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Expert Opinion on Innovative Methods for the Study of Historical Landscapes

Get expert opinions on the innovations in the study of archaeology and historical landscapes.
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Thanks to the use of traditional and innovative tools, we can now analyze ancient buried landscapes and thus, reconstruct historical sequences from the past without the need of expensive archaeological excavations. Through written sources and historical cartography, especially the land registers and summaries of the late 19th century, the study of landscapes can reconstruct the characteristics of the various properties. The summaries indicate the number of the parcel, the initial of the owner of the land, the use of the land, and the corresponding census income, which was then also marked. The study of these documents, therefore, allows us to understand the extent of the individual properties and to make quantitative analysis of the land parcels.
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The toponyms found in historical cartography also show the identification of geographical characteristics of a region, its flora and fauna, and the presence of buildings for worship or relating to its religious life, and therefore provide us with useful data for understanding historical landscape and its evolution. LiDAR, acronym for light detection and ranging or laser imaging detection and ranging, in particular, is a remote sensing technique that scans the ground to determine the distance of an object or surface using a laser pulse and thus reconstruct the surface digitally by identifying relief elements relating to landscape features or archaeological sites.
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On the other hand, the use of archaeological excavation and trenches helps us to deepen understanding of the historical sequence of sites and to learn more about the particular features of agricultural and forested land. These tools, both traditional and innovative, help us to better interpret the news of the written sources about the floods of the sixth century, including those relating to the Adige River, which was an important communication route that led from the Adriatic to the Alps and from the Alps tothe heart of Europe.
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LiDAR analysis suggests that the displacement of the main course of the Adige many kilometers south from its original location, known as the Cucca breach at , took place in several phases, and was not only due to the flood of 589 as recounted by Pope Gregory the first and Paul the Deacon. Therefore, we can say that the origins of this Cucca route must be dated to the Bronze Age. But it seems that even in the early Middle Ages, this branch had not completely dried up. The distribution of both Roman and medieval archaeological sites seems to indicate a navigable flow of water.
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The presence of the important fortifications of Montana Este and Monselice, in particular, cannot be explained only by the presence of a road built on the river ridge.

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Enlightening the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Archaeology in Italy

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