An Insider's Perspective on the Portugal Project

Despite being provided with an event calendar for the Portugal project prior to your arrival, the schedule is really just words and times. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect during the project, based on my experience at the end of an awesome week.


We landed at Lisbon airport at about 11:30 AM, where we met Mr. Saunders. He picked us up in a van, and off we went. To get to Troia it is about a 45-minute drive from Lisbon, a perfect time to grab a quick power nap. On arrival, we spent a few hours getting situated in our rooms with our luggage. We were then able to take longer naps, to keep us going for the rest of the day. At 7:30, we met with Inesh, the site director, who gave us all the instructions and information about the site. At 8:00, we sat down to eat at El Cristo, an amazing restaurant right of the marina. After dinner, we went back to our room to sleep, excited for the next day. 

Cleanup Day

Our second day was our first time seeing the site. The site was even prettier than I imagined, surrounded on all sides by shimmering waves. The area of the site we were working on, Workshop 4, was filled with rows of vats, in which the Romans would make a fish-paste called Garum. Our first day of work was primarily spent cleaning up the sand and dirt that had accumulated since the last excavation. At 12:30, we returned to our rooms to get changed and to shower. We ate lunch at the resort restaurant, and afterward, we boarded a ferry to visit Setubal. There, we saw a fortress overlooking Troia and Setabul, then we had dinner at whatever restaurant we pleased. We then returned to our rooms to sleep, satisfied with a day of hard work and adventure. 

An example of the vats in Troia used to by Romans to make garum (fish paste)

An example of the vats in Troia used to by Romans to make garum (fish paste)

Excavations Begin

On Wednesday, we finally began to excavate. I worked in vat 8, and with my group, we worked to remove a whole layer of soil, revealing many pieces of ceramic and bone. With my vat leader, Kevin, we learned to take notes in a different way than I normally do, greatly expanding my note-taking skills. After 12:30, we sat down to wash some of the pottery we found, We then ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and played soccer for the rest of the day until our buffet-style dinner. We went to sleep, excited to go on an excursion the next day.


Exploring Sintra

The next day, we traveled to the beautiful town of Sintra. There we visited the Palace of Pena, a beautiful and colorful embellished palace overlooking all of Sintra. It was breathtaking. We then visited a nearby Moorish fortress, with an amazing view of the mountains and surrounding farmland. We were then able to explore Sintra, and we were allowed to pick where to eat lunch. We then returned on the ferry, getting back at about 5. Those of us hungry ate dinner at our houses, but most went to sleep, having logged about 25,000 steps. 

The palace of Pena in Sintra.

The palace of Pena in Sintra.

The Weekend

Friday and Saturday were just normal excavation days, except for a small dancing session on Friday called Biodanza. I sat through a 3-hour session, but I apologize for not being able to explain it to you even now. Sunday was a free day, marking the end of our first week in Portugal. 


PortugalRiver Hamme