Reveal a roman city as a whole without use or an excavator
Reveal a roman city as a whole without use or an excavator

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For the first time, a group of archaeologists has been able to r evelar the map of a roman city complete without use or an excavator, using the technology of the radar advanced penetration of earth (GPR). The team, composed of scientists from the universities of Cambridge (Uk) and Ghent (Belgium), has managed to show a variety of details of Falerii Novi, a walled city located in the valley of the Tiber river, about 50 miles north of Rome, and founded around the 241.C.. Their findings have been published in the journal “Antiquity”.

“The spectacular level of detail that we have achieved in Falerii Novi and the amazing features that the GPR has revealed to suggest that this type of survey could transform how archaeologists investigate the cities ,” he explained in a press release Martin Millett , a researcher at the University of Cambridge and co-author of the study. Such as has been proposed by the researchers, this can be especially revolutionary in the cases in which the cities cannot be excavated because they are very large or because they are located under structures that are more modern. ( Here you can see the details about your research project).

Falerii Novi is a site well-documented, studied for decades, and that is not covered by modern buildings. Now, thanks to the radar, the team has been able to bring to light the path of a complex of baths, a market, a temple, a monument and even a complex network of pipelines. In addition, thanks to the capabilities of the GPR, have been able to reveal various layers of the complex, thus allowing to study the evolution of the city over the centuries.

Path of the temple recently discovered at Falerii Novi, Italy – L. VERDONCK

When examining all those traces have discovered that the city continues to a path less standardized from what is found in other ancient settlements like Pompeii, and that part of the buildings, as the temple, the market or the bath house, are architecturally more elaborate than what is usually found in towns as small as that. In addition, they have found evidence that part of the materials of the roman city were robbed and used for more modern buildings.

A swimming pool and a large monument

But perhaps more surprising are the traces of a swimming pool, in the southern district, and a large monument near the north gate, in the two large structures were united by a porticus duplex , a passage covered by a roof supported on columns.

All this has been possible thanks to the technology of the GPR. It is based on the principles of radar conventional, in which the radio waves collide with objects and bounce back to a receiver, allowing to recognize its surface. But unlike this, the GPR is specialized in the subsoil, and in its ability to distinguish between materials at different depths . In addition, the advances of recent years have allowed to greatly improve the resolution and speed of the measurements.

In this case, given the large extension of Falerii Novi, the half of Pompeii, the researchers decided to tow the apparatus of GPR with a quad. In this way, they took soundings, more than 30 hectares, that yes, taking a reading every 12.5 centimeters.

Appliance of radar used to reveal the path of the buried city, towed by a motorcycle – L. VERDONCK

The authors of this study have already used this technique to investigate the ancient roman cities of Interamna Lirenas, in Italy, and Aldborough, in the Uk, but hope to study settlements still higher.

“it Is very exciting, but it’s realistic to imagine that we will use the GPR to probe cities such as Miletus, in Turkey, or Nicópolis , in Greece,” said Millett. “We still have a lot to learn about the urban life in Rome, and this technology could open possibilities without precedntes in the coming decades.”

For the moment, however, it will be necessary to develop new automated techniques to speed up the process. Until now, it has been required to analyze the data manually, he has done that each hectare requires around 20 hours to be documented.