Thanks to the generous travel funding provided by the department, in the final weeks of summer 2023, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in an archaeological field school in the Alentejo region of Portugal at a Bronze Age site known as Castelo, under the direction of Bianca Viseu (McMasters University), Rui Mataloto (University of Lisbon), and Gonçalo Bispo (University of Lisbon). Castelo is a large mountain site, only a small portion of which has been uncovered so far. This season, the goal at the site was to expand a few test pits to better understand the continuing shape of one of the largest Bronze Age huts found in Southwest Iberia. Working on this project was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to gain new practical archaeological skills, and continue to refine others.
Through careful excavation that required maneuvering around tall Eucalyptus trees, I mainly worked on an area which was thought to be a built up stone structure that collapsed to the side, as we found many large and flat slabs on top of each other, and others that were in a more diagonal orientation to the side of these. In addition to these field excavation techniques, I was also able to gain more experience in the lab, as every afternoon we also worked to clean, sort and piece together, catalogue, and store ceramic pieces found during the day's dig time. Being able to have the experience of excavation and lab work at the same site was a very unique and beneficial experience for me, and I know that I will take the skills I developed working at Castelo with me to work on other dig sites in the future!
Without the generous financial help of the CLST Research Travel Award, I would not have been able to undertake this opportunity that has already helped me grow as an archaeologist. I am extremely thankful for the department's support, both financially in allowing me to dig in Portugal, as well as back here in Durham where I am able to continue developing myself as a scholar.