Cerro da Vila, Filipe Henriques with the amphorae collection

From Rome to Vilamoura: finding the finds in Cerro da Vila

On Tuesday, November 9, the Algarve Archaeological Association (AAA) will be presenting two lectures, in English, by archaeologists Filipe Henrique and Ana Pratas. The first lecture will be at 2.30pm at the Museu do Traje in São Brás de Alportel, while the second lecture will be at 6pm at the Convento de São José in Lagoa.

Filipe Henriques and Ana Pratas will be talking about the historical discoveries and recent investigations at Cerro da Vila Museum and Roman Ruins (Lusotur-Vilamoura World) which lie adjacent to Vilamoura Marina in central Algarve. During the time that Faro was called Ossonoba and Augustus was Emperor of the Roman Empire (27 BC-14AD), the vicus maritimae Cerro da Vila was constructed in the south of Lusitania in what is now present-day Vilamoura.

The architectural units that can be seen on site today at Cerro da Vila were built around a large portus, which served as an emporium for the import and export of products manufactured locally or from other regions of the Empire. This fact, combined with its geostrategic position, boosted the local economy and enhanced the construction of the sumptuous residential, bathing, industrial and funerary buildings that can be seen today. An economy based on the exploitation of marine resources due to the proximity to the sea, the existence of fresh water, a territory exceptionally good for agricultural practice, husbandry and hunting activities, allowed the establishment and increase in the population of Cerro da Vila. This also extended along the shoreline to nearby Quarteira.

Most of the archaeological studies undertaken in the last 56 years in Cerro da Vila were focused mainly on the interpretation of the architecture of the site, giving low priority to artefact study. This has changed in recent years with the project that has been developed by the site museum team, “The economy of Cerro da Vila maritimae vicus”. This is focused on zooarchaeological and ceramic findings recovered from layers dated between the 1st and 5th centuries AD.

In this lecture, after a brief overview of the historical discoveries at Cerro da Vila, Filipe and Ana will present for the first time the results of an ongoing interpretation of what kind of maritime and terrestrial animals were captured and consumed by the local population and which type of food containers were imported and stored in the portus warehouses.

Filipe Henriques and Ana Pratas are the archaeologists responsible for the scientific investigation in Cerro da Vila Museum and Roman Ruins (Lustour – Vilamoura World). Filipe undertook his Archaeology degree and MA at the University of the Algarve (UAlg) and has developed his career mainly in the private and professional archaeological sector, participating in excavations from the north to south of Portugal over the last 30 years. His areas of expertise are Roman archaeology, with a special focus on ceramics, architecture and the study of molluscs (malacology). Ana Pratas, in addition to her scientific investigation work at the Museum, is currently undertaking her Masters degree thesis in Archaeology at UAlg where she has also been undertaking an MA in History of Art. Her professional experience has been developed mainly in the private sector and her current goal is to pursue her work related to zooarchaeology.

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

Maritimae Vicus Cerro da Vila
Cerro da Vila, Vilamoura main entrance (3rd century AD)
Cerro da Vila, Filipe Henriques with the amphorae collection
Ana Pratas researching the Amphorae collection at Cerro da Vila