Saturday, October 3, 2020


Romans -as we know- travelled outside the Mediterranean sea reaching in the Atlantic ocean the British isles to the north and the Canary islands to the south. Probably they were merchants, like in the commerce between Rome and India described with the famous "Periplus of the Erythraean sea" (if interested in further information, please read what I wrote in 2015 at ).

However we don't know for sure if they reached the Azores islands in the middle of the northern Atlantic ocean. But now some researchers have found a few archaeological evidences about this possibility. One of the most interesting is the one related to an epigraph -in latin letters- found in the Terceira island of the Azores. Here it is what I found in my research:

Map of the Azores, showing "Terceira" island (where a possible Roman epigraph has been found)
The president of the Portuguese Association of Archaeological Research (APIA), Nuno Ribeiro, revealed in 2019 having found rock art on the island of Terceira in the Azores, supporting his believe that human occupation of the Azores predates the arrival of the Portuguese by many thousands of years. “We have found a rock art site with representations we believe can be dated back to the Bronze Age,” Ribeiro told at a presentation in "University of the Azores" on the topic of early human occupation of the Azores. The oldest cave art known in Europe is of prehistoric origin, dating back to approximately 40,000 years ago.

In the last three years, Ribeiro has been claiming that archaeological remains of structures discovered on several Azorean islands are of pre-Portuguese origin by its architecture and construction. “WE HAVE AN EPIGRAPH FROM ROMAN TIMES, according to two scientists who were invited to interpret the inscription, a cave art site, megalithic structures, and an important set of structures scattered throughout the islands that need to be interpreted in new ways,” he said. “In some cases, we believe that there are temples and hypogea. We have no doubt that there are sanctuaries,” he said, remarking that some data still needs to be dated. Ribeiro also said that the archaeological research findings in the Azores have been published in scientific articles and presented at international conferences on archaeology, and have received “great acceptance among the international scientific community.”

Nuno Ribeiro (with Anabela Joaquinito & Antonio Pereira) wrote the following essay with the title "New Unknown Archaeological Data in Azores: The Hipogea of the Brazil Mount, Terceira Island (Azores, Portugal) and its Parallels with the Cultures of the Mediterranean"

".....The presentation intends to give to know the recent discoveries of found hypogeal structures in the Island of Terceira (Açores), Mount Brazil. The monuments in question are placed in an area next to where in August of 2010 it was discovered the 1º hypogeum. These new monuments present trapezoidal plants, with circular entrances, one of them present four small circular sockets in its interior, being on for channels, another one present a tank probably ceremonial, which if accedes through stairs. The existence of murex in the region and the fact of this island to make use of the best natural ports of the Atlantic islands and if to point out enters the North of Africa and the Europe, had apparently made of this area an obligator point of stopping between the Canaries, the colonies of Lixus and Mogador (in coastal Roman Mauretania) and Europe......

.....Of the various kinds of similar monuments present on the different Azores islands, most prominent are the Hypogeum-like ones, especially from Terceira Island, on a military restricted area, and actually classified as being of World Heritage status by UNESCO. This area, called Mount Brazil, bears several nuclei, the most important one being at the Fort of São Diogo. More structures are present in this open-air area, on one of the highest peaks of the Mount Brazil, “one called the Pico do Facho”, located near historical structures. The ancient remains are characterized by the presence of dozens of postholes of various dimensions, small canals, basins, possible chairs excavated from the outcrop and by at least one reservoir (figure 2 and 3). They might form a proto-historic sanctuary. This assemblage was discovered by the prehistorian Manuel Calado during a visit organized by APIA in December 2010......

....The artificial caves or hypogea (identified with an arrow) are situated on the western slope of the Zimbreiro Peak and just above the sea, at the border between the woody part of the slope and the severely eroded area.Our interpretation, at the moment is based on the architecture of the existing monuments only, and awaiting archaeological excavations, needs confirmation.

However, a medieval or modern origin of the remains is ruled out, we compared them with what we know about XVth and XVIth century Portuguese and Spanish architecture - the time when the island was supposedly first colonised. We shall also stress that these monuments were already marked on XIXth century maps, but not as military structures.

And present inscription, engraved on what is possibly the base of a statue now in a house in Posto Santo, near the city of Angra on Terceira Island. It was also possible to establish the origin of the material composing the base for the inscription: about 4 Km away from where it is now (Figure 13). The association of these monuments with an inscription of Dacian origin confirms an occupation of the island earlier than what is generally accepted.

The base of a light coloured volcanic rock, trachyte, which is rough on the touch, shaped round as a column and inscribed outside by about 2/3 of the round. The inscribed stone is conserved in a private home, situated in the city of Angra Heroism, Terceira Island already since several decades. The circumstances of the found are not known. The stone base was originally at about 4 km at a place named Posto Santo, where the trachyte rock is present.

According Prof. Herbert Sauren, we can see two lines of script, some letters very well known as Latin (or Greek) majuscules, but others with strange forms and irregular in height (Figure 14). A base for a statue with the given size was an important monument. The lost statue was also very important. We can guess the statue of a governor, of a king, or of a God.

The beginning of the inscription is broken. The letter D at the beginning of the second line marks the limit of the inscription at the left side. The last letters of both lines are preserved. The inscription could be read when the reader stood in front of the statue.

Transliteration, vocalized form, translation:

Odroy Elo’ǀs ’Ayon / Dacciǀs The’os

Odroy, the Lord of the gods,
the god of the Dacians.

Spanish investigator Antonio Rodriguez Colmenero, (Professor at the Santiago de Compostela University) interprets the epigraph in another way: Converging in Roman times however should not be a base of a statue but a milestone. The scientist also reads other content at the beginning of the text: OPELIO (indeterminate text) and at the end fecit, usually the inscriptions of Emperor usually have: IMP M. OPELIO SEVERE Macrinus, but according to the author that is not text that is in the epigraph...."

If interested, please read the full essay with interesting photos (and with the epigraph's Latin letters shown) at

Of course there are other researches about this epigraph. If interested read also the following article written by Herbert Sauren and related to similar items & topics: