Full Version: Thesis research ....using GIS for archeology..
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I am a GIS professional and I am looking to use GIS to find certain roman battle sites that are still unknown.Ref. historical sources describing geographic locations. Some sample questions that I dont know which are important to the investigation include the length and width of a legion(5000 men?) in battle formation? How many men deep? rows and ranks. I have idea focus areas in Europe which I will discuss with people interested in finding out more. I will also be contacting a geologist to determine how land changes over time. We may end up contributing to locating a new find!
If you interested please contact me via [email protected]
Steve Kaye had a shot at the Boudicca site with GIS;

craft:pegg used map photo and literature rather than GIS;

the second assumed a battle front of 600m metres, 8 men deep
Very interesting endeavor and a mighty difficult one too. Yet, there is no real formula to find exact battle-line lengths, especially regarding the Romans. I normally use as rule of a thumb only of course, 6oo Romans per 100 m or 1,000 of everyone else as far as heavy infantry is concerned. The details necessary to be more precise are almost never given in the sources (depth, manpower in the front, possible gaps between the wings or between infantry and cavalry etc). Things are even more complex if you advocate the theory that has the Romans fight with sizable intervals between units. For cavalry I usually assume 250-500 men per 100 m.I repeat that this is my personal rule of a thumb and nothing more. It would also be helpful to state exactly what era you are interested in as these things may change, or some battles we have more info of than others.

Wow, sucks to learn somebody did something your interested in. Although I not implying I'd be the first. However I can use his analysis and argue against some of his points. I got to visit Towcester(just south of the town) (a site some recommended)and concluded that there was no significant key terrain (as described by the sources)in the area, as implied at that site. What I need to find out is if Boudica travelled NW on watling street, sacking the small garrisons along the route. Where did the "sackings" stop? That would be a key indicator in this research. I heard that Towcester was a garrison that was not sacked, which lead me to believe to start there. There are a few other factors to consider too. (left hanging)
Steve, I'll PM you lets take this up on email.
There is no reason to believe Boudicca was on Watling Street, it would be a poor choice of routes for carts, it is more likely the Iceni forces were using pre-Roman routes which would still be known and used at the time, possibly along the Nene Valley. Transport monopoly of Watling Street is probably a key wrong assumption in looking for the battle site, the Roman would use it the Brits probably wouldn't. Amassing a Brit force anything like 250k would take days, they would need a mustering point, Hunsbury Hill with it's weapon and quern stone deposits would seem to make a good candidate.

It's probably a good idea to review this thread;
Hi Steven,

Czech archaeologists have been trying to use GIS to better understand and evaluate the Roman military impact on the territory of Moravia during the Marcomannic wars. Here you can find a paper about their research. Sadly it's in only Czech (with English summary) and I don't know if any similar paper has been published in other language as well. But perhaps you can try to contact them.

Good luck with your research.

Quote:What I need to find out is if Boudica travelled NW on watling street, sacking the small garrisons along the route. Where did the "sackings" stop? That would be a key indicator in this research.
As far as I know, the only Boudica-era destruction deposit on the route north from London is St Albans - and even that isn't sizeable. Other deposits have been suggested to the west, around Staines and Barnes and even as far as Silchester. There's a strong possibility that the battle site lies west rather than north, but coming up with suggested sites has become a bit of a cottage industry! :wink:

Quote:There is no reason to believe Boudicca was on Watling Street, it would be a poor choice of routes for carts... the Roman would use it the Brits probably wouldn't.
At the risk of treading on the toes of Our Favourite Thread, I wonder why you think that Watling Street would be unsuitable for carts? Surely it would be the best route available for anyone heading in that direction - and if we assume that Boudica and co were following Paulinus, who surely would have been using the military road, why wouldn't the Britons use it too?
that's an easy one Nathan, have a look at the OS for the section of Watling Street from Stony Stratford to Bannaventa. There are more ups and downs than there are miles, it's a positive roller coaster. Marix Evans went for a Boudiccan route that followed the Tove valley from Stony to Cuttle Mill.

A great logistics reference is Ray Selkirks "On the Trail of the Legions", he compares Roman logistics to worked examples of Victorian military logisitcs.

I don't buy the parade theory at all, 250 000 Brits parading up then down the country in pack, when they could have just popped on a horse and headed west along any river valley. Surely it's far more likely that the Brits had a mustering point in the vicinity of the Roman camps which could be approached from a number of routes, the Nene and Ouse Vallies being obvious candidates. If you are going to muster 250 000 combatants and their families how long must that of taken? an hour, a day? a week? there must have been a mustering point(excuse the pun).

The roman roads hadn't been there long 10-15 years, if that, probably routes rather than roads, the memory and efficiency of the pre-Roman routes would have been a clear option to the Brits rather than following the Roman geographical dictat/rollercoaster.

Look what you've gone and started it time to head back to the armchair thread now, I'm sure there is far more to say about GIS and it's role that starting this skirmish/epic all over again. Anyway what other european battle sites are the GIS folk hunting? there can't be many with such explicit geographic texts.

I think you are giving to much credit to civilians taking up arms and marching against professional soldiers. While I am sure there were hundreds (maybe a few thousand) of people who understood military tactics and logistics most of the rebellion probably did not. While these (brits) semi professional soldiers were eager to use their military knowledge against the Romans; I believe these few soldiers were not going to engage the Romans in open combat without the superiority in numbers of the horde, because while they hated the Romans I am sure they respected their fighting ability. Remember the lack on tactics when the rebellion engaged the Romans in the defile, instead of applying a siege on the roman force. Emotions were high and it’s difficult to control a horde in relationship to a professional army. This isn’t the Arab spring and twitter and face book were not around so word travels slow/and inaccurately. Instances of hey, let me get my brother and neighbor in London to join our rebellion or hey Romans live down this road or they went this way, were probably rampant. Slowing the horde even more than the baggage train. It is likely that the Romans had a decent (maybe a couple days) amount of time to choose the battle site. Despite Iam sure being harassed by recon forces the Romans had the advantage of at least some preparation of the battle field.

As you know one of the first things the Romans built were roads, after basic stability in the area was reached.
It seems you’re sold on Church Stowe (CS) as the site, you maybe right, Iam not disputing that. What is the evidence that CS is the site as I am unaware of the CS candidacy?

Speculation is the ultimate temptation in history especially in this case, as we all are guilty of it. However this is the drive that brings you back to the library/ internet or field to find the answer.

Steve,click here,

also try this one, it may be the best place to post replies;

the radio show that prompted the first post is here;

GIS/ site prospection question, what other really good targets are there? Are there any other equally mythic battle sites to find, if so what are they?
Quote:Speculation is the ultimate temptation in history especially in this case, as we all are guilty of it.
Yes! And all this has provoked me into another bout of it here!

Quote:Are there any other equally mythic battle sites to find, if so what are they?
Could always try and find Mons Graupius, if you're really looking for trouble! :wink: