The social dynamic in the countryside of the southwest Iberia from the first century BCE to the fifth century CE: The torre de palma, São Cucufate, Pisões, and Milreu villas
Afonso, Lucia Maria Pinheiro
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This dissertation presents a social analysis of four Roman villas in southwestern Iberia, Lusitania (southern Portugal)—Torre de Palma, São Cucufate, Pisões (located in the Alentejo, Portugal), and Milreu (located in the Algarve, Portugal). The archeological record of these villas indicates occupation as early as the first century CE, but substantial structures have been identified dating only from the second and third centuries CE. By this period all four villas were peristyle houses with baths, reflecting a distinctly Roman lifestyle. During the following century, these villas became characterized by major building facilities and elaborate decorative programs. By the fifth century CE as the Roman Empire was coming to its end, these villas were gradually abandoned or occupied marginally. By reading the architectural remains, plans, and excavated descriptions of these four villas, it is possible to infer how social relationships unfolded from the first to the fifth century. Whatever men, women, children, and domestic animals were doing within the spaces of these Roman villas, their actions were all reflections of how provincials fashioned their social world based upon Roman models, but at the very outer edge of the empire. Therefore, the rural villa in the Iberian Peninsula was the result of the Augustan pacification of Iberia and its integration within the larger Roman Empire.