Newly discovered remains of weapons, hobnails from sandals and coins will help experts piece together the untold story of how the Romans won control of Galicia and Northern Portugal from local tribes for the first time.
Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence yet of the presence of legions in Galicia in the Penedo dos Lobos Roman camp (Manzaneda, Ourense, Galicia). This significant discovery will help to redefine the history of the period.
Until now historians had found few clues about the actions of Roman soldiers in these regions. The findings show some, smaller groups, of legionnaires were probably sent on scouting missions in the area to investigate the landscape, rather than to fight, suggesting the region was already under Roman control by the end of 1st century BC, when the bronze coins found were made.
The bronze coins, dating from 25-22 BC, thought to be payment for the legionnaires, were minted by Publius Carisius, who was Augustus’ legate during the Cantabrian-Asturian Wars.
Dr. João Fonte, from the University of Exeter,director of the archaeological survey, said: “People have suggested Roman troops were in this area, but until now it was only speculation. This findings, which date from the time of the Cantabrian-Asturian Wars, really will allow us to rewrite the history books.”
Northwest Iberia was effectively annexed by Rome in 1st century BC, but it has been hard for experts to reconstruct events because of a lack of archaeological evidence, in particular in regions as Galicia and Northern Portugal. This historical context is better known in the Asturian and Cantabrian areas, where the last war episodes took place in Augustan times.