Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Following the Roman Army between the Southern Foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains and the Northern Plains of Castile and León (North of Spain): Archaeological Applications of Remote Sensing and Geospatial Tools


Sixty-six new archaeological sites have been discovered thanks to the combined use of different remote sensing techniques and open access geospatial datasets (mainly aerial photography, satellite imagery, and airborne LiDAR). These sites enhance the footprint of the Roman military presence in the northern fringe of the River Duero basin (León, Palencia, Burgos and Cantabria provinces, Spain). This paper provides a detailed morphological description of 66 Roman military camps in northwestern Iberia that date to the late Republic or early Imperial eras. We discuss the different spatial datasets and GIS tools used for different geographic contexts of varied terrain and vegetation. Finally, it stresses out the relevance of these novel data to delve into the rationale behind the Roman army movements between the northern Duero valley and the southern foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains. We conclude that methodological approaches stimulated by open-access geospatial datasets and enriched by geoscientific techniques are fundamental to understand the expansion of the Roman state in northwestern Iberia during the 1st c. BC properly. This renewed context set up a challenging scenario to overcome traditional archaeological perspectives still influenced by the cultural-historical paradigm and the pre-eminence of classical written sources.

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