A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Archaeological Mortars from the Town of Ammaia in the Roman Province of Lusitania (Portugal)

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Abstract

The Roman town of Ammaia (in Marvão Region) is considered one of the most important recent findings of the Roman presence in Portuguese territory. It was settled in Republican times and abandoned in the seventh century. In this research, 17 masonry mortars and renders from the West Tower (South Gate), the residential area near the West Tower, the macellum, the peristylium, the public bath building, the podium of the temple and the portico of the forum were analysed. The methodology of chemical, mineralogical and microstructural characterization has involved several complementary techniques, including stereomicroscopy, X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. The results indicate that the mortars from the beginning of the town's edification were mainly composed of soil (clays). Later, during the main Roman building period, mortars were composed using a calcitic binder and the mortar composition varied according to their use and function. The samples from a period subsequent to the Roman occupation are based on a dolomitic binder. From the present study, relevant information has been acquired about the technological evolution of Roman construction in Ammaia, the historical context of the archaeological structures and guidelines for the conservation and restoration of mortars.

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