New findings at Alcoutim castle

After a month of excavations, the archaeologists of Alcoutim Town Hall have found new and exciting findings that gave them more in-depth knowledge of one of the most ancient Roman monuments in Portugal, the Castelinho dos Mouros castle in Alcoutim.

This was the fifth excavation campaign to take place on the site and, according to the specialists, it has shed new light on the monument, which covers an area of more than 600sqm. Made in partnership with Austria’s Innsbruck University, the archaeological excavations, which began in mid-July, also relied on the help from volunteers from the University of the Algarve and the Algarve Archaeologists Association.

According to a press release sent to the Algarve Resident, the objects found confirmed the timeline which had previously been established by the archaeology specialists and which set it back to the Roman Republic period. Having been occupied for four generations for a period of about 100 years, part of the castle’s outer walls were destroyed by the region’s municipal road, which also affected some of the constructions located outside the main building.

The archaeological campaign concluded that the main building featured three stories in Roman times, including a ground floor (the only one still left) which is made up of two circulation areas that give access to the top floors. These, on the other hand, comprised the castle’s residencial areas, whilst the outdoor part of the building included several fireplace areas, where the cooking took place. According to the archaeologists, the main building was 10 metres high back in its day.

Amongst the several findings – the fifth excavations unveiled more objects than previous campaigns –, was the top half of a Punic amphora made in the Cadiz region of Spain, which was later reused in the castle. According to the specialists, further tests will be made in the next few months to assess its function.

Originally from Carthage in northern Africa, the Punics were a group of western Semitic-speaking peoples who are believed to be descendants of Phoenician settlers and North African Berbers.

The data retrieved in the excavation, which was the last of a series of five performed on site, will be thoroughly analysed in the following months to give archaeologists a deeper knowledge of this important monument. The aim of the research is to publicly present the Roman building, which dates back to the first or second centuries BC.

Following some conservation work, the municipal authority also hopes to put the Castelinho dos Mouros on the town’s cultural map, making it an attraction for visitors.