Since its creation in 1978, Mértola’s Archaeological Site has tried to develop a multi-disciplinary scientific investigation within the range of human and social sciences. Apart from a direct interest in history and archaeology, its work groups have also come to dedicate themselves to local history, historical heritage, artistic and cultural inheritance, museology and physical anthropology.
When referring to archaeology, we emphasize the excavations, whether those done on an emergency basis or previously programmed, both within the town of Mértola or in other places within the region, (the fortified neighbourhood of Mértola’s Castle, Rossio do Carmo, Mértola’s Mosque, Mértola’s Castle, Saint Sebastian’s Plateau, the Marques Duque cinema and theatre, the Beira Rio Guest House, the Municipal Library etc). We also highlight the survey for the Local Authority’s Archaeological Map and the conclusion of the following projects:
“Investigation into Medieval and Islamic Archaeology” (1987-1990), “The Archaeological Study of the Islamic Neighbourhood in the Fortified area of Mértola” (1993-1996), “Islamic Mértola. Daily Economic Resources” (1997-1999), and “Mértola. History and Archaeology of the High Middle Ages.” (2001-2003), financed by the FCT of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MCES), as well as the projects “Archaeological Excavations in Mértola, 1999-2002" and “Mértola and its territory in Antiquity and the Middle Ages - Archaeological work in Mértola 2003 – 2006”, within the sphere of action of the Portuguese Institute of Archaeology’s PNTA programme. Within the range of the studying and valuing of heritage, we can quote the following projects: “Religious Imagery within the Local Authority of Mértola – inventory, study and museographic organization” (1991-1994), “Mértola’s Urban shell – Historical Vectors of Functional Organization” (1991-1994) and “Heritage Buildings and Traditional Construction Technology” (1997-2000) supported by the MCES. The most relevant work related to scientific activity in Cultural Anthropology, consists of the survey and revitalization of traditional weaving and in the investigation projects “Penny Royal, Blankets and Bread – a study of ethno-technologies” (1992-1994) and “Social Change and food habits within the Local Authority of Mértola (1960-1990)" (1997-2001), supported by the MCES. The “Local Museological Project” (1997-1990) financed by the MCES stands out when referring to museological and museographical investigation. So too, the conception and setting up of Mértola’s Museum nuclei: "The Castle" (1991), "The Palaeochristian Basilica" (1993), "Weaving" (1998), "The Saint Sebastian Chapel and burial Ground" (1999), "The Blacksmith’s Forge " (2001), "The Religious Art Museum" (2001) and "The Islamic Art Museum" (2001). CAM’s (Mertola’s Archaeological Site) scientific activities have allowed the following scientific events to be organized on an international scale: IV International Conference “Medieval Ceramics in the Mediterranean” Lisbon 1987, “Food habits and forms of dwelling in the Middle Ages” Mértola 1993, “Lisbon, the crossroad of Moslems, Jews and Christians”, Lisbon, 1997, “Medieval Ports in the Mediterranean” Mértola, 2001 and “The Al-Andalus Space of Change” Mértola, 2005. Mértola’s Archaeological Site’s editorial programme has produced over twenty titles to date from which the magazine “Medieval Archaeology” can be highlighted (9 editions published), minutes of conferences and seminars, scientific monographs, a series dedicated to studies and documents, catalogues for Mértola’s Museums and travelling exhibitions and other publications for spreading information.
Apart from its scientific activity CAM, has collaborated in various local development activities motivated in its vocation as a public service.
The Trustees of Mértola’s Archaeological Site are made up of a General Assembly, the Management Body, a revisory commission for the accounts and a Scientific Council.The General Assembly includes all CAM’s associates and is its supreme deliberative body. It is presided over by a board made up of a President and two secretaries.Management is CAM’s executive body and is made up of a director, a secretary, a treasurer and two spokespeople.The Scientific Council is a body made up of investigators integrated within the investigation unit. It is responsible for elaborating and coordinating projects, preparing reports, establishing the Institution’s programming etc…At present the Scientific Unit is made up of the Doctorate Professors António Borges Coelho, Claire Déléry, Cláudio Torres, José Mattoso, Juan Zozaya, Manuela Barros Ferreira, Maria da Graça Ventura, Santiago Macias and Susana Gómez, those with Masters Degrees, Dominique LeBars, Nádia Torres and Virgílio Lopes and those with degrees, Ana Rita Santos, Lígia Rafael, Maria de Fátima Palma and Pedro Barros.
CAM also has a Consultative Council made up of national or foreign individuals or groups with recognized scientific competence. We highlight Dr. Fátima Rombouts de Barros and Dr. Joaquim Boiça, amongst the permanent CAM collaborators, as well as Alexandra Lima, Cristina Garcia, Fernando Branco and Maria Ramalho, all with Masters Degrees.