Zambujal (Torres Vedras): Untersuchungen einer kupferzeitlichen Befestigung und ihres Umlandes in Mittelportugal.

The project has been supervised by the Madrid Section of the German Archaeological Institute since 1964. Today, it is an international, interdisciplinary project with aims in the field of science and the preservation of historical monuments.

Durch die Grabungen des DAI seit 1964 wurde der kupferzeitliche Fundort zu einem der berühmtesten der Iberischen Halbinsel. Das gegenwärtige Forschungsprogramm ist speziell der Herkunft des Kupfers, das in Zambujal verarbeitet wurde, gewidmet. Dabei sollen zumindest das Herkunftsgebiet eingeengt und vorgeschichtliche Minen gefunden werden, wodurch die Erforschung des kupferzeitlichen Bergbaus in diesem Raum auf eine neue Grundlage gestellt werden könnte. Daneben sind neue Kenntnisse zur kupferzeitlichen Technologie zu erwarten. Im Rahmen des seit 2004 laufenden DFG-Projektes zur Archäometallurgie von Zambujal wurden u. a. eine erste, bisher unbekannte vorgeschichtliche Mine, ein möglicher Kupfergießplatz und Herde mit Resten von Kupferverarbeitung untersucht. Daneben wurden bereits zahlreiche Materialproben im Labor bearbeitet.



39° 4' 27.7212" N, 9° 17' 9.2796" W

Ausdehnung der kupferzeitlichen Befestigung © DAIThe fortification complex of the 3rd and 2nd millennium B. C. is situated in the Cencelho Torres Vedras (province of Estremadura, district of Lisbon) some 14 km as the crow flies from the present-day Atlantic coast on a hill projection steeply dropping away towards the west. Geo-archaeological investigations (in 1986) established that, until the 2nd half of the 2nd millennium B. C., Zambujal was at most 1 km away from a former marine branch.


In the Neolithic of the Iberian Peninsula, technological progress was made during the 4th millennium B. C. (e. g. surface retouch on flint tools, stone architecture in the shape of megalithic buildings, underground mining of Callaïs) which was probably accompanied also by specialised craftsmanship. In connection with this development, there occurred a cultural and social change parallel to the climatic changes from the Atlanticum (more humid) to the Sub-Boreal (drier). Strangely enough, this change lead to opposed developments in the north-east (Catalonia) and in the south (mainly in the region of the rivers Guadalquivir and Tejo/Tajo). Around the turn of the 4th to 3rd millennium fortified settlements came up in the southern part (e. g. Valencina de la Concepción (Seville) and Los Millares (Almería), Alcalar and Leceia in Portugal), in which also copper metallurgy can be found for the first time; this is called a "Copper Age". The formation of elites can be recognized by special finds, e. g. of gold and ivory, and sumptuously furnished graves. Around the mid 3rd millennium B. C. a cultural form seems to have originated against this background in the estuary zone of the rivers mentioned before, which is called the "Bell Beaker phenomenon" today and which spread all over western Europe. Zambujal belongs into this core area of early metallurgy of the Iberian Peninsula and the Bell Beaker movement.Ausgrabung im Bereich des Bauernhauses © DAI1., 2. und 3. Linie der Befestigung © DAI


1) Discovery of the overall extent of the fortification complex and a possibly adjoining settlement outside as well as the search for the yet unknown cemetery. 2) Investigation of the centre of the fortification complex, where different settlement structures survive underneath the ruin of a farm house and additionally the exploration of settlement structures according to mainly functional aspects. 3) Extension of the archaeo-metallurgical research and the studies on the Bell Beaker phenomenon as well as archaeo-metrical pottery studies, the results of which will be used for inter-regional comparisons. 4) Clarification of chronological problems that have arisen during the calibration of the radiocarbon dates. 5) Reconstruction of the environment of the Copper Age in co-operation with pedology, mining history, palaeobotany, pollen analysis, palaeozoology etc. 6) The preservation of the prehistorical building remains and the layout of a museum with an archaeological park in co-operation with the Portuguese authorities.

History of Research

Zambujal, Sondage C © DAIDiscovery of the Copper Age site by Leonel de Freitas Sampaio Trindade in 1932; classification as "Monumento Nacional" in 1946. Excavations conducted by Aurélio R. Belo and L. Trindade from 1959 to 1961. Excavations of the German Archaeological Institute, Madrid Department, in co-operation with the Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte of the University of Freiburg im Breisgau at a Portuguese invitation and under the responsibility of Edward Sangmeister and Hermanfrid Schubart from 1964 to 1973 (fig.: 1st, 2nd and 3rd line of defences). Excavations of the German Archaeological Institute, Madrid Department, directed by Michael Kunst and Hans-Peter Uerpmann (Institut für Archäobiologie at the University of Tübingen) in 1994 and 1995 (fig.: excavation in the area of the farm house of Zambujal). Portuguese-German project with the objectives mentioned above since 1996.

Previous Activities

Topographical documentation since 1994; in 1998 making of a report for the IPPAR by the Portuguese building engineer J. Appleton of the company A2P on the condition of the farm house, that has partly collapsed meanwhile and is a registered historical monument itself . In 1999 development of a joint project of the IPPAR and the Câmara Municipal de Torres Vedras under the title "Castro do Zambujal (Torres Vedras). Programa Global de Intervenção", the scientific management of which was transferred to M. Kunst of the German Archaeological Institute, Madrid Department; besides this, execution of drawings and reports on the excavations of 1994 and 1995.

Recent Activities

Excavation campaign in July 2001 and archaeo-metallurgical analyses of copper finds from Zambujal and neighbouring find sites in Freiberg (metal analyses) and Sheffield (metallography). Preparation of an excavation campaign of three months at Zambujal in 2002.


Excavations, generally with single find measurements with the help of a GPS, registration of data in electronic data-bases for further processing, detailed topography, geophysical surveys with a Caesium-magnetometer, documentation of features and finds in drawings and photographs (also aerial photographs) as well as scientific survey and analysis methods of the related and involved subjects.


Mauerlinie 4 © DAIIn the interior of the fortification complex, copper manufacture was carried out during all periods of its existence. Alterations of the complex indicate that the concept of the defensive strategy was altered several times. From this, certain structures of command within Copper Age society were inferred. Hints as to residential zones outside the fortification, e. g. on the slope below the steep escarpment of the hill projection on which the fortification is situated, explain, where the settlement of the population required for the construction and defence of the complex must be searched for. The fortification itself seems to have been many times the size that was assumed until now. Probably, the bay mentioned above was of fundamental importance for the existence of the settlement, because on the one hand different materials used in Zambujal had to be brought in from distant sites (e. g. amphibolite, ivory, exotic items such as a cowrie snail, but probably also copper) and on the other hand, the produced copper articles had to be bartered. Additionally, the end of the occupation around the transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age seems to have been connected to the disappearance of the bay.

Cooperation / Cooperation partners

With Dr. R. Parreira, who is in charge of the measures for building and monument preservation taken by the city of Torres Vedras and the Portuguese authority for the conservation of historical monuments (IPPAR). The two campaigns of 1994 and 1995 were a co-operation with Prof. Dr. Dr. H.-P. Uerpmann, Institut für Archäobiologie at the University of Tübingen, the topographical work was directed by Dr. M. Höck (Universidade da Beira Interior in Covilhã, Portugal). Since 2001 further co-operation with: German Archaeological Institute, Eurasia-Department: Dr. J. Görsdorf (radiocarbon dating); University of Frankfurt: Prof. Dr. H. Thiemeyer and R. Dambeck (pedology) as well as Dr. A. J. Kalis and Dr. A. Schweizer (pollen analysis); Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg: Prof. Dr. E. Pernicka and Dr. M. Bartelheim (archaeo-metallurgy); University of Sheffield: Prof. Dr. B. Ottaway (metallography); University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim: Dr. H.-P. Stika (palaeobotany).


Dr. Rui Parreira, Coordenador do Núcleo da Fortaleza de Sagres, P-8560 Sagres, Tel.: +351/282/62 01 40;


E. Sangmeister - H. Schubart, Zambujal. Die Grabungen 1964 bis 1973. Mit Beiträgen von A. v. d. Driesch, J. Boessneck, M. Hopf, G. Sperl, B. Kleinmann, in: Madrider Beiträge 5, Zambujal Teil 1 (Mainz 1981); also the following volumes of Madrider Beiträge 5, 2; 5, 3; 5, 4 by M. Kunst, E. Sangmeister, M. C. Jiménez Gómez, H.-P. and M. Uerpmann (in print); articles in Madrider Mitteilungen 31, 1990, 21-82; 21-33; 37, 1996, 10-36; M. Kunst - H. P. Uerpmann, Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia (in print).


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