MSCA results are out! 4 new postdoctoral fellowships for GIAP

Great news for GIAP (ICAC-CERCA) in the 2023 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) call from the European Union. We were awarded 4 new postdoctoral fellows to join us, one of which is Faidon Moudopoulos, who we celebrate will be able to extend his stay with us for another 2 years!

The computational team will expand on mountain environments, pastoralism and Roman waterways, and the archaeobotany team with a new project to build up on food plant trade and Roman network analysis.

Classical sources and archaeological data coincide in identifying the existence of transhumant movements in the Apennines during the Roman period. However, there is little evidence on how and when it started, what was its socioeconomic context and environmental consequences. This is hardly surprising since, up to now, a multidisciplinary approach integrating landscape and archaeological data has never been employed to tackle ancient transhumant practices.

Early Intensive Pastoralism and Transhumance in the Apennines (E-TransAp) seeks to investigate the origin of transhumant pastoralist practices using an innovative combination of remote sensing (including lidar and multispectral satellite imagery), microtopographic survey, machine learning, movement modelling, archaeological excavations and spatial statistical approaches.
E-TransAp will investigate a central area of the Apennines, within the territory of the Sabines, where Roman authors identify seasonal flock movements between the mountains and the lower areas, in order to identify and date landscape elements related to large-scale flock movement. By bridging archaeological, palaeoenvironmental, and historical data, E-TransAp aims to provide a holistic understanding of ancient socio-economic systems and landscape mobility. The research is grounded in the premise that understanding the inception and impact of transhumance is key to analyse the origin of Mediterranean mountain cultural landscapes. This pioneering approach promises to offer new perspectives on the early practices of transhumance and its role in shaping ancient Mediterranean societies.

Food is at once a universal necessity and subject to the particularities of environmental and socio-cultural setting. Examining trends in food consumption provides a means with which to detect shifts in past economies, and can greatly augment current understandings of the ways ancient populations interreacted with each other as well as their environments. This project will explore the diverse ways that Roman imperial occupation impacted provincial lifeways, as reflected in foodways, or more specifically, food plants. As food plants were a traded commodity, tracking their trade and transport allows important new light to be shed on economic connectivity, trade networks, as well as culturescapes and the intricate social dynamics that influence consumption patterns.

The focus will be on the Roman provinces of Britannia and Gaul, regions which are historically and geographically distinct, but also interconnected in terms of their proximity and necessary transport links. A large body of archaeobotanical data will be collated and entered into a relational database. Data analyses will look to methods from computational archaeology, employing underutilised techniques of advanced network analyses in order to model spatial and social distributions in food plants. In acquiring these new skills, the candidate will be able to combine such methods with existing expertise in large-scale, regional archaeobotanical studies.

Results will complement current knowledge on food plant trade by filling the essential gap that is the geographical centre of the European provinces, Gaul, as well as shedding new light on trade in the frontiers. Implications will be far-reaching, offering novel insight into socio-economic networks, as well as human-landscape relationships, and complex nature of cultural dynamics within imperial spheres. Such topics are not only of great relevance to the ancient world, but also to modern studies of food and the impacts of the global economy.

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. While roads have been extensively investigated and they have been reconstructed in detail in provinces such as Hispania, Galia and Britannia, to date, no analysis of Roman movement and communication has incorporated navigable rivers, lakes, canals and sea transport. Orbis, the only open geospatial tool for the analysis of Roman transport, only incorporates a few major rivers and a very simple network of sea routes, which pales in comparison with the number of sea and river quays, harbours and ports archaeologically documented. Both epigraphy and classical reliefs and texts indicate Romans developed, maintained and extended the network of inland waterways. Water transport was the preferred mode of transport for goods in bulk whenever possible as it was much cheaper than road transport and constituted the basis of international commerce.

OverTheWaters will reconstruct waterways and sea routes of the Western Roman Empire using big data and advanced computational methods in order to understand the importance of water movement, transport and shipbuilding technology and how it influenced the development of urban centres acting as commercial hubs and consumption and redistribution foci.

Despite summer wildfires and the expansion of urban and agricultural areas, Mediterranean mountains have experienced extensive afforestation during the last 70 years. This has largely been a consequence of the abandonment of these areas and the loss of their traditional management strategies. Afforestation processes not just imply an important heritage loss as cultural landscapes disappear under the forest without having been studied but they also boost wildfires, as traditional ways of managing the forests were not replaced by proactive forest monitoring. UnderTheForest will study the cultural landscape under threat of afforestation and already afforested in the area of Zagori (Greece), identifying and dating its human and natural elements and linking them to specific historical and socioeconomical processes. Despite being considered an area of exceptional natural heritage, Zagori’s cultural management has focused on its villages and their architectural elements, overlooking the landscape that sustained them. UnderTheForest will provide important data for Zagori’s ongoing bid for the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a Cultural Landscape. In order to do so, UnderTheForest will develop an innovative remote sensing workflow joining photogrammetric reconstruction for historical aerial imagery (1945 onwards), machine-learning probabilistic classification of multitemporal, multisource satellite imagery, and drone- based lidar survey (which will be able to locate structures under forest cover). Together with more traditional archival research, pedestrian survey, trench excavation and radiocarbon dating, the project will identify and contextualise the cultural assets that made this landscape unique and provide new tools that can be applied to other areas currently under afforestation processes.

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,