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Centre for Archaeological Studies from the Universities of Coimbra and Porto and Mértola’s Archaeological Site

(Unit no. 281 of the Foundation for Science and Technology)

Mértola’s Archaeological Site and the Centre for Archaeological Studies of the Universities of Coimbra and Porto joined together in creating a single Research Unit dedicated to the development of historical, artistic and archaeological studies under a multidisciplinary perspective.

The new Centre aims to be a place for convergence, debate and reflection on research contents and methodologies in its many geographical and chronological dimensions, and a platform for participating in and hosting joint actions towards various groups or elements from different groups. This is our reference framework for the convergence of research activities within the Unit and in international terms, and also as a means to draw researchers, mostly in the pursuit of post-doctoral studies.

Scientific Coordinator: Maria da Conceição Lopes

CAMArchaeology and Spaces in Medieval and Modern Times
Group Leader: Cláudio Torres.



Centro de Estudos Arqueológicos das Universidades de Coimbra e PortoThe Centre for Archaeological Studies of the Universities of Coimbra and Porto is a Research and Development Unit in Archaeology and related fields within the debate on the dynamics of evolution of past societies.

Founded in 1993 by professors and researchers from the Universities of Coimbra and Porto, and based in the University of Coimbra, the Centre associates, at this time, a Multidisciplinary Art Study Group, and Mértola’s Archaeological Site (CAM).

The Center has two host institutions: the University of Coimbra itself and CAM.

The research is based on seven (7) subject areas, currently pursued by six (6) research groups.

Subject Areas:
 - Archaeology
 - Architecture
 - Spaces, colonization and identities
 - Cultural infrastructures
 - Techniques and technologies
 - Epistemology and Methodology
 - Studies of the Mediterranean and Near East

Research Groups:
 - Prehistoric Territories and Spaces
Group Leader: Maria Jesús Sanches
 - Archaeology and Spaces in Medieval and Modern Times
Group Leader: Cláudio Torres.
 - Epigraphy and Iconology of Antiquity and Medieval Ages
Group Leader: José d’Encarnação
 - Archaeogeography
Group Leader: Maria da Conceição Lopes
 - Multidisciplinary Art Studies
Group Leader: Lurdes Craveiro
 - The Archaeology of Lusitania: structures and dynamics
Group Leader: Pedro Carvalho.

Research Group: Archaeology and Spaces in Medieval and Modern Times

Centro de Estudos Arqueológicos




Group Leader: Cláudio Figueiredo Torres
Host Institution: Mértola’s Archaeological Site

Activity Plan 2011-2012

During the years of 2011 and 2012, the Research Group on ARCHAEOLOGY AND SPACES IN MEDIEVAL AND MODERN TIMES will pursue the Centre’s strategic guidelines (archaeological research, the creation of theoretical and methodological tools, the study and promotion of heritage, and the internationalization of research) with the following lines of work and scientific activities:

Transition between Late Antiquity and the Islamic Period. In conjunction with the RG “Archaeology of Lusitania: structures and dynamics”, it will further our research, disseminating its results through the organisation of an international scientific meeting in Mértola in 2012 by Santiago Macias and Virgílio Lopes, and through the publishing of several titles.
Territories, boundaries, identities and material and cultural heritage in Medieval and Modern Times. This area of study will further the historical-archaeological inquiry on the concept of identity in boundary zones from Late Antiquity to Modern Times, with a particular emphasis on the research carried out at Moura’s Castle.

Archaeology and the territory between Tagus and Douro, boundary area (8th-13th centuries). This line of work will continue the study of settlement strategies and models of territorial organisation between the 8th and 13th centuries, mainly the evolution of Coimbra and its relations with surrounding territories.

Urban Topography – The city of Mértola. In the study of the city of Mértola, on one hand, the analysis of the historical evolution of its suburbs and its function over the centuries will be emphasised; on the other hand, the systematic archaeological excavations in the Citadel’s area will be resumed. The results will be presented to the general public through the creation of the Beira Rio Guest House Museum Hub centred on the historical development of Mértola’s riverside area.

Funerary Archaeology. The collaboration with the University of Coimbra’s Anthropology and Health Research Centre will continue during the years of 2011 and 2012. Among the main activities to be undertaken is the computer processing of existing data on the necropolises of Mértola.

Islamic pottery in the Mediterranean. This line of work will further the project on Islamic Pottery from the Gharb al-Ândalus (CIGA), which is now being extended to the Western territories of Spain, thanks to the collaboration with researchers from Spain, United Kingdom and France. Also, studies of particularly significant collections will be carried out, mainly the study of new ceramics found at several excavation sites located in the Alentejo. Four major activities will be held: free courses on "Ceramics of the al-Ândalus," the organisation of the 10th International Congress on Medieval Ceramics in the Mediterranean, the scientific commission for the exhibition "Signs of Everyday Life" by Susana Gómez Martínez, and the development of promotion activities for children and youth.

Ethnoarchaeology. In this area, the research on the Mediterranean way of life of Mértola’s rural community will be furthered through the case study of Cerro das Oliveiras, as will the research on rural architecture in the Algarve ridge, concentrating on construction materials and techniques, on the establishment of settlements, and on the specific phenomenon of the typical rural property of the Alentejo (“monte alentejano”), approached under a multidisciplinary perspective. A new area of research focusing on cuisine and the Mediterranean gastronomic heritage will be initiated, leading to the organisation of an international meeting called "Flavours of the Mediterranean" in May 2011, and in the creation of a museum hub dedicated to Mértola’s traditional cuisine.

Language and History at the Frontier. In this line of work, the Lexical Treasure of the frontier will be further developed, leading to the preparation of a dictionary of traditionally used words along the Portuguese-Spanish border, as well as the publishing of the 3rd electronic edition, revised and enlarged, of the Bibliography of Language and History in the border.

In the editorial level, we will continue to publish the “Medieval Archaeology” journal (no. 11, with the no. 12 underway). Also, we will publish the proceedings from "The Gharb al-Andalus: problems and new contributions on ceramics" and from the "Meeting of CEAUCP researchers”, besides preparing several monographs, including "Archaeological excavations at Moura’s Castle", by Santiago Macias, the new edition of "The Mosque Church of Mértola", and several catalogues from the Museum of Mértola (Roman Museum, Riverside Area Museum, Food Museum, etc.)

Another objective of the Group is the creation and strengthening of infrastructure to support research, mainly through the improvement of CAM’s Library following the incorporation of José Mattoso’s bibliographic collection and its dissemination on the Web; through the addition of new equipment to CAM’s laboratories and, finally, through the creation of work and housing spaces for researchers and trainees.
The Group also intends to strengthen its presence in advanced studies through many activities, such as advising and co-advising student thesis at several universities, the offer of free specialisation courses, the Master’s degree on the Islamic and Medieval Mediterranean jointly offered by the Universities of Coimbra, Lisbon, Évora, Algarve and Mértola’s Archaeological Site and, lastly, the creation of an Erasmus Mundus inter-university doctorate programme to be organised by the Universities of Coimbra, Algarve, Granada, Paris and Marrakech.

Download the Activity Plan for 2011-2012 in PDF format