New research challenges the traditional dating of the oppida of NW Iberia into the Roman period, showing that many of these sites already originated in the late 2nd and 1st century BC. The oppidum of San Cibrán de Las (Ourense) constitutes a key case-study for this discussion. The large-scale excavations of the last years have provided extensive information about the inner structure of the site, its houses and fortifications, and the special significance of the area of the acropolis; the latter includes several sculptures of deities and religious inscriptions. However, the most important discovery is the long sequence of occupation revealed by a large sample of C14 dates. Frequentation of the site starts several centuries before the foundation of the oppidum, and seems to have been related with a use of the acropolis for religious gatherings. A comparison with the archaeological evidence found at other oppida from temperate Europe, literary sources and regional place names points towards the crucial role of assemblies and religious festivals in the construction of collective identities and the development of early urbanism.
- memoria social