One of our main goals in the ArcLand Project was to introduce the LiDAR technology to Serbian archaeology and to create strategic documents for future research of some of the most important archaeological sites in our country. In 2011, we managed to conduct the scanning of wider zones of two important towns: Roman Margum (i.e. Mediaeval Morava) situated at the confluence of the Morava and the Danube, and Caričin Grad (Justiniana Prima), an important Early Byzantine town in the southern part of present-day Serbia. It was the first application of this methodology in Serbian archaeology, and one of the first in the Balkans. The scanning was organized by Geo GIS company from Belgrade and performed by Flycom, from Slovenia. Together with DTMs, we have also obtained high-resolution orthophotographs of the scanned areas.
Margum/Morava and Kuliča
Roman Margum and Mediaeval town of Morava could not have been analysed more thoroughly in the past because of the damage caused by the river bed displacements and soil erosion on the one hand, and dense vegetation growing on such a moist terrain on the other (Fig. 1).
Archaeological research has so far failed to produce even a site plan. Available data on this important site are contradictory to a considerable extent, so the informations one could obtain from the written and cartographic sources needed to be confronted with the archaeological ones and, especially, those derived from the recent LiDAR scanning of the terrain. Through analyses of the obtained DTMs the preserved area of the two settlements has been clearly demarcated, measuring 7–8 hectares, and the eastern edge of the Roman agglomeration - most probably the eastern rampart of the fortification - was confirmed. Apart from this, the purpose of a canal stretching along the whole plateau has been established. Given that to the east of the canal there was the presumably Roman rampart, and to the west of it there were recently excavated ruins of Roman buildings, the canal itself must have been of a more recent date; it was in fact a Mediaeval defence trench. The topography of the nearby fort KuliÄ has been studied as well. It is often believed that this fortification was originally built in Roman times, but the analyses of DTM have shown the fort erected on an embankment, round in shape, i.e. on the more elevated terrain in comparsion to the largest part of the confluence area, where most of Roman Margum and Mediaeval Morava has been wiped out by water. So the Kulič fortification could have been originally erected only afterwards, i.e. in Turkish times. There are some data from the written sources to corroborate such a date, and we also know of two later accounts describing the 17th century settlement in front of it. There has been no field confirmation so far, but thanks to the results of LiDAR scanning one may observe the traces of a small settlement south of the fortification, protected by a trench (Fig. 2).
Caričin grad (Justiniana Prima)
Caričin Grad was built on an elongated rock in the mountainous ore area of Southern Serbia (Fig. 3), far from the main communication routes but in the immediate vicinity of the birth place of Emperor Justinian I (527-565).
This town, built ex nihilo, was meant to become an important economic and military center and the archbishopric seat. Although we have learned much about Caričin Grad so far, facing the centenary of archaeological research there we wished to employ the LiDAR technology to help us in resolving some of the remaining issues (Fig. 4).
We have obtained new data on urban structures, aqueduct and the near-by fortifications dating from the 6th century. A previously unknown unit of the town has been discovered on the heavily wooded northern slopes of the hill, surfacing 4,5 hectares, and attested by archaeological excavations afterwards. Together with this, two lines of outer defences were clearly demarcated in the south, and ground plans of two forts from the surroundings of Caričin Grad, St. Elias and Svinjičko Gradište, have been made visible. Prior to the LiDAR scanning, we could trace the aqueduct line for some 200 m, and now it is possible to trace it for 3 km.
In the cases of both Margum/Morava and Caričin Grad we employed other methods of remote sensing too, combined with archaeological survey and the excavations. Especially at Margum the results of LiDAR scanning and geomagnetic survey have shown complementary results.
You can download a PDF of a more extended article about this research, recently published in the archaeological magazine Starinar Â here (in Serbian).