2018 - July : Visit to the archaeological excavations at Cacela-a-Velha
A group of AAA members made a site visit to the excavations that took place for a month at the site of Poço Antigo at Cacela-a-Velha in the municipality of Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the eastern Algarve. The site is located immediately adjacent to the Fortress of Cacela-a-Velha, in an idyllic setting overlooking the eastern end of the Ria Formosa and the beach. The excavations resume the work undertaken between 1998-2001 (during which time some AAA members joined in the excavations) in the area where the former islamic quarter of Qastalla Darrag is located.
The excavations are part of the research project entitled "Muslims and Christians in Me-dieval Cacela: changing territories and identities", with the current campaign of excavations running until 2022. The project is researching the Medieval Islamic Quarter of the ancient Qastalla Darrag (of the 12th century and the first quarter of the 13th century) and the overlying Medieval necropolis of the Christian settlers of the Algarve (dating from the second half of the 13th century). The aim of the work is to determine the limits of the settlement and the necropolis, in addition to investigating the possible connection of the settlement to an adjacent port (still to be located) and the subsequent Christian necropolis.
Our group was given a tour of the site by Maria Joao Valente of the University of the Algarve (UAlg) who was coordinating the archaeological works alongside Cristina Garcia (DRCAlg) and Hugo Cardoso of the Simon Fraser University, Canada (SFU). Students from the University of the Algarve, Simon Fraser University and local secondary schools participated in archaeological field-school, enabling them to develop their skills in excavating and recording medieval structures and artefacts (including pottery and animal bone) as well as human bones.
This season of excavation has revealed a number of Medieval Christian burials (adding to the previous individuals identified on site) which were discovered cut into the remains of the underlying abandoned Almohad settlement. A number of houses with courtyards were excavated, in addition to the discovery of a main street that crosses the settlement and appears likely to connect it to the possible port area. Work on site will resume in 2019.
Following the excavation, the post-excavation work of cleaning, cataloguing and study-ing the recovered material will take place. Analysis of the human bones, including ra-dio-carbon dating and analysis of their diet amongst other things, will determine their burial date and whether the people were of local origin or had come from outside of the area.