Nav: Home

21st century archaeology has rediscovered historical Cordoba

June 11, 2019

On the land where Cordoba is located in the 21st century, two cities coexisted in the past, each on a hill. An Iberian city was located where Cruz Conde Park lies today, and a Roman city, which was founded at a later time, was located about 500 meters away. Archaeology has had to depend upon geological studies up to now in order to determine how the city developed throughout history, but now, thanks to LiDAR technology, 3D images have been obtained that show what the land was like where Cordoba lies before humans arrived.

Antonio Monterroso, an Art History, Archaeology and Music Department researcher at the University of Cordoba, used data from a specific LiDAR flight for the first time. This flight was performed by the National Geographic Institute (abbreviated to IGN in Spanish) in 2016 and covered all of Spain. The data was used to analyze the morphology of an already built city. These data are publicly accessible and have led to the aerial detection of several archaeological sites outside of urban enclaves in Spain, but this tool's potential was underestimated when it came to analyzing historical cities.

Aerial laser LiDAR technology is a recent development. A small plane flies over an area and casts millions of points of light and uses them to calculate the height at which objects they collide with are located. These objects could be trees, mountains or buildings. This provides a three-dimensional image of the area being studied.

Cordoba is a built-up city, so these data apparently do not provide any archaeological information, due to the fact that most ruins are buried underneath new buildings. However, if these data are filtered and only the ones that hit the ground are chosen, while disregarding the points that collided with urban features, they can be used to generate a 3D picture of the actual land where the city lies.

In this way, Antonio Monterroso Checa was able to digitally recreate the geomorphology of the area where Cordoba is located before it was covered with buildings. In the images, one can clearly see how first the Iberian city and later the Roman one both took advantage of the shape of the land in order to build their settlements. The former was located on a hill, which is named Los Quemados Hill today, while the latter was built on a less steep hill farther to the northeast. The images also show how these two settlements were located next to the old Guadalquivir riverbed, which was farther north than it is today. In Roman and medieval times, once the river took its current shape, the city spread over what had once been the old riverbed, and high foundations and fortifications were built to avoid flooding.

Up until now, the traces of this old Guadalquivir riverbed had only been revealed by means of archaeologial studies that detected signs of flooding in the area and the presence of underground sand. Thanks to Monterroso's research, we can now see this evidence digitally in a clearer and more graphic way.

This is the first part of a much broader scope of research that Antonio Monterroso is performing on the province of Cordoba. He is currently immersed in studying LiDAR data from the IGN around the Medina Azahara historical site and its surroundings. The aim of this work is to continue to uncover new information about the world heritage that the historical city of Cordoba holds.
-end-
Monterroso, Antonio. Geoarchaeological Characterisation of Sites of Iberian and Roman Cordoba Using LiDAR Data Acquisitions. Geosciences. 10.3390/geosciences9050205

University of Córdoba

Related Archaeology Articles:

Archaeology -- Social inequality in Bronze Age households
Archaeogenetic analyses provide new insights into social inequality 4,000 years ago: nuclear families lived together with foreign women and individuals from lower social classes in the same household.
Traditional fisherfolk help uncover ancient fish preservation methods
Archaeologists have little insight into the methods used for the long-term processing and preservation of fish in the past.
HKU archaeological team excavates at one of the major fortress-settlements in the Armenian Highlands
A team of researchers and students from HKU unearthed huge storage jars, animal bones and fortress walls from 3,000 years ago in Armenia as they initiated the Ararat Plain Southeast Archaeological Project (APSAP) during the summer of 2019.
Crowdsourced archaeology shows how humans have influenced Earth for thousands of years
A new map synthesized from more than 250 archaeologists worldwide argues that the human imprint on our planet's soil goes back much earlier than the nuclear age.
Tiny ear bones help archaeologists piece together the past
For the first time archaeologists have used the small bones found in the ear to look at the health of women and children from 160 years ago.
Who dominates the discourse of the past?
Male academics, who comprise less than 10% of North American archaeologists, write the vast majority of the field's high impact, peer-reviewed literature.
21st century archaeology has rediscovered historical Cordoba
University of Cordoba researcher Antonio Monterroso Checa applied aerial laser LiDAR technology to draw out the ancient geomorphology of the city of Cordoba
Pollen dispersal in traditional processing of buckwheat
In order to better understand the source and significance of crop pollen in archaeological sites, a recent study on the process of pollen dispersal in buckwheat traditional processing was published in SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences.
Hidden history of Rome revealed under world's first cathedral
An international team of archaeologists has revealed new insights into the history of Rome following years of work under the Archbasilica of St John Lateran in Rome.
Broad genetic variation on the Pontic-Caspian Steppe
The genetic variation within the Scythian nomad group is so broad that it must be explained with the group assimilating people it came in contact with.
More Archaeology News and Archaeology Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.