Past Lives, Recovered Memories: Interpreting human fragility in the 19th century in the light of Archeothanatology

Principal researcher: Zélia Rodrigues

Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture


Archaeology | Bioanthropology | Human Remains | Heritage

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia


Ricardo Teixeira e Vitor Fonseca Arqueologia, Lda.



Start date


End date





This project explores fragility based on the contextualized study of human remains, in secondary deposition, exhumed in the hospital cemetery of the Third Order of Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Porto). Its well-defined stratigraphic and historical-chronological framework combined with its integral excavation gives it uniqueness in the international archaeological panorama, enabling a holistic analysis of events with societal impact, such as wars and epidemics. The analysis of the archaeological context, combining archaeothanatological and bioarchaeological studies, makes it possible to reconstruct behavioral aspects, social and health inequalities, used to explore human fragility in a context of war and cholera in 19th century Porto - the context of this project. This study will allow us to examine the impact of socially disruptive events and how they can be interpreted in past contexts. At the same time, it will contribute to the construction and valorization of collective memory and studies of human fragility via heritage and archaeological contexts.


Full members

Francisca Alves Cardoso

Practices and Politics of Culture

Rodrigo Banha da Silva (coorientador, CHAM - Centro de Humanidades, NOVA FCSH)

Vítor Fonseca (coorientador, Ricardo Teixeira e Vitor Fonseca Arqueologia, Lda.)