Maritime Archaeology of the Aveiro Lagoon (AMRA)



Start . 2012

Duration . 37 months

Principal Investigators Inês Pinto Coelho (CHAM) / José António Bettencourt (CHAM) / Patrícia Carvalho (CHAM)


Main Research Unit

CHAM — Centro de Humanidades


Coordenator Intitution

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa


Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Náutica e Subaquática / Direcção Geral do Património Cultural
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia



The Aveiro lagoon has influenced human occupation of Central Portugal, giving rise to communities heavily marked by maritime activities. The natural features of this space have resulted in a diverse underwater archaeological record, comprising almost a dozen archaeological sites, and the creation of a landscape with numerous elements associated with maritime activities, namely ports.

Aware of the importance of the study of this space, the project Maritime Archaeology of the Aveiro Lagoon (AMRA) aims to research underwater archaeological sites from the Medieval and Early Modern periods, discovered within the lagoon and associated with the issues of navigation, shipbuilding and the economic context of the lagoon. 

Among the wreckages, there are three shipwreck sites of medieval-early modern period, one of Iberian-Atlantic tradition carrying a load of common pottery crafted locally (Ria de Aveiro A), two with typical features of Northern European shipbuilding (Ria de Aveiro F and Ria de Aveiro G), a port context in one of the access canals to the city, and even a fourth shipwreck, still with an undetermined chronology, with a cargo of construction ceramics.

From a global perspective, this project seeks to associate these remains with their historical and cultural context, seeking to understand, through the study of the material elements and the analysis of historical sources, the role of Aveiro in the economic dynamics of the Atlantic during this period. The project will highlight the impact of its potteries and its significant commercial diffusion, having already been identified in the Atlantic archipelagos (Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands) often associated with sugar production; and in English and North American contexts associated with fishing activities.

The work will mainly focus on the study of collections already recovered, the revaluation of geophysical prospecting data, the visual prospect while diving, data recording and evaluation surveys.



The main objectives of the project are:

•To contribute to the promotion and assertion of the region of Aveiro among cultural circuits and scientific research on a global scale;

•To promote the research on ships, navigation and trading in Aveiro, based on archaeological sources;

•To develop an integrated research programme of historical and archaeological sources associated with the maritime activities on the banks of the Aveiro lagoon;

•To identify, characterise and enhance the scientific, cultural and educational potential of the underwater archaeological heritage of the Aveiro lagoon;

•To contribute to the valuation and dissemination of the cultural heritage of the lagoon within its community;

•To collaborate on implementation of monitoring and protective measures of the lagoon’s underwater archaeological heritage.







Inês Pinto Coelho    .    Coordenator

José António Bettencourt    .    Coordenator

Patrícia Carvalho    .    Coordenator
Alexandre Brazão
Christelle Chouzenoux (CHAM)
Cristóvão Fonseca (CHAM)
Gonçalo Correia Lopes (CHAM)
Marco Pinto
N’Zinga Oliveira (CHAM)
Tiago Silva (CHAM)