Fabio Capela will be talking about the Archaeological site of Cerro do Castelo de Alferce, in Monchique, a high fortified settlement that is classified as a Site of Public Interest. He will be explaining the various archaeological interventions that have taken place on the site, as well as the objectives for the future to improve the site and its appreciation by the public.
The site occupies a rocky elevation that stands out in the surrounding landscape, with a maximum altitude of 487m. It is located at the eastern end of the Syenitic massif of the Monchique mountain range from where you have extensive views over the surrounding territories ranging from Ourique to the north and Lagos to the south, making it a very strategic location.
The archaeological site has three non-concentric walled enclosures A, B and C. Crowning the hill is the fortified enclosure A, the castle of Alferce, a defensive structure that is partially surrounded by the fortified enclosure B, both built during the Umayyad era (9th-11th centuries AD). The fortified enclosure C is the largest, surrounding the slopes of the hill with an intramural area of c9 hectares. The oldest evidence detected so far on site allows us to infer that this site was occupied during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC (Chalcolithic and Bronze Age).
The site at Alferce has been the target of excavations since at least the end of the 19th century, but it is only in the present decade that the site has been investigated systematically. The Municipality of Monchique, with the support of various entities (including the AAA which has provided a number of grants in recent years to support the project) has been the main promotor and investor in archaeological interventions. These have related to the preservation, research and valorisation of the site and dissemination of the information gained.
Running in tandem with the archaeological project, a heritage valorisation project is being carried out which aims to dignify the site and encourage adequate public enjoyment of it, creating better conditions for visits to the site. For example, a direct pedestrian connection will be made between the village of Alferce and the top of the archaeological site, which will include the creation of an interpretation centre, a wooden walkway, a viewing platform and information panels. The presentation intends to provide a better understanding of this emblematic place, focusing on the archaeological interventions undertaken so far as well as highlighting the objectives for the near future.
Fabio Capela has been working as a municipal archaeologist for the Municipality of Monchique since 2014. He graduated from University of Coimbra with a degree in Archaeology and History and a Masters in Archaeology and Territory. During his academic career he participated in several archaeological interventions. He is the researcher responsible for the ongoing archaeological research project From Recent Prehistory to the Islamic Medieval: ancient human occupations at Cerro do Castelo de Alferce which has been running since 2020. He is also associated with the research project towards a recovery of prehistoric tomb manifestations in the surroundings of Caldas de Monchique (MEGA Monchique) since 2021. Fabio is the author of numerous publications relating to the cultural heritage of Monchique resulting from archaeological investigations in the municipality.
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