Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The beautiful mosaics of Empúries

Empúries was an ancient city on the Mediterranean coast of Catalonia, Spain.  Meaning "trading place", the city was founded in 575 BCE by Greek colonists from Phocaea on a small island at the mouth of the river Fluvià. About 550 BCE the inhabitants moved to the mainland.  After the conquest of Phocaea by the Persian king Cyrus II in 530 BCE, the city's population increased considerably through the influx of refugees. Situated as it was on the coastal commercial route between Massalia (Marseille) and Tartessos in the far south of Hispania, the city developed into a large economic and commercial centre as well as being the largest Greek colony in the Iberian Peninsula.  During the Punic Wars, Empúries allied itself with Rome, and Publius Cornelius Scipio initiated the conquest of Hispania from this city in 218 BCE. After the conquest of Hispania by the Romans, Empúries remained an independent city-state until it sided with Pompey during the civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar. After Pompey's  defeat it was stripped of its autonomy and colonia of Roman veterans was established near Indika to control the region. In the third century the Greek portion of the town was abandoned since it had been eclipsed by Tarraco (Tarragona) and Barcino (Barcelona), although the Roman town survived as a mint and ceremonial center until the Viking raids of the mid-9th century.

Mosaic depicting the Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Roman, 1st century BCE

Mosaic depicting a theatrical tragic mask from the bedroom of House 1 in Empúries, photographed by Mary Harrsch

Mosaic depicting a partridge taking jewels out of a basket from a bedroom in house number 1, 1st century BCE in Empúries photographed by Mary Harrsch

Detail of Marine mosaic from Empúries at the National Archaeological Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona by Ophelia2

Geometic floor pavement in the Roman quarter of Empúries courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor HJPD.

Marine mosaic from Empúries at the National Archaeological Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona by Ophelia2

Star mosaic  in the Roman quarter is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Olga Gairin

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