Cidade Velha excavations

Cidade Velha, Cape Verde 2014 - Church Excavations

Christopher Evans and Marie Louise Stig Sørensen, with Richard Newman and Tania Manuel Casimiro

Excavation on site

Fig. 1: Starting work on site.

The main focus of this year’s fieldwork season was with beginning to expose the church of Capela Nossa Senhora de Conceicao for public display (Fig. 1). It was first trench-investigated in 2006 and 2007, and subsequently the town’s mayor acquired the land to enable the excavation of this important monument – the earliest known European church in the Tropics (its present form dating to c. 1500, but likely to have an earlier precursor; i.e. c. 1470) – with the local council providing a labour force of 20 men for the digging. Clearly presenting the potential of the town’s below-ground archaeology, the results proved dramatic and had an enormous local impact. Not only did the site attract much local media coverage (and school visits), but there were separate visits by the President of the Republic (Fig. 2) and the government Ministers of Culture and Education (and their entourages).

Visitors to the Site

Fig. 2: visit of the President of the Republic (centre), with the Deputy Mayor (left) and Jair Fernandes (IIPC; right)

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Design Dave Webb