The team grows bigger! We welcome 2 new researchers and a technician

Andrew McLean
MSCA postdoctoral fellow

Andrew McLean finished his PhD at Edinburgh last year. His thesis analyzed the economy of the Roman Adriatic with a focus on modeling mobility and movement. He then looked at wine and oil production and patterns of urbanism in relation to the mobility model.

He recently finished a GIS researcher job with the local Council in Edinburgh, to help with planning active travel in the city. He also worked with commercial archaeology companies in England and Scotland for a few years before his PhD. He has excavated with multiple research projects in Italy, and he is currently finishing up one Italian project, is involved in establishing a new project in Croatia, and will hopefully be joining an excavation team in Turkey (they’re all Roman sites). He’ll be working with GIAP (ICAC-CERCA) for the next 2 years with the project:

R3NUrb: Reconstructing Roman Road Network for the understanding of Urban development (HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01-01-101109605)

The Roman conquest, occupation and dominion over a large part of current Europe and beyond marked a strong change in social, cultural and economic patterns in the area. Two of the most important and lasting changes were the establishment of a new transport network and the large-scale development of cities. Connectivity continues to be seen as an essential factor in the analysis of the spread of urbanisation, migration, the ancient economy, and the transmission of ideas.

In Antiquity connectivity could only be achieved via movement by land, river and sea, and had to rely on the available transport network. However, to date, no analysis of communication, trade, distribution of people and resources, or the economy in general, exists that actively considers the transport network, the single element that made connectivity possible, on an Empire-wide scale and therefore no attempts have been made to understand its influence on urbanism or its long-term influence. This is largely due to the lack of complete reconstructions of Roman route systems.

Although much is known about the roads and other elements of the Roman transport network, this knowledge is partial and lacks integration. The road transport network is full of empty spaces and broken links that prevent the development of an integrated system fit for large-scale analyses and the use of quantitative and computational approaches.

R3NUrb will address these problems by reconstructing the whole Roman transport network and using it to analyse the influence of connectivity on the process of urbanisation, urban distribution and the long term success of urban centres. For this R3NUrb will employ an innovative combination of computational approaches, remote sensing, network science, and geostatistics. This approach will provide unique insights into mobility, transport and urbanisation at a pan-Roman scale and, therefore, open up new horizons in the study of connectivity and urbanism in the past.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Rosa Soler
FPI PhD candidate

Rosa Soler Acedo (born in Puig-reig in 1997) graduated in Biology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 2019. She specialised in Forensic Physical Anthropology with an Interuniversity Masters in Biological Anthropology from the Universitat de Barcelona and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 2020. She has worked in archaeology and physical anthropology for public and private institutions since 2020.

She joined GIAP (ICAC-CERCA)as a PhD candidate with an FPI scholarship in the context of the TranScapes project: “TranScapes. Transported Mediterranean Landscape: Integrated and diachronic study of socio-environmental interactions and changes in the occupation of the environment on both sides of the Mediterranean” (PID2021-127064NB-I00).

Over the next four years, her research will focus on the study of livestock management during the Roman period (1st century BC – 3rd century AD) in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula, applying isotope analysis on OvisCapra and Bos remains. This approach will make it possible to analyse animals’ reproductive cycles, dietary habits and mobility patterns, three vital factors for understanding the zootechnical improvements made in livestock management during this time.

Borja Urbistondo
Specialised technician

Born in the Basque Country, he came to study Archaeology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona right after high school. After finishing his Bachelors with honor degrees in prehistorical subjects and computational and quantitative archaeology and having collaborated and linked with some researchers and professors, he left to Iceland to save some money and decide how to continue his studies.

After a couple of years working and studying on his own, he started a Master’s Degree at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Big Data and Data Science in order to become a Data Scientist in AI. The technical profile he honed led him to regain contact with Prof. Juan Antonio Barceló, from the Dept. of Prehistory at UAB, with whom he started collaborating, resulting in the participation in a published paper on Neural Networks in Archaeology, in the European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies. Also, he collaborated in a communication that was rewarded with the best communication prize in HDH2023 (VI Congreso de Asociación de Humanidades Digitales Hispánicas) on Machine Learning applied to archaeological pottery analysis, prior to another paper that is in development. He is currently finishing another Master’s at UNED in Methods and Techniques for Advanced Prehistorical Research, developing the final thesis.

Also, from April to November 2023, he worked as a technician in applied Data Science on the ERC DEMODRIVERS project for the EarlyFoods research team at ICTA-UAB. There, he was in charge of the microscopical slide scanner, both hardware and software equipment, as well as everything surrounding the AI work package with neotropical phytoliths from the Llanos de Moxos (Bolivia).

As a computational archaeology technician, the tasks he will carry out will broadly vary from more physical support in the lab tasks to the more specific AI-related tasks. He will provide help in Computer Vision tasks, such as performing data augmentation labors, applying the previously developed models to new use cases, and perhaps help in developing new ones. In general, he will assist and aid in many different ways with machine learning-related projects being developed at the moment, as well as the ones to come in the foreseeable future in GIAP.

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