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Olissipo, like most great cities in the Western Empire, was a centre for the dissemination of Christianity. 356), and there were several martyrs during the period of persecution of the Christians: Maxima, Verissimus and Eulalia of Mérida are the most significant examples.

By the time of the Fall of Rome, Olissipo had become a notable Christian centre.

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Archaeological excavations made near the Castle of São Jorge (Castelo de São Jorge) and Lisbon Cathedral indicate a Phoenician presence at this location since 1200 BC, The Tagus settlement was an important centre of commercial trade with the inland tribes, providing an outlet for the valuable metals, salt and salted-fish they collected, and for the sale of the Lusitanian horses renowned in antiquity.

According to legend, the location was named for the mythical Ulysses, who founded the settlement after he left Troy to escape the Greek coalition.

Lisbon's name was written Ulyssippo in Latin by the geographer Pomponius Mela, a native of Hispania.

It was later referred to as "Olisippo" by Pliny the Elder and by the Greeks as Olissipo (Ὀλισσιπών) or Olissipona (Ὀλισσιπόνα).

Economically strong, Olissipo was known for its garum (a fish sauce highly prized by the elites of the empire and exported in amphorae to Rome), wine, salt and horse-breeding, while Roman culture permeated the hinterland.

The city was connected by a broad road to Western Hispania's two other large cities, Bracara Augusta in the province of Tarraconensis (Portuguese Braga), and Emerita Augusta, the capital of Lusitania.

During the Neolithic period, the region was inhabited by Pre-Celtic tribes, who built religious and funerary monuments, megaliths, dolmens and menhirs, which still survive in areas on the periphery of Lisbon.

The Indo-European Celts invaded in the 1st millennium BC, mixing with the Pre-Indo-European population, thus giving rise to Celtic-speaking local tribes such as the Cempsi.

Lusitanian raids and rebellions during Roman occupation required the construction of a wall around the settlement.

During Augustus' reign, the Romans also built a great theatre; the Cassian Baths (underneath Rua da Prata); temples to Jupiter, Diana, Cybele, Tethys and Idea Phrygiae (an uncommon cult from Asia Minor), in addition to temples to the Emperor; a large necropolis under Praça da Figueira; a large forum and other buildings such as insulae (multi-storied apartment buildings) in the area between the Castle Hill and the historic city core.

Roman authors of the first century AD referred to popular legends that the city of Lisbon was founded by the mythical hero Odysseus neither of these folk etymologies has any historical credibility.

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