FOLLOWING on from my visit with Patricia to the Museum of Photography and Art in Almodovar we trotted on up the road to visit the Almodovar museum of Archaeology. They could be the forerunners of digging up dirt before the Sunday papers got in on the act and cornered the market! Just a five minute walk.

As you can see from the picture below, the museum exhibits are great flat slabs of rock which have inscriptions of one sort or another. The guy in the photo is Rui Cortes who accompanied our visit down at the art museum, but he really comes into his own here. Of the two slabs he’s stood between, he actually discovered the one on his left out in the countryside around Almodovar.

According to Rui, the tablets are mainly from ancient tombs, the oldest from around the Iron Age.

Etched or chiselled into the surfaces are some the first examples of European language. Obviously, you had to be a bit special to have been awarded your own tombstone back then and the recipients were chiefs or even district kings.The stones were displayed vertically like headstones and the writing goes down to a fixed bottom limit.

According to Rui, the writing is in an Arabic fashion and forms the words left to right. There are translations of the vowels and consonants (sort of Portuguese Countdown circa 500BC!)

Many of the stone slabs were uprooted and re-used, particularly by the Romans when they were constructing their own tombs, and much later by any local looking for something to make a nice, flat side for a doorway or a strong, straight lintel to keep out the rain.

In this way they have been preserved and rescued for display. Some on show are the real McCoy. Others are copies of originals displayed in other museums around southern Portugal, but it seems that Almodovar is more or less bang in the middle of the recovery area.

Apparently the most important find was the stone from The Tomb of the Warrior, discovered in 1972 and this is presumed to be a king, depicted with armour and weapons and surrounded by the script.

The museum covers three floors and is impressive and stylish. The exhibits are well displayed and not cordoned off as in the UK so you can have a good nosey! Also most impressively is that, like the other museums, admission is free.

So, if you ever get over and venture out near Almodovar, get yourself a bit of culture like I did. Malc and Joan were still with me (they’ll do owt for a free show!) and they said where could you go and get a guided tour like this from an archaeologist?

There is a fine local attraction with these ancient, weathered stones. I mean look at yon Mick Jagger, he’s never short of a woman or two is he!

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