A. Sutherland – AncientPages.com – The 2,500-year-old Empuries (also Emporiae) site on the Costa Brava was built in 575 BC. It was a Greek and later a Roman colony located on the northeastern coast of Spain.
Left: Emporia – remains of the Roman wall in the ancient city. Image credits: David Mateos Garcia – CC BY 2.0; Right: Roman gate wall in the city of Empuria, established in 575 BC. Image credit: Marta AA – CC BY-SA 3.0.
The city of Emporia was founded in 575 BC by Ionian Greek colonists under the name ‘Emporion’ from Phocia (Phokia), meaning ‘market.’ It developed under the strong influence of the two most prominent cultures of the ancient world: Greek and Roman.
However, the site is considered to be home to the best ancient Greek ruins out of Greece.
Recently, Spanish archaeologists unearthed the remains of a large temple in Catalonia, in the north-east of Spain. The discovered structure, according to the researchers, was used for worship around 2,500 years ago. The temple was dedicated to Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility and fertility.
Demeter. Coarse-grained marble, Roman artwork; The head is a modern restoration. Image credit: Mary-Lan Nguyen – CC BY 2.5
The temple – probably built in the 6th century BCE – was rebuilt several times. Thanks to these conservations, the building functioned until at least the 3rd century BC.
Although now in ruins, it was once an essential part of Emporia, an ancient city on Catalonia’s Mediterranean coast on the Costa Brava. Initially, the city was occupied by the ancient Greeks.
Greek sculpture of Asclepius – dates back to the 2nd century BC. Image credit: Archaeological Museum of Catalonia, Empuries.
This marble statue belonging to the city of Empuris represents a male deity with beard and cloak. His attributes are – according to tradition – identified with Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. It was sculpted in two parts that fit together on the torso. It comes from a Hellenistic workshop in the eastern Mediterranean and must have come from the late 2nd century BCE.
It is worth noting that various parts of this particular statue were found in 1909 on the upper terrace of the sanctuaries located south of the Greek city of Empuries.
The iconographic features of the statue, together with fragments of a representation of a serpent found at the site, contributed greatly to researchers who could identify it with the Greek god Asclepius, the Roman Aesculapius.
Paleochristian Basilica – Empuries. Image Credits: CC BY 2.0
Later, emporia The initial presence of the Romans and their troops in 219 BC led to the formation of more of a Roman city. It was a historical event strongly linked to Hannibal’s march towards Italy.
For Roman soldiers conducting their operations in Spain, the city of Emporia became an important transshipment point on the transport route from Italy. Under Emperor Julius Caesar, Emporia attained the status of a Roman colony in 45 BC.
Coins of Emporia, 5th–1st century BC Image credit: PHGCOM – CC BY-SA 3.0
After a period of prosperity and uninterrupted growth, around the 1st/2nd century AD, an economic collapse occurred. A general crisis resulting from the loss of the city’s leading role on the western trade route certainly played an important role.
Although, Emporia continued into the early Christian period as a more modest, walled settlement. From the 6th century, the city became the seat of a diocese and later the capital of a local principality. The end of the ancient city was bound to come, so it happened.
This was due to the invasion of the Arabs in the early eighth century. Sometime in the early Middle Ages, the city was abandoned due to its location being vulnerable to plundering from the sea.
Today, Empuries is one of the important archaeological sites in Catalonia. Once upon a time, it was an important element of the Iberian Peninsula’s connection with other Mediterranean regions.
The preserved remains shed light on the ancient past of the city, of which there is still much to see. Among the many Greek and Roman ruins, there is a temple dedicated to the Hellenistic-Egyptian deity, Serapis, and another that honors Artemis of Ephesus).
written by – A. Sutherland-AncientPages.com senior staff writer
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