During these past years an interdisciplinary team of the universities of Gent and Cassino has organized geo-archaeological fieldwork in the area around the Roman town site of Ammaia in Northern Alentejo (Portugal). Objectives of these investigations are a better understanding of the town – countryside nexus in Antiquity and of the effect of man on the landscape in Roman times. Particular geo-archaeological questions that were dealt with concern: the topographic setting and locational choices by the Romans, water provisioning, the exploitation of important natural resources (e.g. granite, metal ore, quartz, rock crystal). The presentation will focus on the geo-archaeological methodology used here and on some results, which highlight the influence of man on his environment in this south-European landscape. Original fieldwork allowed the complete reconstruction of the water supply to this newly founded Roman city. Two aqueducts and an intra-mural distribution system for water were mapped, while excavations in the bath complex connect the new geomorphological data with important chronological and archaeological evidence. Particularly exciting is an on-going site catchment analysis of the town and its territory, with surveys especially organized to detect, map and study important exploitation zones in Antiquity. Several granite quarries have been discovered, highlighting the importance of this material for the ancient economy and especially the building materials for the new city. Other investigations aim at understanding the role and geographical setting of mining activities in this part of the Iberian Peninsula. A recently discovered gold mine is under study, while several possible exploitation zones for copper and iron are noted. Very peculiar for the territory of Ammaia is the historic attestation by Pliny the Elder of important exploitations of rock crystal, a material used in ancient times foremost for the fabrication of jewellery and luxury artefacts. Several quarries with ancient exploitation traces of this rare material are under investigation. Finally, also in the domain of ancient agriculture and land division progress has been made, thanks to an integrated approach of fieldwork and remote sensing activity.

Archaeology of a Roman landscape in Central Portugal

CORSI, Cristina
;
2009

Abstract

During these past years an interdisciplinary team of the universities of Gent and Cassino has organized geo-archaeological fieldwork in the area around the Roman town site of Ammaia in Northern Alentejo (Portugal). Objectives of these investigations are a better understanding of the town – countryside nexus in Antiquity and of the effect of man on the landscape in Roman times. Particular geo-archaeological questions that were dealt with concern: the topographic setting and locational choices by the Romans, water provisioning, the exploitation of important natural resources (e.g. granite, metal ore, quartz, rock crystal). The presentation will focus on the geo-archaeological methodology used here and on some results, which highlight the influence of man on his environment in this south-European landscape. Original fieldwork allowed the complete reconstruction of the water supply to this newly founded Roman city. Two aqueducts and an intra-mural distribution system for water were mapped, while excavations in the bath complex connect the new geomorphological data with important chronological and archaeological evidence. Particularly exciting is an on-going site catchment analysis of the town and its territory, with surveys especially organized to detect, map and study important exploitation zones in Antiquity. Several granite quarries have been discovered, highlighting the importance of this material for the ancient economy and especially the building materials for the new city. Other investigations aim at understanding the role and geographical setting of mining activities in this part of the Iberian Peninsula. A recently discovered gold mine is under study, while several possible exploitation zones for copper and iron are noted. Very peculiar for the territory of Ammaia is the historic attestation by Pliny the Elder of important exploitations of rock crystal, a material used in ancient times foremost for the fabrication of jewellery and luxury artefacts. Several quarries with ancient exploitation traces of this rare material are under investigation. Finally, also in the domain of ancient agriculture and land division progress has been made, thanks to an integrated approach of fieldwork and remote sensing activity.
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