December 4th 2018
In between life and death: the archaeology of Poço Antigo in Cacela.
Maria João Valente
Cristina Tété Garcia
In 2018 new research project for Cacela-a-Velha was started, entitled «Muslims and Christians in Medieval Cacela: changing territories and identities». On the wider scope, it focuses on understanding the transition between the Medieval Islamic and Christian occupations of the territory, and on the identification of continuities and changes that occurred within this transition (10th–15th centuries AD). Namely, who made up Cacela’s Islamic community and how they responded to the rise of new political and religious powers in the region, the arrival of new residents, changes in exploitation of natural resources, and the architectural evolution of the place.
To achieve this, we will be working in the Islamic quarter of Poço Antigo from 2018 to 2021. Poço Antigo is located outside Cacela’s walls and is comprised by buildings and streets connecting to the probable medieval harbour. After its abandonment, the same site was occupied by a post-Islamic Christian necropolis—so far we have identified 66 graves.
The new project includes the excavation of new areas to clarify the structural organisation (streets, passways, pipe and drainage, etc.) of the Islamic quarter and to establish the limits of the medieval Christian funerary space. It will also record the stratigraphic elements, and collect archaeological materials and evidences of human occupation and community life.
The 2018–2021 project is based on a multi- and interdisciplinary methodology. The research team is comprised by archaeologists, anthropologists, geologists, historians, biochemists and conservators-restorers. Several actions are planned, including detailed drawing and photography, radiocarbon dating, isotopic and DNA analyses, restoration of materials and structures, sediments fluctuation (for archaeobotany and zooarchaeological analyses), particle analysis and geomorphological framework (for palaeoenvironmental data) and geophysical survey.
Supported by the University of Algarve (CEAACP unit), Direção-Regional de Cultura do Algarve and Vila Real de Santo António Municipality, the project also includes several partnerships, as Simon Fraser University (Canada), Hercules Lab from University of Évora, Faculty of Sciences of Universidade de Lisboa, CIBIO–InBIO from University of Porto and Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR).
Maria João Valente is a Professor at Universidade do Algarve and a researcher for CEAACP — Centro de Estudos de Arqueologia, Artes e Ciências do Património. Her main research is in zooarchaeology, nowadays focusing on human subsistence and animal resources in Neolithic and Medieval periods in Portugal. She’s one of the coordinators of the Cacela archaeological project.
Cristina Tété Garcia is a Senior Technician at Direção-Regional de Cultura do Algarve and a researcher for CEAACP — Centro de Estudos de Arqueologia, Artes e Ciências do Património. She has been studying Cacela history and archaeology since the 90s, developing her Ph.D. on the subject (delivered in 2015). She’s one of the coordinators of the Cacela archaeological project.