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Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona

Roman sculpture

View of the room devoted to Roman sculpture in Tarraco.

View of the room devoted to Roman sculpture in Tarraco.

A great many statues were erected in the cities of the Roman Empire. Sculptures proliferated in public squares and on public buildings, thereby enabling the people to contemplate the figures of divinities, heroes, emperors and illustrious citizens. Regardless of any aesthetic considerations, they served as tokens of the established social and political order, which used sculptures as elements of propaganda and social exaltation.

In the vast complex of city buildings, some were more profusely decorated with sculptures than others. This would be the case of temples and buildings set aside for entertainment and leisure, such as theatres, libraries, thermal baths and nymphaea.

The forum, as the administrative centre of the city, was the most appropriate place for sculptures. In Tarragona, the statues which have been preserved were found in the part of the city between the circus and the port, in the area where public buildings such as the theatre, forum, and the Schola of the Collegium Fabrum were located. Practically no sculptural remains have been preserved from the two upper terraces of Tarraco, which were reserved for the provincial council, and where most of the sculptures would have been.

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