401-2). He
was probably a citizen of Celtic origin, a wealthy landowner in the region developed by the road from Emerita to Egitania.
The cathedral, which may lie over a temple to Mars,
has three aisles; it dates from the 6th or 7th c. but has
been much altered. In front of its main door at a lower
level which may be that of the original Christian church,
was a baptistery. The rectangular basin had two other
basins, much smaller and shallower, used for infants.
Outside the walls to the W are traces of a Roman bath.
A Roman bridge nearby crosses the Pônsul. The road
from Emerita to Egitania, which runs across the bridge,
and its extensions to Asturica and Viseu, seem to have
been constructed in A.D. 5 or 6, when Augustus set the
limits of the civitates of the region: those of the Igaeditani, the Lancienses Oppidani, the Mirobrigenses (Ciudad
Rodrigo), Bletisa and Salmantica. Egitania was thus an
important road center. But it was also in a region where
gold was mined, as is attested by an inscription which
Tiberius Claudius Rufus, made a Roman citizen perhaps
in the time of Claudius, dedicated to Jupiter to thank the
god for 120 pounds of gold.
The finds are for the most part in the local museum.
The 200 or more inscriptions constitute the largest collection in Portugal, and include the oldest inscription
found in Lusitania: that of Quintus lalius Augurinus already cited.
Fernando de Almeida, Egitania
. Arqueologia e História
; id., “O baptistério paleocristão de Idanha-a-Velha (Portugal),” Boletim del Seminario de Estudios de Arte y Arqueologia
31 (1965) 134;
id., “Templo de Venus em Idanha-a-Velha,” Actas e
Memórias do I Congresso Nacional de Arqueologia