New discoveries in Aljezur

THE RUINS of two mosques have been unearthed during the latest archaeological dig at Ponta da Atalaia, on the Aljezur coast. Excavation work, co-ordinated by archaeologists Rosa and Mário Varela Gomes, began on August 1 and will continue until the end of the month.

For the fifth consecutive year, remains have been uncovered from the mythical Rîbat da Arrifana, a fortressed monastery built by Ibn Qasi, a Sufi master and Muslim monk-warrior who lived there with his community during the 12th century.

The archaeologists have already discovered the remains of six mosques and their respective oratories, the foundations of a circular minaret and those of what is thought to have once been a school.

This year, the dig has been subsidised by the Gulbenkian Foundation and has received support from Aljezur Câmara and the borough’s Association for the Defence of the Patrimony. However, the archaeologists have been working unpaid, and their excavation team is comprised of students studying archaeology at Lisbon’s Universidade Nova.

The project, despite its historical importance, has failed to attract European Community funding, following several applications from Aljezur Câmara.