April 25, 2015

1432, 1538 SPAIN (Extremadura) - Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (UNESCO WHS)

1432 Mérida (Emerita Augusta) - Roman amphitheatre and theatre

Posted on 31.01.2015, 25.04.2015
The Roman colony of Emerita Augusta (present day Mérida) was founded in 25 BC by Augustus, to resettle emeritus soldiers discharged from the Roman army from two veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars: Legio V Alaudae and Legio X Gemina. Three years later it became the capital of the new Roman province of Lusitania, which included approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain (Extremadura and a small part of Salamanca, in Castile and León). The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards.

1538 Mérida (Emerita Augusta) - Mithraeum House

The Roman Theatre was built from 16 to 15 BC and dedicated by the consul  Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. It was renovated in the late 1st or early 2nd century AD, possibly by the emperor Trajan, and again between 330 and 340 during Constantine's reign. With the advent of Christianity as Rome's sole state religion, theatrical performances were officially declared immoral: the theatre was abandoned and most of its fabric was covered with earth, leaving only its upper tiers of seats (summa cavea). In Spanish tradition, these were known as "The Seven Chairs" in which it is popularly thought that several Moorish kings held court to decide the fate of the city.

The Roman Amphitheatre was dedicated in 8 BC, for use in gladiatorial contests and staged beast-hunts. It has an elliptical arena, surrounded by tiered seating for around 15,000 spectators, divided according to the requirements of Augustan ideology; the lowest seats were reserved for the highest status spectators. Only these lowest tiers survive. Its design is the most usual for Roman amphitheaters: rows with ima, media and summa cavea, and a central arena. Two tribunes at both sides of the minor axis were built: one on the corridor of the main entry and a second at the opposite side. Once the games had fallen into disuse, the stone of the upper tiers was quarried for use elsewhere.

The Mithraeum House is located on the southern slope of Mount San Albín, and its proximity to the location of Mérida's Mithraeum led to its current name. The whole house was built in blocks of unworked stone with reinforced corners. It demonstrates the peristyle house with interior garden and a room of the famous western sector Cosmogonic Mosaic, an allegorical representation of the elements of nature overseen by the figure of Aion. It isn't considered the actual mithraeum but a domus. The remains of the mithraeum are uphill from it in a plot corresponding to a current bullring. This site has rendered prime examples of the remnants of Mithraism. There are the oldest mithraeum artifacts observed outside of Rome and Mérida "is at the head of the provincial places where the cult is encountered".

About the stamps
On the postcard 1432
The stamp is part of the fourth definitive series with the portrait of the King Juan Carlos I, issued between 2002 and 2006 and comprising 24 values.

On the postcard 1538 
The first stamp is part of the fourth definitive series with the portrait of the King Juan Carlos I, issued between 2002 and 2006 and comprising 24 values.


The last two stamps are part of the second set of the series Arches and Monumental Gates, issued on January 2, 2014:
• Arco de la Malena,Tarancón (A)
• Portal of Miralles, Barcelona (A)
• Gate of San Ginés, Miranda del Castañar (A)
• Gate of Jaén and Villalar Arch, Baeza (A) - it's on the postcard
• Arch of the Estrella, Cáceres (A)
• Arch of San Benito, Sahagún (A)
• Gate of the Bridge, Córdoba (A)
• Gate of San Lorenzo, Laredo (A) - it's on the postcard

References
Emerita Augusta - Wikipedia
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida - UNESCO official website

Sender 1432: Luis
Sent from Mérida (Extremadura / Spain), on 26.03.2014
Sender 1538: Luis
Sent from Mérida (Extremadura / Spain), on 26.03.2014
Photo: A. Murillo

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