AIA Public Lecture with: Filomena Limao, Ph.D.
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Psychology Building, Room 108
Twice every year, the Museum of Lisbon opens the underground of the city to the public. In Conceição Street, downtown Lisbon, a rectangle in the pavement often ignored, signposts the entrance to the Roman Galleries of Lisbon, an underground structure of tunnels. The visit requires previous drainage of the water that fills the galleries during the whole year emerging from a crack in the structure of the pavement. Underground water streams coming from the surroundings of the city converge in this area of downtown Lisbon close to the estuary of the river Tagus.
This infrastructure of vaulted galleries was found two decades after the 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon. Since then, much has been written about the identification of the underground structure and hypothesis have been put forward, such as baths or cisterns for water storage, to determine its functionality. Nevertheless, it is clear now that the monument laying beneath our feet in Conceição Street is a cryptoporticus or a hidden portico, an infrastructure used by the Romans to level the ground and to ensure the firmness of the buildings it supports. The 23x21 meters of the acknowledged area of the cryptoporticus, a fraction of the entire plan, has provided information about the Roman construction techniques as well as materials used, therefore indicating its date being 1st c CE.
The cryptoporticus of Lisbon will be introduced in the context of the western suburb of the Roman city beside the river, the harbor and salt fish workshops. Moreover, the investigation taken by the Centre of Archaeology of Lisbon (CAL) will also be presented on the role of the cryptoporticus in the planning of Roman Lisbon, discussing the building or set of buildings that could have been built above it.
Conducting research on the cryptoporticus is an invitation to a journey to Felicitas Iulia Olispo, the name of Roman Lisbon, empowered by the Romans though not a Roman foundation as the name Olisipo states. The cryptoporticus, the Roman theatre, the baths of the Cassios’ family, the circus, the necropolis are pieces of a large puzzle of the Roman presence hidden in modern Lisbon, which is worth finding out.