Elvas – Portugal

The story of the place where he would raise the city of Elvas begins in the period called the Iron Age. However, the history of this region has its beginning long before the first Iron Fortress emerged. Given the fertility of the fields of this place, the first settlements were soon established here and of course, left their trail in the magnificent megalithic heritage that sprinkles the estates of the municipality of Elvas. We have to go back to the Neo-Chalcolithic period, about 4000 a. C. and 1800 a.c. to begin telling this story, although there are also several remains of the Paleolithic such as the Boiler deposit. It is however in the Neo-Chalcolithic period that the first man-made architectural landmarks emerge: the tapirs. There are currently 22 in Elva’s municipality.

Today much of this huge collection of tapirs, cromlechs, necropolises and simple settlements is accessible through circuits that anyone can make as long as it has a 4×4. Although many of these monuments are on private property, others are located along rural paths, in pleasant places where, while observing the landscape, you can enjoy a beautiful Alentejo picnic.

As I said earlier, the place where Elvas is located, that steep hill that falls south and west in the shape of an amphitheater, is born from the Iron Age. The Iron Age is a historical period marked by the appearance of several innovations, including the appearance of iron artifacts and the potter’s lathe. These new inventions have not only brought about improved living conditions, but also brought about improving war conditions, making it possible to build better weapons. This has led to the population gradually being forced not only to live together more, but also to live in easily defended places. This is how the first habitats are born in the wildest places, such as Elvas.

These fortified settlements could constitute an autonomous political entity and their inhabitants lived on the basis of an agro-pastoral economy, extracting some iron and tin from the region’s mines. The best example of these villages/castres is undoubtedly the Castro de Segovia, between Elvas and Campo Maior, where abundant contacts with Mediterranean populations were found by finding Punic and Greek ceramics. Until the 19th century I a. C., the village essentially maintained its characteristics.

The Romans arrived at the Iberian Peninsula in 218 a. C. When they arrive here, they find the Celtic settlement we spoke of earlier. In 155 a. C. was already conquered and although the Lusitanian War that followed (155-138 BC), the Roman victory appeared easy and little by little the territory was being colonized. With the new administrative divisions, the village, which was to be Elvas, would be located in Lusitania, on the border with Baetica. The name of this Roman settlement is unknown. Although some historians point to the Roman toponym Alba, there is no evidence of such a situation.

The Romans do not fail to enjoy the village as a small fortification. Here they will have erected a small castellum that lived in the sphere of Pax Augusta (Badajoz) and patrolled the trade and passersby of the Roman road linking Emerita Augusta (Mérida) to Ebura (Évora) and Olisipo (Lisbon).

The great Roman remains that exist today in the present municipality of Elvas are, nevertheless, the rural remains: their villae. In Elvas Municipality are identified 23 villae, 15 necropolis, two quarries and numerous habitats and other isolated finds.

This was followed by the Visigothic implantation that started from 470 but would only become full from the middle of the century. VI and would go into a slow decay from 585 until the Islamic conquest. During these centuries there were few traces that came to us to be certain about the Visigothic presence in Elvas. Two fragments of marble pilaster were found, one in Rua de João de Olivenza and another in the back of the São Domingos Convent that seem to belong to the same building. But to say more than that would be speculating.

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