Lagos 2006 Summer School, Portugal

Nautical Archaeology Program - Summer School (ANTH660-152)








Course Syllabus

Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Lagos and Texas A&M University



The Nautical Archaeology Program team would like to thank the Municipality of Lagos, namely Mr. Júlio Barroso, the city's Mayor, Dr. Rui Loureiro, director of the city's Projecto Municipal Ciência e Descobrimentos, for their invitation and generous support of this summer school, and Mrs. Elena Morán, the city's archaeologist, for her precious help.

Dr. Peter Amaral, Texas A&M University Alumni and a long time friend of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the Nautical Archaeology Program, whose generous contribution made it possible for the students to travel to Portugal.

RPM Nautical Foundation, whose generous contribution made possible the study of the important collection of stone anchors from Ponta da Piedade and other underwater sites.

The logistics of this project were patiently and professionally handled by Brett Ringsel and the Osmosis Dive Center.

The boats and storage areas were generously lent to us by the great Clube de Vela de Lagos. 


Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal.  Its name derives from al Gharb, the Arab designation of the western part of the al-Andaluz province.  Algarve's culture is both a result of its isolation - as it is physically separated from the rest of the country by a chain of mountains - and its diverse contacts with the seafaring peoples of the Mediterranean and the North of Europe during at least the last three millennia.

Its continuous contact with the Mediterranean made it part of that world, or at least part of a larger Mediterranean world, which encompasses the regions away from its shores where the Mediterranean culture still resonates with considerable intensity (Arruda 1999a, 21).

Algarve's archaeological record is rich, and it's most important archaeological sites span a period of over five millennia (Morán 2001).  Evidence for early seafaring activities is indirect, but it is clear that there were intense contacts between the inhabitants of its early settlements - near today's Castro Marim, Tavira, Faro, Silves, Lagos and Aljezur - and the Mediterranean seafarers, such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Tartessic, and Punic peoples, from at least the beginning of the 1st millennium BC (Arruda 1999a).

We know almost nothing about the settlements of the first half of the 1st millennium BC, but around the middle of the millennium there are a few known cities in Algarve.  Writing, the potter's wheel, and iron technology arrived during the 7th century BC, undoubtedly brought by Phoenician visitors.  The prevalent form of social organization in this area was almost certainly the city-state, and their stone houses were typically Mediterranean (Arruda 1999b).

Classical authors refer to five pre-Roman cities from east to west: Baesuris, Balsa, Ossonoba, Portus Hannibalis and Lacobriga.  After Lacobriga there was the Promotorium Sacrum (today's Sagres) and the unknown sea.

Archaeologists believe that Baesuris was situated under what is today the medieval castle of Castro Marim.  Abundant Greek pottery dating to the 5th century BC, pottery from the north of Africa and Ibiza, as well as amphorae from Tartessus and Carthage, all attest to intense seafaring activity in the region. The area that surrounds the hill on which the city stood is presently a plane but was accessible to large ships until the late 16th century (Arruda 1999b).

The localization of Balsa is presently established beyond doubt near the modern city of Tavira. During the Roman domination it became one of the most important cities of Lusitânia.  It decayed even before the Arab invasion of the 8th century AD and disappeared until the mid-19th century.  Although the centers of the Tartessic and Phoenician settlement, the Turdetan settlement, and the Roman city are all located at different sites, they have in common a proximity to either the sea or the mouth of a river (Silva 2005).

Ossonoba is located under the city of Faro.  As with other Mediterranean cities, the Roman forum has been located beneath the main church square.  Its inhabitants were considered Turdetani - a local people - by the Roman invaders. Located on an island that is now connected to the continent, Ossonoba maintained an important status throughout the history of Algarve and is now the region's administrative capital (Arruda 1999b).

It is not known where exactly the city of Portus Hannibalis stood, although it is possible that it was located near today's Portimão (Arruda 1999b).  The Arade River, which runs through Portimão, was an important avenue of penetration into the copper rich regions of Algarve's west, and it was on its margins that the city Cilpes was built - perhaps where today lays the city of Silves.  Cilpes gained importance, coining currency during the Republican period (Arruda 1999b, Morán 2003).  The archaeological importance of the Arade River is well-known, and over the years looters and dredges have exposed an important collection of artifacts and an impressive number of shipwrecks (Castro 2005).  Another nearby city, Ipses, also coined currency during this period and is believed to be located under today's Vila Velha do Alvor.

The last of the five cities mentioned by the Classical authors bore a Celtic name: Lacobriga.  Evidence suggests that it is located near today's city of Lagos - first around the nearby village of Bensafrim and later at Monte Molião.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Byzantines conquered the east and south of the Iberian Peninsula and kept control of Ossonoba until AD 624.  Subsequently the Algarve fell under Visigoth rule, remaining so from the reign of king Suintila (AD 621-631) to the death of king Wamba (AD 672-680).  The diocese of Ossonoba included more or less the territory that forms Algarve today.  However, during the second half of the 7th century Algarve experienced the chaos generated by a number of civil wars that shook the Iberian Peninsula (Fabião 1999).

In AD 711, supported by one of the Visigoth factions, Algarve was invaded by an Umayyad force under Tariq ibn Ziyad.  Largely composed of Berber Muslims, the 12,000 man army led by Tariq did not encounter much resistance. The following year the governor of North Africa, Musa bin Nusair (640-716), sent a reinforcement of 18,000 men, and Tariq completed the conquest of the entire Iberian Peninsula between AD 714 and 716 (Catarino 1999a).

Algarve remained under Arab domination until 1249.  In Spain, the last city to fall to the Christian rulers was Granada which fell in 1492.

Information about the first two centuries of the long Arab rule is scarce.  Evidence suggests the existence of Christian and Muslim communities living together in peace and a functional organized society working the fields, fishing, trading, and paying taxes to the Umayyad caliph until AD 750.   The Umayyad princes, after the Abbasid dynasty, took over the empire in the East.   Its most important cities were today's Silves, Faro, Tavira and Loule (Catarino 1999b).

During the 9th century the territory was attacked by the Vikings, which fought a naval battle in AD 966.  Chroniclers reported that in that year a fleet of 28 Viking ships was sighted off the coast of Portugal.  An Arab fleet was prepared and left Seville as soon as possible, engaging the "infidels" in the Arade River.  Many Vikings are said to have been killed, and many of their vessels were sunk.  The surviving enemies fled, leaving behind the Arab prisoners that had been taken during the raid (Coelho, 1989).

In the late 11th century, Algarve was invaded by the Almoravid Berbers and less than a century after by another Berber tribe, the Almohads (Macias 1999).  During the 12th century the Christian reconquista, started by Charlemagne with the conquest of Catalonia four centuries earlier, gained power with the spirit of the crusades, and the Algarve region was attacked several times.  However, in spite of the political turmoil of the Berber fights and the increasing Christian harassment, Algarve seems to have thrived economically until the full conquest of the region, in 1249, by the army of king Afonso III (1247-1279) (Picard 1999).

After the reconquista, Algarve populations endured a crisis that stemmed from the disruption of maritime commerce with Muslim-controlled Mediterranean harbors, followed by a short period of demographic and economic growth in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.  Then the region suffered the Black Death of 1348-1351, the wars with Castile (1369-1371, 1372, 1373, and 1381-1382) and the Portuguese war of succession of 1383-1385.

During the late 14th and early 15th centuries Algarve experienced an important phase of economic growth, and Lagos became a critically important city, tightly connected to the process of maritime expansion whose beginnings historians place in 1415, with the conquest of the north African city of Ceuta by King João I.

The antiquity of Lagos is well established and its archaeological richness undisputed.  Its maritime culture is widely known due to Prince Henry the Navigator's residence in the 15th century. 

Lagos played an important role in the support of military incursions into the north of Africa led by King João I (1385-1433) between 1415 and 1433, and later by kings Duarte (1433-1438) and Afonso V (1438-1481).

Prince Henry was the third son of King João I and after 1413, based himself in the western part of Algarve - Vila do Infante and Lagos - from where he launched the maritime expeditions that led to the colonization of Madeira, Azores, and Cape Verde archipelagos and the exploration of the western coast of Africa as far as present-day Sierra Leone.  Henry's seafaring venture eventually led to the discovery of the India Route, which connected Portugal to India and a portion of the South American continent.

The city saw a period of impressive seafaring activity during the 15th and subsequent centuries, and some of the ships sailing to and from Lagos were lost in or around its bay .

Tiago Fraga, an Aggie and the underwater archaeologist responsible for the inventory and assessment of the underwater cultural heritage of Lagos, has amassed an impressive list of historic shipwrecks and is working on the underwater archaeological chart of the region.  It was following his suggestion and an invitation extended by Dr. Rui Loureiro that the Nautical Archaeology Program / Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University started what we believe will be a long-term cooperation with the municipality of Lagos, materialized in the Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2006 by Texas A&M University and the City of Lagos.

This report refers to the first field season at Lagos, in June 2006, which entailed a multitude of varying activities and aimed especially at establishing personal relations between Nautical Archaeology Program students and the local community.

To find shipwrecks in Lagos' waters is the ultimate objective of this project.  The prospects are good, mostly when we look at Tiago Fraga's work of inquiry and archival research.  We hope that this is a long term project and that we can find and excavate shipwrecks that will tell us new things about the rich history of seafaring of Portugal.



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Alves, F.J.S., Soares, A.M.M., Cabral, J.M.P., Gomes, M.V., and Ribeiro, M.I.M.,  "Datações de radiocarbono relacionadas com o património arqueonáutico em Portugal," in Actas do 1º congresso de arqueologia peninsular, Porto, 1993: Trabalhos de antropologia e etnologia, 34.3/4: 405- 411.

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Alves, F., "Acerca dos destroços de dois navios descobertos durante as dragagens de 1970 na foz do Rio Arade (Ferragudo, Lagoa)", in As rotas oceânicas, sécs. XV-XVII, Lisboa: Ed. Colibri, 1999: 29-92.

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Casella, G. M., Almeida, I. M ., and Lacerda, M., Trabalho de Investigação sobre peças de Estanho encontradas na Foz do Rio Arade (Portimão).  Paper for the course of  "Introdução aos estudos de arqueologia e da história de arte" at Faculdade de Letras of the Universidade de Lisboa, teacher Luís Manuel Teixeira, 1984.  On file in IPA/CNANS' library.

Castro, Filipe, "The Arade 1 shipwreck.  A small ship at the mouth of the Arade River, Portugal," in Blue, L., Hocker, F., and Englert, A., eds., Connected by the Sea. Proceedings of the 10th Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Roskilde 2003 (ISBSA 10), Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2006 :300-305.

Castro, Filipe, "Archaeology and Dredges: the Arade River Archaeological Complex", International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, (2005) 34.1:72-83.

Castro, Filipe, The Arade 1 Ship - 2002 Field Season - Vol. 1 - The Site -  ShipLab Report 3.  On file in IPA/CNANS' library, 2002, and in Nautical Archaeological Program Library, Texas A&M University, 2002a.

Castro, Filipe, The Arade 1 Ship - 2002 Field Season - Vol. 2 - The Hull -  ShipLab Report 5.  On file in IPA/CNANS' library, 2002, and in Nautical Archaeological Program Library, Texas A&M University, 2002b.

Castro, Filipe, The Arade 1 Ship - 2002 Field Season - Vol. 3 - The Artifacts  -  ShipLab Report 6.  On file in IPA/CNANS' library, 2002, and in Nautical Archaeological Program Library, Texas A&M University, 2002c.

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Duque, Luis, Diego E. Angelucci, Elena Morán, Pedro Barros, "Observações geoarqueológicas sobre a escavação da Praça de Armas 1 (Lagos). - Actas do 3.o Encontro de Arqueologia do Algarve, Silves, 2005 (no prelo).

Duque, Luis, Elena Morán, Lola Filipe, Pedro Almeida, Catarina Costa, "Um caso de estudo: necrópole tardo-romana no Centro Histórico de Lagos. Actas do 3.o Encontro de Arqueologia do Algarve, Silves, 2005 (no prelo).

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Fraga, Tiago, Relatorio: Missão Preliminar - "Âncoras de Dentro (Lagos), Lagos: Printed Report, 2006, on file at Direcção de Projecto Municipal Ciencia e Descobrimentos.

Machado, C. A., 2000, Relatório do projecto "Salvaguarda do património arqueológico subaquático do rio Arade, Outubro 1998 a Outubro 2000, Portimão: GEO.  On file in IPA/CNANS' library.

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Paula, Frederico Mendes, Elena Morán, Marta Diaz-Guardamino, "Reparação da muralha no Largo de Santa Maria da Graça. Lagos"  :131-132.

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