The archaeological excavations in Cacela Velha, in the municipality of Vila Real de Santo António, will continue in the next two years with several objectives on the horizon, opening the way for the possible musealization of the territory.
The current campaign received Thursday the visit of the mayor of Vila Real de Santo António, Conceição Cabrita, the regional director of Culture of the Algarve, Adriana Freire Nogueira, and the vice-rector of the University of Algarve, Ana Freitas.
Called "Muslims and Christians in medieval Cacela: territory and changing identities", the research project results from a protocol of collaboration between the three entities.
The project has a horizon of 4 years and is studying the medieval Islamic quarter (12th-13th centuries) and the necropolis of the Hermitage of N. S. of the Martyrs (13th-16th centuries).
"In the campaign of this year, we have already reached Islamic levels, so from the scientific point of view it was a success," said Maria João Valente (University of Algarve), who together with Cristina Tété Garcia (DRCAlg) coordinated the archaeological works.
The biggest novelty, he added, "was the high number of human graves found, many of them difficult to dig because they would belong to infants and children."
This data reveals the existence, at the time, of "a high prevalence of infant mortality".
On the other hand, ceramic remains with a high quality were found, "which was very useful from the scientific point of view", testified Maria João Valente.
The archaeologist announced that in 2020, new areas will be opened in search of the famous hermitage of Our Lady of the Martyrs, "which would most likely be accompanying the Christian necropolis."
"We will also try to find the paleo-Christian necropolis or the Islamic necropolis," she added.
The mayor of Vila Real de Santo António, Conceição Cabrita, assured that the project will continue in the next two years and will "deepen the knowledge about the past of Cacela Velha and contribute to the musealization of this territory."
"This campaign is synonymous with the defense and safeguarding of heritage, so the institution could not stay outside this protocol and contribute to the preservation of this important archaeological site," said the regional director of Culture, Adriana Freire Nogueira.
Over the course of four weeks, the Campus-School of Archeology of Cacela welcomed researchers and university students, involving about 30 national and foreign participants.
The works included the excavation, registration and analysis of the different layers, collection of sediments, as well as the identification of materials such as ceramics, food remains, metal parts, among others.
The aim of these measures is not only to consolidate the historical-archaeological information already acquired, but also to obtain new data to broaden and detail the knowledge about the territory where the settlement of Cacela was established and about the human communities that inhabited it of the Middle Ages (X-XV centuries).