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The Bronze Boards of Vipasca

Last Updated: 16th Apr 2013

By António Manuel Ináçio Martins

The Bronze Boards of Vipasca

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Roman insignia

Portugal


Vicus Metallum Vipascence





Introdution- The Aljustrel mine is a magnificent laboratory in which to promote research on mining and metallurgy, since there is a continuous occupation of this mining area since the III millennium BC to the present day.







The Roman Lusitania had several mines and a copper mine, probably the most important of Western Europe, was located in the village of Vipascum or Vipasca, current Aljustrel. The mining area of Vipasca was administered by a prosecutor et rationalium uicarius.
Between 1876 and 1906 were found two impure copper plates containing legislation that existed in the mining time of Hadrian Augustus (117-138 AC).



Vipasca I - was found in May of 1876 in abandoned Roman slag’s near Algares deposit. Is a metal plate with Latin inscriptions on both sides. This board is now exposed in the Geological Museum, located at Rua Academia das Ciências , 19 - 2, Lisboa.
The various public services of Vipasca with the bath mentioned in the text translated and reproduced below, were monopolies that the prosecutor handed to private managers by paying an income. The fragment below is part of Vipasca I.





Reconstitution of some Roman baths.

"On the use of the Bath - The winning bidder of balneary or your partner must heat the bathhouse, completely at their own expense, daily, until the eve of July calends and have it operationally ready for women since the dawn of the morning until the seventh hour of the day, and, for men, since the eighth hour of the day to the second hour of the night, according to the determinations the prosecutor who superintend the mines. Should fill with water, as is fitting the brass boilers up to the top and make it abundantly run into the tub, both for women and for men. The contractor will charge to the men middle penny and a penny of every woman. Are exempted the imperial slaves and freedmen who work to the prosecutor, as well the minors and soldiers. On expiry of the lease, should the contractor, his partner or agent, delivered in good condition the balneary and all material entrusted to him, with the exception of what, in time, if there is spoiled. All thirty days must wash conveniently, polish and grease it with fresh fat the copper boilers in use. If any force majeure prevent the balneary can be conveniently used, the tenant should be granted an indemnity proportionate to the period of non-use. Is not allowed to Tenant sell firewood, unless it's chips branches unfit to burn. If someone to do the contrary, will have to pay to the tax authority one hundred sesterces for each sale made. If the balneary does not appear in good condition, then the prosecutor of mines apply a fine to the tenant, up to two hundred sesterces. The contractor will always have the amount of firewood saved enough for ... days. "





Vipasca II - Was found on May 7, 1906, in abandoned Roman slag´s, near Algares deposit, over a metal plate with a Latin inscription. The text consists of 46 lines written in Latin letter representing a excerpt of a mines code of which covered at least three plates. The plate has five mounting holes and is partially bent. The text is written formally in the form of a letter to Úpio Aelian, the district prosecutor miner of Vipasca.
This board is currently exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum, situated in the building of the Jeronimos Monastery in Empire Square in Lisbon.

Vipasca II [...] VLPIO AELIANO SVO SALVTEM (1)


Transcription (1) ... greets (...) Úlpio Aelian. § 1 [All who have served in a copper mine] shall [before smelting ore] pay cash under the law of Emperor Hadrian Augustus [the value of 50%, which was owned by the Treasury]. Who does not proceed well, once proven that fused ore without having previously paid such amount in the molds set out above, will see confiscated the part that his due as occupier of the mines and the prosecutor will sell all pit. One who prove that a settler merged ore without first having paid the value of 50% belonging to the tax authorities receive the fourth part. § 2 The exploitation of silver mines must meet the standards in this law. The grant price of each mine will be fixed according to the liberality of the Sacred Emperor Hadrian Augustus, so that part of the usufruct that would fit to the tax authorities being get belonging of the first that has offered a price at the well and has paid the tax authorities, in currency, four thousand sesterces. § 3 Any person who, having occupied five wells, there, one of them, reached the mother lode, is obliged to start work on each other, without interruption, in the molds mentioned above. If fail to do so, any settler can occupy (inactive wells). § 4 One who, after twenty-five days granted for the preparation of paraphernalia, actually start work immediately, but then stop for ten consecutive days, forfeit in favor of another, the right of occupation. § 5 A well sold by the tax authorities any settler will have the right to occupy it, since that is at rest for six consecutive months. The occupier, to extract the ore, is obliged as mandated use, reserve 50% to the tax authorities. § 6 Will be allowed to occupier to have as many partners of a well like as long as each partner support charges that it fit proportionally within society. If any of them so do not proceed, then who will bear the burdens will display in place of busiest Public Square and for three consecutive days the relationship of expenses that made, and through trading, notice to the other partners to the portion that they pay to each races. Anyone who does not pay or who intentionally do not pay or want to fool some or all partners will not have society in the mine, and its quota shall accrue to the partner or partners who have endured the costs. § 7 If perhaps there are settlers who have supported a burdens in a mine in which were to be admitted to other partners, will have the first right to demand that the importance of the seconds, in all conscience, having spent calculating. § 8 will be allowed to sell between settlers, how each can, their rights in society that have bought to tax authorities and the price of which there are already liquidated. Anyone who wants to sell its share or buy must declare to the prosecutor of the mines. It is not legal to buy or sell except in these terms. Who is person liable to pay of tax authorities have no right to donate its share. § 9 Concerning the ore that is piled along the wells, their owners must carry it to the ovens from sunrise to sunset. One who, after sunset or night, removing ore from the pits should, after proven crime, pay to tax authorities thousand sesterces. § 10 Regarding to the robber of ore, if is a slave, the prosecutor will have lash and sell it to the condition of being in chains for life and never reside near any mines or territories under the jurisdiction of the same. The money raised in the sale of the slave reverts to his master. If is of free condition, the prosecutor you will confiscate the goods and banishes it to a perpetual title, out of the mining districts. § 11 All wells should be diligently anchored with firmly Timber. The settler of each well is forced to replace the rotten wood to a new one. § 12 In the case of columns or wooden stakes left to prevent landslides, is not allowed take them down or damage them intentionally or proceed such piles or columns obstructed. § 13 if it is proved that someone damaged a well, did collapse or destroyed the timber mouth, or who intentionally contrived that the well lost firmness, being a slave, will be whipped at the discretion of the prosecutor, and his master sell it on condition that will never reside in any territories miners. If is of free condition, the prosecutor will seize of his possessions, which accrue to tax authorities, and banish it forever of territories miners. § 14 One who open copper mines from underground channel intended for drainage of mines, continue prospecting in order to move away and leave unexplored space each side of at least fifteen feet. § 15 It is prohibited to damage the drainage channel of mines. The prosecutor will allow a concessionaire in order to explore the new mine, open a gallery with communication to said channel, but so that this gallery has no width and height over four feet. § 16 Are not allowed to search a strike length or continue the excavations within fifteen feet of both sides of the drainage channel of mines. § 17 One who proceed contrary to law as regards the galleries of binding, once again proved the offense, if is a slave, is whipped to the discretion of the prosecutor and sold by his master on condition of never reside in any territories miners. If is of free condition, the prosecutor will take over its goods in favor of the tax authorities and it will banish forever the territories miners. § 18 One who open wells of silver from underground channel intended for drainage of mines, continue prospecting in order to move away and leave a space on either side unexplored at least sixty feet; will maintain the excavations in legal limits of each well that has occupied or acquired by purchase; not exceed such limits or explore the mineralized zones that exceed their grant (or otherwise, shall not collect residues beyond these limits) or open galleries of recognition that exceed those legal limits of the pit assigned or busy, so that the drainage channel is not violated.

References:
Vipasca - Projecto de Investigação Arqueológica (2006-2008)
Juan Aurelio Pérez Macías - Universidade de Huelva
Artur Martins - Museu Municipal de Aljustrel

Portugal Romano.Com - Arqueologia Romana em Portugal

Olinda Gil - Diário de uma Professora

Martins da Pedra




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