Excavation at Balsa semi reduced
Excavation at Balsa semi reduced

Balsa, maritime city of Roman Lusitania: recent data from ongoing research

On Tuesday, November 8, the Algarve Archaeological Association (AAA) will be presenting two lectures, in English, by archaeologists Dr João Pedro Bernardes and Celso Candeias.

The first lecture will be at 2.30pm at the Museu do Traje in São Bras, the second lecture will be at 6pm at the Convento de São José in Lagoa.

Dr João Pedro Bernardes and Celso Candeias will be talking about recent data recovered from ongoing research about the ruins of the Roman city of Balsa, identified at Quinta de Torre d’Aires (Luz de Tavira, Portugal). Since Estácio de Veiga identified the ruins of Balsa at the end of the 19th century, the scientific questions about this Roman city have never stopped. Despite the historical importance of this city, referred to in classical literature, the archaeological knowledge about it is very sparse due to the difficulties of implementing a durable scientific research project. Therefore, much of what has been written about the topographical features and configuration of the city have no solid scientific support.

Statue of Fortuna from Balsa
Statue of Fortuna from Balsa
Coin from Balsa
Coin from Balsa

 

Since 2017, geomagnetic and geo-radar surveys have been carried out on several hectares, identifying many traces of the Roman city and discarding the supposed existence of others in certain locations. Finally, as of 2019, it was possible to implement the ongoing project “Balsa, searching the origins of Algarve”. This project aims to find out the main features concerning the city’s extension and configuration, mainly through non-invasive methods. In the last two years, the geo-radar surveys have been intensified and other geophysical anomalies have been confirmed by diagnostic pits. This has allowed us to know the Roman city limits, as well as parts of the city plan and traces of buildings. This presentation aims to present the main results of the geophysical surveys and excavations carried out in recent years.

Ceramic recovery at Balsa excavation semi reduced
Ceramic recovery at Balsa excavation semi reduced

Dr João Pedro Bernardes is a graduate in History (University of Coimbra) and post-graduate (MPhil 1996, PhD 2002). Since 1997 he has taught at University of Algarve (UAlg) where he is associate professor in the disciplines of History of the Classical Culture and Classical Archaeology. He has published about Roman Archaeology in national and international journals. He has developed and coordinated national and international research projects and is currently coordinating the project “Balsa, Searching the Origins of Algarve”.

Balsa excavations semi reduced
Balsa excavations semi reduced

Celso Candeias is a graduate of UAlg in Cultural Heritage and Archaeology. He is currently a senior technician in the Municipality of Tavira, working as an archaeologist in the municipal museum. He has, within the scope of his work, published some scientific works, focusing on the municipality of Tavira and is currently one of the coordinators of the excavations in Balsa.

Non-members are welcome to attend AAA lectures for a €5 admission fee, with all money raised by the AAA being used for archaeological grants and speakers.

For more information, contact algarvearchass@gmail.com, visit arquealgarve.weebly.com or Facebook ‘Algarve Archaeological Association’. Please check the website or Facebook page for any last minute changes.


By Jane Robertson