GIS analysis of Roman transport routes in Seville province, Spain


Isaksen, Leif (2007) GIS analysis of Roman transport routes in Seville province, Spain. In, Figueiredo, A. and Leite Velho, G. (eds.) Proceedings of Computer Applications in Archaeology 2005: The World is in Your Eyes. The World is in Your Eyes. Computer Applications in Archaeology (CAA 2005) , Computer Applications in Archaeology.

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Description/Abstract

Urban Connectivity in Iron-Age and Roman Southern Spain is an AHRB project based at Southampton University aiming to analyze changing social, economic and geographical relationships between towns and nucleated settlements in southern Spain between the Iron-Age and Roman periods from c.500 BC to AD 500. This is one of the most densely urbanized areas of the western Mediterranean , and its rich archaeological evidence makes it a very suitable area of study. The project builds upon the premise that while towns and settlements of the Iron-Age and Roman periods in this part of Iberia, and indeed other parts of the Mediterranean region, are quite well-known, they have been studied in terms of individual settlement histories, or aspects of their topography, social or political organization. While this has immensely enriched our knowledge-base of individual settlements and aspects of their material culture, it has effectively obscured our understanding of the broader settlement pattern of which they are a part: this is particularly true of the Roman period. Consequently, towns and other major nucleated settlements can only ever be properly understood in terms of their broader geographical and settlement context and their changing social, political and economic inter-relationships. The work presented is an interim report on an aspect of that project: the use of a GIS to locate, record and analyze probable transport infrastructure within the region. This is with particular reference to the Roman and pre-Roman road system and the river Guadalquivir which provides a transit ‘spine' traversing the entire study area. Evidence for location takes a variety of forms from the textual (classical texts, itineraries) and material (milestones, geophysics) to the geographical (digitized aerial photos, topography, hydrology). How to record such a disparate array of data in a manner which is complete, comprehensible and computationally comparable is a further element of research. The approach currently undertaken is to generate a series of node graphs corresponding to provisional routes and then establish correlations between them. Having established these theoretical pathways, two further stages of research are foreseen. One will be to explore ways in which, in such a necessarily probabalistic field of inquiry, levels of certainty can be linked directly to the epistemic root of an assertion (e.g. that there existed an established route between locations X and Y). Thereafter it will also be necessary to find ways of representing different certainties, and indeed, varying types of certainty. The other, using conceptual constructs such as cost-surface analysis and a variety of social and spatial network analysis techniques, will look at disparities between what seems to have historically occurred and “natural” pathways. Is it possible to ascertain specific reasons for choosing certain routes over other, unrealised ones? These issues will form the basis for a brief discussion at the end of the paper. This work focuses upon the lower Guadalquivir valley, approximately the modern province of Seville , along with parts of Huelva , Córdoba and Cádiz. The successful development of this methodology will provide archaeologists with a powerful analytical tool for better understanding the ways in which Iron-Age communities were integrated into the Roman Empire and social hierarchies within the Roman provinces were articulated.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Archaeology
Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering > Electronics and Computer Science
ePrint ID: 204537
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2011 09:26
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 19:48
Publisher: Computer Applications in Archaeology
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/204537

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