4th June 2019
Loule Velho (Quarteira) - Archaeology of memory at a Roman site
Catarina Viegas, Rui de Almeida
The LORIVAI project, which began in July 2018, has as its main objective the study of the Roman site of Loulé Velho, that played an integral and structural role in the dynamics of the local and regional settlement of the Algarve coast in Roman times (from the middle of the 1st century until late antiquity, i.e. the 6th century). This project originated in the programme of research that opened with the exhibition Loulé: Territorios, Memorias, Identidades (held between June 2017 and April 2019 at the National Archaeological Museum), and was brought into full being by a Cooperation Agreement signed between the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon (FLUL / UNIARQ) and the Municipality of Loulé.
The archaeological work carried out on the site at different times has identified structures related to the production of fish-based products (cetariae), and others associated with the production of wine or olive oil (cilindrical counterweight). An apsidal building and a relatively large necropolis were also recovered. However, it has not proven easy to instantly categorize the site as it has suffered continual destruction by coastal erosion. This process, which has accelerated in recent years, has, on the other hand, compelled the rescue of a very significant volume of archaeological finds.
As a consequence, hundreds of objects have been retrieved: many fragments of pottery of different categories and origins, metal and glass items, coins, but also fragments of mosaic, marble and painted stucco. These were deposited in the Municipal Museum. When identified and classified, their study enables the assessment of the site’s significance in the regional framework and in the province of Lusitania, and on an even larger scale within the Roman Empire.
In this presentation, we focus on the available knowledge about the site and on the investigation carried out, so teasing out an understanding of the role of Loulé Velho in the framework of the Roman economy since the 1st century to the 6th century AD. Some of the results are outlined; future development paths are indicated.
It should be noted that the project strategy as formulated always had in mind the collaboration and participation of the local communities in the different research activities: this has been realized by conducting several open-days at the laboratories, as well as courses and talks.
Catarina Viegas has been a Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon since 1997, and belongs to the research team of UNIARQ - Center for Archaeology University of Lisbon
Her research focuses on the Roman settlement and economy in central and southern Portugal, with a special emphasis on the study of the different categories of Roman pottery as a way to identify the economic history in the Roman period.
She has published several scientific papers in this area of study. In conjunction with such research, she has also actively pursued various avenues of scientific dissemination. She recently joined the curatorship-team for the exhibition Loulé: Territorios, Memórias, Identidades, which gave rise to the project “LORIVAI. Loulé Velho and the Paleoestuary of the Ribeira de Carcavai: settlement, interaction and dynamics since Roman times”, directed together with Rui Roberto de Almeida.
Rui de Almeida holds a Master's degree in History and Archaeology; he is a researcher at UNIARQ - Center for Archaeology at the University of Lisbon, and is currently developing several works for the Loulé City Council and its Municipal Museum.
In the last 20 years, he has focused his research on the production and trade of foodstuffs, mainly by maritime routes, between Lusitania and the provinces of the Roman Empire, particularly with Baetica. This also formed the field of research for his PhD.
Of other projects he has conducted, some concerned the world of Roman ceramics - especially with regard to apicultural production; yet others were on Medieval and Modern ceramic subjects. In so doing, he has carried out archaeological excavations and written monographs for publication. As an editor, he has overseen the production of both scientific monographs and exhibition catalogues and other museological works, and in particular the executive curatorship of the exhibition “LOULÉ. Territórios, Memórias, Identidades”.