Route Analysis and Connections in Sub-Optimal Areas. The OtherPerspective on the Levantine Early Bronze Age

Domizia Paolucci (Sapienza University of Rome)
Nicola Lanzaro (Sapienza University of Rome)

Saturday, 7 October 2023 | 2:00–2:30 pm


Archaeological investigations of the sub-optimal areas of the Levant produce high potential datasets for studying critical aspects of ancient societies, as subsistence strategies and the economic exploitation of specific resources. To understand deserts as part of a larger mosaic of intersecting ecologies in the past it is necessary to go beyond simplistic views of these areas as barren landscapes. Actually, the research about connections between marginal and settled areas is progressing with the help of digital technologies that allow for efficient management and analysis of large amounts of heterogeneous sets of data. Reconnecting to this trend, we propose to digitalize for the first time in a
single geodatabase all the available data about the Eastern and Southern Jordan, South Arabia, and the Southern Syria desert, to reconstruct possible interregional connections and local developmental trajectories of the 4th – 3rd millennium BCE in those regions. Observing the data from these regions,
it appears that also in these “marginal” zones a great flow of change was underway. In the time span under review, different kinds of transformations happened in the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula: urbanism developed in those area at a differentiated pace and rate but following a common trend to
establish new ways of inhabiting the landscape and using the resources available. We can outline new settlement strategies that embraces every aspects of human life: domestic area, subsistence, production, and mobility. It is common, if not traditional, to look at great human changes by considering the most fertile areas as driving centers of development; it is instead possible to
hypothesize an innovative trend that comes from the South and the East where the first fortified settlements appear centuries before their appearance in the western Levant. The clash between man and nature, in search for a balance and under the pressure of subsistence leads to technological innovations and important revolutions in the exploitation of the landscape. Within this framework,trade was to play a central role in the movement of ideas and technologies and in the dialogue between marginal areas, fertile areas, and settlements overlooking the Mediterranean.

The focus of the research goes beyond the description of similarities among sites, it rather wants also to investigate how sites was interconnected and through which paths common features, such as ideas and things, moved.

Data from paleoecology and geomorphology are analysed in order to compare them with archaeological datasets and produce a plausible network among sites by taking into account technologies and subsistence for Early Bronze Age travels. All the data are processed in QGIS (version 3.28.4-Firenze), which is an open-source program equipped with useful algorithms of processing, to implement network analysis as least path cost analysis and route analysis. Starting from DEM rasters collected by the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) we produced slope raster and cumulative cost rasters as starting geo-dataset to establish the better route of connection between sites, according to the routes analysis. Furthermore, we collected all the data available on freshwater sources, crossing points and green areas, considering the necessities of the Early Bronze Age travellers. All these variabilities are considered to paint a truthful picture of the ancient routes and to reconstruct connections, and ideological and commercial ties between regions and communities that should be exist among the Early Bronze Age Levantine and Arabian landscape.

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