Archaeologists unearth medieval Christian necropolis in Portugal’s Algarve

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Archaeologists were hoping to find the first hermitage built in Cacela Velha, in Algarve, after the Christian conquest, but the remains that were unearthed in the area belonged instead to a medieval Christian necropolis and to an earlier Islamic settlement.

Archaeologists unearth medieval Christian necropolis in Portugal's Algarve
Credit: Luis Forra/LUSA

Cristina Garcia, from the Regional Direction of Culture (DRC) of Algarve, explains that the work is a continuation of the excavations undertaken in 1998 and 2001, in which the remains of what was thought to be the hermitage were detected, but it soon became apparent that the existing walls were, in fact, part of an Islamic bath abandoned by the Arabs before the Christian conquest and that they were later covered by a medieval Christian necropolis.

Archaeologists unearth medieval Christian necropolis in Portugal's Algarve
Credit: Luis Forra/LUSA



“Because the walls appeared to lie above the Christian necropolis, it was thought that they belonged to the hermitage, but only more burials of the medieval Christian cemetery were found, which had been used until the 15th or 16th century, and now we need to determine what the precise boundaries of this cemetery are”, says Cristina Garcia.

Archaeologists unearth medieval Christian necropolis in Portugal's Algarve
Credit: Luis Forra/LUSA

“We were looking for the hermitage of Our Lady of Martyrs, the first hermitage established in the territory after the Christian conquest, but we have not found it yet, instead we chanced upon an abandoned Islamic settlement”, she adds.

Archaeologists unearth medieval Christian necropolis in Portugal's Algarve
Credit: Luis Forra/LUSA



“We now have plans to continue, because the Christian necropolis is quite large, with many burials, and the Islamic settlement beneath extends over the whole of this area. We have to determine the size of this settlement, what area it occupies, in order to know a little more about the way of life of the community that dwelled here, their relationship with the sea, with the land. So we have now got some future projects and a lot of questions to address,” notes Cristina Garcia.

Archaeologists unearth medieval Christian necropolis in Portugal's Algarve
Credit: Luis Forra/LUSA

“To this end, it is necessary to finance and support the research and documentation project that will allow us to reveal and show the history of Cacela to visitors.”

She estimates that about 150,000 euros will be needed.

Source: Publico [July 24, 2018]

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