South-West Archaeology Digs (SWAD) is an archaeology field school running between May and September every year. SWAD excavations comprise a wide variety of sites in the south of Portugal. Currently, our major project is related with the excavation of several Iron Age sites in the county of Moura (Beja, Portugal).

The field school is designed to provide students with a hands-on experience in excavation, recording excavation work through context sheets, section drawing, plans and photographs; and assisting in the recovery, processing, recording and archiving of finds and environmental samples. By the end of the field school, the students will be able to work independently on site and in the field lab, and will have developed considerable teamwork skills alongside the ability to prioritize and structure tasks within a set period of time.


Project Director - Zooarchaeologist

Mariana Nabais is undertaking a PhD in Archaeology in the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UK), where she worked as a teaching assistant in Zooarchaeology (2015) and in Field Methods (2014-2016). Mariana holds a MSc in Environmental Archaeology (2010) also through UCL, and has been part of several excavation projects in Portugal, Spain, and Peru, ranging from Prehistory to Medieval periods. Mariana was the assistant director at Downley’s Tudor hunting lodge excavation (UK) between 2014 and 2016. Her research focuses primarily on reconstructing populations’ diets and environments through faunal analyses, including mammals, birds, reptiles, molluscs and crustaceans.

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Project Director - Artefact Specialist

Rui Monge Soares is a member of the UNIARQ, Lisbon University's Institute of Archaeology. He completed his MSc in Archaeology (2012) on the subject of the Iron Age in Southwestern Iberian Peninsula at FLUL (Lisbon University). Since then, he has directed several excavations of Iron Age sites in the South of Portugal and he is currently undertaking a PhD in Archaeology at FLUL. His research focus is the Iron Age, specifically the ceramics between the V and IV centuries b.C. in Southwestern Iberian Peninsula.



Nikolah Gilligan has worked in commercial archaeology since 1999 and has excavated sites in Ireland, Wales, Australia and Greece. Nikolah gained her Irish Site Director’s Licence in 2007 and has directed many excavations on large-scale infrastructural projects. Nikolah completed her MSc. in The Institute of Archaeology, UCL, in 2010, and has carried out archaeobotanical analyses of Irish assemblages, as well as material from Thailand and Vietnam as part of the NERC-funded Early Rice Project in The Institute of Archaeology. Nikolah is currently undertaking a PhD in University College Dublin.


GIS and Archaeological Survey Specialist

Robert Kaleta has been working on commercial and research projects since 2011. He specialises in topographic surveying and teaches the Archaeological Surveying course at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL where he completed his MSc in GIS and Spatial Analysis (2013). Robert has also been working on the West Dean field school as a surveyor since 2011 and as assistant director in 2014 and 2017. He is interested in integrating fieldwork with GIS and landscape analysis using statistical approaches.

Public Engager

Teresa Ramos da Costa holds a BA and an MA in Archaeology and worked as a project manager in contract archaeology from 2001 to 2011. In 2005, Teresa became an associated researcher for the Centre of Overseas History, has been part of relevant scientific publications as well as part of an international team running archaeological projects in Morocco and in the Sultanate of Oman (World Heritage site), under the Direction of Gregory Possehl. Teresa integrated the Portuguese National Archaeology Museum Learning Department (Lisbon) and, since 2015, has been part of the Learning Department of Castelo de São Jorge (Lisbon), one of the most visited national monuments in Portugal.


Davide Susini holds a MSc (2015) in Archaeology from the University of Trento (Italy), and he is currently undertaking a PhD in Geoarchaeology at the University of Siena (Italy). His research focuses on site formation processes, geomorphology and soil micromorphology. Davide is currently a research member of an ERC project (nEU-Med), aiming to investigate the geomorphological evolution of the Medieval landscape extending from the Colline Metallifere to the Tyrrhenian Sea (South-West of Tuscany). He was also part of the geoarchaeology team (2011-2016) researching on issues related with the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Southeastern Iberia.

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