07 Nov 2012 - Tiago Fraga - Open Day at Martinhal wreck excavation site.
Members will recall that this year the AAA gave a grant to Tiago Fraga and George Schwarz from A&M University to assist in the search for the Patacho Pedro Diaz. We were invited to go to their open day in November and a small group of members went along. Tiago introduced the visit by explaining why the bay at Martinhal was so important, in that it gave shelter for vessels during bad weather. However the bay could still prove dangerous at times due to shoals which were invisible to ships and subsequently caused wrecks with the dispersal of finds along the coast due to the currents. The project Patacho Pedro Diaz began in 2007 with a pre-project survey to determine the bay’s potential and to locate a specific ship typology which is one of the Iberian work-horses of the 17th century. Although the ship was bringing contraband from S. America, no proof exists for any precious cargo in it at this time – despite the recent rumours! It was common, however, for such ships to carry a small amount of ‘gold’ to be used as funds for purchases along the journey. From contemporary documents there were reports of the Pedro Diaz carrying 80 tons of cargo and in 1613, 1618 and 1633 reports were made to the king of finds of valuable trade goods having been found along the coast. Tiago went on to explain how their survey was carried out – using magnetometry to identify ‘hot spots’, probes and a vacuum pump to remove sand and debris. When a find was identified it was then plotted and recorded. However due to the vast number of finds there has to be a non-retrieval policy on the site – as Tiago pointed out ‘we were swamped by our own success!!’ We were then introduced to the Logistics Officer and Dive Safety Officer. The latter explained her work in that she was responsible for deciding if it was safe to dive and also to check the suitability of individual divers. A boat trip to the site had been planned but due to the weather this was unfortunately not possible.
Towards the end of our visit Tiago and George expressed their immense gratitude to the AAA. It transpires that when this year’s dive season was planned, promises of financial assistance were made by various organizations and groups – the AAA being just one.
The Martinhal Resort, where they were based, had been very generous in that they provided accommodation for the team as well as an indoor pool for training purposes. However we were told that only 10% of this year’s promised funding was actually received and ALL of this came from the AAA. Our funding has helped pay for food and fuel for the team, but even so, due to the withdrawal of other funding, vital equipment had to be left in the USA. Fortunately local dive shops gave their time and equipment and the government provided a dredger. Later we found out that Tiago had spent some of his own money to keep the project going this year.
We would like to thank a number of AAA members who have already given private donations to this project apart from the original AAA grant. We are also sure that Tiago and his team would be very pleased to receive further help so that the project to research the Patacho Pedro Diaz can continue in future seasons. We are also hoping that the team leader George Schwarz will be able to present the project to the AAA in the near future. Thanks to Tiago and the team for giving us their time on the open day.
July 2012 - ‘Archaeology for All’. This 3 day summer course was organized by the Archaeology department of the University of the Algarve in Faro. It was attended by around 25 members of the AAA and a number of students from the University. The subjects covered were Zooarchaeology, Recent trends in human evolution, the Côa Valley rock art, Palaeogenetics and Neolithic DNA research and the Roman fish products industry. All those who attended found the course highly instructive and enjoyable. A similar event is being planned for 2013. A website has been set up for information about the topics covered
www.fchs.ualg.pt/a4a and includes further research information.
Saturday 21 July 2012 - Val Boi Excavation Open Day. This was held at the archaeological site directed by Prof Nuno Bicho (UALG). A number of AAA members went along to this public open day and were able to view the excavations in progress. The site was discovered in 1998 after an extensive fieldwalking and geophysical survey as part of the project ‘A Ocupação Humana Paleolitica do Algarve’ which included the valley of the Ribeira de Val de Boi. The excavations began in 2000 and have concentrated on a hill side terrace and a rock shelter and finds indicate that there had been occupation for about 30.000 years primarily concerned with hunter-gathering activities. Evidence of this time line could be seen in the 10m deep trench under excavation. On display for the visitors were examples of the finds from the site: lithics, animal bones – deer, horse, prehistoric cattle, and boar together with marine molluscs. Of particular interest was a piece of schist on which an early man had scratched the outline of a deer.
Friday 15 June 2012 - Visit to Cacela Velha and the Sta. Rita information centre
In the little village of Cacela Velha we were guided by Manuel Godinho and were shown the imposing taipa walls built to offer protection to the village itself against inroads from the Ria Formoso. The main occupation here has always been fishing, shell fishing and garum production, especially in the nearby settlements of Manta Rota and Quinta do Mouro, which also produced ceramic artefacts.
We were fortunate to be able to visit the GNR fort. This has been a stronghold since the 10th C, but was reconstructed after the 1755 earthquake and is still in use by the police. Set in a shady peaceful courtyard with enormous rubber plants, it holds a commanding view of the coastline. From the wall we were able to look down on a site being excavated of a Christian settlement dating to the first half of the 13th C, just after the time of the Reconquest. Although there is known to have been Islamic occupation here, the only record is in writings that have been researched. Indeed the main square is named after Ibn Darraj al-Qastalli, (958-1030) a Berber poet of great renown who was born here.
The main Church, of A Nossa Senhora do Assumção dates from the 15th C. Near the village of Sta. Rita we were shown the megalithic tomb of Santa Rita by Catarina Oliveira who has been in charge of excavation here since 2007. The tomb is part of a vast ritual and symbolic prehistoric landscape, well preserved with a diversity of grave goods now kept in the Information Centre. A large passage leads to the chamber which is of red sandstone, but with a white limestone lintel on the door to create a visual impact. At least 8 individuals were buried here in foetal position shown by carbon dating to be about 4500 years ago. Subsequently there were later burials, as an ossuary was found at the back of the grave.
In the Investigation Centre in Sta. Rita we were welcomed by Patricia Leal who showed us stone tools and arrowheads from the tomb, and Islamic ceramics found in the Cacela area, some local, and some from other areas. One beautiful jar depicted the hand of Fatima and there were also Roman items such as a lanterna.
The centre organises day walks (Passos Contados) with many different subjects. Their web site is www.ciip-cacela.blogspot.com.
Thursday 03 May 2012 - Guided visit in Moncarapacho.
We first visited the museum under guidance of Sarah Guiomar, the curator of the museum. The museum was officially opened in 1981 to house a collection of artefacts belonging to Padre Isodore Domingos da Silva. This is very well laid out with items from a prehistoric cave near the town to Roman and Visigothic tombs found at Alfanxia just south of Moncarapacho. There is an amazing display of coins from the most ancient up to the present day, and a clock (sadly with parts missing) that was commissioned for the church, with mechanism by John Harrison of Longitude fame. It is one of only four
Upstairs the 17th to 18th century display is largely of religious vestments and statues of the saints, some of which display Indian influence. The centrepiece though is a case with C17th figures which originated in Naples, created by Guiseppe Francino. It portrays groups of figures with the Holy family in the centre, surrounded by other groups of working people going about their daily lives. They were severely damaged, but have been beautifully restored.
Adjacent to the museum is the charming Chapel of Santo Cristo which has been, and still is, a place of pilgrimage since the C17th legend of the miracle of Noitel, a cripple who was magically restored to health. Two full size statues depict S.Francis and S.Claire and the walls are clad with C15th tiles clearly of Arabic origin.
The main church in the town is the church of Nossa Senhora de Graça with a gilded altarpiece and chapels around the nave, the most interesting being perhaps the chapel of Purgatory.
We then went to see the remains of the Roman road which originally ran from S.Bras de Alportel to Tavira, parts of which have been restored. The Moncarapcho museum has an informative web site in English and Portuguese. The museum is open daily and well worth a visit.
Saturday 03 March 2012 - AAA visit to Milreu guided by Rui Parreira
A group of AAA members and friends enjoyed a visit to the Roman Villa at Milreu. The visit was guided by Rui Parreira who began the tour by describing the position of Milreu within the Roman landscape, being situated near the Roman road that ran from Ossonoba (Faro) and Beja. Rui explained that the original buildings date from the 2/3rd C. AD but that later in the 3rd C. a major expansion took place which included the construction of baths, indoor and outdoor dining rooms, guest accommodation as well as a public access area. This expansion reflected the increased influence that the owning family had over the region. It seems that the owners were able to finance these major works through their garum production industry on the coast and also through agriculture in the vicinity. The new facilities at the villa were used to entertain and impress visitors. On display in the visitor’s centre are 3 replicas of busts found during excavations as well as other items related to the construction of the villa. The 4th C temple, of which only part remains on the site, is displayed in model form, together with a plan of the villa showing phases of construction. The original finds form the site, are now in the National Museum in Lisbon and in the Municipal Museum in Faro.
Rui then took us on a tour of the site where he described the many rooms that made up the villa. A good number of the mosaics have been removed or had been damaged during antiquity after the villa went out of use. But those still visible give an indication as to how luxurious the original building must have been. One in particular is on the inside of what would have been a water tank and represents fish swimming. It is believed that the design is North African. Another long mosaic in a ‘corridor’ that connected guest rooms is also of nautical design and shows fish, squid and shell fish.
Water features were also part of the impressive interior design, with the remains of fountains and water spouts being still visible.
The industrial role of the villa is reflected in the remains that once contained olive oil and wine presses. At the edge of the site is a medieval Islamic house beneath which has been found more evidence of the industrial processes. Rui’s tour was not only instructive but highly entertaining and we thank him very much for his time.
More information about Milreu on: imprompto.blogspot.com/projecto Milreu (text can be translated)
15 Nov 2011- AAA visit to the Archaeological Department of the University of the Algarve, Faro.
A group of AAA members went to the archaeological department at the University of the Algarve where we were met by Prof. João Pedro Bernardes, Maria João Valente and Rita who took us to their library and archive, and conservation laboratories. The small library contains a reference collection of archaeological reports from different institutions in Europe and copies of the students’ academic work. There were also examples of restored ceramics used as reference material by the students. In one of the conservation laboratories we were able to see the painted wall fresco of a young man found at Boca do Rio (see picture at Oct 2011 lecture) and also, under a microscope, the remains of fish products that had been found in an amphora during this year’s excavations. It was also explained how the ceramics are restored using Plaster of Paris which is then polished and painted to match the original pieces. In the second lab we saw two students who were working on their studies and where finds are processed and stored. We have made valuable contacts at the University and we hope to continue this liaison in the future. Our visit was followed by lunch on the Campus and we thank João Pedro, Maria João and Rita for making us welcome and giving such an interesting tour.
18 June 2011 - AAA visit to Alcoutim guided by Alexandra Gradim
We started at the castle and municipal museum where Alexandra has her base. She explained how important it is for the people of the area to be involved in the archaeology and history of the huge area she covers. To this end she encourages (and persuades) finders of artefacts to donate them to her museum and in ‘return’ makes sure that is acknowledged when displaying the items. In pride of place was a Roman tomb monument which Alexandra was able to have returned from the National Museum in Lisbon and as she put it: ‘They have loads up there and we have only one!’ A statue of Apollo however is a replica but Alexandra was very philosophical about that as the original statue is of national importance. The items in the museum date from the prehistoric through to the medieval and are all from sites within the locality. Whilst inside we were able to see part of the original walls and evidence of earlier excavations when the dating of the castle was secured as medieval although there had been Iron Age and Roman occupation previously on the castle site. One of the most interesting displays in the castle grounds was that of a large collection of game boards and stone game pieces from the Islamic period… all found within the castle walls. This is the largest such collection in Portugal and at least one is recognized as still being played today. We then moved on to Castelo Velho and although the way into the castle was overgrown, ‘pathfinder Florian’ and men in long trousers got us there!! … and we were rewarded with a lovely view over the river to Spain. The castle is Islamic in origin and was part of the defences along the river. It has a unique Islamic mosque.
Back in time to the prehistoric menhirs at Lavajo for our next stop. These have been replaced to their original upright position and are protected by a fence but have public access. This has been part of Alexandra’s remit to conserve and display monuments within the landscape. Lavajo 1 has particularly good carved designs and although not wholly visible on the stone there is an excellent reproduction on a display panel close by. Lunch followed at Cantarinha do Guadiana (home cured presunto and porco preto) and then we visited the site at Laranjeiros. Advertised as a Roman site it also contains the remains of Islamic and Medieval buildings. Originally excavated by E. de Veiga it is believed to extend beyond the fenced area and due to its proximity to the river it is likely to have had connections with trade - possibly minerals as well as farmed commodities. An excellent display panel by the car park gives an idea of the chronology of the site as well as the different coloured gravels used on the floor space in each of the buildings. A viewing platform also overlooks the site. Alexandra then took the party to her excavation site at Castelinho dos Mouros where this year she is completing her excavations together with students from abroad, and, she hopes, some AAA volunteers. Finally we went to the Tholos da Malhanito – a Calcolithic monument with later useage during the Bronze and Iron Ages. When discovered the monument was almost covered with earth but excavations revealed the tomb with a central chamber, narrow entry sealed at the chamber end. The stones used were greywacke. The human remains found were very limited due to the robbing of the tomb in antiquity. We all had a great day and I believe everyone who came was impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm Alexandra has for her subject. She is a well known and well respected member of the archaeological community here in the Algarve and beyond.
Our guides for the Almodôvar visit were Samuel Melro, Pedro Barros and Susana Estrela. The first stop on the day was near the Iron Age necropolis at Abódaba where Samuel and Pedro talked about the historic landscape and how the area has changed over the millennia mainly due to land clearance and farming. The necropolis nearby will undergo excavations this summer. We then moved on to Antas de Baixo (Megalithic monument) and Mouriços (Iron Age necropolis). Both these monuments have been excavated and we heard how they were in some way linked within the landscape around the Mira river and the complex of prehistoric settlements and funerary monuments at Castro da Cola, where the AAA has visited recently.
The Mesas de Castelinho site was particularly impressive. The first Mesa being a fortress which sadly was severely damaged in recent years by treasure hunters using a mechanical digger and so a lot of archaeology in the land surrounding the building has been destroyed and lost. The surrounds of Mesa 2 had suffered in much the same way but fortunately in the past few years the archaeological team have been able to uncover the remains of an Iron Age settlement some of which are still visible and these are overlaid by Roman houses. There is also visible evidence of a street where one of the most important finds form the site was found. This is a stone stelae with the incised outline of a human figure surrounded by as yet undesciphered script. This form of writing is unique to SW Iberia and is presently undergoing extensive research. There is an example to be found in the museum in Loulè. Mesa 2 is a very large site and there is still much to excavate. Both Mesa 1 and 2 are now National Monuments.
Later in the day we went to the Southwestern Museum of Writing in Almodõvar and its purpose is to promote the understanding of the area and the way in which the ancient people communicated.
27 Jan 2011 – AAA visit to the Islamic Exhibition at the Islamic and Mediterranean Centre in Silves.
A group of members and guests went to the Islamic and Mediterranean Centre in Silves to see an exhibition based around the Islamic finds recovered from excavations in the Algarve (Silves in particular). The building in which the Centre is housed has in the past served as a slaughterhouse and a school but has in recent years been sympathetically restored and decorated in the Moorish style. On display were examples of the everyday items used and discarded by those who occupied the region during the Islamic period, from ceramics to metal items, glassware and funerary monuments. Pride of place was given to the Tavira ‘vase’ – a clay vessel of intriguing design – in that water was poured into the vessel through the model of a small tower shaped opening, the water then went round the hollow rim and out into the vase itself via small spouts modelled in the shapes of animals. The exhibition also included information panels about the Moorish occupation. The Centre is also used by local schools as a study facility and there were examples of the children’s’ work on display. It was a very interesting exhibition.
30 Sep 2010 - Roman remains with Mosaic floor in Boca do Rio
At Boco do Rio we were met by Prof João Bernardes who teaches at the University of the Algarve in Faro. Although excavations of the Roman site had finished for the season in July he was waiting for a team to come to lift the mosaic (c 250AD) from the site. This work has now been completed. Prof Bernardes explained that the site was dedicated to the fishing industry between the 1st and 5th centuries and in Roman times the area was covered by a large lagoon with the coastline being far out beyond the modern beach. The site is in very great danger of erosion as can be seen by the Roman remains of the fish processing structures on the cliffs that are almost hanging over the beach. The present work is to study the remaining Roman features as well as to record the work carried out by E. da Viega who originally excavated the site but curiously ignored the 18th c. constructions initiated by the M. Pombal, which cut into and overlay the Roman layers. Da Viega excavated and recorded the baths, exposed small areas of red painted wall plaster and 4 rooms have been identified, their entrances exposed, but the internal areas are still unexcavated.
The visit then progressed to Martinhal where kilns for the production of amphorae are also in danger of collapsing onto the beach. These amphorae were used to transport the fish garum. A good number of years ago the AAA was involved in excavations at Martinhal when 4 kilns were identified and 4 years ago others were found: 3 for the production of amphorae and 1 for tile production. Cliff erosion last winter revealed 9 more amphorae kilns and another tile kiln. One of these kilns was found to be of particular interest in that the roof had collapsed and complete amphorae of the 3/4th c. were found inside. These amphorae are about 50 cm tall and similar ones have been found in Palestine and may even have come from the Martinhal site! João explained that the kilns had been fired using heather from the local area as well as olive wood. The clay used was also local and RC dating gives a 4th c. dating limit. It is hoped that more excavations can be carried out on it. All these can be seen today but are in great danger of collapse should we have severe weather.
The site is easily accessible for those who might want to visit…. Travel towards Sagres after Vila do Bispo and look out of a sign to the Martinhal resort on the left. Turn here and go along the road towards the resort, turn right through the houses and head for the beach where there’s a café and a big carpark. Facing the sea go left and walk through the sand dunes after which the cliffs rise over the beach. Go along the beach looking up to the cliffs where the kilns can be seen. It’s probably only safely accessible at low tide. Many thanks to João Bernardes for giving us his time to show us these 2 most exceptional and important sites both of which are in great danger of serious damage and subsequent loss.
25 Sep 2010 – Visit to Castro da Cola (near Ourique).
The visitg to Castro da Cola, in the Alentejo was guided by Pedro Barros and Samuel Meiro. Unfortunately only a small number of people were able to come along but we were guided expertly through the prehistoric landscape which contains excellent examples of Bronze Age and Iron Age tombs and necropoli. We began at Porto das Lajes which is now a small, shallow Iron Age site, originally being a much larger habitation site, but which is now cut through by the modern road. Here there is evidence of the rock built bases of house walls that would have had taipa walls and straw roofs. Next we saw the small dolmen of Fernão Vaz 1 dating from the Calcolithic period and would have contained multi-burials and had originally been covered with quartz and so would have been an impressive sight in the landscape. The tomb at Casario is 1.000 years later than Fernão Vaz 1 and would have contained the remains of one individual and differed in that it was constructed of stones and having earth covering. Pedro and Sam explained that the prehistoric landscape was more wooded than today, only as recently as the late 19th century and 1930’s did the area become more agricultural. There is also an on-going study of the whole area to compare the region with other rural settlements of the time. The large Fernão Vaz 2 necropolis is believed to contain around 50 burials but thus has yet to be excavated. The Iron Age Fernão Vaz settlement was constructed on a small hill in a bend of the R.Mira and contains the remains of a later medieval site. It is believed that the Iron Age settlement may have been the central administrative site for a large area although it has also been suggested that it could have had some religious purpose. At Alcaria (the Moorish word for village) there is a large Bronze Age circular mound of 6m in diameter around which smaller niches were constructed. In the afternoon we visited large and impressive castle in the town which dominates the landscape and the small group of houses and the church below.
25 June 2010 - Visit to the Roman site of Cerro da Vila (Vilamoura)
20 AAA members and guests joined archaeologist Filipe Henrique to tour the Roman site behind Vilamoura Marina. Two thousand years ago the ‘marina’ was a vast harbour used by the Romans to export garum (fish sauce/paste), olive oil and wine and also textiles dyed purple with the extract from the murex seashell.
Cerro da Vila is an extensive well-signed site taking in, amongst other things, the remains of the rustic villa, watchtowers, warehouse and baths on the higher ground and the recently excavated Roman port below. In 2008 perfectly preserved port timbers were uncovered in the mud along with a large brick-made drain. The excavation was led by Felix Teichner helped by students and some AAA members. In fact, Filipe said that at one time there were 40 people digging, assisted by huge mechanical excavation machines – a major work. In the future the port section will be open to the public. We ended our tour with a visit to the excellent Museum & Visitor’s Centre. This houses a fine collection of Bronze Age, Roman and Moorish artefacts.
18 March 2010 - Visit to the Faro Jewish Cemetery
16 members visited the Jewish Heritage Museum and cemetery in Faro - guided by Sr. António, the curator. At the entrance he pointed out the 18 cypress trees that were planted in 1993 in honour of the late Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes who was the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux. He had been instrumental in saving the lives of thousands of Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany. Over the entrance a stone shows the Jewish calendar date of 5638 (1887) – the construction of the cemetery. On entering the cemetery we were struck by the sensation of peace, so near the busy hospital of faro. There are 71 inscribed marble graves and 35 small pebble graves in the ‘calçada’ courtyard which is shaded by two huge tees. The area had fallen into disrepair until 1992 when Isaac ‘Ike’ Bitton raised funds to preserve the only remaining vestige of post Inquisition Jewish presence in Portugal. The Bitton Synagogue Museum was built to commemorate him and houses a wedding with models of a bride and groom with the Rabbi. There is also a facsimile of Gacon’s 1487 Pentateuch in Hebrew. In the Tahara Museum there are many documents and artefacts on display and there is an excellent video of the history of Jews in Portugal. It was a very interesting visit.
16 Jan 2010 – Visit to the castle at Paderne.
Our guide was Rui Parreira who began the visit by explaining the history behind this important Muslim castle (Hisn) which is situated on a rocky promontory overlooking the valley of the Quarteira River. It was built in the 12th century as part of a line of castles constructed to protect the region we know as the Algarve. The castle occupies a good strategic point and dominates the valley and also one of the main entrances to the region. The castle’s elevation also allowed for good communication between other defensive positions such as Xelb (Silves). Rui also explained that in the 14th century the castle was conquered by the Portuguese and it remained the main habitation site for 2/3 centuries until the population moved to the village of Paderne in the 16th century although the hermitage within the castle remained in use until the 19th century. The castle is built of Military Tiapa – concrete made of earth and limestone formed into blocks and there was also evidence of limestone wash that was used on the walls to give the appearance from a distance that the castle had been built of stone. This method of construction was featured on information panels inside the castle. These boards also showed how the same technique was used during recent renovation work. One typical feature of 12/13th century castle construction in Iberia and N. Africa is the military tower outside the walls which was originally linked by a small bridge/arch to the castle itself. At first it was believed that the castle had been used for defensive purposes only, with just a military, but excavations within the castle have proved otherwise. Although only one third of the interior has been excavated there is ample evidence of houses with connecting streets and drains that exited through the walls. It is believed there are more buildings within the walls. We were shown one example, where, during the Portuguese occupation, a house was constructed over an earlier Islamic home and close by there was evidence of a rock cut grave. The extensive cemetery adjacent to the hermitage was in use for many years in the Christian period and Rui explained that when the population moved to Paderne the some of the burials were moved to the new cemetery in the town. Within the castle a large cisterna was built for water, but as yet no food storage pits have been found and it is suggested that the occupants were probably supported by the people in the surrounding area.
30 May 2009 Visit to São Brás Alportel for a guided visit of the town and a short walk along the calçadinho which runs from the south of the town towards Milreu and Estoi. The tour was guided by Sr. Emmanuel who is director of the Museu do Trajo in the town. He was accompanied by a young man who is a guide for the ‘cork route’ scheme which has just been set up to highlight and inform visitors of the importance of the production of cork in the region. As we walked through the town Sr Emmanuel explained some of its history and pointed out certain places of particular interest. It was somewhat surprising to hear how important São Brás had been in the administrative history of the Algarve. This was mainly due to its sound economical past as a result the cork industry and in turn through its religious and political importance. He explained how, in the early 20th century, the ‘Farmacias’ in particular had been places where people met and discussed politics depending on which stand they took …monarchist or republicans. During our walk down the calçadinho, Sr Emmanuel explained the importance of the underground water supply to the town. In early days this supply was quite abundant but in recent years the springs had dried up due to over extraction and hot summers. However with the building of a new dam and mains water from there to the town, together with increased rainfall some of these springs have become active once more. The short walk along the old road was quite atmospheric especially as this had been the old route from Faro up to São Brás from at least the Roman period right through till the construction of a new road in the 19th century. Time did not allow us to continue along the whole road beyond the flyover but it is well worth the effort as it takes one into the countryside over huge weathered stones that once carried travellers on their way to and from the town, Also there is a new interpretation centre nearby giving information about the calçadinho. The tourist office in the town is also a good source of information.
18 Apr 2009 Visit to Palácio da Galeria in Tavira to the exhibition "Patrimonio do Mar"
On 18th April, 24 members met in Tavira to visit the exhibition Patrimónios do Mar in the Palácio da Galeria. This is an exhibition showing the relationship of the city with the sea from Phoenician and Turdetan times to the 20th century. In the entrance is a 4 meter map of the Gilão river valley as it was in the early 1800’s. Through the exhibition are maps, archaeological and artistic finds, scale models and a visual display of the immense changes in the coastline through the ages. The importance of trading with North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia is evident, as were the forts built to protect the city, though these had to be rebuilt as the coastline changed. The tuna fishing is shown as a brutal affair up to the 1930’s and the poorest women who had to climb the salt mountains to get the salt to preserve the fish must have had the worst job of all. Lastly there is a display of ships in distress painted by local artists. Our guide, Rita Manteigas, brought the exhibition to life with her immense knowledge of the history of Tavira. The exhibition was due to end in June, but has been extended until the autumn, and it is recommended to all members of the AAA.
15 Nov 2008 a group of members visited the new museum in Portimão. The visit was organized by Gina Hall and we were guided by Rui Parreira assisted by Rosanna Costa who works at the museum. The museum, which opened in the summer is situated in the old sardine factory near to the Naval Club, took 3 years to complete. The old factory has been sympathetically restored and shows that the area in and around Portimão has a fascinating past. We began the tour with Rui who described the excavation work and some of the finds from Alcalar and which also included an impressive model of the monument. We then moved through the Roman displays to a section devoted to underwater archaeology with finds from the River Arade, which included amphora and ships’ anchor and cannon. This led on to an exhibition emphasizing Portimão’s fame as a ship building centre with original tools on display. Here we also saw an original film made in 1959 by the father of one of our members – Michèle Carron who has donated it to the museum. It was very interesting viewing especially as it was taken in the vicinity of the old factory and we could see how the area has changed over the years. Here too there was an excellent model showing the processes in the construction of a typical fishing vessel. The next part of the tour was guided by Rosanna Costa who described the life and work of Manuel Teixeira Gomes who became Portugal’s first President in 1923. We then moved through to a part of the building that still retains features of the sardine factory. This area has been totally restored but gives an excellent idea about the work that was carried out. Our guide explained how the work had been carried out and we soon understood how labour intensive the work was and how important this industry was to the local population. It seems that everything required by the industry, from the provision of clothing for the workers to the cans, printing of labels and boxes was carried out in the factory. There was even a crèche provided for the children. We concluded our visit by seeing a film made in 1948 which told the story of the sardine from its capture in the seas off the coast through its processing to its final destination the contents of a picnic! A visit to this highly class museum is thoroughly recommended.
The visit was concluded by lunch at the Dos Cais Restaurant in the Clube Naval de Portimão where we were served with generous portions of soup, salmon/pork and desserts.
August 2008 - Visit of Cerro da Vila with Felix Teichner
Artefact just found during
24 Nov 2007 - Visit to Albufeira: The group had a guided tour though the charming small museum in the old village bordering the former castle parade ground. Above the doorway to the 18th century museum building is incorporated a stone Azevedo coat of arms believed to have once adorned the castle gateway. Inside we were led along the exhibits displayed in chronological order. Significant were the Retorta Vase, several items of later periods discovered by Estácio da Viega at Retorta on the old road linking Albufeira to Quateira, and finds from near Paderne and the Visigoth necropolis at Poço dos Mouros. The Al-Buayre (castle by the sea) Islamic occupiers built the first fortifications in Albufeira and in the foundations of the museum is an Islamic grain silo, large enough to supply a household of eight and suggesting evidence of a time of trade with North Africa. Through the castle’s north gateway and ramparts we were led to the beach through the town’s famous tunnel built by the renowned engineer Duarte Pacheco in the early 20th century. From there it was on to the Neo Classical Parish Church of Nossa Senora Conceição and the Parish museum housed in São Sebastião church, with a beautiful reredos, tile fragments, and a model of the original castle fortifications.
06 Oct 2007 - Visit to the olive farm of Detlev von Rosen near Moncarapacho: On this most interesting and enjoyable visit made to the olive farm we were welcomed by the owner and self-appointed guide. On this farm is a walkway with pillars dating from Roman times and a section of the Roman road that led to Balsa. In addition to a host of interesting facts, we learned that olive trees can live to a great age (some thought to be 200 years old) although harvesting usually starts at 7 years. The modern production plant was visited where oil is extracted to produce ‘extra virgin’, ‘virgin’ and plain olive oil depending on its acidity.
04–11 June 2007 – AAA visit to Roman Provence with Chris Pollard.
May 2007 - Laccobriga (Roman Lagos) with Rui Parreira: The exhibition in the Lagos Cultural Centre was about Laccobriga and had pulled together finds and information that had been collected over the years. Rui guided us through the exhibition and explained the artifacts on display. After the visit we went to Monte Molião where he showed us the archaeological excavations that were taking place. New discoveries included evidence of defensive ditches and also a small section of fish salting tanks down near the modern road.
27 Apr 2007 – AAA day out to Castro Verde: Guided visit to the Basilica Real, the Tesouro da Basilica, the Moinho da Largo da Feira, the Museu da Lucerna and Monte das Oliveiras.
April 2007 - AAA visit to Miróbriga with Felix Teichner : Miróbriga is the supposed name for the site that Pliny refers to as Merobrica being a Roman settlement on the coast between the Tagus and the Algarve but there is no certainty that this is it. The site of Miróbriga is near the prosperous town of Santiago do Cacem, 20 km from the modern port of Sines. Earlier it was an Iron Age fortified settlement (oppidum) in an area not only of fertile agricultural land, but of extensive mineral deposits (copper and iron). The Roman town – dating from the 2nd. century BC – was no doubt an important trading centre, probably a municipium with a local senate and was still occupied in the 5th century. Within the walls the site is hilly but the Forum sits on the highest point, levelled out and dominating the countryside; and itself splendidly overlooked by the podium and columns of a central Temple dedicated to the Emperor. Most of the urban area was buried but a commercial zone and a number of insulae have now been cleared. An unusually interesting double public bath complex is especially well preserved. An exceptional feature is the hippodrome, large enough to have held a possible 5.000 spectators - the only one to have been found in Portugal – and measuring 360 x 77 m. (larger than that in Tarragona, but comparable to those at Mérida and Toledo). There is much still to do and the comparative remoteness of Miróbriga continues to result in low funding and intermittent excavation. A large visitors’ centre has been built and it is expected that this will contain a site museum.
27 Jan 2007 – AAA day visit to the Western Algarve with Dr Rui Parreira as our guide: Near Raposeira we visited the medieval chapel which is dedicated to the Black Virgin of Guadalupe, whose cult is linked not only to navigators and mariners, but also to the ransoming of captives. Henry the Navigator is known to have visited the chapel (having a rural palace in the area). At Boca do Rio (Budens) we visited the Roman ruins that are under considerable threat not only from sea erosion but also through unscrupulous treasure hunters. However we were able to see some of the remains of what had been a large fishing settlement in Roman times having baths and fish salting tanks dating back to the 1st – 5th centuries AD. After lunch we carried on to Praia da Luz to see remains of the Roman baths once part of a small fishing settlement (3rd – 5th century AD). These were originally located and excavated by Estaçio da Viega during the 19th century. Later, the area was used to grow vegetables, but when building work was planned rescue excavations were carried out. This work supported by the AAA revealed fish salting tanks and an aqueduct as well as the baths. Part of the bath complex is now open and we could see the remains of some of the original mosaics, most of which are now sadly destroyed. Finally we visited Monte Molião, a prominent hill facing the city of Lagos. This is the site of an ancient Roman settlement known in classical times as Laccobriga and dating back to the 4th century BC. Rui described the interesting history of the settlement and explained that in the 1st century AD the settlement was moved and is now covered by the town of Lagos