Home News Archaeologists begin to make discoveries in ancient Roman town of Balsa, in Tavira

Archaeologists begin to make discoveries in ancient Roman town of Balsa, in Tavira

Published on 04/09/2019

The marks left by the machines that tore up the fields of Quinta da Torre d´Aires, in Tavira, are clearly visible. But the well-preserved, and in some cases noble-built stone structures found just under a meter deep in an open survey near the Ria Formosa are more than enough to fuel the Balsa archaeology team’s desire for discovery. This project began on the 19th of August, and will continue until 2021 whilst experts look for what remains of the “mythical” Roman town of Balsa.

João Pedro Bernardes, an archaeologist, researcher and professor at the University of Algarve (UAlg) is coordinating the project , named “Balsa – in search of the origins of the Algarve”, which is being jointly promoted by the university, the Regional Directorate of Culture of the Algarve, Tavira Council and by the Life Science Center of Tavira.

The team is made up of archaeologists, university students, and volunteers.

All the structures that have been discovered so far, he says, “will surely be from the fourth or fifth centuries, in the late Roman period, early post-Roman, at the latest.”

“The most interesting part, which corresponds to the golden age of the town, which lasted until the third century, are the structures that are below. We have the corner of a large building and there was a street here. There were large buildings. They are most likely housing buildings”, said the UAlg researcher.

“Geophysical techniques have told us that there are streets that head both north and south. On the two sides, we expect to find something equivalent to what we’ve found already, ”he added.

These three weeks of fieldwork have already led to some conclusions. “The first conclusion we have come to is that this town is not as big as previously thought. There has been a great deal of confusion between what was the urban area and the surrounding villages” says João Pedro Bernardes.

“We can also draw conclusions regarding the levels of erosion of the town of Balsa. As we already suspected, in the northern part, which has a very thick layer on top, almost everything has been destroyed. But there is a strip parallel to the ria that is still relatively well preserved, as we can see in the excavations so far,” he adds.