Members of the Algarve Archaeological Association (AAA) have recently enjoyed a day spent at the Department of Archaeology at the University of the Algarve (UAlg) in Faro. We were invited by NAP (Núcleo de Alunos de Arqueologia e Paleoecologia) to see the presentations made by students who had received grants from the AAA in 2016 to attend international conferences to present their work.
Upon arrival at the University in the morning we were welcomed by Eduardo Paixão, President of NAP, who introduced us to students Patricia Monteiro, Roxane Matias and Catia Teixeira. Patricia Monteiro shared with us her work about bucket flotation within the EcoPLis project (Human Occupation in the Pleistocene in the Lis Basin, Leiria, Portugal) which she presented in Vilnius, Lithuania last September. She described how her research involved how to improve the sampling and recovery of palaeoenvironmental artefacts during archaeological excavation and how to train students to undertake this type of work on site. The work of Rute Branco (who also attended the conference in Vilnius in September 2016) was presented by her colleague Roxane Matias. Roxane described the work involved in the analysis of the diet of a rural coastal settlement in the Medieval Islamic period (10th to 12th century) at the Tejo do Praio site at Quinta do Lago, Algarve. Catia Teixeira told us about her work using GIS (Global Information System) techniques to assess the organisation, size and limits of the Roman city of Ossonoba (present day Faro) which she presented at a conference in Oslo, Norway in 2016. She showed us maps that she had produced showing the progression of development of the Roman city (with its roads, buildings and necropoli) which is centred on Vila Adentro in the historic town centre of Faro.
Her research has increased our knowledge of the size and limits of Ossonoba and demonstrates that Ossonoba is larger than previously thought. Following the presentations, we asked a number of questions about the work developed by the students and also had an interesting discussion about archaeological practice in Portugal. The AAA continues to award grants to students, a number of whom are due to attend conferences in 2017.
After a tasty lunch in the University restaurant, we attended a lithics workshop in the laboratory of ICArEHB (Interdisciplinary Centre for Archaeology and the Evolution of Human Behaviour) given by Dr Telmo Pereira. He told us about the raw materials used by prehistoric people to create stone tools and we were shown a selection of lithics from a number of Portuguese archaeological sites. Dr Pereira also demonstrated some of the scientific equipment used during his work, including the PXRF (Portable X-Ray Diffractor) which is used to analyse the chemical composition of rocks in order to determine their place of origin, amongst other things. NAP students Eduardo Paixão and David Nora also gave us an insight into lithic technology, describing a number of knapping techniques.
We all enjoyed a fascinating and informative day, which reflected the close collaboration between NAP and the AAA. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of the students and it was very rewarding to see how important it is to support the students with their research and academic studies. It provides them with the opportunity to network with other researchers and gain the experience of presenting their work to a wider, international audience.
Members of the AAA enjoy a variety of activities, including monthly lectures by international speakers, day trips and lunches. We are currently planning a 5-day trip to the Seville area in October. All monies raised by the AAA are used for archaeological grants and speakers.
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