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Remote Sensing Roman and Byzantine Eastern Frontier Zone in Landscape: Case Studies from Syria and Turkey

  • Minna SilverEmail author
  • Kenneth Silver
  • Markus Törmä
  • Milton Nuñez
  • Jari Okkonen
  • Tuula Okkonen
Chapter
Part of the Springer Remote Sensing/Photogrammetry book series (SPRINGERREMO)

Abstract

The Euphrates and the Tigris valleys in greater Mesopotamia provide a treasure trove for archaeologists studying the Roman and Byzantine eras. There existed some parts of the eastern frontier zone of the Roman and Byzantine empires, remains of which are in modern Syria and Turkey. This was also the stage where some of the first steps in archaeological remote sensing were taken in aerial archaeology in the Near East in the beginning of the twentieth century. It also became an arena in which the Finnish project SYGIS and the Finnish-Swedish Archaeological Project in Mesopotamia (FSAPM) applied satellite imagery, cartographic data, historical sources and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in archaeological prospecting, surveying and mapping. Declassified CORONA satellite photographs from the 1960s were used in prospecting and environmental studies. Landsat-7 ETM, QuickBird and GeoEye images were also purchased. The spatial resolution of the images provided means to trace Roman sites and roads. SPOT images were acquired as well, and they revealed settlements and agricultural fields in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates valley. Landscape models were produced fusing satellite imagery with DEM (digital elevation model) data, either from the SRTM mission or ASTER imagery to visualize and study the contexts in different types of environments and landscapes. Contrasts appeared between dry mountainous areas and flat irrigated agricultural areas in the river valley of Syria to hilly agricultural areas in mainly rain-fed eastern Turkey. In a multiperiod survey in Syria concentrating on nomadic and settled cultures, it was realized that the area comprised plenty of Roman and Byzantine remains that we integrated into the survey and studied in the context of the region. This Roman Limes area provided sites that reflected the network and military strategy. Visibility and viewshed analyses were able to be carried out with DEM data from X-SAR shuttle mission and ASTER-DEM data. They provided military aspects for defending the eastern frontier zone. In Turkey the landscape modelling provided means to understand the hilly and fertile landscape and positions of fortified Roman/Byzantine towns on hills in the Parthian/Persian frontier.

Keywords

Archaeology Roman Byzantine Remote sensing Aerial photographs Satellite imagery Prospecting Surveying CORONA X-SAR mission SRTM Landsat SPOT QuickBird GeoEye ASTER-DEM 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Minna Silver
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kenneth Silver
    • 2
  • Markus Törmä
    • 3
  • Milton Nuñez
    • 1
  • Jari Okkonen
    • 1
  • Tuula Okkonen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Independent researcherOuluFinland
  3. 3.Aalto UniversityEspooFinland

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