An international research work on geo-history in Spain

4 October 2021
4 October 2021 Gianluca Casagrande

A few areas of countryside in the Jaén’s region, Andalucia, Spain, are hosting a fieldwork phase in the context of an international research project. The activity is funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Inovación under the ID PID2019-110225GB-I00. Though national in origin, the program is developed by an international network; it is called ProSiMo, an acronym standing for Proyecto de Sierra Morena and is led by Prof. José Miguel Delgado Barrado, of Jaén’s university.  

The current activity will take place between September 27th and October 4th, 2021 and is conducted by several scientific institutions from different countries, including Spain’s Laboratorio di Experimentación Espacial (UHUM 155 LabE2), la Red Cibeles (Estudios Interdisciplinares sobre Ciudades), both from the Universidad de Jaén, and an Italian scientific group led by prof. Annalisa D’Ascenzo, from the Laboratorio geocartografico “Giuseppe Caraci” (Roma Tre University) and CISGE and including prof. Gianluca Casagrande, from European University of Rome’s GREAL.  

The team at work includes historians, geographers, archaeologists and topographers, all involved in surveys and observations in areas of the Sierra Morena which were involved in a colonization process during the 18th century. More in detail, the study areas include, among others, the current sites of Montizón, Venta de los Santos, Aldeahermosa e Aldeaquemada. The goal of the project is to correlate data documented in the historic cartography to material elements as they can be recognized in present-day landscape. The data acquisition is mainly obtained from drones, fitted with sensors operating in the visible light as well as in the infrared. Their special configuration was developed by Italian company FlyToDiscover upon specifications by GREAL. The two aircraft are managed by two independent groups, one from Italy and one from Spain and daily yield a total of about 1,000 20Mpx and 12 Mpx digital images.  

Depending on operational needs, the photogrammetric “stripes” are directly georeferenced based on the internal positioning system of the drones or, rather, with additional association with ground control points established by topographers through high-accuracy GNSS devices.  

Initial processing of the acquired images has already started; 3D models and ortophotographs are being developed.  

The final goal of the current research is to contribute to a better understanding of how the ancient territory was structured and to allow comparison with different geographical contexts of the same age. With regard to within a framework of public history, ProSiMo aims to support the economy and identity of local communities by developing cultural and touristic itineraries with a special focus on historical geography.

Provisional 3D model of the Buenos Aires historical site (near Aldeaquemada) under development.

A moment of topographical surveys in the area of Venta de los Santos. Topographer José Manuel Zafra Valderrama (Universidad de Jaén) and geographer Annalisa D’Ascenzo (Roma Tre Unversity) on field.

ProSiMo scientific director, Prof. José Miguel Delgado Barrado (Universidad de Jaén) during an observation session in the area of La Tamujosa historical site (Aldeaquemada).

Gianluca Casagrande (European University of Rome) and Antonio Jesús Ortiz Villarejo during a drone-based aerial survey.