VII. The Rural Life

Villa Romana

The villa was the symbol of the Roman organization of the rural world, although there were other more modest forms of agricultural settlement and with less impact on the landscape. The villa was the place of representation and prestige, combining the otium, leisure, of the owner and his family and the productive aspect, based on the farming income, mainly targeted towards self-sufficiency and trade of surpluses. The noble house, built under a specific architectural model, followed a varied decorative program, featuring mosaic pavements, painted stucco, bas-reliefs and sculptures. In a large residential complex, temporarily or permanently lived several dozen people who kept some kind of dependency link with the owner, dominus.

A kind of “city in the country”, the villa was part of the Roman idea of life. The villae were located in the vicinity of the most important roads and around cities, preferably in beautiful landscapes, in the most fertile lands along the rivers or the sea or in areas of good natural resource. For land owners, the territory choice was crucial, implying the practice of rituals seeking the favour of the spirits of the chosen place.

Learn more about the life on the villae in an article by Francisco Germán Rodríguez Martín and António Carvalho, present in the exhibition catalog.

Decorative parietal stucco fragment
Roman villa of Casa de Medusa, Alter do Chão, Portalegre
4th century A.D. (?)
8,4 × 10,6 × 2,1 cm
Centro Interpretativo da Casa de Medusa, Alter do Chão, Portalegre