To gather the utmost evidence from a site in a short time with only a limited budget there is a high demand for voluntary helpers. In this respect the AAA has always been a reliable source of manpower to assist on sites in a variety of ways. Members of the AAA have been attending the digs at Alcoutim, Loulé, Alcalar, and Vilamoura and many others. Voluntary workers on site is not always the norm and so our help is always gratefully received and acknowledged. So through this and not only just by awarding grants, the AAA fulfills its main objective laid down in the statutes, namely the promotion and support of Portuguese archaeology.
Although the fieldwork is sometimes hard, we want to encourage any members who feel they are capable, to take part whenever help is needed. Fundamental fieldwork and immediate contact with learned archaeologists creates a much closer link with things we are amazed by on a sightseeing tour or in a museum.
One of the AAA members digging at the Alcalar site in 2007.
Here the excavation of a small Roman hillfortress overlooking the Rio Guardiana. is shown. The excavation was started in the summer of 2008 by an Austrian team under supervision of Dra. Alexandra Gradim and the help of AAA volunteers.
Alcoutim: During the recent visit to Alcoutim members of the AAA kindly donated 135€ to help Alexandra Gradim with her excavation work at Cerro do Castelhino dos Mouros where she has been excavating for the last 4 years. This money together with an extra donation from the AAA has gone towards the purchase of a digital camera.This year, during July and August Alexandra has continued her work with an international team (Portuguese, Austrian and German) together with some volunteers including members of the AAA. She reports that research made in this unique Republican monument, the oldest known in Portugal, is giving a better knowledge of the beginning of the Roman presence in Portugal. This year work was on the area of 238 square metres of the two-storey building, surrounded by a wall and with a central tower. This grand fortress was occupied by five generations through about 100 years from around the end of the 2nd Century or the beginning of the 1st Century BC. As it has been found that the building is more extensive than previously believed, excavations are planned for next year.
There is an article about the excavations in the German magazine ‘Entdecken Sie Algarve’.
Boca do Rio and Martinhal
Remnant of amphora kiln Excavating the office of the amphora making operations
Over the summer members have visited the excavations at Martinhal and during one of these visits we were pleased to hand a cheque to João Bernardes as a contribution from the AAA towards the costs of the excavations.
Roman villa at Abicada
(report of a visit by one of our members)
On a recent visit to the site I talked to archaeologist Eduardo Porfirio, manager of the aptly named company Palimpsesto Lda., an organization concerned with the study and preservation of the country’s cultural heritage. He gave me some of his precious time explaining the work in progress. Sr. Porfirio told me that, before any work begins, it must be decided how a mosaic is best divided into workable sections of not more than 1 ½ m2 without destroying any part of the design. After that the location in the floor plan and the orientation of each section is recorded and numbered and the tesserae which are carefully taken out along their margins are collected and labeled. Along the cleaned margins of a thus defined division, ca. 10 centimeters of tesserae are painted with a pva-based glue and a strip of gauze is applied which not only covers the tesserae, but -very importantly- also hugs around the edges to consolidate them. Then glue is applied to the entire surface area of the division and a tough cloth is pressed onto the surface. Once the glue has dried, the cloth holds the tesserae in place and also gives the division cohesion so that it can now be handled more easily.
On a subsequent visit to the Roman Villa I had a chance to watch the technicians during the final stage of the recovery work as they were separating the mosaics from the ground on which they had been laid in the early centuries A.D.
In order to provide access to the ground beneath the mosaic, a technician had already chiseled around a previously prepared section a narrow trench down into the hard pan to just below the medium in which the tesserae were embedded. Now he could start detaching the division. Beginning at one end, he inserted a crowbar underneath it and with careful hammer blows started to break apart the hard soil on which the mosaic was resting. As he continued, two of his colleagues, one on each side, had to grab the cloth and lift the freed part, so that he could pry loose the remainder of the section.With much care and patience the entire division was finally completely detached, turned over, and carried to a correspondingly labeled wooden platform, where it was placed -tesserae facing down- and covered with a sheet of plastic, ready for transport. Last, the ground from which the mosaic had been lifted was scanned for any tesserae which had not adhered to the cloth. The few that were found were collected and labeled to be replaced during restoration work.
Excavation at Montinho da
Laranjeira near Alcoutim. This year is the 3rd season at Felix
Teichner’s excavation where work was carried out by an international
team of archaeologists from Austria, Italy and Portugal with voluntary
help from members of the AAA.
At last year’s archaeological conference in Silves the site was claimed to be a Roman hill fortress of the late Republican period with several parallels in the Mediterranean area. But as archaeology is always subject to new evidence in this case the hypothesis had to be revised during the process of excavation. The major part of the strong outer walls has now been indentified and unearthed, revealing a central building of 16square metres on top of the hill adjacent to the Guardiana riverbank. But there were also some attached structures and an outside staircase. This appears not to be constructed using the Roman building technique but is pointing to the Celticiberian method. Now the archaeologists are becoming more and more convinced that this big, once two storey high building, was in fact the estate of an indigenous nobleman who adopted the Roman lifestyle, this being indicated by the fragments of Roman amphorae and crockery, including the highly valued black coloured Campanian tableware.
The project is planned to be completed with excavations next year and hopefully the AAA will be able to give continued support to this important project.
The work at the Roman hill fortress near Alcoutim, begun last year, was continued with good support, in the way of voluntary help, by members of the AAA. The fortress is dated to the time of the Roman colonisation of the Iberian Peninsular during the 1st/2nd century BC, when attacks by local tribes were frequent. The building is on top of a small but steep hill next to the Guadiana River. The fortress turned out to be bigger than expected after the outer walls, 1.6m thick, had been located and unearthed. Other fortresses are already known but this – once probably two storeys high, with some walls still standing to a height of up to 2m., seems to be the best preserved. – according to the Austrian archaeologists on site. Artefacts found on the site support the belief that the building was still in use in the late Medieval period although part of it was probably destroyed much earlier as sherds of amphorae were recovered from under the rubble in one of the rooms.
Report by one of the AAA volunteers: 'This summer, archaeologist, Alexandra Gradin, invited AAA members to help excavate at the 1st century Roman dig at Alcoutim. This was our second summer there and it was very rewarding as many more artefacts were found, including amphorae and household items. This proved that families actually lived on the site. This small, precipitous site over looking the river, not only afforded the Romans and excellent lookout post, but the river enabled them to transport copper and other metals which would have been their main source of income. We worked from 6.00am till noon, with a break at 9.00am By 11.00am it was almost too hot to work, but the continued effort was well-rewarded by the cheerful company, and the adventure of being on such a spectacular Roman site! In the afternoon, after a well-earned siesta, we relaxed on the promenade overlooking the river.... For those who are interested in joining the dig next year, please email email@example.com