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“The Infrastructural Landscape of Ancient Tharros: A GIS Approach to Recording a Roman City” by Cinzia Presti

The goal of the project was to use a combination of digital humanities technologies and traditional archaeological methodologies to model and analyze the water and waste management system in Roman Tharros (Sardinia, Italy). After a year of modeling and research, the map is finally up on ArcGIS online!: https://arcg.is/1TTPzL

Cinzia Presti

Before I began this project, I had never worked with ArcGIS or FileMaker before and had never conducted an archaeological ground survey, so the majority of the work in the spring semester was to learn how to use and apply these methods. My thesis advisor, Professor Eric Poehler, spent a lot of time bringing me up to speed on how to apply the Digital Humanities to archaeology and how technologies like photogrammetry and GIS can help preserve, share, and display information. At that time, I was not just preparing for my thesis work, but was training to be a member of the geospatial team for the Tharros Archaeological Research Project that following summer. I was fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to go to Tharros in person, and while training for the position, I had been given access to all the digital outputs necessary to begin the thesis project. It was my first time encountering drone imagery and digital elevation models, so learning how to import them into GIS, and be able to access information and detailed images of a site remotely changed my understanding of how archaeological research can be conducted.

Fast forwarding to spring 2020, I became a 5CDH fellow, and throughout that semester my cohort and I had several meetings where we shared our research, methods, and questions. I thought everyone’s research projects were incredibly interesting, and we all immediately bounced off ideas with each other on how to incorporate different technologies into our projects. I found their comments and questions to be helpful throughout the semester as I continued my project and added to the ArcGIS map. This was particularly true in getting feedback on how readable my model was for a wider audience in terms of organization and symbology (especially in making the model more visibly engaging). Although we were unable to continue to have in-person meetings, Evan was able to organize remote cohort meetings via Zoom so we could all virtually gather and track the development of our projects. These meeting were still engaging, and the online format made it easy for us to share our projects and present on their progress.

Screenshot from the ArcGIS online map of ancient Tharros showing data on drainage basin c7 that includes its name and type.
Screenshot from the ArcGIS online map of ancient Tharros showing data on drainage basin c7 that includes its name and type: storage. (Click to enlarge).

The culmination this work was the presentations at the 5CDH virtual symposium. It was definitely an interesting experience presenting my project over Zoom, and though it was just as nerve wracking as it would have been in person, it was a great opportunity to still be able to bring in an audience to see our projects and ask us questions. Although we could not all be in one place for most of the semester, I think our virtual meetings and symposium exemplify what the Digital Humanities are all about. We were all able to meet with each other and share our work to a wider audience that would have otherwise been unreachable. Overall, I think that being a 5CDH fellow was an amazing experience, and I was able to develop my project a lot more than I had originally anticipated.

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