Balsa (Roman town)
BALSA was a Roman coastal town in
Hispania, province of Lusitania, Conventus Pacensis.
The modern location is in the rural estates of
Torre d'Aires, Antasand Arroio, parish of Luz de Tavira, county of Tavira, district of Faro, in Algarve, Southern Portugal.
BALSA is a pre-Roman
place-namewith a probable Phoenician etymology: "B'LŠ...", a possible theonymconnected with the older Phoenician occupation of neighbouring Tavira.
References in Classic Authors and Archaeology
It is mentioned by
Pomponius Mela(DC III 1, 7), Pliny(HN IV 35, 116), Ptolemy(GH: II 5, 2), and Marcianus of Heracleia(PME: II, 13).
Mints bronze "asses" and its lead divisors ("semis", "quadrans", "triens", "sextans") about mid 1st century BCE, in Latin alphabet with marine motives (tunas, dolphins, several kinds of boats). The name BALSA, recorded in these coins is the oldest attestation of the toponym.
According to Mela (DC III 1, 7) Balsa was situated in the "Cuneus Ager", a Roman geographical region corresponding to modern Central and Eastern
It was one of the "stipendiary oppida" of
Lusitania, siege of the "balsenses" (Pliny: IV 35, 118), people belonging to the ethnical group of the "Turdetani" (Ptolemy: II 5, 2).
Stage of "via XXI" of
Antonine Itineraries, between " [B] Esuri" and "Ossonoba" (IAA: 426,1) . Referred as "civitas" in the "Ravennate"between "Besurin" and "Stacio Sacra" (RAC: IV 43, 30).
It was considered by
Marcianus of Heracleiathe polisat the southmost limit of Lusitania(M. H.: II, 14).
Place Identification is attested by epigraphy found in the local, where "Balsensium" appears three times, qualifying persons CIL II 5161.5164 and the political community IRCP 75.
The Late Bronze and Early Iron Age "oppidum" of Tavira (7 km from Roman BALSA) stands as the genetic regional urban place, first as a Phoenician maritime colonial settlement with a strong religious character (mid 8th to end of 6th centuries BCE) and later as a "Turdetani" town (5th and 4 th centuries BCE). It was abandoned and replaced by the near "oppidum" of Cerro do Cavaco (1 km North of Tavira, occupied from the late 4th to late 1st centuries BCE), a better defensible site that was the central place of the "balsenses" during the Carthaginian and Roman Republican periods.
Cerro do Cavaco, the pre-Roman BALSA, did not survive the epoch of
Augustus, being then replaced by Roman BALSA.
tatus, society and economy
Epigraphic inscriptions reveal BALSA as a Latin Right Municipality ("ius Latii Municipium") during the 2nd century CE, most probably promoted by
All main aspects of provincial Romanisation are documented locally: A "res publica" with a "ordo decurionica" IRCP 75, local prominence of the "gens Manlia" CIL II 5161.5162, magistrates ("duunvir" belonging to the QUIRINA tribe CIL II 5162), "sexvir" CIL II 13, public slaves ("balsensium dispensator", CIL II 5164), evergetism (spectacle of "naumachia" and pugilate CIL II 13, collective construction of a circus CIL II 5165.5166 and other unidentified monuments CIL II 5167), imperial cult IRCP 90 and a large proportion of Greek and North African names. A Roman citizen of "Neapolis" (
Nabeul, Tunisia) with a daughter in Pax Iulia ( Beja, Portugal) countryside, declares himself an "incola" of BALSA! CIL II 105.
The level of Romanisation in BALSA can also be inferred from the known personal names (39 men and 16 women): 58% have "tria nomina" or are women with Latin "dua nomina". 71% have a Roman "nomen" and the remaining 27% a single "cognomen", these being mostly Greek names. Native name words in all forms (Celtic or Turdetanian) are a small minority (9%).
From the 3th century comes a rare funerary monument in Greek, considered by some to be Christian CIL II 5171, and a hoard of coins of
Claudius Gothicus(268-270 CE) discovered in a bath sewer.
Imported "terra sigillata" and glassware form a continuous series between late Augustan wares (early Hispanic) and late African D, late Gallic and Focean, with the latest pieces dated from the 7th century. The overwhelming volume peak corresponds to South Gallic wares of the 1st century CE but the studied material is much limited topographically.
Fish preserve industries are well documented in the town and neighbourhood, as well as "amphorae" factories. Six
garumproducers are known in BALSA by their industrial brands: AEMHEL, OLYNT, LEVGEN, IVNIORVM, IMETVS F and DASIMVSTELI
Urbanism and territory
Several testimonies describe the existence of very extensive and dense Roman building remains before 1977. The archaeological terrain has been being heavily destroyed since then to the present days (2008) by agricultural works and the building of suburban villas.
Archaeological exploration has been very limited to two necropolises, two bath buildings, three fish factories and a few structures. The larger part has been done in the 19th century, with pre-scientific standards. On the other hand, a total of sixty places with Roman findings are known in the archaeological perimeter of BALSA.
Archaeotopography revealed important and extensive urban structures: a theatre, a pier and internal harbour, a hippodrome, large hippodamic quarters and several others.
The urban centre had an extraordinary size for a municipal town without a capital status: the urban limits spawned no less than 116 acres and the peri-urban area occupied at least 266 acres. Its plan reveals a double town, or a massive development juxtaposed in two urban moments.
The "civitas" territory corresponded to modern Eastern
Algarve, bordering the province of Baeticaand with an approximate area of 585 square miles, mostly occupied by hills then rich in forests and minerals.
Significant remains of Roman agrarian centuriations can still be traced in modern surveys, limited to the littoral plains where olive groves, vineyards and dry orchards are historically best adapted. The coast was formed by lagoons and estuaries, whose agro-maritime capacities were extensively exploited in Roman times.
The major fluvial road of river "Anas" (modern
Guadiana) was controlled from BALSA territory along its better navigable part, draining several mining districts south of "Myrtilis" ( Mértola, Portugal). Several better known "villae" or "vici" like "Pedras d'el-Rei", "Paul da Asseca", "Cacela", "Manta Rota", "Vale do Boto", "Álamo", "Montinho das Laranjeiras" and many others belonged to the territory of BALSA.
Archaeology and Heritage
Archaeological collections of BALSA are scattered by several museums and private collections. The best preserved objects are from funerary spoils (good collections of sigillata, glassware, lucernes and personal objects such a complete surgeon kit), a female bust from the Antonine epoch, 17 civic and funerary epigraphed stones, statuettes, coins, architectonic elements, etc.
In the present day there is practically nothing to be seen of BALSA. Almost all land became fenced private property, cutting most accesses to the public lagoon-shore, and the few known and visible archaeological remains are kept more or less hidden. With the present total lack of protection and real menace of total destruction it is better they remain like that for the time being.
However, notwithstanding the brutal destructions of the last 30 years, BALSA still has a major archaeological potential: the foundations of about 1/5 of the town extension, including maritime suburbs, ought to be still basically preserved, either buried, silted or submerged.
Public museums in
Portugalwith collections of BALSA Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Lisbon Museu Municipal de Faro, Faro Museu Paroquial de Moncarapacho, Moncarapacho( Olhão)
A large collection of pictures, graphics and maps of BALSA, its territory and the most important archaeological findings can be browsed at the on-line bibliographical references below, marked with (PIC).
Bibliography (in development)
Practically all bibliography is in Portuguese.A growing number of studies below are being published on-line at [http://www.arqueotavira.com Association Campo Arqueológico de Tavira]
Vasco Gil Mantas: 1990, “As cidades marítimas da Lusitânia”, in "Les Villes de Lusitanie romaine", CNRS, Paris
Vasco Gil Mantas: 1997, “As civitates: Esboço da geografia política e económica do Algarve romano”, in "Noventa séculos entre a serra e o mar", IPPAR, Lisboa
Vasco Gil Mantas: 1997, “Os caminhos da serra e do mar”, in "Noventa séculos entre a serra e o mar", IPPAR, Lisboa
Jeannette U. Smit Nolen: 1997, “Balsa, uma cidade romana no litoral algarvio”, in "Noventa séculos entre a serra e o mar", IPPAR, Lisboa
Vasco Gil Mantas: 2003, “A cidade de Balsa”, in "Tavira, Território e Poder", Museu Nacional de Arqueologia/C. M. de Tavira, Lisboa
Luís Fraga da Silva: 2005, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/balsa/tavira/ "Tavira Romana"] , Campo Arqueológico de Tavira, Tavira
Luís Fraga da Silva: 2007, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/balsa "Balsa, cidade perdida"] , Campo Arqueológico de Tavira e Câm. Mun. de Tavira, Tavira (PIC)
Luís Fraga da Silva: 2008, [http://www.arkeotavira.com/balsa/expo-2008/index.html "Balsa, cidade perdida, Exposição."] Campo Arqueológico de Tavira e C. M. de Tavira, Tavira (PIC)
Sebastião Estácio da Veiga: 1866, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/Povos%20Balsenses.pdf "Povos balsenses"] , Livraria Catholica, Lisboa
Augusto Teixeira de Aragão: 1868, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/Relatorio-T-Aragao.pdf "Relatório sobre o Cemitério Romano encontrado próximo da cidade de Tavira"] , Imprensa Nacional, Lisboa
Abel Viena: 1952, "Balsa y la necrópolis romana de As Pedras de el-Rei","Archivo Español de Arqueologia", 25, Madrid, p. 261-285
Maria Luísa Estácio da Veiga A. dos Santos: 1971-2, "Arqueologia Romana do Algarve", Associação dos Arqueólogos Portugueses, Lisboa
Maria Maia, Manuel Maia et alii: 1977, "Relatórios de prospecção e escavação", Arquivo do Instituto.Português de .Arqueologia., Lisboa
José Fernandes Mascarenhas: 1978, "Alguns subsídios arqueológicos sobre a antiga cidade de Balsa", Por Terras do Algarve, Ed. Autor, Lisboa
Cristina T Garcia.: 1989, "Estação arqueológica da Luz (Tavira)", Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, Olhão
Rosa V. Gomes e Mário V. Gomes: 1983, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/MoedasRR.pdf “Novas moedas hispânicas de Balsa e Ossonoba”] , "Nummus", 2.ª Série, Vol. IV a VI, Soc. Portuguesa de Numismática, Porto
Alexandre V. Cesário: 2005, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/MOEDAS-BALSA-R.pdf "Moedas de Balsa"] , Campo Arqueológico de Tavira, Tavira
Materials and objects
Vasco de Souza: 1990, "Corpus Signorum Imperii Romani. Corpus der Skulpturen der Römischen Welt. Portugal", Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra. Balsa: 115, 119, 125. Balsa territory: 113, 114, 118
Jeannette U. Smit Nolen: 1994, "Cerâmicas e vidros da Torre de Ares (Balsa)", Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Lisboa
José Luis de Matos (coord.): 1995, "Inventário do Museu Nacional de Arqueologia. Catálogo de esculturas romanas", Lisboa: Several references
v.v.a.a.: 2002, Exhibition catalogue. "Loquuntur saxa. Religiões da Lusitânia", Museu Nacional de Arqueologia; Lisboa: Several references
v.v.a.a.: 2003: Exhibition catalogue, "Tavira, Território e Poder", Museu Nacional de Arqueologia/C.M.Tavira, Lisboa: p 268-291
Catarina Viegas: 2006, "A cidade romana de Balsa (1) A terra sigillata", C. M. de Tavira, Tavira
L. Lagóstena Barrios, "La producción de salsas y conservas de pescado en la Hispânia Romana (II a. C.-VI d. C.)", Barcelona 2001: many references
Maria Maia: 2003, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/Tavira.pdf “Fenícios em Tavira”] , in "Tavira, Território e Poder, Museu Nacional de Arqueologia/C. M. de Tavira", Lisboa
Maria Maia: 2003, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/CultoBaalTavira.pdf “O culto de Baal em Tavira”] , "Huelva Arqueológica (20). Actas del III Congreso Español de Antiguo Oriente Próximo", Huelva
Maria Maia: 2004, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/PescaTavira.pdf “Tavira Turdetana, porto do ‘Círculo do Estreito’ nos finais do séc. V a.C.”] , in "Conferencia Internacional: Historia de la Pesca en el Ámbito del Estrecho", Puerto de Santa Maria
Epigraphy and social studies
CIL: [http://cil.bbaw.de/cil_en/index_en.html Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum] , Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin
IRCP: José d’Encarnação: 1984, "Inscrições romanas do Conventus Pacensis", Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra
E. Hübner: 1887, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/Monumentos-de-Balsa.pdf "Monumentos de Balsa (perto de Tavira"] , "Revista Archeolgica e Histórica", Lisboa, p.33-38
José d’Encarnação: 1987, “A população romana do litoral algarvio”, in "Anais do Município de Faro",XVII, C. M. de Faro, Faro
Maria Alves Dias: 1989, [http://www.arqueotavira.com/Estudos/Aproposito.pdf “A propósito de duas inscrições romanas da Quinta deTorre d’Ares (Luz, Tavira)”] , in "O Arqueólogo Português", IV s. nº 6/7, Lisboa
José d’Encarnação: 2003, “Quão importantes eram as gentes!...”, in Tavira, "Território e Poder", Museu Nacional de Arqueologia/C. M. de Tavira, Lisboa
Luís Fraga da Silva: 2005, [http://www.arkeotavira.com/balsa/atlasb/index.html "Atlas de Balsa e Metodologia arqueo-topográfica"] , Campo Arqueológico de Tavira, Tavira (PIC)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Balsa — may refer to:* Balsa (tree) large, fast growing evergreen (or deciduous during dry season) tree, in the genus Ochroma, native to tropical South America north to southern Mexico * Balsa (e mail client) * Balsa (Roman town) * Balşa the Romanian… … Wikipedia
Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila — Coordinates: 37°4′47.81″N 8°7′13.82″W / 37.0799472°N 8.1205056°W / 37.0799472; 8.1205056 … Wikipedia
Lusitania — This article concerns the Roman province. For the ship, see RMS Lusitania. For other uses, see Lusitania (disambiguation). [ 117] Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river, and … Wikipedia
Tavira — Infobox Municipalities of Portugal municipality = Tavira CoA = TVR.png top = Vista Tavira.jpg caption = View of Tavira location = LocalTavira.svg gentílico = Tavirense region = Algarve subregion = Algarve district = Faro area = 607.17 population … Wikipedia
Đurađ II Balšić — Đurađ Stracimirović Born Đurađ Died April 1403 Ulcinj Cause of death Injuries Resting place Church of Saint Catherine Ethnicity … Wikipedia
Himarë — This article is about the municipality. For the town, see Himarë (town). Himarë Municipality … Wikipedia
Đurađ I Balšić — Đurađ I Died 13 January 1378 Shkodër, Zeta Cause of death Natural causes Nationality Serb Title … Wikipedia
El Salvador — /el sal veuh dawr /; Sp. /el sahl vah dhawrdd / a republic in NW Central America. 5,661,827; 13,176 sq. mi. (34,125 sq. km). Cap.: San Salvador. Also called Salvador. * * * El Salvador Introduction El Salvador Background: El Salvador achieved… … Universalium
Đurađ I — Infobox Person name = Đurađ I image size = caption = birth name = birth date = birth place = death date = 13 January 1378 death place = Shkodër, Zeta death cause = Natural causes resting place = resting place coordinates = residence = nationality … Wikipedia
Ecuador — Ecuadoran, Ecuadorean, Ecuadorian, adj., n. /ek weuh dawr /, n. a republic in NW South America. 11,690,535; 109,483 sq. mi. (283,561 sq. km). Cap.: Quito. * * * Ecuador Introduction Ecuador Background: The Republic of the Equator was one of three … Universalium