Reports of lectures
Tuesday 02 April 2013 - Pedro de Avillez - Malta and the Portuguese
Pedro de Avillez talked about the period when the Grand Masters (Heads of the Military Order of the Knights Hospitallers) were Portuguese and they constructed many of the fortresses and palaces that can still be seen today in Malta. It was the Grand Master Dom António Manoel de Vilhena (1722-36) who built Fort Manoel and the beautiful Theatre in Valetta as well as the main tower, gate and Grand Masters palace in Mdina, together with Verdalia – today the summer residence of the President of Malta. It was the Grand Master Pinto da Fonseca (1741-73) who established the Order of Sovereign which was then accepted by the Vatican and other states. His government of Malta was both modern and magnificent in tune with the illuminist and absolutist ideas of the time.
Portugal’s association with the Order dates from the 12th century and with Malta from the period of the Discoveries, Much later in 1798 a squadron of Portuguese naval vessels under the command of the Marquis de Niza, assisting Lord Nelson, attacked the Napoleonic garrison on Malta and provided arms and men to what was to become the first national uprising on the island. This event was recently commemorated by the President of Malta by the unveiling of a plaque in the harbour at Valetta.
Pedro de Avillez was educated in Lisbon and went to university in Paris to read political science and economics. He has lived in France, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Britain, USA and Monaco and now lives between London and Monte-Estoril. His professional career has included a diplomatic assignment with OECD, international banking and corporate industrial ventures. On retirement in 2003 he set up a publishing company –Tribuna da História- producing books on history, philosophy, biographies and military history.
Pedro loves history and has produced his own books on Portuguese military history mainly of the 18th and 19th centuries and he previously gave this talk to the Anglo-Portuguese Society in London.
Tuesday 05 March 2013 - Catarina Viegas – The Roman Occupation of the Algarve.
She started her presentation by recalling an early pioneer of archeology of the region, Estacio da Veiga. He was born in Tavira in 1828. Some of the early finds from his excavations are still being researched and part of her teaching in the present day, is to encourage and provide space for her students to explore these pottery finds, whilst developing the record of the Romans in the Algarve. She discussed three main areas of the Algarve region, Castro Marin, Torre de Aires (near Luz de Tavira) and Faro. The Roman names were Baesuris, Balsa
and Ossonoba, respectively. Estacio da Veiga explored the Roman ruins of Milreu, near Faro, thinking they belonged to the old Ossonoba. It was later, that Ossonoba was recognised as being Faro and Milreu as not being so extensive but still the ruins of a luxurious rural villa which was transformed into a farm in the 3rd century. In 1876, because of major flooding in the area, Estacio da Veiga was commissioned by the Government to carry out investigations in the Algarve and the Lower Guadiana. Much of what was found throws light on the everyday habits of the Romans, what they ate, how they traded, who they worshiped and how they entertained themselves. Some of the finds can be seen in Faro’s Museo Arqueologico which is located within the beautiful 16th-century convent (Convento da Nossa Senhora da Assuncao). Inside is the impressive Roman mosaic depicting Neptune and the four winds, which dates back to the 3rd century. There are also artifacts that were found in Milreu (near Estoi). Milreu still has many mosaics in situ, depicting dolphins and large fish and other ocean life. Ruskin said “Great nations write their autobiographies” in their deeds, their words and in their art. The greatest he considered was their art. And Kenneth Clark in his tome Civilisation, pointed out that Greco-Roman sculptures such as Apollo, “embody a higher state of civilisation”. Such art he suggested indicates that people were “conscious beyond the everyday struggle for existence”. It is, however, the everyday existence that Catarina explored, which throws light on how people lived and traded.
Catarina spoke in detail about the numerous pottery amphora shards that have been discovered. The amphora is the container most often used to transport commodities, such as wine, olive oil. In the case of the Algarve, the
amphora was mostly used to contain fish sauce (known as garum). For the archeologist an amphora provides a lot of data. Ceramic shards of amphorae are virtually indestructible. Chemical analysis can often date and indicate their place of manufacture. The seals and engravings or painted marks also provide data. For example the amphorae bearing the mark Sestius were produced in Cosa in Eturia (mostly modern Tuscany) and exported to southern Gaul (mostly modern Languedoc and lower Provence in France) at the time of Cicero.
From a broken amphora an archaeologist can date to a few decades but often but more precisely, depending on where the shard was found, or the wreck of the ship that contained them. Catarina shared a slide showing a map of shipwrecks, mostly along the Spanish coast, from which a range of pottery has been retrieved. The Roman amphorae often have names and numbers that allow archaeologists to date and classified them by type. The amphora with a flat bottom was used for wine, but in the Algarve the amphora was mostly used for fish sauce and was not flat bottomed. Its shape allowed them to be easily laid down and stacked in ships and carried across land. What was apparent throughout the talk was that there is still much to uncover of the life of the Romans in the Algarve.
Tuesday 05 Feb 2013 - Chris Pollard – The Spanish Civil War and Portugal
Through a series of images, Chris showed how a similar social structure has evolved in Portugal, under the Salazar dictatorship, which held to many of the values espoused by Franco. He explained that Portugal allowed German troops to have access to Spain, despite the UK sending observers to stop this, again undermining Portugal’s purported neutrality. In 1936, Mário Neves (1912-33) a Portuguese journalist born in Lisbon covered the Spanish Civil War for the Diário de Lisboa. Together with Daniel Berthet and Marcel Dany, he entered Badajoz after the fall of the city in the early morning of 15th August. They were the first foreign correspondents in Badajoz after the battle and they witnessed the mass executions inside the city. Salazar censored this eye-witness account and Neves was not able to write openly about it until 1974. Salazar’s complicity was also illustrated in the many images that Chris showed, that detailed, the friendly relationship between the dictators.
Jonathan Wilson returned to speak to the AAA in January. His topic was ‘The Massacre of Alvor
1189’ when at least 5.600 inhabitants suffered at the hands of ‘Crusaders’ from northern Europe who were on their way to the Holy Land. These ‘soldiers of Christ’ organized their own fleets and ports along their route became stopping points for the replenishment of food and water with Lisbon being the last Christian port before the Mediterranean. Dom Sancho 1’s will of 1188 (perhaps intimating that he might go on the Crusade) makes provision for the country until his son gained his majority. However it seems that he was actually being persuaded by the Pope to remain in Portugal to try to rid the country of the Moors. It also appears that he wanted to maintain the support of his nobility by offering them land and property in return for their military support. This was a time when the Almohades ruled S. Iberia and when other Kings in Iberia were vying for supremacy – the Castillian King in particular. Sancho 1 was probably taking advantage of the call for Crusade and knew that travellers could be persuaded to take part in campaigns against the Muslims on the coast of S. Portugal in return for plunder. In the 12th century the southern coastal region of Portugal was virtually cut off from the rest of the country, the Alentejo being almost inhabited. This region was the subject of raiding parties from the north by the Christians and from the south by the Muslims/Almohades, with each side using a ‘scorched earth’ policy in an attempt to gain supremacy. Sancho wanted to move on south probably towards Xelb/Silves and to do this he needed the help of a navy. He knew of the towns of Mertola, Tavira and Loulé and that they were well defended. He believed that if he could take Silves then he could create a ‘border’ from Silves to Beja and Evora and then perhaps he could expand eastwards to the Guardiana region. Thus it was that in 1189 that a fleet of 50-60 ships with around 10.000 Danes and Freislings on board appeared off the SW coast on their way to Palestine and Sancho, being encouraged by this number, could see that they could help him conquer the coastal towns and so to gain the land in return for plunder. The town of Alvor had become a place of refuge for the local inhabitants at a time of increasing piracy and plunder. Its defensive fortress was also intended to protect the inland town of Silves. The mixed population of 5.600 Muslims and locals were killed in the siege of the fortress and the surrounding land and the attackers were able to plunder gold and silver. This event, together with Sancho’s allies attacks on west coast towns such as Aljezur, had the effect that the area was cleared so that his armies could safely enter the region and progress to their intended target of Silves – the siege of which ended when sappers/miners destroyed the walls.
Tuesday 04 Dec 2012 - Peter Wibaux - The India Road - The beginning of globalization
Peter Wibaux is a lecturer at the University in Lisbon and in 2008 he published his book ‘The India Road’. He had planned to write a history book but on reflection thought the subject should become a novel 90% of which must have a historical base. Peter’s talk concentrated solely on his historical research for the book. He explained how that during the 15th century there were huge advances in the political intentions of the king of Portugal at the time – João11 – known by Isabella of Castile as ‘the perfect prince’. King João 11 was born in 1455 and at this time Portugal was looking to expand its influence. This was not possible on mainland Europe so external expansion was the only alternative. During his reign the Treaties of Alcáçovas (1480) and Tordesilhas (1494) were signed when the territories around the Mare Clausum (Atlantic Ocean) were divided between Portugal and Spain. Prior to João 11’s accession navigators had already reached Ghana and Newfoundland (Terra do Bacalhão) but navigation at this time was fraught with problems. It was not fully understood how the currents of the ocean worked and so any journey travelling south along the west of Africa was possible but the return was very difficult as the winds and currents were against the ships. However mathematical knowledge had arrived in Iberia from India and King João set up the Mathematical Juntas to try to solve the problems in navigation. The astrolabe, called the ‘weighing of the sun’ by the Portuguese, read the sun’s elevation and at night the position of Polaris (the Pole Star) in relation to other celestial objects was used to give latitude. The Portuguese then went on to discover the way back northwards by using the Volta da Minha – sailing west from Ghana, then catching the winds and currents going N&E at the Azores on the westerlies.
This then allowed Bartholomew Dias to begin his series of journeys in 1487 when his caravels tacked past Angola and Namibia fighting the SE trade winds of the Benguela current. On one of his expeditions he rounded the Cape and reached the Great Fish River. Throughout there was a policy of silence to keep the expeditions as secret as possible. Sadly all records of these journey were lost in the 1755 earthquake and subsequent fire.
King João seems to have a problem with further expansion into the Indian Ocean – he sent out an expedition on which there were no Arab speakers and a second journey overland was intended to end Venetian and Genoese domination of the spice trade. However when Vasco da Gama reached Malindi he was able to ask for a pilot to Calicut. He was then able to sail to India using the Mausim current going north and east from E. Africa in the summer months, the current changing direction to south and west away from the subcontinent in the winter.
This was an excellent presentation which allowed the audience to appreciate the immense progress made by the Portuguese in the field of navigation driven by perhaps the most visionary ruler of Portugal – João II.
Tuesday 06 Nov 2012 - Angela Perri - Dog the Hunter: Climate change, Hunting Adaptations and Dog Burials in Prehistory.
In November our speaker was Dr. Angela Perri, her subject; ‘Dog the Hunter: Climate change, Hunting Adaptations and Dog Burials in Prehistory’. (Angela opted for a narrative rather than a formal lecture, this format was most successful). Around 9000BP there was a rapid transformation from arboreal forest and tundra to temperate climate and deciduous forest. The dilemma facing the peoples of the time was probably ‘do we move north and deal with what we know or stay where we are and adapt to the new temperate environment?’ It has been determined that this change in environmental conditions took place over as little as one or two generations.
Imagine yourself in a cave, your environment changing rapidly. How do you catch the new animals arriving – boar, deer etc that roam the deciduous forest and can see and smell you coming? You tame dogs to see, smell and chase for you? This was the beginning of the era of ‘one man and his dog’! Prior to 9000BP there is no evidence of man having associations with dogs. As both hunter and dog adapted to this new world, they became inextricably linked as ‘friends of necessity’.
These societies of hunter gatherers and hunting dogs were found in mid-south USA, S. Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark and in E. Honshu island Japan, where climatic change and its consequences had occurred. A burial site was discovered at Skateholm in Sweden dated 7.000BP where dogs were interred in the same manner as humans, reinforcing the view of the importance of the dog to that community. Dogs which had become necessary for survival were respected and treated with dignity even in death. It is interesting to have found good evidence of sick dogs being cared for and brought back to good health. The dog became an integral part of man’s life and but in the early Neolithic excavations have revealed many examples of dog remains in trash middens along with other debris. These had not been treated with dignity, evidence of slaughtering and dismemberment was present. In many instances dogs were not butchered but buried with full articulation and specific body positioning and placement in defined burial pits. The style of burial was similar to that of the hunter gatherers and the graves were close together. At Hercanopolis a pit was found with dogs and humans buried together. The dogs had had their throats cut, were skinned and laid at the ‘owners’ feet. At Botai Kazak dogs were buried in pits located on the west side of settlements. Native Americans buried their dogs beneath their dwellings. Did this proximity of dog graves signify some afterlife reference; perhaps the dogs were regarded as guides to the underworld/afterlife or perhaps there was a belief in some transfer of power from the dog?
In the new temperate world new food sources were developed, in N. America it was shellfish and white tailed deer. In N. Europe it was boar, red deer and roe deer. In Japan in the Jomon period the dogs were well cared for and decently buried. But the use of dogs was restricted to only the east of the island because the game was only found there due to the mountainous terrain and associated weather conditions.
As soon as the shift to agriculture arrived the dependency on hunting dogs ceased and this was the end of hunter gathering in the temperate regions. Dog burials ceased at the same time. It is interesting to note that modern hunter gatherers such as aboriginal peoples, Filipinos and some African tribes still use hunting dogs today. But think of all the Labradors, Spaniels and waterdogs who are still working for us!!
Tuesday 02 Oct 2012 - Sara Garces - The Rock Art of the Tagus Valley
See also the report under Grants/Rock Art
The October lecture was given by Sara Garçes. Sara, who is well known to us, having been sponsored by the AAA and also guided a group to rock art sites on the banks of the Fratel dam in 2011, gave a talk on her work on the Tagus valley Rock Art project.
Prehistoric rock art was discovered and identified as such along the Tagus valley in the 1970’s, although there had already been reports in 1946 about ‘strangely written rocks’. An intensive survey of the ‘Tagus Valley Complex’ has revealed about 12.000 single engravings depicting humans, animals and geometric symbols dated back to the Holocene. Such dating was possible from investigations of bones of long extinct animals found in context nearby. Due to the construction of the Fratel dam emergency recording had to be carried out by both skilled and unskilled volunteers from Portugal and abroad. Lack of time did not allow proper drawings at the site so instead casts were made using textile reinforced latex. The casts were then stored away and only now over 40 years later it has become Sara’s work to draw, classify and catalogue these engravings for her doctorate.
Sara explained how she had to work for many months in a dark room with low parallel lamps in order to distinguish even the slightest detail – something that affected her health at the time. Her efforts have to be highly admired – there are casts from 16 different sites along a stretch of 40km and now only 3 are visible the remainder having been flooded. Some are accessible when the waters are low, but field work there can be dangerous. Sara has distinguished 5 different classes of engravings: Geometrical – 90% of which are circles and spirals, Zoomorphic – such as deer, bear and snakes, Anthropomorphic – very simple lines and shapes, Symbolic – suns, idols, shields and eyes, Other – footprints, weapons, instruments.
There are diverging opinions about the age of the engravings but most recent opinion is that they date from about 20.000 BP to the Iron Age. Sara finished her lecture by explaining how experimental archaeologists are working to understand how the engravings were made. They are doing this by copying the designs onto similar surfaces using a variety of different tools and methods.
Tuesday 05 June 2012 - Will Bowden - Caistor Roman town and the Iceni tribe
A very interesting talk presented by Dr Will Bowden of Nottingham University. The thrust of the presentation was that archaeologists can sometimes be accused of tailoring their finds and theories to match established mythical beliefs and popular preconceptions then prevailing. This appeared to be the case for Caistor Roman town, an undisturbed settlement in Norfolk that unusually had not been built over by later inhabitants. In fact, early investigations in 1929 by Donald Atkinson based on aerial photographs had suggested that having quelled the Boudica rebellion against the Roman occupation, the town was established in AD 70 by a benign Roman regime anxious to preserve the Iceni traditional way of life but in the Roman style. Artists impressions certainly painted a picture of a prosperous Roman market town with good connections by sea and land to neighbouring cities. Recent excavations for which Will Bowden was responsible sought to ask more questions than to provide answers to the origins and fate of Caistor as a Roman town, which although laid out in a traditional manner had apparently never been fully occupied.
In fact, geophysical investigations showed that the town had not been established until AD120, some 60 years after the failed rebellion, so any connection with Queen Boudica and her revolt was not evident. Moreover, the style of building was of timber, with wattle and daub, most remains of which showed evidence of having been destroyed by fire some 50 years later. Stone buildings in the Roman style did not appear for another 100 years, when the Roman Empire was already in decline. Furthermore their use did not appear to be as the Romans might have intended, the Iceni perhaps showing disrespect for Roman civilisation and culture, by continuing to maintain their own traditions of hoarding portable treasures of gold and silver rather than constructing and utilising grand buildings as the Romans did. In truth Caistor was probably quite a simple market town, known then as Venta Icenorum, which did not adopt the Roman civilisation and continued to allow the inhabitants to maintain the Iceni lifestyle that had ruled long before the Romans arrived.
Future excavations will address the fortifications that were added around the 4th century, and the subsequent activities of the Saxons in the surrounding area.
Tuesday 08 May 2012 - Miquel Serra and Eduardao Porfirio - Outeira de Circo - Bronze Age site Beja
The archeologists Dr. Miguel Serra and Dr. Eduardo Porfirio, founders and managers of the archeology company Palimpsesto Lda., gave a talk to the AAA about their research project Outeiro do Circo, which is a fortified Bronze Age settlement located near the village of Mombeja in the plains of Alentejo, west of Beja. Legend has it that on the site of Outeiro do Circo ancient people started to create the first city of Beja, but after they had laid the foundations for the walls they gave up for reasons unknown and built their city in its present location, though leaving behind the name Montes de Beja, which passed on to the nearby village as Mombeja. Archeology appears to corroborate the sequence of these events. Mombeja’s eighteenth century parish records mention an ancient fortress whose walls could still be seen at the time. Between the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries, graves, stelae, decorated pottery, and daggers and axes had been found in the surrounding plains, which had led some researchers to consider the region being one of the most important ones for the study of the Bronze Age.
However, it was not before 1977 that Dr. Rui Parreira surveyed the Bronze Age settlement of Outeiro do Circo and published a paper showing its precise layout.
In 2008, Eduardo Porfirio and Miguel Serra began their first field season without funding, though with the support of several institutions such as the Camara Municipal de Beja, the Junta de Freguesia de Mombeja and their own archeological company Palimpsesto Lda.
Outeiro do Circo occupies an entire low elevation which has a large, visual command over the surrounding, fertile plains where numerous rescue excavations had to be carried out during the course of major works for infrastructure in the past few years. They brought to light dozens of Bronze Age lowland open settlements with storage and burial pits, pointing to an intense occupation and exploitation of the fertile soil and the natural resources of the plains throughout this era.
Aerial photography of the fortified settlement had revealed a now obscured double wall following the natural slope surrounding an area of seventeen hectares, making it the largest of four fortified Bronze Age settlements in Alentejo. They also showed at its southern end two semicircular bastions flanking the main entrance; however, they are now obliterated by modern farming practices.
Successive excavations during the 2008 to 2011 field seasons concentrated mainly on a section of the western slope which brought to light a complex defensive system consisting of several elements: an upper wall of two parallel rows of medium sized blocks of rock, the space in between filled with rubble; and a lower wall, retaining an eight meter long ramp made of blocks of red and yellow, burnt clay. This ramp covers the length of the slope between the upper and the lower wall and raises questions about its location, its method of construction, and its functionality. The retaining wall had been erected over a ditch two meters deep and three meters wide, hewn into the bedrock. This ditch is believed to be part of an earlier defensive system. Studies are in progress to help understanding this complex fortification structure.
Many faunal remains and numerous artifacts consisting mainly of burnished pottery of the late Bronze Age, but also some bronze ear rings, arm rings and a sickle were uncovered in a habitation zone just inside the upper wall. Furthermore, there is also a rock depicting some rather simple rock art. Future excavations will reveal what life was like inside these walls.
The surrounding lowland region continued to be populated well into the Iron Age. Their necropolises contain rich grave goods, some from as far as the Eastern Mediterranean, and all are located on slopes facing the Outeiro do Circo settlement. There are still many questions to be answered: was this fortified settlement still inhabited into the Iron Age? It also remains to be investigated if the lowland open settlements were forming networks during the late Bronze Age, and if these were organized by an elite occupying the fortified settlement at that time.
It is often the case that the inhabitants of a region accidentally, by tilling the soil, find artifacts of historic or prehistoric importance, which are sometimes kept and other times ignored because of their lack of material value. Palimpsesto Lda. is pursuing a policy of engaging the local population with the aim to helping them protect their heritage and understand that archeology is a science and not just treasure hunting.
The company, together with the help of various collaborators and their special expertise, conducts exhibitions at local craft fairs, lets people try their hands at experimental archeology by creating pottery as it was found in the prehistoric settlements, and welcomes the general public to their excavation site. The interest of the archeological community and the press, but especially the interest and participation of the local population have indeed been very rewarding.
Tuesday 03 April 2012 - Miguel Almeida - Excavating Lagos Slave Cemetery at Valle da Gafaria.
Following on from the excellent talk by Marta Diaz- Guardamino about the church cemetery in Lagos we now have the chance to learn about the darker side in the history of the town.
In 2009 a Dryas team made an extensive rescue excavation at Valle da Gafaria, a site located outside the medieval and modern wall of the city of Lagos. This site, which dates from the 15/16th centuries, has revealed evidence of varied usage over the years. Amongst one of the most significant was an area of urban rubbish deposits covering an area of more than 1.000 sq. metres and a stratigraphic thickness of more than 6 metres. Among different discarded objects, food remains and dead animals, a considerable number of human remains were identified and excavated according to strict archaeo-anthropological protocol. One hundred and fifty five individuals of both sexes were exhumed, - many of them being under the age of 30. The atypical body positions (contrary to Christian rules), the archaeological and historical context of the findings (within an urban dump), and the morphometric analysis of the skulls (inconsistent with any other known native and immigrant populations in S. Portugal) indicated an African origin for these individuals.
An AMS C14 date obtained for one of the earliest individuals to be buried showed that these burials are contemporary with the first historical records of caravels arriving in Lagos with African slaves. Hence the Valle da Gafaria archaeological findings have provided an unique opportunity to document how enslaved people, captured on African shores by Portuguese sailors during the Discoveries period, lived and were treated (even after death) by their European ‘owners’.
Consequently, Dryas has put together a multidisciplinary research team to recover the complex sets of data which is of high historical and anthropological importance. The results document in a very objective way the first moments of the Atlantic slave trade through the preservation in skeletal form of the enslaved people and through the context of their burial. The time of the slave trade was a cruel and inhuman part of Portuguese history and it is without doubt that these unfortunate people, should, through this work, have an opportunity to tell their tale and take their rightful place in history.
Dr. Almeida has a degree in archaeology from Coimbra and a masters in Pre-history and Anthropology from Bordeaux. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He founded ‘Dryas Arqueológica’ (part of ‘Dryas Octopetala’) to work on archaeological sites in Portugal. Dr. Almeida is at present the CEO of the company and Director of Dryas Archaeology which carries out emergency rescue archaeological projects in Portugal.
Also review an interview regarding this subject at :
Tuesday 06 March 2012 - Magdalena Gorrell Guimaraens - Henry Edward Wilby’s Incredible Voyage.– from Porto to California at the time of the Gold Rush’.
This was part of an interesting ‘family’ history about a mercantile enterprise that went from Portugal to the New World and the Californian Gold Rush in 1849. The enterprise was promoted by 3 English associates in Porto and began with the purchase of a 3 masted sailing barque – the ‘Bella Pernambucna’, which, loaded with mercantile goods set off for California. The long and arduous journey which took nearly 8 months – travelling around the Horn of South America with a stopover in Valparaiso, Chile, are recounted in Henry Wilbey’s personal diary.
Due to the Gold Rush the small village of San Francisco, with its original population of 460, grew rapidly to around 50.000 inhabitants in less that one year and so commodities were in very short supply. As a result the 3 partners were able to turn a tidy profit and remained on the west coast acting as traders and informal Portuguese consulates for a number of years after their successful voyage..
A highlight of the lecture were film clips of a large sailing ship rounding the ‘Horn’ in adverse weather, giving the audience some idea of the conditions faced during the 1849 expedition.
Richard Walters, who sent this report, lived in Long Beach California for 3 years in the 1980’s, recalls an old Portuguese fishing village, still thriving across the bay.
Tuesday 07 Feb 2012 - Fantina Maria Santos Tedim: Implications for the Algarve of the 1st November 1755 earthquake. Lessons learned from the 1755 'Lisbon' earthquake and how to manage the impact of such a disaster.
The 1755 Lisbon earthquake was a mega thrust earthquake that took place on Saturday 1 November 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning. Seismologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake had a magnitude in the range 8.5–9.0 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 km west-southwest of Cape St. Vincent. The earthquake was followed by fires and a tsunami, which almost totally destroyed the low lying areas of Lisbon. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone at around 10,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history. Most damage, however, occurred south of Lisbon – in the Algarve, the Moroccan coast and the Gulf of Cadiz. It was felt in the North of Europe and the tsunami reached South America and the Caribbean. Until this time natural disasters had been perceived as ‘Acts of God’, i.e. God’s punishment for sins. There was a shift in thinking to a scientific explanation and the Lisbon earthquake was the first time that a government took responsibility for the disaster response operations. The Marquis of Pombal managed the reconstruction of Lisbon and also implemented a survey to understand the impact and recovery process.
The number of deaths as a result of an earthquake do not necessarily correlate with the magnitude of quake: a tsunami generally kills more people. The tsunami came just 6 – 7 minutes after the earthquake so people did not have time to escape. The waves reached 20 – 30 m in height and travelled 2.5 – 3 kms inland. The Western Algarve between Lagos and Albufeira was most affected as it was closer to the epicentre and more populated. Some areas had some natural protection due to cliffs or islands in front of/ along the coast. It is estimated that 1,000 out of a population of 80,000 in the Algarve lost their lives.
Today science cannot predict an earthquake – neither timing nor magnitude - but may help decreasing the impact. Once the quake occurs, tsunamis can be predicted and early warning can save lives. Should there be an earthquake similar to that in 1755 the Algarve would be extremely vulnerable: river valleys such as the Arade and Bensafrim are especially at risk. In recent years the population has vastly increased in the Algarve and there is a large tourist population based mainly on the sea-front. A swift warning and civil mobilisation and reaction would help save lives.
Dra. Fantina emphasised the importance of reducing human vulnerability. Education of the population - not just for those living in earthquake zones – on how to recognise the early warning signs of a tsunami and how to react is paramount: a disaster is made worse by slow decision-making. European governments have established new European standards of building incorporating earthquake resilient methods of construction. The Portuguese government needs to have a civil defence programme and means of communication and emergency rescue plans.
It is us as individuals who will have to react swiftly and decisively, and only then can think of our families and then our neighbours. An AAA member at the Lagos meeting spoke movingly about a friend of his, who as a 5-year old was playing with his sister on the beach when the sea suddenly receded way out. He ran to their house which was on the beach and when telling his mother she immediately realised it was a tsunami, grabbed his hand and told him to run. They reached higher ground where his mother lashed them both to a tree and they were saved. The mother understood she could not save both her children: her daughter was lost.
Dra. Fantina displayed a theoretical model for reducing the after shock damage caused by earthquakes by taking two factors – Vulnerability and Resilience - into account and establishing civil programmes and individual actions which can reduce the former and increase the latter.
Important lessons learned from the lecture were that we in Portugal cannot wait for a public warning system but have a responsibility to ourselves to familiarise ourselves with the signs of a tsunami: receding sea; strange animal behaviour and swiftly get to high land. Earthquakes frequently happen at night so keep a torch to hand, don’t worry about clothes and possessions – run!
Dra. Fantina finished her lecture with the words “Those who cannot remember and learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Tuesday 10 Jan 2012 - James Stewart - Pre-Hispanic Meso- American Sites
In 2010 James Stewart visited Central America and came home with a load of excellent photos of pre-Hispanic sites, which he explained to us in expert manner. Pre-Columbian sites can be found through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and date from 45.000 BC until 2012 AD (the end of the Mayan Long Count – a system of dating, which says that on December, 21 something will happen).
Other important dates: 15.000 BC – the Bering Land Bridge Migration (Stewart is doubtful about that), 1519 AD –the Hispanic Invasion (population decreased by 95%).
Pre-Hispanic achievements can be found in: the cultures in general (early Olmec, Aztecs), scripts (Mayas), mathematics (use of the zero), astronomy (knowledge of 7 planets + Venus), agriculture (canal system), communication (extensive road system), and architecture (monumental constructions).
The architecture manifested itself mainly in temples. The form was very similar over the centuries: a pyramid. The biggest of the world stood in Cholula and the third-biggest in Teotihuacan (above, 600 AD). In Xochitecatl there was even a round pyramid. In Ek Balan and Palenque (100 BC to 900 AD) you can find tomb pyramids (cut off at the top and a tomb placed on top). Offering sites (pictures at the left) had the same form: a pyramid with the also the top cut off. Another feature that could be found very often were ball courts (in El Tajin there were 17!), but their use is not quite clear yet. Palaces always had more than one story and were decorated with masks and other carvings. The settlements were sometimes enormously big for that time, ranging from 10.000 people in Caracol (600 BC to 1000 AD) up to 37.000 in Palenque. The biggest dwelling site, though, was Coba in Yucatan with thousands of buildings yet to be discovered and 45 sacbes leading out of town. Sacbes are roads connecting the settlements, between 5 and 60ft wide and up to 100km long. In Tikal (picture at the right below, 900 BC to 1000 AD) the Mayas left 5 temples, the highest with 68m, with a surface of 120squm.
The Spanish invaders often built churches on the most sacred sites as can for instance be seen in Cholula and at the Cathedral in Mexico City (pictures at the left). In the National Museum in Mexico City one can find crystal skulls made of rock crystal, a calendar stone with the Sun God in the centre (from 1479), enormous heads from the Olmec culture from 12.000 BC as well as stelas with men climbing out of them, Chinese-looking heads from Xalapa, statues of cross-legged men, and walls with carvings and glyphs.
Tuesday 06 Dec 2011 - Michèle Carron - Vienna Pulchra - Beautiful Vienne in the Rhone Valley
Michèle - a long standing member - talked about her home town of Vienne (Vienna Pulchra) in the Rhõne Valley, France. She began her beautifully illustrated talk by explaining the history of the town and its place in the pre-Roman Celtic tribal region close to the River Rhõne. The area was settled by the Allobroges in 6/5BC and by the 3rd.C BC the town of Vienne (meaning ‘the place by the water’) had become the capital. By 600 BC the town of Marseilles to the south had been founded by the Greeks and in 125 BC they asked the Roman Empire to help them as the Celtic tribes were causing them trouble. By 121 the Allobroges had been defeated and it was the end of their independence and their land was incorporated into the Roman province of Gaul which included other Celtic regions. In Vienne city walls were constructed in the time of Augustus – these were 7kms in length and 8m high with a military tower at 60m intervals. Archaeological excavation has shown that these walls had no foundations so they were probably more for prestige than defence. Michele explained that the land around Vienne was very rich through agriculture and trade was an important part of its past. Roman warehouses have been discovered close to the river where imports and exports were processed. These included imports of oil, lead, tin, marble, and wine and also fish products. Exported were cereals, wool, textiles and wood. One of the interesting imports was amber from the North Sea. It was believed that amber could cure goitre, a condition caused through a lack of iodine, and amber necklaces have been found in some graves of the time.
It seems that by the end of the 3rdC AD trade declined and the area was subjected to invasions by the Germanic tribes from the north. After the end of the Roman Empire the infrastructure they left behind (roads, water ways etc) continued to be used especially as Vienne was close to a network of rivers which allowed access to other parts of Gaul – the barges/rafts being pulled first by slaves in the Roman period then later by oxen and horses. The provision of water to the inhabitants was a priority in Roman times and 5 have been found an examined. Not as impressive others elsewhere, they were built into the sides of hills being 2m wide and 2m high with a manhole every 60 m. The imported lead provide the pipes and the names of 50 plumbers have been found on them (including a woman!). The water supply was divided into 3 parts -1 for the Emperor – palace gardens etc. 1 for public use – fountains and public drinking and 1 for private homes for whom it is estimated that 30cu.m was provided each day.
Michèle then took us on a tour of the Roman monuments that had once stood in the town – the Forum, Basilica, Theatre, Stadium and Temples. Some are now lost but the Theatre still stands and is a spectacular building having a capacity of 13,000 and which, now restored, is used for summer events including the famous Vienne jazz festival. The Stadium was used for athletic events but was closed down possibly after the Christian church objected to the athletes competing in the nude!. We were shown the magnificent temple of Augustus and Livia which was converted into an early Christian church and latterly as a library. In the 19th C. the Circus was found but only the pyramid at its centre remains. To show us how rich the town had been Michele showed us wonderful examples of mosaics from the town, the richest in Gaul and the 2.5 centuries of Roman occupation of Vienne. These included designs of birds, river deities, flowers and gods. There was also a section of Opus Sectile made of coloured marbles from Italy, Egypt, Tunisia and Greece.
To end her talk Michèle talked of Medieval Vienne when there were many Christians living in the town and of the Burgundian invasions. At this time the wealth of the town declined and later the town was absorbed into the Kingdom of Boson V. Subsequently Vienne became the capital of the 2nd Burgundian Kingdom and a castle was built – later to be destroyed by Richelieu. Later the Count Hubert 1 took the name Delphinus as part of his title and when his son died he sold his estate to the French king one of his conditions was that the title Dauphin should continue and that the royal heir should carry that title.
Michèle’s talk on Vienne was well attended and full of interesting information. We were pleased to share with her the varied and important role the town played in the past.
Tuesday 08 Nov 2011 - Dra. Marta Diaz-Guardamino - Digging into the Biography of Lagos.
Dra. Marta Diaz-Guardamino talked about her excavations in the Largo de Santa Maria da Lagos Graça, Lagos in 2004/05. She explained that it had been an emergency, rescue excavation as part of the POLIS plan in Lagos to renovate the infrastructure of the town. She began her talk by describing the history of the area around the 14thC church that had once stood on the site in the SW corner of the oldest part of Lagos, but which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. Houses were later built over the site, however there was evidence to show that the cemetery of the church continued in use until the 19C between the medieval city wall and the houses. The cemetery is dated 1378 – 1867. It seems that the early population of Lagos was buried in the cemetery but later only those of high status were interred. A total area of 350square metres was excavated by her team including anthropologists from Evora, archaeological technicians and some members of the AAA. Marta then went on to explain her findings in relation to the phasing of the graves: phase 1 dated from the 14th C. to the mid 16th C., phase 2 dated from the mid 16th C. to the 19th C. when some graves were dug on top of each other. During the work the foundation trenches of the medieval wall were uncovered and recorded as were the 16th C. repairs and additions on the older structure. Some of the early graves were in fact cut by the foundation trenches of the 16th C. work.. There was also evidence of fractures in the bedrock caused by the 1755 earthquake when the church collapsed crushing more than 100 souls. There was also evidence that an attempt was made to reconstruct the church using original materials but the money ran out and the site was covered and the cemetery closed, by the early 20th C. the whole site was covered and the houses built.
Marta’s studies of the graves have shown that there were mostly individual graves on the eastern side of the cemetery, that there was reuse of graves and the creation of ossuaries within them, there were simultaneous burials and the superposition of burials – probably of the same family. It is also though that males and children without ties were buried close to the city wall and females were placed in the east of the cemetery. The study of the graves themselves indicated that most of the dead were buried in shrouds, with only 3 clear coffins found. There were no grave goods although coins were found in some cases, 7 of them being children. Of the graves examined 115 adults were identified and 44 sub-adults. There was a high rate of people 2-6 and 31-60 years old with a lower rate of young adults 20-30 years and mature adults over 60 years. It also seems that there was a low rate of amnesia amongst the people, lower than other examples in Portugal and probably due to their diet of fish. In most cases the teeth were badly worn again due to the diet. The male adult skeletons on particular were very robust as a result of the hard tasks they performed in fishing and agriculture.
Marta’s subject was of great interest and we thank her for taking the time to travel from her new post in the UK to give such an informed and well presented talk.
Tuesday 04 Oct 2011. Prof João Bernardes (University of the Algarve) - Excavations at Boco do Rio and Martinhal.
Last year Prof João Bernardes guided a large group of AAA members around both of these sites. This summer the AAA helped with funds for his team from the University to continue work at the Roman industrial site at Martinhal, excavating part of a ruined complex of buildings on the high cliff overlooking the beach and also investigating one of the pottery kilns that had been exposed by the severe weather. . A small group of members also visited this summer to see the site. So, we were very pleased that Prof Bernardes was able to come to speak to the AAA about his work.
At Praia de Martinhal, a beach next to Sagres, during the last 10 years sections of the cliff have collapsed due to coastal erosion and remains of Roman pottery kilns have been exposed. Nine had already been been found and recorded and in 2009/10, a 10th appeared after heavy weather. This prove to be the most interesting, as it appears to have collapsed during use. The contents still buried in it are dated from the 4th C. Prof Bernardes explained that sediments of the Upper Jurassic that form the cliffs are rather weak and unstable, so it was a matter of some urgency that archaeological work was carried out. So, a rescue excavation took place at the steep cliff face at a height of 8 meters above the beach. Simultaneously excavation was done on the ground above the cliff. The remains of a section of industrial buildings were found close beneath the present land surface. where close beneath the present surface the remains of other structures can be found. These were, as expected, found to be Roman but also had been subsequently used during the Medieval Period. One structure was a large workshop of about 24m in length and 7m wide. This contained pieces of unfired amphorae and also some supports that held the vessels during their manufacture, when the tip, body and neck with handles were formed separately and then put together. The whole complex proved to be a pottery workshop for the production of amphorae needed to ship the various fish products including the fishsauce 'Garum' which was produced at various places along the Algarvean coast. The pottery evidence shows that the site had been in use in the late Imperial Period (3rd- 5th C. AD). All the kilns were not necessarily contemporary with each other , some having gone out of use and replaced by newer ones. One at least was used to bake tiles in the Medieval Period.
Prof. Bernardes then spoke briefly about Boco do Rio, where much of what had been found and documented by Estácio da Veiga in the late 19thC. has been washed away by the sea. This year a small section of a mosaic floor was removed and among the fragments of wall plaster was found a well preserved painted fresco of a young man measuring approx 15cm in diameter. All the unearthed structures have been covered with geotextile, sand and gravel to protect them from damage.
Prof. Bernardes thanked the AAA for the support we have given him and confirmed that he and his colleagues at the University were looking forward to welcoming AAA members to his department in November.
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 - Charles Frew - On the Wrong Side
Charles is the son of two longstanding members of the AAA who presented the story of his overland journey from Hong Kong to Portugal. After a lot of preparations, he started his journey overland in May 2010. The first hurdle was the visa for China, because China, does not, in general, allow people to enter the country by car. He paid a lot for the visa, without the guarantee that he would get it. But fortunately, the authorities decided in his favor and so he began his marathon journey which started by traveling through China together with a Chinese official ‘guide’. Over the next 361 days, from May 2010 until May 2011, he drove, by himself (after leaving China) for over 37.000 kms through 17 countries. Because he wanted to face at least one challenge per day, he experienced many unusual things, like an avalanche, close encounters with outlaws in Mongolia, extreme cold weather. Charlie kept a blog (www.onthewrongside.info/on the wrongside/Expedition) and it is certainly worthwhile to visit this site, with all the day to day highlights.
The Portugal News published 2 articles about Charlie’s trip –
If you would like the information in Portuguese please visit
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 - Michael Pease - Portugal - World War II Enigma
Michael explained that as war loomed, both the Allies and Germany were aware of the significance of the strategic and geographical position of Portugal and its North Atlantic islands. In 1937 the German Minister of War visited both Portugal and the Azores and the German High Command drew up plans – Operation Felix – for the invasion of Portugal and Azores. In 1938 the British sent a 129-strong military mission to Portugal that also included some military supplies, thus signifying their intent to fulfill the terms of the ancient Treaty of Windsor (1373). In 1836, the then British Prime Minister, George Canning, said “….whilst Great Britain has an arm to raise, it must be raised against the efforts of any power that should forcibly attempt to control the choice and fetter the independence of Portugal”. Salazar (dictator 1931-1970) drew comfort from this treaty although it is extremely doubtful that Great Britain could have fulfilled their commitment in 1940 when she herself was being threatened. Salazar, who was carefully evaluating Portugal’s position, declared his country neutral with which both Great Britain and America agreed.
Both the Allies and Germany realized the significance of submarine warfare from the experience of WW1, perhaps the Grand Admiral Doenitz more so. Britain was reliant on receiving food and war materials from overseas by ship. Convoy routes were, firstly, the northern route passing Greenland and Iceland, secondly, the southern route from N. America to Freetown and travelling northwards, thirdly the route northwards from Cape Town and, finally, through the Mediterranean passing Gibraltar, a route Michael travelled on his return to Britain during the war.
After the fall of France, the Germans built more and more submarine bases along the Bay of Biscay and the Luftwaffe had an airbase near Bordeaux which gave them an advantage in the Battle of the Atlantic being 400km closer to the southern Atlantic routes that RAF Coastal Command in Plymouth. It became increasingly obvious that air power would be a deciding factor for both attack and defence. Allied shipping losses mounted between 1940 and 1942, when over 1,000 ships were sunk in one year alone.
Throughout this period, Salazar presented an enigma to the Allies whereby he continually obfuscated, evaded and obstructed them in regard to providing them with access to the Azores. Finally when the Axis forces in N. Africa surrendered, Salazar felt safe to come out on the Allies side and signed an agreement on 18th August 1943 for an airfield to be built in Larjes on Terceira Island. The effect on the U-boats was almost immediate and in November 1943 an RAF Flying Boat from the airbase had its first U-boat kill. This new air strike capability, together with the Allies technological advances such as ASDIC swung the battle in the Allies favour.
Michael explained more about the Battle of the Atlantic with regard to the convoy system which was constantly under attack from the U-boats. The largest convoy consisted of 167 ships and fresh convoys reached Britain practically every day. In total over 3.300 ships (approx. 6 million tons) were lost – the Allied death toll was over 30.000 men. Perhaps if Salazar had acted earlier this would have been greatly reduced. Towards the end of the war, Winston Churchill said “The U-boat attack was our worst evil. It would have been wise for the Germans to stake all upon it”. Grand Admiral Doenitz recognized this in 1939, but, fortunately for the Allies, the German war effort was diverted elsewhere.
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 - Joyce Tyldesley - Re-Writing Nefertiti: The History and Historiography of Egypt’s “Most Famous Queen"
In April Dr. Joyce Tyldesley from the Centre for Biochemical Egyptology at Manchester University gave a talk about the ancient Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti. Unfortunately due to delays at the airport Dr. Tyldesley was only able to give the talk at Lagoa. Her interesting talk focused on the famous bust of the queen which is described as original in Berlin but as a fake by others.
In 1912, the German archaeologist, Borchardt, whilst digging in Egypt found the store room of a sculptor’s workshop filled with more than 50 works of art, more or less completed, made of stone and gypsum. They probably depict members of the royal family and court, amongst them the bust of Nefertiti. Sharing the finds with the Egyptian Antiquity Service, this piece was among those going abroad. It entered the collection of Dr. James Simon that was donated to the State of Prussia in 1920. From 1923 onwards the bust was displayed in Neues Museum, Berlin. And soon became its main attraction under the German spelling of ‘Nofrete’. During the war the bust was stored in a Thuringian salt mine where it was rediscovered in 1945 by the American army.
With growing fame Nefertiti devotees accused Borchardt as having smuggled her out of Egypt or as having deceived the Egyptian authorities in order to make her less attractive to them. For example, knowing that the bust was made of limestone covered with a thin layer of gypsum plaster, he made believe that it was a pure plaster image. Others said it was a fake made by Borchardt himself or even by Hitler. From 1924 onwards there was steady pressure to return the bust to Egypt, there being a headless stone ‘body’ in Egypt on which it would obviously fit.
The bust has some minor damage and the missing rock crystal left eye is striking. Intensive searching at the excavation had not revealed the missing eye, neither can any sign be found, that there had ever been an inlay fitted into the left eye. This perhaps proves that the bust had been left unfinished, perhaps even to be used as a sculptor’s model.
Undoubtedly the Nefertiti bust is the image of a beautiful woman. It has inspired various artists and has even led to extreme measures by a young lady who spent £200.000 for 51 operations to make her look like Nefertiti!
Dr. Tyldesley explained who Nefertiti really was. Most probably she was born in the 1st decade AD as the daughter of Ay and the lady Tiy whose marriage in the year 1AD we know from a ‘Marriage Scarab’. Her parents are well known from statues, stelae and documents. Nefertiti herself became the wife of Akhenaten, gave birth to 6 children and played a prominent role in state and religious affairs during her lifetime. But her fame lives on through her famous image be it fake or forgery.
Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011 – Alexandra Gradim – ‘Investigating the Cultural Heritage of Alcoutim’
Alexandra Gradim was speaking about the archaeological activities in the County of Alcoutim during the last 14 years. This is the time she has been (and still is) in charge of the archaeological projects in this north-east corner of the Algarve.
Alcoutim is a remote little town at the bank of the river Guadiana, but posesses the fourth largest surface area of all Algarvean counties with only 3000 inhabitants, less than 1000 of them living in the town itself. The more it is amazing, that such a small community has employed an fulltime archaeologist. However, the mountainous region with it`s deposits of iron, copper, tin and silver and also the navigable river has been attracting people from prehistoric times on. Megalith communities, Fenicians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors have left their traces here. Thus there is more than enough work to do for an concerned archaeologist.
Alexandra was explaining in her clearly structured talk, that there were 3 columns of keeping the heritage: Knowledge of the territory, survey by archaeological intervention and at last protection, display and promotion.
Knowledge of the territory is gained by studying ancient documents including those, left to us by archaeological predecessors like the famous Estácio da Veigas. Furtheron by watching ground movements in connection with developing projects, as there are for example construction of buildings, channel trenches and in the special case of Alcoutim major reafforesting projects. Last not least is field walking at promising places a means of telling from scattered surface finds what may be hidden beneath. By this the number of documented archaeological sites in the County of Alcoutim raised from 66 to 406 in the last 14 years.
Archeological intervention is in many cases an emergency excavation prior to development. The advantage is, that funding is provided by the developer, bus disadvantageous is the lack of time.
Pure investigative excavations need funding from outside Alcoutim, as the municipal budget is too small. So archaeological teams from national or foreign institutions and additional voluntary help are welcome. Members of the AAA have been involved in diggings at the Roman dam of Alamo and quite recently at the hill fortress near Montinho das Laranjeiras.
After excavation – if not necessarily to be destroyed by ongoing development – the site has to be protected. Sites of minor importance may be covered with sheets of geotextile and filled up with fine gravel in order to prevent it from being damaged by men, animals, vegetation and weather. More important sites, like the Roman, Visigoth and Moorish remains at the river bank of Montinho das Laranjeiras, or some Megalithic tombs, are fenced in and prepared to withstand weathering and to be displayed to public.
Archaeology stays an academic subject if evidences are not communicated and the sites not made accessible to the public. Alexandra has pointed out, that she is very much concerned about this and she showed a couple of examples of her efforts to provide access to sites as big as the Moorish “Castelo Velho” or as small as a single Menhir.
But archaeological sites only attract visitors, that have been made sensible for cultural heritage. That’s why Alexandra is giving extra lectures already for young school children. This kind of promotion is the necessary base of future public acceptance and support of archaeology.
Alexandra’s talk has raised the wish among the audience to visit those sites and inspired a day trip to be scheduled (June 2011). (See also under the section "Excavations").
Tuesday, 01 Feb 2011 – Gonçalo Cruz - 'Citânia de Briteiros and the Late Iron Age of North-western Portugal
Since the first field work of the late 19th century through the large excavation programs of the mid-20th century, Citânia de Briteiros has been connected with what is known as the "Castro Culture". This impressive monument became one of the symbols of an alleged native cultural context that, during all the first millennium BC, had involved the whole North-western Iberia, prior to the integration in the Roman Empire.
As Portuguese archaeological research has evolved since the 1970's into a gradually unattached approach to the archaeological remains, a more accurate awareness of Iron Age different contexts has been formed. In fact, we have data collected in 30 years of excavations, material studies, theoretical reflections and publications that, with considerable archaeological collections and documentation being reinterpreted, give a different way of viewing proto-historic communities, and their interaction with the Roman world.
Although Citânia de Briteiros was a fortified settlement during the late Iron Age at least there is no evidence of actual invasion and the people do not appear to be ‘related’ to Celts elsewhere. The Romans then seem to have taken an interest in the region mainly because men from the area were recruited to resist the Roman army. In 138/36 BC hill forts were destroyed possibly as punishment for this collaboration against the Romans. Around 96/94BC Crasus sent an expedition to NW Portugal possibly to search for minerals and in 61BC Julius Caesar came by sea and at this time ‘roads’, round and rectangular houses appear on Citânia de Briteiros. At the end of the civil wars in Rome (19BC) Octavian conquered NW Portugal and the region was integrated into the Roman Empire. Later Augustus’s military camps became Roman cities - ‘Baca Augustus’, now Braga being an example.
At Citânia de Briteiros there are Roman finds from the 1st C. AD – showing that the site was still inhabited but by fewer people ( the finds being less than from earlier periods) and by the end of the 1st C. BC the site was abandoned. It was in this way that the Romanization of the region of NW Portugal came about – by exploration, treaty and conquest.
Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011 – Tiago Tomé - ‘Prehistoric Collective Burials in the Tagus and Guadiana River Valleys.’
Tiago Tomé gave the AAA a very interesting talk about his study for a doctoral thesis of prehistoric collective burials in the Tagus and Guadiana Valleys, during the agro-pastoralist transition. His talk covered both a paleo-biological analysis of skeletal material and an assessment of the funerary surroundings. Most prehistoric burial sites first discovered in the nineteenth century were in antas and caves and the bigger bones - skulls, tibia, etc - were removed by the excavators, leaving dis-articulated bone fragments. Acid conditions in many places destroyed what remained. Even original site drawings show only the bigger bones, so that modern study and analysis is not easy.
Especially since 1980, excavation methods in Portugal have changed, and now trained anthropologists are part of the excavation teams with archaeologists and other specialists. Very detailed studies of all human remains and artefacts now take place, as far as possible at the scene and time of the work, to improve the quality of reports and to help avoid damage of samples in transport to laboratories.
The French taphonomy-based discipline of “anthropologie de terrain” was the approach used by Tiago Tomé to study remains found, using the tools and techniques of forensic science.
He has returned to old excavations, reassessing sites and remains, using disciplines like Paleobiology, Demography, Morphology and Pathology. His talk was divided between what he called the “Realm of the Living” (that is, the remains of humans) and the “Realm of the Dead” (that is, the funerary context). Based on this approach, Tiago Tomé presented his findings on six archaeological sites, five caves and one monument in Portugal and Spain. Four caves adjoin the Nabão river, near to each other, and the other two sites are in Spain, in the central Guadiana river area. Most of the caves were very small with only one chamber.
The chronology of the sites ranges from 7.000BC (with only 3 small samples in Cueva de los Postes) to 2.000BC (Cadaval), some with gaps of one or more thousand years between samples. The number of individuals buried ranged from six (Morgado) to one hundred and twenty (Cerro). In general, early to middle Neolithic caves and late Neolithic caves have more individuals. In terms of demography, the same numbers of adults/sub adults and males/females of all ages were represented. These findings represent normal/natural population proportions, showing that whole populations were buried in these sites indiscriminately.
In terms of morphology, the difference in stature between the sexes was found similar in all sites, around 12cm. The study of larger samples of tibia and femur shaft shapes,from elsewhere helped to determine the mechanical loads of individuals, some found to be subjected to very heavy ones.
Paleopathology, especially oral pathology, found carious lesions, tartar and dental wear as well as ante-mortem tooth loss. Traumatic lesions were found, related to both activity and violence, many in the cranial skeleton, some showing a healing process. All the cranial lesions were in males with one exception. Pathology has also found a possible case of Brucellosis in one chest section.
Finally, Tiago reviewed what he entitled funeral anthropology, or the “Realm of the Dead”, apparent burial rituals, skeletal positions, tomb architecture , etc. He referred to the importance of improvements in the methodology of study, which allowed the recognition of burial sites as primary or secondary (reburial) sites. New methods include aspects such as bone representation, proportion, weight, etc. His conclusions were that all of the sites he examined were primary burial sites: because all different bone types were present, the total weight of bones found was within reference values and different tooth types were present in the expected proportions.
He concluded that collective burials seem to have been the norm in the Iberian Southwest, at least from the 5th to the 3rd Millennia BC. However in the case of early Neolithic burial caves the situation is not at present clear and further research may show that collective burial is an older phenomenon, from the 6th, maybe the 7th Millennia BC.
Tuesday 07 December 2010 : Tiago Fraga - What went wrong?: An archaeological study of a 19th century military steamer.
Also see the info/pictures at the Grants tab.
Our speaker in December was Tiago Fraga who is Project Manager for the Underwater Cultural heritage Survey of the Council of Lagos. His lecture was an account of marine archaeological work in the Algarve with an emphasis on the Lagos Bay area - a harbourage for centuries for supplies and repairs for vessels following the great marine trading routes of the world. Recent marine research in the Lagos Bay western promontory area has revealed many anchors of varying ages and even ancient Greek stone anchors but few remains of wooden boats due to the rocks and tidal forces close to the shore. Tiago thanked the AAA for its support through funding for his work and the training of students in the diving skills essential to marine archaeology. He explained that the students were trained for work on the seabed and the diving operations require skilled training from qualified instructors. The thorough, but limited nature of the students’ training restricted their diving to 18 metres under strictly controlled conditions. This in turn meant that for safety reasons relatively few targets could be dived on. In Lagos bay until recently there were 69 known targets (wreck sites) needing inspection and work has been limited to the investigation of 5 or 6 per season. Tiago was recently fortunate to have access to data from the use of high tech equipment including multi beam and side scan views of the ocean bed. Valuable as this was it also increased the number of targets to 261. 150 of these were regarded as false – not of valid archaeological interest – leaving 111 still to be examined. Of these Tiago concluded that the most viable wreck within the diving limits of his students was the wreck of a vessel believed to be that of the ‘Faro’. On 27th February 1912 at night in Lagos Bay two ships collided in poor visibility with one the gunboat ‘Faro’ sinking with some loss of life. Examination of the seabed and wreck found that this vessel was of sturdy construction in keeping with a naval gunboat used for customs control work. The ‘Faro’ was described in naval records as having been built in 1878, with one large mounted gun on the foredeck. On the seabed lay the remains of the gun’s mounting together with ammunition thus confirming its role as a gunboat. So why did this strong military vessel sink and rapidly, within ten minutes, when the wooden boat it had struck survived, as an enquiry at the time records? Why does archaeological evidence from diving reveal that the bow of the ship was detached from the wreck apparently torn off in the collision? Research with the help of the Director of the National Maritime Museum revealed that the ship was en route to the port in Faro. Why then did the evidence from the seabed show that the orientation of the vessel was NW and not more Easterly in the direction of Faro? This was a British built boat constructed to the best standards of the time and procured for naval duties by the Portuguese. It had performed well for 34 years but there is one hypothesis that may explain the anomalies on the seabed. The ‘Faro’ may have struck the other vessel obliquely and shearing forces may have come to bear on the bow for which it was not designed thus leading to a structural failure and the detachment of the bow. This would be consistent with the rapid sinking of the vessel. The curious orientation of the boat on the seabed may have been due to the last minute attempt at evasion of collision together with the disruptive forces of an oblique impact. If this hypothesis is to be fully researched excavation of the remains on the seabed are needed and for this permission of the Navy is required which may take some time. This was a very well presented lecture with clear and visually stimulating graphics and a relaxed and engaging delivery by Tiago Fraga, a researcher enthused with his subject, Marine Archaeology.
Tuesday 02 November 2010 – Sally Church - Archaeology and Text – Two Shipyards in Ming China.Dr. Sally Church who is Senior Research Associate at Cambridge University Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. After an academic career in Chinese Literature and History, Dr. Church turned her attention to pre-modern History of the Ming Period 1369 – 1644.
The shipyards featured were both situated in Nanjing (Nanking) then the capital of China, on a bend of the Yangzi River 250kms west of Shanghai. The Treasure Shipyard is south of the Quinhuai River – a tributatry – and can clearly be seen on the Google earth map. The Longjiang Shipyard’s location is not precisely known but it is probably north of the Quinhai River, west of the Ming period city wall. However it is the Longjiang Shipyard for which there is textual evidence in the form of the 1553 ‘Longjiang Shipyard Treatise’ by Li Zhaoxiang. Chapter 4 gives both city maps with moats and wall and plan of the shipyard. The map has to be turned 180deg to be read with our familiar N7S orientation, and thus we see the Quinhuai River flows north into the Yangzi. Interesting features relating directly to shipbuilding were hemp and tung/tong oil fields, workshops for caulking, iron, sail, and matting, fine woodwork and ceramics and, auspiciously, a temple. This Shipyrad was active for at least two centuries 1368-1553. It built military ships to defend cities along the Yangzi River and the east coast of China against pirates.
The Treasure Shipyard was the subject of archaeological exploration in 1957 and, after interruption by the Cultural Revolution, was further excavated in 2003/4 by the City of Nanjing who published a comprehensive report in 2006 (a copy was circulated amongst us). In all 1500 objects were found, several are in a museum and others remain at the site. The area consists of three basins (originally there were six) and in 2003 basin 6 was excavated. The basin (dry dock?) measures 400m long and 41m wide. It seems that the size of ships constructed in the basin is unclear as the dimensions of a tall ship were given in a contemporary document that mentions an unknown measuring unit. On a ruler, found at the shipyard, this unit was marked and using it, it was calculated that ships of enormous dimensions were built (137m x 56m), but these would not have fitted into the basins. The remains of 24 vessels were found the smallest being simple rowing boats. In all this covered only 30 years of activity 1403 1433 – to service the chiefly diplomatic expeditions of the eunuch Admiral Zheng He, who returned with the eponymous treasure. Conservatively these expeditions’ most distant reach was Malindi in East Africa and included the Arabian Peninsular and India. Objects recovered from the Treasure Shipyard ranged from an 11m wooden rudder post, decorative mother-of- pearl tiles, glazed vessels some containing the residue of caulking mixture and the most personal ; a coir shoe, a wooden hammer, a tied bundle of nails and a 30.3 cms rule, the tools of a boat builder. Apart from a short bladed spear and some stone balls there were no military weapons.
In her measured tentative approach Sally Church left us to puzzle: how the ships left the basins for the river, what the purpose was of the structures crossing the basins at intervals, and where such wide ships as are recorded were made if all the known basins were so narrow.
Tuesday 12 October 2010 - Jason Webster - Guerra - Living in the Shadows of the Spanish Civil War.
Jason Webster is a young English author who lives in Spain and has already successfully published quite a few books concerning different aspects on his Spanish host country. In his talk he was referring to his latest book and explained how he felt the urge to write about the Spanish Civil War shaken up by the existence of an unmarked mass grave of that time near his cottage in the mountains. Unlike the German '3rd Reich' this period of the Spanish history has not yet been sufficiently discussed and overcome due to the long duration of the Fascist regime. Thus the book with it's English title 'Guerra' bears the title 'An Open Wound' in the Spanish translation. He pointed out, that at the begin of the 20th century a great social gap existed between the few owners of big latifundia leading a life of luxury in Madrid and the mass of poor, uneducated peasants, that were forced to eat grass rather than to be allowed to make a living from the vast and neglected ground of the rich landowners. This distribution of land is supposed to be the result of the reconquista, when the land conquered from the Moors was given by the king to his noblemen. When the last king, Alfonso XIII, left his throne in 1931 to give way to the republican attempts, the polarisation became obvious by the establishment of a right and a left wing of Parliament that were drifting apart more and more. At the very time there was a climate of confrontation between conservatives and socialists throughout Europe, that wouldn't exclude the use of physical force and even assassination like in the German 'Weimarer Republik'. In this situation the murder of a right wing policeman and a left wing political leader as an act of revenge within one day in July 1936 was the ignition of the stored gunpowder. A military coup was started in order to put an end to the republican experiment. The spearhead was the ruthless General Franco, who led his troops – well trained in guerilla fight in Spanish Morocco – against the poorly equipped Republicans. On the side of the putschists were to be found the conservatives, monarchists, Catholic church and fascist Falange supported by Mussolini and Hitler and on the other the followers of the legal regime, liberals, socialists and communists supported by Stalin. The fight lasted for 3 years and didn't forego any kind of cruelty on either side. There were many foreign volunteers fighting side by side with the Republicans for their ideal of Democracy but eventually had to surrender to the combined fascist power. For more information about the speaker and his books just google his name or directly go to his webpage www.jasonwebster.net .
08 June 2010 – Luiz Oosterbeek – Evidence of Complexities of Prehistoric Farming Societies in Brazil
Previous to 5,000BC despite global warming and the disappearance of the ice age, the hunter gatherer lifestyle did not vary, so the as yet unanswered question is: why therefore, in so many independent areas, did humans cease to be movers and become stable farmers, leading to larger populations? Once farmers changed the landscape there was no going back as this led to an awareness of control of land and geography, desire for expansion and the emergence of a ranking elite.
After 5000BC Mexico, Peru and Brazil independently and gradually developed agriculture, water control, economic networks and realised the crucial role of metallurgy. The Olmecs of Mesoamerica from 1200BC had clay pyramids, monolithic sculpture, artificial mounds, trading between city states and a ranking society which recognized the prestige of obsidian.
Peru developed agricultural terracing in the highlands, control of water by gravity, the use of animals in economy and transport, road construction and textile weaving. There was a multi-ethnic base to society and dynamic terrestrial expansion. The first pyramids of Caral predate those in Egypt, while today the Quecha survive as an indigenous people.
In Brazil the forest density and poor soils led to complex individual societies for which little evidence remains due to the jungle. The Guarani, lowland cannibalistic warmongers, were the biggest group. Their belief in the ‘terra sin males’- the myth of their ethnic origin (looking for the holy land) led them to move to the highlands when they had exhausted their lands, bringing with them their knowledge of water management. But contact with the Jesuits let to helenisation and the collapse of society with the loss of knowledge and ceramic ability.
The Marajo of the Amazon estuary had ceramics and in the Amazon jungle foundations of organic structures postulate well-developed societies of chiefdoms or city states with strong evidence of ranking, but no metallurgy. The Krenak resisted all contact with Europeans and the Machacales are still gypsy. (Sonja Frisell-Schroeder).
04 May 2010 – John Moreland - Landscape and belief in medieval England
Dr. John Moreland, who lectures at Sheffield University, gave us a talk on ‘Angels, Elves & Demons in Medieval England’. Among many others, one of Dr. Moreland‘s special areas of interest is how societies in Britain and the Mediterranean made the transition from late Antiquity through the Dark and Middle Ages. Until recent times, when archaeologists were looking for answers to how people lived their daily lives, they usually disregarded any questions of what might have been their spiritual belief. This subject was considered to be best left to historians.
However, Dr. Moreland argues that the Dark Ages must not be so dark anymore and demonstrated to us in a most interesting and lively talk how he could reconstruct the belief of the people who lived in the Derbyshire Peak District of England between the 6th and 12th centuries by using the excavated material evidence in combination with texts from various sources such as Pliny the Elder, the Christian church, and more recent works of historians like, for example, the late Valerie Flint.
Dr. Moreland began by showing us a bronze-age burial mound at Wigber Low in the verdant countryside near the Derbyshire village of Bradbourne and then took us to Bradbourne’s beautiful, early medieval church and its adjacent churchyard, dominated by a carved shaft of what once had been a tall stone cross, placed there in the 8th century, not long after the Angle Saxons were converted from Germanic paganism to Christianity. In the 1980s excavations of the prehistoric burial mound at Wigber Low had brought to light later, additional burials of a man and a woman who had lived in the 7th century A.D, after Christianity had been brought to the area by Augustin. The man and the woman had been buried with some extraordinary items. There was a sword, a sign of Saxon nobility, placed between the couple; the woman was wearing a pendant made of a beaver tooth; next to her was a crystal ball, the size of a handball. In another burial a young woman had been laid to rest with a crystal ball, animal teeth and a pouch of beads of amethysts and amber and other semiprecious stones. In other graves of the same era were found pectoral crosses. Crystal and semi precious stones were rare and had to be obtained from somewhere else. What was the meaning of the crystal balls, the animal teeth and the stone beads? Dr. Moreland told us that, according to the works of historians like Valerie Flint and others, crystal balls in pagan times were associated with light and fire and together with beads of precious stones were thought of having the power to protect from the evil eye and to cure the many sicknesses afflicting man and beast. It was a belief that endured until the 17th century. Church records mention that people were chided for believing in the powers of these stones and therefore forbade their use for mystical purposes, hence they were called from then on ‘forbidden stones’. Equally, since remote times, amulets of animal teeth were considered transmitting the powers of the animal to its wearer. In the case of the beaver, Dr. Moreland told us how, according to Pliny, the beavers’ testicles were sought after for medicinal purposes. The story goes that when the animal sees that he cannot escape its hunters, it will castrate itself and throw them its testicles, thus escaping death. Its Latin name castor being a derivation from the Latin verb castrare – to cut off.
Clearly, based on the grave goods in combination with ancient and new texts, a strong case can be made that the women were practitioners of magic as well as persons of status, to whom the Christianized population still turned whenever they felt the need for protection against or cure of the many mishaps afflicting them. Also, the Christian cross was used in a pagan way. Since ancient times the farmers had always performed processions and supplications to their gods for good harvests and protection from evil. From the chiding church records we know that after their conversion to Christianity the villagers would still perform rogation prayers, but now holding up the cross and, by repeating the word cross over and over again in their chanting, would drive the perceived demons in front of them and out of the village and away from their fields.
Of the once magnificently decorated and colored carved stone cross, now only the shaft stands tall in Bradbourne’s church yard. We were told that during the reformation the top of the cross had been smashed into pieces which were later discovered in profane structures nearby, where they had been incorporated in an attempt to desecrate them. On the face of the shaft is a depiction of the crucifixion. Both sides are covered in scrolls of vines with a man shown shooting upwards with a bow and arrow. Each of the three top parts of the cross depicts an angel. Though the pagans would have been familiar with angels, the illustrations on the sides would have had different meanings for different people. For the literate cleric the hunters and vines would have been a symbolic narration of the gospels, while for the illiterate village people it would have simply depicted a scene from everyday life.
Last, Dr. Moreland talked about so called ‘thunderstones’, objects which had been excavated from a monastic grange not far from Bradbourne village. Previously they were thought to be prehistoric stone tools that the monks had found and collected. However, early Christian prohibitions reveal that the people in the Dark Ages believed that those stones had struck earth during thunderstorms and assumed they had supernatural powers. Ever in fear of lightning to strike their homesteads, animals and produce, they kept the ‘thunderstones’ for protection not only against natural disaster, but also against elf arrows. It was believed that cattle that fell ill had clearly been struck by an elf arrow and was now elf shot, in which case the thunderstone was expected to do its magic.
Indeed, Dr. Moreland has shown us that by consulting historical texts, the archaeologist can illuminate the Dark Ages and shine a light on people’s belief.
06 April 2010 – Prof Peter Drewett - Digging up Neolithic Hong Kong
The Neolithicum is established in China from 6000 until 1500 BC. In South China evidence of that time mainly is to be dated back only to the Late Neolithicum, (2500 -1500 BC). Neolithic settlements in the south are most likely to be found in the costal area, especially on headlands, protuding into the sea.
About 10 years before the return of Hong Kong to China huge amounts of government money was going to be put in infrastructural development, which would consume a lot of natural landscape. The biggest project of all was the new offshore airport, affecting the nearby headland of Sha Lo Wan. Prof. Drewett was called in 1993 as supervisor to do an archeological survey on this headland together with a team of Chinese archaeologists and local helpers. Result of the survey was, that indeed Late Neolithic structures dating from about 2900 to 2200 BC were found at that very spot.
In his lecture Prof. Drewett pointed out how difficult it was, to work on that weathered granite ground and to decide, what were post holes and what were natural holes. Eventually post holes could be identified by their content of packing stones, that would have fixed the original wooden pole inside the wider hole. The pattern of the holes gave evidence of an fenced in area , probably to keep domestic animals. Another two L-shaped patterns coul not so easily be explained. One theory is, that there may have been installed look-out platforms, to watch for approaching fish swarms. This woud fit to the supposition, that the people dwelling there (from time to time, because there was no evidence of houses), were fishermen. Further excavation revealed a couple of graves. These graves – with exception of one could only be identified as such by the content of funeral gifts. The bones had decayed due to the acidous milieu. Just in one single grave bones did remain, as a heap of seafood waste on top had neutralized the acid.
The gifts consisted of handmade pottery, stone axblades and quartz arm rings. Complete pots of global shape with a short cylindrical neck were unearthed. Their surface had been elaborately decorated with marks of carved wooden stamps or cord impressions. The polished axblades looked very much alike those found at European sites. The provenience of the material was far from the excavation site. But the quartz was local and most amazingly the rings were manufactured at the site by grinding them with quite sophisticated stone tools. Those tools were found too, along with accidently broken unfinished rings. These rings, if not used locally, may have been a valuable trading good in order to gain axblades or other necessary things.
Immediately after the archaeologists had left the site, the complete headland was blown up to give space for the airport.
02 March 2010– Jonathan Wilson - The Siege and Conquest of Silves 1189
‘The Siege and Conquest of Silves 1189’ was the title of the March lecture given by Jonathan Wilson. This very interesting and informative talk was based on his recent translation into English of the ‘Codex of Aix’. A fascinating document, in Medieval Latin, which was discovered by an Italian academic in Aix-en-Provence in 1837. Its author was in fact an anonymous crusader, who in 1189 joined the third crusade, and decided to ‘set forth frankly the naval journey of sundry events that befell the pilgrims proceeding to Jerusalem’. Jonathan Wilson explained that this third crusade came about within the historical context of the ongoing ‘Reconquista’ (the scheme to regain for Christendom all lands taken by the Muslim armies since the 8th century) and, more specifically, as a result of the decisive defeat in July 1187 of the Frankish army at the battle of Hattin in Palestine. Saladin, the victor, triumphantly marched into Jerusalem, whereupon Pope Gregory VIII issued a Papal Bull and the Emperor Frederick of Germany, King Philip Augustus of France and King Richard I of England rallied to the cause.
In addition to the main forces, there were also groups of warriors from Northern Europe who organised their own expeditions. This crusader makes no mention of a specific leader, so he may well have been part of such a group. At a time when the average journey was seven miles (which was the distance a man could ride and be able to return before dark) such an expedition was a huge undertaking.
The crusader wrote factual notes almost daily, and consequently his diary provides a wealth of information on a range of topics. He travelled by ‘round ship’, which had a single mast and a large square sail. This type of ship was apparently popular with the Northern crusaders as it had a large stowage capacity for supplies, animals etc., and could carry between 80-100 people. However ‘round ships’ were difficult to manoeuvre, had to stay in sight of land and depended on favourable winds. They also only sailed from May to September when the weather was relatively stable. In the diary he records all the places he visits and passes-by on the journey from Germany to Marseilles i.e. various ports in England and the west coast of France, then the west coast of Iberia to visit the shrines at San Salvador (Oveido) and Santiago de Compostella (one of the three main centres of Christian pilgrimage at that time). He includes many places on the North African coast, and also refers to places inland such as Marrakech. His information appears to have been obtained at first hand, probably from sailors and pilots or the local people he met in the ports.
It was while in Lisbon that the crusaders agreed to support King Don Sancho I in his conquest of the Muslim held Silves (Xelb). This to be in return for all the plunder from the city. Their fleet of 37 ships together with a number of Portuguese ships proceeded south, rounded Cape St Vincent and passed Alvor, the site of a massacre a few weeks earlier by a previous fleet of crusaders. He then recounts how they arrived in Silves on 21st June 1189 and began a six-week siege and battle for the city which ended in its eventual conquest.
And what of the man himself? Jonathan Wilson explained that, although we do not know his identity, there is other information that can be gleaned from the text. He was certainly German ‘we of theTeutonic kingdom’, and possibly came from Bremen or the area nearby. He compares Silves to Goslar, and makes special note of the death of two crusaders from Bremen. He was not a sailor as he frequently reports on the weather and marvels at the sight of such things as dolphins. He was obviously literate with a good knowledge of basic Latin, but there is no evidence to suggest that he was a cleric as he makes no reference to any religious duties. Neither is there any evidence of scholarship as his writing is factual and unembellished. Laymen at this time were also literate. Many worked as professional scribes copying textbooks for the burgeoning universities or keeping records and providing various documents for the government or commercial establishments. He also appears to be familiar with the mechanics of war – both the machines, and the tactics e.g. the use of digging (mining) at the base of the walls in Silves in order to weaken the structure.
The diary ends at Marseilles. We do not know what happened after that. Perhaps he left a copy of the document there before continuing on to the Holy Land, to make sure that at least this part of the account survived. It was known that knights from Bremen took part in the siege of the port city of Acre where they set up a hospital and became known as the order of Teutonic knights. Maybe our crusader was one of these.
Jonathan Wilson’s book is published by Mesquita Press IBSN 978-989-96352-0-3
02 Feb 2010 – Michael Harris - ' Invasions of Armies and Ideas into India'
This lecture gave an introduction to the complicated religious history of India, covering the periods from the 5th Century BCE through to the 16th Century AD. The armies that brought bloodshed to the sub-continent during this period also brought diverse religious and philosophical ideas. These new systems of thought from the outside world blended with the ways and perspectives for seeing the world that had existed in India for millennia. Some existing faiths died out in India, other new ones were rejected and others became uniquely Indian.
In his talk he wanted to introduce us to the origins of Indian belief and thought. He had deliberately excluded some religions e.g. Sikhism and Christianity and would concentrate on Hinduism, Buddhism and to some extent Islam. He pointed out that in Western Europe many new ideas and beliefs came from the East but for the Indian sub-continent the entry point was often the north- west – in modern terms Iran and Afghanistan. Alexander the Great invaded India as part of his conquests and stayed there for 18 months. When he left a large part of his army remained and subsequently converted to Buddhism – the picture on the left shows a statue of Buddha dressed in Greek robes. In the 16th century the great Moghul Emperor Akbar ruled probably the richest empire in the world at that date and, although a Muslim, he respected Hindu culture and beliefs. He consulted the Sufi holy man Sheik Salim Chisti about the possible conquest of Rajasthan and when this was successful he built a new city to honour the holy man. In the hall of this new city (picture right) Akbar liked to debate theology with representatives from all faiths – Hindu, Islam, Jain and Christianity – and he established a state religion combining them all. Unfortunately this attempt at religious unity did not outlast the Emperor and the subsequent reaction to purify Islam produced a missionary school of reformers for which the modern word in Afghanistan is Taleban. Buddhism arose against the background of Hinduism in north India in the 6th cent.BC: Buddha’s meditations on human suffering resulted in the Four Noble Truths which teach the way of liberation through ethics and discipline. The picture below shows a Buddhist stupa and the column on which the Emperor Asoka's laws of non-violence were enscribed. He had become a Buddhist in the 3rdc BC and, in spite of the spread of this religion through large parts of Asia, Buddhism had largely lost influence in India by 500AD. The Jains are the only one of the sects to survive today dating back to the time of Buddha. Its founder was a contemporary of Buddha and his message is the most sacred of all life, refusing to kill even the smallest insect – (a difficult religion for those of us who hate mosquitoes!). See picture above of an 18 mtr high monolithic sculpture carved about 1020 AD. Hinduism in its present form emerged about 1500 years ago. It is a religion which was first based on texts but changed to images. The three main gods were Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva representing creation, life, and death. Some theologians say they are all aspects of one god. The main emphasis is now on Vishnu and Shiva. The picture on the left shows Vishnu sleeping while dreaming up the universe. Vishnu has been born 9 times in various human and non-human incarnations – Krishna and Rama are his 2 great human incarnations while one of his non-human incarnations (as a pig) is shown in the other picture. Shiva is a composite god, half man/half woman and is both creator and destroyer. The three headed stone carving of Shiva portrays the 3 aspects of creation, destruction, and contemplation. It is carved in the 6th century AD and the faces are 3 metres tall. The bronze casting from the 12th century shows Shiva dancing the tandava, the dance of destruction and recreation. Each god has many manifestations with both benign and ferocious aspects as shown on the left in the female godess Kali with the fierceful as well as the graceful aspect (Parvati). Hinduism assimilated local religions and developed many sub-cults – Michael Harris said that it could be described as a very broad church. This was a specialised and unusual lecture giving an intriguing insight into India and perhaps the next step should be a visit!
05 Jan 2010 – Elisabeth Szlezak-Wittmann: The Romans in Vienna.
In pre-Roman times, the area between the river Danube and the Alps was inhabited by Celtic tribes. On the south bank of the Danube at the location of today’s Vienna there was already a Celtic settlement with the name of Vindobona. The Roman presence in Austria began in 15 BC, when Emperor Augustus decided to enlarge the Roman Empire to the north beyond the Alps. But north of the Danube and east of the Rhine the Germanic tribe of the Marcomanni under their King Marbot withstood the Roman pressure further north, until eventually, after the disastrous defeat of the Romans in the Battle of Teuteburg Forrest (east of the lower Rhine) the Romans drew back their legions to build a frontier (Limes) along the rivers Rhine and Danube. The Danube Limes was to last for the next 400 years. For stationing defence troops along this limes, a chain of reinforced camps was built. One of them was at the Celtic settlement of Vindobona. Another one close by was Carnuntum, which at the end of the 2nd century AD became the capital of the Roman province of Upper Pannonia and, with about 50.000 inhabitants, was one of the most important metropolises of the empire. Vindobona in contrast stayed a small town with a civilian settlement and a port next to the legion's camp. The outlines of the rectangular camp are still to be seen in the street grid of today's Vienna, as the camp walls became town walls during Medieval times. Only a small amount of scattered archaeological excavations can be conducted in a densely inhabited modern city like Vienna. Excavations performed since the 19th century led to a full, virtual reconstruction of the camp, as all Roman camps were built in accordance to the same master plan. A very interesting video depicting a 3D virtual reconstruction of the Vindobona camp was shown by Elisabeth. The camp has been built on a plateau next to the Danube, protected by a steep slope to the river at the north, a natural canyon to the west and three parallel ditches plus wooden palisades to the south and east. The camp itself was 400x500m in size and was surrounded by a 10m high massive wall and defence towers. There were four big gates, one to each side, connected by the main streets, the Via Principalis (also called Via Cardialis) and the Via Decumana. These streets, 9m wide, were paved with big stone slabs, had a drainage system and roof-covered footpaths at both sides. At their crossing the headquarters of the legion was located. The minor streets provided a regular grid for all other buildings necessary to give accommodation for about 6000 soldiers and 4000 civilians. There were barracks for the lower graded soldiers, baths, workshops, storehouses, stables etc. The commander, belonging to the senatorial class, had a palace for him and his family, equipped with a hypocaust (under floor) heating system. Around the fortress a prospering urban settlement developed, one part of which was in close connection to the military administration and had shops, workshops, taverns, leisure facilities as well as places for worship. Further out there was an independent civilian quarter with inhabitants consisting for a large part of the native Celtic people. In the outskirts of Vindobona and beyond estates and farmhouses were established. In the course of the development it was destroyed in169 AD as a result of a Germanic raid. It was reconstructed soon after and there was another period of prosperity until the end of the 3rd century AD, when border conflicts led to a crisis. There was a gradual decline of the urban settlement outside the fortress and the civilian town of Vindobona. In addition, a landslide destroyed large parts of the legionary fortress. After the Roman defeat at the battle of Adrianople (380 AD) by the Goths, the invasion and settlement by Huns and East Germanic tribes continued. At about 400 AD the camp and town were finally destroyed.
09 Dec 2009 - Richard Harrison: Lost Worlds from the Spanish Bronze Age. For many years Dr. Harrison’s research centred on field projects and excavations designed to obtain first class data to model palaeo-economic changes and patterns of intensification in the Copper and Bronze Ages of Spain and Portugal. This work established the dynamism and local autonomy of societies with a low population density and showed unexpected routes to stability, through specialised horse breeding, for hunting, and secondary products exploitation.
The talk focussed on his field work in the Zaragoza region of Spain in particular the remote villages of Moncín and Majaladares. It appears that the societies in this region (2 – 1000 BCE) relied on a cork/pork economy and the landscape was exploited to this end – eg 70-120kg of acorns could produce 40kg of fat pork. In the summer when it was very dry hunting would take place. At Moncín there was very deep stratigraphy which revealed the remains of timber buildings, storage pits, and 40 silos estimated to have each contained around 1.200kg of grain. Professor Harrison explained that the soils removed from the site were all sieved through 5mm screens to establish the amount of animal bone present within the settlement. Sheep and goats made up around half whereas horses were only 8.9% and 20.5% red deer. This contrasted enormously with the study at Majaladares where there were huge numbers of horses and deer. He believes that there may well have been a breeding programme for horses and that there was an ongoing trade between the sites he has studied. It is suggested that the area around Moncín could have produced the arable needs of the region due to the high number of silos (none being found at Majaladares). Another interesting site was Ternel in Aragon. This region is one of the least populated areas of W.Europe. The site is situated at a height of 1.500m on eroded limestone and was undiscovered until a new water system was installed. The land around is good for cereal growing and the archaeologists found 2m of stratified BA deposits. These were discovered beneath 1937 civil war deposits and showed that the BA farmstead, although having been destroyed by fire in antiquity, was relatively undisturbed. A considerable amount of charcoal and seed was recovered by sieving. Pollen cores were taken from the surrounding fields, these included barley, peas, lentils and low yield wheat. There is much more to say about the studies that Richard Harrison has carried out in this remote area of Iberia, but, even so it can be seen how well the people of the Bronze Age exploited their environment to their best advantage in the distant past.
03 Nov 2009 – Jean-Yves Blot : Jean Boudriot and the Great ‘59 Legacy.
The naval Battle of Lagos took place on August 19, 1759 during the Seven Years' War between Britain and France. The scheme of King Louis XV’s ministers was to invade Britain with the combined squadrons of 21 ships lying at Brest and the 12 which were to be brought round from Toulon by de la Clue. Admiral Boscawen with his 14 ships was given the task of blockading de la Clue. De la Clue, however, passed the straits of Gibraltar while Boscawen was at port in Gibraltar for provisioning and refitting. The British fleet hurried out to sea and pursued de la Clue’s ships. Five of de la Clue's ships steered for Cadiz. The other 7 were overtaken by Boscawen and attacked. One was captured, while two altered course to the west, and escaped. The remaining 4 fled to the north into Portuguese waters near Lagos, where 2 ships were captured and 2 ships were driven ashore and destroyed. The wreck lying in open water off Salema was identified as being from de la Clue's 74-gun flagship, Océan, by some bronze cannons recovered and by careful exploration comparing the findings to the studies of Jean Boudriot, an important French architect and major historian, whose drawings in technical detail of the French men-of-war of the period are crucial to the study of any naval event and wreck identification from the second half of the 17th Century. Jean Yves presented his findings at a recent symposium sponsored by the Lagos Câmara to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the battle. By way of introduction to his talk Jean Yves-Blot had noted that nautical archeology in Portugal was a fledgling science, not much supported by public funding unlike its land-based counterpart. Also the diving expertise required for Nautical exploration had not existed in Portugal until recently. The site of the Océan still exists today, relatively unharmed although fragile. It is a miracle that there is no visible destruction at a site that is so accessible. But what will happen if diving tourism will bring a kind of diving to the Algarve that did not exist before?
Jean Yves continued his talk with many visuals illustrating the varied and complex nature of nautical archeology and the various fields of expertise used. Especially the use of a magnetometer which has been more useful than sonar in finding scattered remains. The sciences of naval architecture and engineering helped to identify wrecks and the manner of the decomposition of their component parts and cargos. Taking a global perspective, necessary because of the vast range of commerce, different countries used different construction methods; the Chinese double scarf joints of their large vessels were totally different to the more flexible, caulked hulls of the European navies. All these things provide clues to the identity of the wrecks. Where wood still exists it can be carbon dated. The land/sea-scape at a site also alters with time. At Carrapeteira, near Lagos but on the west coast of the Algarve, the bay which at one time contained a cove harbour is now a bay of sand dunes – the probable result of the great earthquake of 1755 off the coast. This discovery was a result of magnometer scans of the seabed which showed clear anomalies and trenches just off Carrapateira caused by the collision of tectonic plates which continue to cause tremors in this part of the ocean. The wide ranging talk ended with an enthusiastic plea for nautical archeology, particularly its complexity and the diverse range of sciences required which he had referred to during the talk: Ethnology, Seismology, Jurisprudence, International law, History, Diving, Navigation, Marine engineering, Naval architecture – to name but a few!
06 Oct 2009 – Our autumn lecture programme started with a good turnout at both venues to hear Carolyn Perry, Director of the MBI al Jaber Foundation, speak on the broad category of the impact of Islam on all aspects of art. Members and visitors alike were fascinated by the array of examples shown, many from the British Museum where Carolyn was previously head of the Arab World Education Programme. Carolyn opened with a photo of a fabulously ornate mosque lamp, a symbolic (and functional item) that demonstrated that God is light, a refuge from darkness. Wealthy families often make gifts of lamps to mosque, both as demonstration of a profound faith but also as a bit of competition with other wealthy families. Following on with a few photos of regional artwork prior to the founding of Islam, we marvelled at the work of the Nabateans. At the time that Mohammad proclaimed Islam in Mecca, the city was already an important trading and pilgrimage centre, especially as a stop on the frankincense route, and existing religious sites such as the Kaaba and Zam Zam Well were incorporated into the new religion. The five pillars of Islam (faith in one god, daily prayers, charity for the poor, fasting during Ramadan and a once in a life-time pilgrimage to Mecca) with the exception of fasting, offer examples that the faith has influenced all aspects of art . . . from painting, architecture, and metalwork to enamel and lustre ware, glassware, and calligraphy. The examples of architecture were particularly dramatic, showing the basic features of a mosque and how the shape of minarets developed from a Roman lighthouse basis to the more common style seen throughout the Middle East today. A special favourite was the minaret with a spiral ramp on the outside, thus allowing the muezzin to be carried on horseback to the top of the minaret to deliver the call to prayer. The Arabic language script is very important in Islamic arts and led to the development of many different regional styles. Whether written on parchment as part of religious texts or lavished on walls or decorative objects, the language itself is a thing of beauty, with the scripts from Iraq and Afghanistan shown as particularly ornate.
The lecture concluded with an answer to the question – What is Islamic Art? In major museum collections, a visitor will find examples of a wide array of items . . . do not be surprised to also find Christian and Jewish artefacts. Why? Because the term Islamic Art refers to items made during the period when Islam was at the height of its influence; many of the artisans were not Muslim and the influence of the religion was such that non-Muslims adopted techniques and materials from the era.
02 June 2009 - John Bennet shone his light on several other late Mycenaen Bronze Age site in Messenia (the south western Peloponnese), with Pylos being the most important one, but about which less is heard compared to the more famous one of Minoan Knossos or Mycenae itself. However, references to all three sites were made in the hieroglyphics of Amenhotep III in Egypt. Trade across the Mediterranean was evidently well established and the appearance of characteristic pottery in places far from its origin confirms this. The discovery of a beautiful amber necklace at Pylos (amber originating from the Baltic sea) throws light on just how extensive were the ancient trade routes. Illustrations of shaft graves at Mycenae and the more sophisticated tholos tombs at Pylos pointed out the different characteristics of the two sites. We were given a conducted tour of the Pylos site, known popularly as the Palace of Nestor, which was excavated by Carl Blegen from 1939 to 1952. It is in a superb position overlooking Navarino Bay in the Western Peloponnese. The evolution of the palace complex was explained. The central megaron, which was virtually the throne room, has some remains of what must have been very beautiful wall paintings but the palace was burned to the ground at some point. It was because of this that so many of the tablets inscribed with Linear B script were preserved. The complex writing system, which had baffled the archaeologists since it was first discovered at Knossos, was fortunately deciphered at about the same time as the site was opened up. As a result much is known about the kingdom of Pylos which was administered from the palace. The area consisted of 2 main provinces divided by the Aigaleon range of mountains in the western Peloponnese and was subdivided into other districts. Decipering the tablets was an enormous achievement byh Ventris. His discovery that the script was in fact a representation of Greek was hugely important in the understanding of the society that gave rise to the Palace. It was interesting to learn that it was principally used as a short term method of keeping records. It was apparently not used for literary purposes as there was a strong tradition of story telling as part of the celebrations and ceremony at the Palace. In this way a rich mixture of historical fact and legend embellished by the narrators was passed down. These narrators may well have also used the palace paintings as visual prompts. This amalgam of fact and fiction was beautifully described as a ‘river of song’. This picture, Prof. Bennett argued, is consistent with the complete disappearance of wring at the end of the Aegean Late Bronze Age and with the continuity or oral performance into the so-called Greek Dark Age. This 'river' of Homeric-like poems eventually led to a tranquil lake of written stories from Homer onwards into which we can dip at will. From the scant evidence on site a number of highly conjectural images have been conjured up by artists to do essentially what Arthur Evans did for us at Knossos.
05 May 2009 - One of our longstanding members Michael (Mike) Pease gave us an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and entertaining lecture on the topic of The Roman Legions – A British Soldier’s Perspective. In the early 1950’s Michael was a young officer serving in an Armoured Division. He was stationed at Minden, North Western Germany, not far from the Teutoburg Forest where, in AD9 the 17th, 18th, and 19th Roman legions together with 6 cohorts of auxiliaries, drawn from conquered tribes, 3 squadrons of cavalry and camp followers were slaughtered by Germanic tribesmen led by Hermanus. In recent times, archaeological discoveries, centred on Osnabruck University, have defined more precisely the course of the 3-day battle of Teutoburgwald and its final catastrophic conclusion near Kalkriese Hill. The number of those killed, approximately 20,000, equated to the number of men in the armoured division in which Mike served. This historical event inspired Michael’s interest in the Roman legions and the similarities between their structure and organisation and those of the British army he knew. Michael’s review of the structure and organisation of the Roman Legions focussed on the reforms (called thew Marian reforms) that Gaius Marius (157-86 BC) introduced during the period of his 7-times elected Consulship. Until that time soldiers serving the Republic had to belong to the fifth cencus class or higher and own property over a certain value. In addition they were to provide their own arms and uniforms. Faced with a militatary crisis with regards to troop numbers as a result of these minimum requirements and the fear of invasion by the Barbarian hordes, Marius decided to ignore these requirements altogether and allow all Roman citizens entry into the army, regardless of social class and property of the potential soldier. Standard equipment and uniforms were provided and for greater mobility of the troops as well as to deminish the enormous mule bagage trains, soldiers had to carry all their equipment, clothes, food, as well as parts for camp making, which resulted into a weight of 27 kg to be carried on a frame on their back (Marian's Mules). The restructuring also included a change in tactics from the Greek/Etruscan massive but unwieldy Phalanx, used by the Hoplites, to more widely spaced and flexible cohorts that permitted greater room for individual fighting and for variations in troop disposition with differing military experience. However, this greater flexibility called for much greater initiative and leadership at junior officer and non-commissioned officer levels. This was a theme to which Michael harked throughout his talk and he drew parallels with the flexibility of western armies facing centrally controlled Communist forces during the Cold War of the 1950’s.Under Gaius Marius reforms were extensive, resulting in the loyalty of legionnaires being transferred much more towards their direct field commanders (who could at the end of their service bring about a land distribution on their behalf) and away from Rome. Michael dwelt in some detail on such aspects as: recruitment, discipline, morale, pay, retirement, clothing, food, intelligence services, health, hygiene and battlefield medicine. He also described logistics, weapons, equipment and armour, artillery, engineering and camp layout, tactical formations and specialised units. In all these aspects he drew parallels to modern day military practices.
07 Apr 2009 - Derek Roe and Sarah Milliken returned to speak about Two and a half million years of stone tools. This lecture was given as a powerpoint presentation, with many outstanding illustrations of stone artefacts from all periods, starting with the beginning of the Palaeolithic period and ending with modern times. Derek Roe covered the Palaeolithic period and Sarah Milliken later Prehistory and more recent times. The ability to make stone tools was one of the characteristics that distinguished the emerging first humans from other members of the Primates. When looking at stone tools from the maker’s and user’s point of view one should realize that workable stone was abundant and easy to find, that basic knapping, the striking of a flake, is extremely easy, while stone cutting edges are amongst the sharpest in the world. While the earliest stone tools, dating back 2.5-2.8 million years ago and found in the Sub-Saharan region at Oldowai, were extremely simple chopper-like pieces, they were still highly effective. During the long Palaeolithic period, as humans evolved physically and mentally, several important manufacturing techniques were developed and the repertoire of manufactured tools became quite sophisticated. Large handaxes (pointed or almond-shaped) and cleavers (with axe-like ends), made bifacially from large flake blanks or suitable flat nodules, typical for the Aecheulian lasted for a million years during the Lower Paleolithic, spreading widely within the Old World, and remaining remarkably consistent, whatever the rock types. The Middle Palaeolithic saw emphasis on fine flake tools, made on blanks of predetermined size and shape, struck from prepared cores. Various specialised tool types appear, including some blades and the first obvious projectile points. In the Upper Palaeolithic, from c.45,000 b.p. (in Europe), technology included regular use of blades, making possible many new tool types. Among many new techniques introduced in this period was pressure flaking: regular flat removals of retouch flakes by pressure, not percussion. Because stone artefacts have a high capacity for survival (unlike huminid fossils and most organic remains), they are a vital element in the archaeological evidence documenting the gradual spread of humans over the Old World and into the New World during the Pleistocene period. The Neolithic period brought further innovations, which can be linked to the change from nomadic hunter-gatherer economies to sedentary food-producing ones. After metal-working was introduced, stone tools and weapons continued to be made, and various distinctive types exist in the Bronze and Iron ages of Europe, and in chronologically equivalent stages of Prehistory in other parts of the world. Indeed, stone tool manufacture has continued into the historic period in various ethnographic contexts. Some stone artifacts that were obviously too big and heavy to be used as tools or showed only intricate decorative designs (the Mayan eccentrics) may also have played an import part in religious practices. In our own times some of the same knapping techniques that were known to early humans have even become the basis of an art-form, particularly in America. Stone tools can yield vital information about many aspects of human life in the Prehistoric period: the study of them is as important to present-day archaeologists as the use of them was to their original makers. While some of the traditional approaches based on typological classification are still useful, archaeological science had added many new methods of extracting information from stone artefacts - for example, microscopic study of use-wear traces, which may tell us exactly how an individual stone tool was used, and what material it was used to work. At well-preserved archaeological sites, it may be possible to reconstruct the entire life cycle of stone artefacts, from the obtaining of the rock, through manufacture, use, including various stages of reshapening, to eventual discard.
03 Mar 2009 - Professor John Burland made a welcome return to speak to the AAA with a lecture titled ‘A Tale of Two Towers – Rescuing Pisa and Big Ben’. …Construction of the Pisa tower began in 1173 and was completed in 1370. Construction occurred in 3 phases and calculations showed that if the long pauses between the three phases of construction had not taken place the tower would have fallen over. The pauses allowed consolidation of the soft sediments to take place thereby increasing the strength of the ground. In 1838 the architect Alessandro della Gherardesca excavated a walk-way (catino) around the base of the tower. It is known that the tower lurched to the south by nearly half a metre which brought it very close to collapse. Because of fears for its stability the Pisa Tower was closed to the public in January 1990 and the Italian Prime Minister set up a Commission to stabalize the tower in March 1990. Measurements that had already begun in 1911 showed that during the twentieth century the inclination of the tower had been increasing inexorably each year and the rate of tilt had doubled since the 1930’s. Years of study and trials showed that tilt was not caused by an uneven settling of the foundatioins in the soft underlying marine clay but by a rotation of the foundation. Commencement of rotation each year coincided with very sharp rises in the ground water level predominantly under the foundation of the north side following the heavy rainstorms that always occur in the period September to December. Temporary stabilisation of the foundations was achieved by the application of 900 ton of lead weights to the north side of the foundations. Stabilization work began in 1999, using a controversial method of silt extraction from under the north side of the foundation which brought the top of the tower back 44 cm in the horizontal plane, back to the position it held in 1838. The lean of Big Ben’s tower was not as serious as that of Pisa but there was still a need for correction as the inclination of this tower had been influenced by a number of construction activities: the construction of the underground car park beneath New Palace Yard in the 1970’s and in the 1990’s, the construction of the Jubilee Line extension tunnels. The stability of the clock tower has been controlled by a different but equally novel method of injecting grout beneath the foundations. The two stories of stabilizing these two famous towers intertwined in a fascinating way demonstrating the marrying up of scientific and engineering skills in order to save these towers for posterity. One was left with the feeling: What if these two monumentous treatments had gone wrong? Prof. Burland and his team are to be congratulated for the work and the confidence with which they tackled the unique projects. The entire lecture can be found at : http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/events/reports/2001-2002/rae_02.pdf
06 Jan 2009 - Professor Trevor Haywood presented The Romans in Iberia.
Why did the Romans come to Iberia? It was principally due to the two heads of the emerging empire in its early days, Rome and Carthage watching each other expand. We were deftly led through the characters of the Punic Wars, which eventually came to a head in Eastern Spain. Hasdrubal of Carthage finally agreed to a dividing line along the River Ebro, but with the town of Satguim retained by Rome, south of the river. Later, Hasdrubal, in order to even the boundaries seized the town and outright war was declared. As a result Hasdrubal decided to march on Rome. However, it was his son, Hannibal, who eventually took the lead, and after crossing the Alps, he defeated the Roman army in three pitched battles. Successive members of the Scipio family, supported by Roman legions, eventually seized back various parts of the Iberian peninsular. The following 200 years saw the rising of strong local defence against this Roman colonisation by the native tribes including the fierce Lusitanians. This led to the rise of the Lusitanian hero, Viriatus, a strong and capable military leader. Viriatus was eventually murdered by his own men at the behest of Rome. A period of relative peace followed, permitting Rome to consolidate its new colony. They withdrew their forces at the beginning of the 5th century. Lusitania became a great asset to the Roman Empire. The Alentejo area was the bread basket of Rome, some 85% of its olive oil came from there. Gold and silver were mined to great effect, benefitting the tax collectors, consuls and governors. Rome brought town planning with roads, aqueducts, markets, temples and the veneer of civilisation which lasted well into the time of the Moorish invasions.’ The Roman legacy is represented by remains found at such locations as Merida, Itálica and Milreu.