VI. The Economy and Forms of Production


The exploitation of endogenous resources formed the basis of the Lusitanian economy. Farm and marine products would ensure the food self-sufficiency of its inhabitants. The metalla, quarries and mines, were a greater wealth, documented in the literature and archaeology: the marbles from Estremoz, abundantly used in Lusitania, but also exported to other provinces; the aurifer Tagus, Tagus (river) gold, sung by poets and quoted by many authors; the copper from the southern Pyrite Belt, especially from Vipasca, Aljustrel. There would also be delicacies of the rural world, such as the famous cherries and olives from the Merida region, the Salacia wool, Alcácer do Sal, or the Lusitano horse breeding, whose quickness was praised by Pliny the Elder, and which was also sought to the races in Rome in the 4th century A.D. The exploitation of marine, preserved salted food and fish sauce resources was important. The fish wealth of the Atlantic Ocean, combined with favourable weather conditions, allowed the joint exploitation of both fish and sea salt. In specialized production units, cetariae, some seasonings based on fish and salt were produced, especially in the estuaries of the Tagus and Sado rivers and on the Algarve shores. This appreciated food, transported in ceramic amphorae, was widely distributed within the province, and also exported to Rome and to other regions of the Empire.

Learn more about the resources and forms of production in an article, present in the exhibition catalog, by Jonathan Edmondson.

Carlos Fabião wrote an article, also present in the catalog, about the importance of Lusitania in the context of Roman globalization.

Vipasca II
Vipasca’s bronze tablet II
Aljustrel, Beja
117-138 A.D.
76,5 × 55 × 1,2 cm
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Lisboa