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Tribute to Doctor Cláudio Torres

As part of the programme of the ICOM Portugal Autumn Meeting held in Mértola on 18-19 November 2022, Doctor Cláudio Figueiredo Torres was honoured by changing the name of the Museum to Museu de Mértola – Cláudio Torres.

The moment comprised three speeches: by Ana Paula Amendoeira, Regional Director of Culture for Alentejo, who had to leave for agenda reasons but honoured the moment with an excellent text read by Maria de Jesus Monge, Director of ICOM Portugal; by Santiago Macias, Director of the National Pantheon and researcher of the Archaeological Site of Mértola, on behalf of ICOM Portugal; and by Rosinda Pimenta, Deputy Mayor of Mértola.

In the words of Santiago Macias, ‘(…) It is necessary to go back almost forty years to realise that Mértola’s project as such, as a preconceived idea, never existed. There was no project, with five-year plans and objectives outlined. The project was built over time. At the time no one talked about deliverables and all we wanted was to do things: photography, restoration, learning traditional construction techniques, or even weaving or archaeology. I believe that, after all these years, the most important factor of this project was its political and social positioning and the fact that it was educational for so many of us. This is not about putting Cláudio Torres on a stand, but rather seeing him as a catalyst for many things that were happening here. Even if some that passed him by, but which wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been here. (…)‘.
(Santiago Macias, Mértola Museum – Claudio Torres: 1982/2022, Tribute to Cláudio Torres, ICOM Portugal, 2022).

For Ana Paula Amendoeira,’(…) this project is the result of one man’s vision and dream. We can never talk about the Archaeological Site of Mértola without mentioning Cláudio Torres. Wehave to be grateful for what he gave us, but above all for what he forced us to achieve, to conquer, to criticise, not to accept, to put into perspective, to discuss, to question. Be grateful because he helped us live by taking risks, without neutralities, but with objectivity and with objectives. And all because, at some point in our lives, he awakened in us a passion for history, taught us to learn the historian’s trade, or simply changed our view of the past and therefore also of the present. (…) That’s what Cláudio was and is for me. He is a bright person despite the shadow of times, precisely because he has the ability to observe the spectacle of the world, hence that wisdom. Only someone who can observe can understand without passion and thus enlighten others. Listening to Cláudio speak is often an epiphany. So it has been throughout my life. That is why he is so important and why I cannot speak of him as a dispassionate observer
of matters of knowledge, culture, archaeology, the archaeological field and his immense and exceptional work. I speak from the heart because it was in the heart that he touched me the most and because he has a magical, innocent and moving dimension, even if he does not reveal it (…)”.
(Ana Paula Amendoeira, Who built Thebes? (about Cláudio Torres), Tribute to Cláudio Torres, ICOM Portugal, 2022).

As part of this tribute, in 2023 the ICOM Portugal Grant will be named after Cláudio Torres.

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