Ancient topography research and digital archaeological maps

Many of the research activities that IBAM carry out in the field of archaeology assume that the priority and most urgent problem is undoubtedly the recognition and the evaluation of Cultural Heritage. It is a necessity of primary importance both for studies directed towards historical and archaeological reconstruction and, especially, to enable appropriate policies to be put in place for the protection, monitoring and management, which are essential for the conservation and enhancement of value of Cultural Heritage and to encourage its use by the community. For these reasons, at the Institute two lines of research are present, called "Innovative methodologies for the understanding of ancient landscapes" and "Methods and technologies for the understanding and management of territorial archaeological, monumental and environmental heritage", aimed at developing and applying integrated and innovative technologies for the identification, study, documentation and management of the ancient settlements and their territories and for the reconstruction of historic landscapes in a diachronic perspective; the case studies, partly developed by the Laboratory of Remote Sensing Archaeology and Ancient Topography of IBAM-CNR, mainly involve central and southern Italy, as well as the Near and Middle East, where the Institute works in close coordination with various University Departments, the Archaeological Superintendencies
and Local Authorities.
In this context, a significant part of research activities designed to improve the understanding of the archaeological and monumental heritage consists in ancient topography studies, which are developed according to the latest methods of the discipline and aimed at the study of individual settlements or archaeological monumental complexes and territories analyzed at different scales; the aim of each research is the identification and documentation of new archaeological evidence and the reconstruction of the ancient settlement pattern in a diachronic perspective. The archaeological maps that result from these studies, in digital format and linked to Geographic Information Systems, as well as being aids to
historical and archaeological research, are essential for Public Authorites responsible for the protection, management and enhancement of value of the Cultural Heritage (including in the general context of so-called "Rescue Archaeology") and for Local Authorities; so they can have adequate instruments to implement correct policies for urban and territorial planning, in which the preservation of the historical, archaeological, monumental and environmental features can be combined in a truly "sustainable" development plan.
Because of the continuous transformations that urban areas and territories daily undergo, the need is increasing to implement research methodologies and tools aimed at a real growth of the understanding of archaeological and monumental heritage, intensifying the research on documents and especially in the field. It is also essential to carry out a precise positioning of the known ancient features on adequate maps, kept up to date and preferably digital, an operation which is the mandatory requirement for any kind of intervention; moreover it makes official the knowledge and the evaluation of a given asset. In addition, the implementation of digital archaeological maps in GIS platforms ensures the integration of historical data with the other components (natural and anthropogenic) of urban areas and territories.